“What is your last wish?” the officer in uniform asked.
“Why?’ I said, as I did not properly understand his question.
“Oh! The judgment is over. You will be slain tomorrow evening, if everything goes as planned.” He added in a matter of fact tone, but I could see that he was more than happy.
My last wish! That is indeed funny.
Sounds strange, isn’t it?
After few hours another officer came, he was friendlier than the earlier one.
“How are you going to kill me?” I asked. I can definitely be destroyed, but I am not sure whether these backward people have the required knowledge to destroy me.
“Why take so much interest in the means when the end is coming buddy?” the officer was amused.
“Just want to tell you that you people cannot kill me. Neither the bullet can kill me, nor the fire, nor the water….” I started explaining. The officer started laughing.
“Look, he is preaching Bhagvadgita. At the doorstep of the death everyone becomes a philosopher” He shouted loudly to his friends. They all laughed.
"Nainam Chindanti Shastrani, Nainam Dahati Pavakaha…" someone chanted from outside and was followed by another waver of laughter.
Yes, I know this particular shloka very well. I smiled.
Truth is more fictitious than what one can imagine.
I do not know where to start this story, because it is still happening, I am in the midst of it. From wherever I start, it sounds like a sudden start; from whatever angle I see it is complex. The end is clear, but how I will reach that end still is uncertain.
If I say that my life took a sudden turn like life of Passépartout; some of you would immediately recollect ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ by Jules Verne. Have you watched the movie by Jackie Chan? But that is not the story I want to tell you.
My master was as intelligent as Passépartout’s master Mr. Phileas Fogg. We need no high IQ to conclude that my master was as eccentric as an intelligent person could be. But the times have changed and even a traditional Londoner does not have a luxury to live like Mr. Fogg. Globalization, rat race, competition and what not. Yes, I read daily newspapers and watch innumerable channels (which by the way provide the same news!) and so I have picked up these words.
My master was an Anthropologist. He lived more in history than in present, more with the dead than the living. So, it was actually a big surprise that he had me. Because I belong to the era of scientific revolution, technological leap is the right word than scientific.
It was a weird combination of two of us. There was my master - deeply interested in skulls, cave paintings, ancient religions and scriptures. And there was me, with knowledge and skill that a modern life requires. My master had a great sense of humor. He must have gauged this contradiction at the first instant. That is why he named me ‘Master’ as I was the real master of all the actions he needed to do in the external world. The sense of humor is contagious indeed. Because I do not know why and how, but I responded by calling him ‘Grandmaster’. I still remember how he laughed at that. I hardly saw him laugh ever again.
Grandmaster had no family and no friends except for his Anthropological Society colleagues. They always discussed serious things like beliefs, scripts, and monuments – another group of people who spent more time with the buried. Since I joined, I used to take care of Grandmaster. With modern gadgets cooking, cleaning, shopping ..everything has become much easier. Grandmaster must have been a genius in the field, because he had ample money. His bank balance was very good.
One of my basic responsibilities was to prepare itinerary for Grandmaster’s travel. I accompanied him everywhere he went. It was easy because he was very methodical. But making his travel schedule outside the territory was bit difficult. He liked to go to places where not many people go- naturally only flight booking was not sufficient. I had to arrange for many things. I am efficient, but not a magician. Grandmaster often forgot that and expected me to provide anything he wanted. So I had to prepare wildest of checklists and store different things in the travel kit.
Slowly I learnt that Grandmaster does not need highly technical tools – just a digital camera and a laptop would be enough for him at the end of the day. What he needed was a torch, a knife, a rope, a piece of cloth, a brush and many such small things. Once I knew this, I could stock things easily and even make purchases at the local stores. The cash transactions always excited me because in the city we only use credit cards.
Like Mr. Fogg, and Passépartout, one day we left the city with a very short notice. Both of us were blindfolded and dropped on a kind of ‘no man’s land’ by a helicopter. I did not know what was happening and why it was happening. But Grandmaster was always so weird that I thought it to be one of his scholarly and secret excursions. I concluded that it was something important and urgent. I was not sure whether like Mr. Fogg; Grandmaster had a bet with his colleagues at the Society.
A day passed in walking and we were reached nowhere. Night arrived, I put the tent, served ‘ready to eat’ tin food and Grandmaster slept. I naturally could not sleep. I was awake. The night was strangely still, the black backdrop made the stars look fiercely shining. I was curious. I decided to take a little walk outside, just around the tent. It was chilly silence everywhere. Fearing for Grandmaster’s safety, I returned within three minutes.
And there was the tent, but there was no Grandmaster inside! I turned to left and searched for him, but no Grandmaster. I turned back and searched for him, but no grandmaster. I turned to right and searched for him, but there was not Grandmaster. Grandmaster had completely vanished from the world.
I was not dreaming because I cannot dream. I was not confused, because I cannot get confused. But my logic was completely defied. Grandmaster’s safety was my first and foremost responsibility. I had committed a mistake by leaving him alone. Where could he go? Within three minutes?
And then they came, from all sides. I could see a gun aimed at Grandmasters’ body. Was he dead? Was he unconscious? Who were these people? Why were they violently handling Grandmaster?
“Hands Up, otherwise we will kill your friend”, asked one of the crowds. I obeyed them. I do not question human beings, I only obey them.
“Don’t say anything about me, don’t reveal my identity” cried my Grandmaster. One of them kicked Grandmaster and they pulled him away. I never saw him again.
The people, their leaders, their officers asked me many questions. But I could not answer. Grandmaster had ordered me not to speak about him. There was not much to speak about me either. So, I did not answer those questions. They tried to harass me but they could not. I did not cry, I did not shout, I did not feel any pain. They used second degree, third degree even the fourth degree, but I was not affected. Initially they were curious that I neither eat food, nor drink water and nor sleep. The curiosity was turned into obsession and then into a mass fear.
They are frightened. The panic button is pushed. Everybody wants to get rid of me at the earliest. But apparently they have a democratic system and the Human Rights Groups are active, so they can not just make me die ‘accidental death’. Hence, the drama of Justice was played to perfection. Now trying to kill me is going to be more frustrating and frightening experience for this community, because I repeat they will not be able to kill me.
I belong to S6 generation. I have no emotions, no feelings; I am designed to have only intelligence and a sense of duty. Like a human servant, I can’t speak about Grandmaster; because I am not emotionally attached to him. Because of his order, I can’t tell these people that he is one of renowned Anthropologist. I cannot utter his name, by his strict order. I can’t communicate to his Anthropological Society colleagues, because I am supposed to communicate only with my Master i.e. Grandmaster. I am not sure whether I wish to see Grandmaster and take him back to his comfortable home. As he is not there, I can just wait for Grandmaster, wait for his next order.
They have kept me in a dark underground cell. I can carry on for six years (S6 means one who can live on inbuilt battery for six years!) without Solar Energy – that is going to madden the community.
I wish I could wish like a human being. I wish like human beings, I could die instantly.
But I cannot, because I am a Robot, Generation S6 Robot!