Saturday, 22 October 2016

The immortal

What if I told you I am more than a 100 centuries old, would you believe me? Even if I managed to convince you, could you ever be sure? What would such a man be like if he were to exist for that long period of time?

Here's my story.

I have preached with the Gods. I have sailed with explorers. I have theorized with the historians. I have suffered with the world during outbreaks. I have witnessed a myriad historically significant episodes of terror, peace, cultural and creativity blooms and giant leaps in Science & Technology. I have seen all you'd ever want in a lifetime. And yet I have lived through more than a hundred lifetimes.

I was born during the stone age, when man lived in caves, used stone tools and lit his own fire with them. The terrain was mountainous and the climate was cold. Even though the earth's landscape has changed tremendously since then, I was fortunate enough to re-visit the Cave of Altamira in Spain in 2009 and confirm that it indeed was my childhood home. Some glimpses from my first lifetime are permanently etched on the canvas of my mind. Like the Great hall of policromes of Altamira. Those paintings are special. I remember father teaching me and my sister, the art of using adoha – modern-day charcoal, to pigment the walls to depict the beautiful variety of fauna that lived around us. I'll tell you something off the textbooks and archaeological studies. Those paintings were actually used to hunt for wild boars and bison who used to come flock the area, attracted to those paintings. Stone age man was no less in intellect than you all and yet the smart historians of 1880s argue that we lacked any capability of artistic expression. Yes I'm also the famous historian from 1880s who led the movement to change the perception of prehistoric man. But I'll come to that later.

So stone age was a beautiful time until I found out that I didn't really belong with my tribe. They began to think I'm a different kind of powerful, wild creature and not one of them. I didn't scar. My wounds healed at the speed of light (of course not literally. Who knew about light as a phenomenon let alone know how to count! Hint: I'm a famous scientist associated with discovery of quantum properties of light. But more on that later.) and I stopped aging when my body was in its prime. I went to live alone by myself for a while trying to figure out if I was really that invincible as my tribe thought.

Well I kind of was. I was not afraid of anything. Until one day I passed out due to

dehydration. I woke up in the arms of a beautiful woman with a child-like face. I almost exclaimed with joy, “Dua!”. That was my biological sister's name. I thought I had died and was meeting her in an alternate world. But then I saw how different she looked except for the face. She wore cloth and metal ornaments instead of twigs and spoke a proper, more sophisticated language. The truth was stark. All my family, my tribe, my home had gone and I remained.

I was now a bronze age man.

It was a glorious period. We used to worship the river that made it possible for us to practice agriculture and on which our civilization thrived. The modern ideas of culture, language, writing, mineral exploration, trade, military, religion, mathematics, medicine, art and architecture all root back to this era. I myself was involved in the design of the Step Pyramid of Djoser. Yes I'm none other than Imhotep. After centuries of experience, I had also learned the art of poetry and philosophy. The reason historians believe that I self-constructed my tomb which is hidden from the beginning till date, despite efforts to find it, is that there is no tomb. The truth is, I simply vanished one day and no one knew where I went.

I traveled for a long time. I had all the time in the world. Again, I was not afraid of anything. One day, in the middle of nowhere, I saw a man, his skin pale as snow, his hair locks of gold. I wondered what sane man would be out here and thought he may be just like me, afraid of nothing. Before I could figure it out, he shot at me at a lightening speed and tried to bite at my neck but spit it out as if it were poison. And there. Gone in the blink of an eye. It was many decades later that I heard about the mythical creature called a vampire. Apparently it isn't a myth. He was not just an ordinary, hungry man, who would bite at another man. But one with a thirst for blood. For I saw him again, some centuries back. This time he introduced himself as 'The Ripper'. I see my 'Ripper' friend from time to time now, in the busiest subways as well as the loneliest colonies during my travels.

Spooked? Then what if I told you I was Jesus Christ, and my beliefs were based on the teachings of Gautam Buddha? That I survived the crucifixion by "blocking the pain", a technique I had learned in India? That most of the Bible's contents are myths to make people believe in my teachings? Would your faith be shattered?

I consider myself lucky to have been in Europe during the Renaissance period. New ideas in art, music, culture, radical thinking, politics, science, literature and mathematics flourished. I became particularly interested in theorizing with famous historians of this era. Ironically, later I became a historian who theorized about the Renaissance era itself. The origin of this period was the Black death or Plague outbreak in Florence which resulted in a shift in the world view of people, causing them to dwell more on their lives on Earth, rather than on spirituality and the afterlife. I say so because I myself was hit by the Plague. It was horrific but I survived.

Come 20th century. What a bloom for Science. Now now, do you not see the resemblance? I was Max Planck in 1900s. And yes I discovered the light quanta. I also witnessed the two World Wars closely and highly condemn them. Since this was one of the most famous and special roles of my life, I began to fake that I was aging, with make up, so I could continue to pursue Science that I loved.

In my 300 lifetimes on earth, I have received more love than hate. Yet the modern world presents a bleak possibility that it might become the opposite soon. The way we are exploiting nature, I wonder how long it is before resources run out and we begin to kill each other for our own living.

And here I am today. I still care. I am still a mortal. And I am still alive.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Poster: Our desire to imagine the unreal...

Recently I took an introductory course to Humanities. This is the result of a beginner exercise to get our creative juices flowing. Basically it describes a peculiar human habit.
Click on the image to enlarge it.