Born with a severe condition of congenital amputation, Bhoomi had no legs since birth. Her existence came more as a shock than joy to her ambitious father. Soon after her birth, despite her mother’s half hearted protests, she was sent to Dehradun to live with her widower Grandfather. At the age when most babies learn to walk, Bhoomi was learning to control the wheel chair and use her hands for movements. Unlike most babies the first word that Bhoomi uttered was ‘Dadu’ which came as a seal of approval for her grandfather’s undivided and uncompromising love for her.
Though not lavish, but the old man had a pretty decent country side bungalow with a reasonably big backyard and adjoining farming land. Farming was his main source of income while his backyard served as a place of recluse for him, where no one else was allowed, of course with the exception of Bhoomi. Dadu had a deep passion for star gazing and meditation. He had setup a big telescope in his backyard and he often practiced a unique style of meditation which he liked to call ‘Tratak Vidya’ wherein he would stare at a lighted candle and would go in a trance like state. He claimed that Tratak allowed him to gaze at the depths of Universe where even his telescope could never take him.
Dadu often tried to teach his meditation techniques to Bhoomi, who took a default interest in both of her Dadu’s passions, but she was easily distracted and could never reach the level of ‘Tratak Samadhi’ like her Dadu reached, however looking through the glass assembly of telescope was something which even Bhoomi cherished and looked forward to each night. Looking at those infinity of stars and heavenly objects made her feel mobile, made her feel beyond her physical limitations. The illusion of touching the Moon just by extending her arm made her feel alive and in control of things. She would often say to her Dadu jokingly ‘You have saved a lot of money by never ever having to buy a pair of shoes for me, why don’t you use all that saved money to buy a more sophisticated telescope for me?’, to which her Dadu would reply ‘If you pay a little more attention to Tratak, you would never ever need any telescope what so ever’ and then they both would laugh.
Time flied like sand in fist and Bhoomi turned 18. Bhoomi was schooled at a school for special children where she performed fairly well till senior secondary level and now it was time for her to apply for higher studies. It was then when she decided to pursue her passion of getting close to heavenly bodies but she was quite adamant on going to only the best institute, thus she had applied at IIA. Not every college offers a full length course in astronomical observations but Indian Institute of Astrophysics or IIA, as it is popularly known as, was the best of what Bhoomi could have aimed for.
Dadu was away at the farm as Bhoomi was getting anxious awaiting the reply from IIA. Each passing moment was killing her and she was refreshing her email window every few seconds, anticipating a new email to popup in her inbox any moment. She hadn’t even touched the lunch which her Dadu had kept for her on the dining table, and the moment of surreal confrontation arrived. She saw a new unread email in her inbox. With nervous fingers and trembling body she clicked on the email and read those fateful lines of text.
She stared at the email message on her computer, her mind racing so fast that the words blurred together and no longer made any sense. Just three lines, but enough to make her life–the life she’d worked so hard and sacrificed so much to build–begin to crumble around her.
She had been denied an admission. The email didn’t even explain any digestible reason for the rejection. It was just a simple declaration of regret. That’s it. Bhoomi felt crushed, to the extent of devastation. Despite her physical limitation, she had never felt so miserable and helpless. She went to her room and locked herself inside. A lot of thoughts were going through her mind but she was not able to comprehend the cruel intensions of her fate. She felt like crying but probably she had been raised to be strong enough to give in to tears, so she jammed her emotions instead of channelizing them through shear display of despair.
‘Where is my little princess?’ Bhoomi realized Dadu had returned to home. With determination of not letting her Dadu feel the pain she felt, she came out of her room and steered her wheel chair towards the living room. With slight gestures of subtle eye contact Dadu enquired about the admission status, and even before Bhoomi could have said anything, he knew that she couldn’t get through. ‘Oh, never mind, screw that stupid academic institute anyway. There are plenty of other colleges where we can apply’ Dadu tried his best to hide his disappointment and throw in some words of encouragement, but Bhoomi could still feel a cord of discomfort somewhere deep inside her heart. She didn’t say a word and just got close to Dadu, hugged him tight and exhaled a deep, mournful sigh. ‘Hmmm, I know Dadu, but I have an even better plan. What was I thinking? Why was I thinking of going away for something which I can get in abundance at home with you? Dadu, I would love to learn Tratak, would you please teach me, and I promise, unlike all these years I will give my 100% this time’. ‘Of course my love’ replied Dadu as he tightened his grip around Bhoomi and embraced her with all his affection and warmth. The moment passed by and faded in pure symphony of 2 heart beats beating close to each other.
Next day onwards the rigorous Tratak training started. Bhoomi had decided to mix the elements of spirituality with crude science. She would practice Tratak as explained by Dadu and then she would verify her observations with the information available on the internet. The planets and galaxies she would see at the periphery of her eyes would all be found to be at exact same spots as confirmed by the public information available on NASA website. Within next 3 years Bhoomi had acquired the skill set of going into a Tratak Samadhi at her will whenever she wanted to.
Though not accompanied by any formal degree, Dadu declared Bhoomi’s training as complete on her 21st birthday, but Bhoomi wanted to go even beyond. She didn’t stop even when there left nothing her Dadu could teach her more. Bhoomi kept pushing the limits and often tried to look where even Dadu never ventured to look, which was not entirely approved by Dadu for he had his own reasons for setting some reasonable limitations on his experiences. He often tried to warn Bhoomi of the unforeseeable consequences of her daring trances, but Bhoomi’s reasoning was that she was already limited in the physically manifested world therefore she didn’t want to be limited in her experiences at least.
On a rainy night as Dadu was asleep in his room, Bhoomi was still sitting in a statue posture wandering around millions of light years away from the habitable planet. Her still as a rock body made no movements but the pupil of her eyes widened unusually big. The drops of sweat dripped down her temples as she started to look tensed but there was still no bodily movement. She wanted to come out of the trance but she couldn’t. Something unusual was occurring. She looked drained out when a sudden jolt made her fall with a thud and she eventually came to senses. She struggled to gather herself and climb back on the chair when Dadu came running and helped her. ‘I felt some weird force Dadu. I saw this deep intense white light source and it kind of trapped me and sucked me inside. I felt helpless and restricted of my controls. What was it Dadu?’ Bhoomi was perplexed by her unusual experience. ‘Warm hole’ sighed Dadu. ‘Warm holes and Black holes are the reasons why I have set some ground rules and limitations. Once you get in their pull, there is hardly anything you can do to steer out of it. Promise me Bhoomi, you will never ever try this thing again.’ Bhoomi nodded in agreement but deep inside she knew that she had just discovered a new challenge for herself.
Bhoomi decided to take in her stride what her Dadu had termed as a restricted territory. Bhoomi wanted to master the art of Tratak to an extent that she could swim around with the shattering waves of Warm holes and Black holes, at her own will. With each passing day Bhoomi travelled a bit more deep and conquered new heights. The only problem was that the Warm hole she visited could not be found anywhere on the internet. Bhoomi had laid out a mental map of universe by then and the cardinal points where the supposed Warm hole should have been was rendered just as some blank space as per the NASA website. This was something disturbing yet worth exploring for her.
Soon before she could have pioneered the exploration, Bhoomi suffered a massive loss in the demise of her beloved Dadu. She couldn’t concentrate on anything for a few days. The farm staff kept the show running but Bhoomi found it difficult to get back to normalcy.
After several failed attempts to get back to the Warm hole which she had named after her late Dadu, a fateful night Bhoomi eventually made it to the realms of its gravitational pull. Falling freely inside the infinite stream of white light, Bhoomi observed a massive rock, almost the size of Moon passing by her. Bhoomi experienced a precognition of some sort and she felt as if the massive rock was on the path towards Earth. A bit of calculation revealed that the rock might impact the Earth in approximately 5 days of time. For the first time in her life Bhoomi had doubted the skills and core philosophy of Tratak Vidya because her precognition was too unreal to be true. There was no evidence available in the real world of such heavenly movements. She checked again and again and the result remained the same. There was no plausible explanation for what she had been seeing. ‘But what if this was true?’ she thought and felt the need to bring the matter to a conclusion.
She started devoting even more time to the investigation as she believed that 5 days deadline, if real, could have devastating consequences. From whatever data she had, she drafted an elaborated email and sent it to the query section of NASA. She did not receive any response for the next 24 hours, but next day she received an email from some Mr. Edward King from NASA with Skype details and a request to connect over Skype.
Bhoomi dialed in at the stipulated time. ‘Hello Ms. Bhoomi. My name is Edward King and I am the head of exploration department at NASA. Can we speak about your findings please?’ Bhoomi had just secured a platform to share her fears of potential threat to entire human race. After listening to all that Bhoomi had experienced, Edward took a brief pause and then he said ‘Ok, so however your Tratak theory seem to be highly unscientific and unreliable, there is some authenticity to it which can’t be denied as you are aware of objects and phenomena which only highly sophisticated equipments of our facility could achieve. One possible explanation of having differences in your observation and ours regarding this so called Warm hole that you have observed is that what you are experiencing is all in real time whereas however advanced our machines are, they have a dependency on speed of light to be able to observe things’
It all started to make sense in Bhoomi’s head, she didn’t even wait for Edward to complete and she prompted excitedly ‘Oh yes, that’s it, I do not have to wait a million years to view something a million light years away. I can see all as it is happening and seemingly this Warm hole is relatively a newer object which somehow managed to have its opening near to Earth in the Spacetime continuum. Your telescopes would only be able to find it when the actual radiations become observable, but probably that would be too late. Could something be done, some preventive measure based on the location that I told you as exit of the Warm hole?’
‘Wow, you are smarter than I had thought. I am not too sure whether we can prevent it, but if there is a possibility of even an iota of this happening then we have very little time left and we must work on averting this potential calamity. I shall call for an emergency meeting here and work out a plan while I request you to keep an eye on this and keep me informed’
The next 3 days became the most exhausting for Bhoomi as she occupied herself completely with either practicing Tratak or updating Edward. Edward on the other hand prepped up for a rescue mission. The plan was to set out a missile based light weight space shuttle and hit the incoming rock just outside the Earth’s ‘point of no return’. The only problem was Edward and his team had no clue as to where the rock is coming from because it was traveling through a Warm hole and was supposed to emerge out of nowhere. This was the part where Bhoomi was to pitch in and provide them with exact trajectory coordinates.
Based on Bhoomi’s inputs, the space shuttle was launched. Provisions were made to steer and control the shuttle from the ground office. Bhoomi kept herself engaged in alternating sessions of trance and Skype, and as per the information fed by her the route of shuttle was decided.
The D-day arrived. Bhoomi could see and feel the impact was just a few moments away but Edward could still see no signs of any rock and to him it appeared as if his shuttle would just float away and add to the already cluttered space debris. Bhoomi updated Edward about the exact time of impact, and then she went into the trance as she wanted to witness this spectacular event by her own eyes. At NASA, Edward’s team, and in her backyard Bhoomi, both started the countdown, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO.
The missile had caught the rock just at the moment of its emergence and the phenomenon was observed at dark parts of the World as mesmerizing meteor shower. Edward was ecstatic and his team was busy celebrating, hurling high fives at each other.
What Bhoomi had seen and experienced gave meaning to her life, to her existence. She was no longer in any kind of pain or anguish which her fate had forced on her. She could see her parents’ negligence, society’s harshness, prestigious institute’s rejection and all her misfortunes shred away along with the infinite pieces of rock and amidst that breathtaking sight, somewhere in the background, she could see a smiling, charming face, a face she recognized well, a face she loved. It was her Dadu.
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