Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Confessional - Part I

These are a series of letters written by Mr. Deshprem Babu, a twenty-fifth century descendant of the famous Babu family of north India, which has bred many a sturdy buffalo, in the last few centuries of its pastoral engagements.

Preserved facsimiles of these letters were used as evidence in a trial in the interplanetary tribunal of the year 2470, upon Mr. Babu's confession to involuntary manslaughter. The original letters were never recovered for unknown reasons. Mr. Babu was quickly declared innocent and acquitted.

The facsimiles were destroyed. No explanations were given by the tribunal for this rather strange act of evidence destruction, though it is widely believed that a grave matter of interplanetary security was involved.


Zoroaster 12, 2463

Dear Holy father,

Forgive me for I have sinned. As I write this letter to you, various thoughts cross my mind, and I need
to make sense of these.

From the small window of my cabin in this space station, I am looking at the vast emptiness of the universe, that is dark, deep and cold. It is, however, littered by bright specks of white and a few dazzling dots of red, blue and pink, which happen to be the planets of our solar system.  On the other side of my space station, is the planet earth, where my family lives. And yes, about nine centuries ago, that is where you lived and ruled as the Pope of the Holy See. In the famous city-state of Rome.

I would like to surmise that you may have already branded me a heretic for speaking a strange tongue.  Since many centuries of separation in time ensures that I cannot be punished in the usual way, I suggest that we continue with the confessional. On the bright side, you might be able to save me from Lucifer, or his various assistants on the prowl.

I understand that your church recently questioned Galileo of Galilee, for his beliefs that the earth might go around the sun, and might not be the center of the universe after all. Let me assure you holy father, that Galileo was right, and he has gone down in history as a person, who enabled us to think beyond the earth, about the vastness of space.

The world in which we live, is very different from the world that was yours, and you would be amazed at the things we can do a thousand years after Galileo's trial. We have solved the problems of hunger, poverty and disease. We can go anywhere we wish to go and we can access all the knowledge that was ever created. There is no need for wealth. And the seven deadly sins do not exist any more. Mankind is free to pursue any interests that it wants to pursue.

And yet, new ideas are not encouraged any more, since everything that was to be discovered has already been. There are people like me, called scientists, who are restless. And I have been experimenting with something of great value to mankind. But, in great secrecy.

Holy father, I am trying to solve the mysteries of time. I am trying to ride the horse of time in any direction I wish, so that I can go anywhere in time. And to the inquisition of my century, set up by scientists like me, that is quite impossible. So, I guess you could call me a heretic in this century as well.

I have been reading a book about the inquisition of your church. Recently, I was undergoing a routine psychiatric evaluation, in which the doctor, a medicine man of the human mind, suggested that a good way of controlling my restlessness would be to write letters to a person that I would like to meet, but cannot. And to that person, I should tell all that I am anxious about. Since I have been reading this book about you, I thought that I might as well confess to you, since confession is a part of your holy duties. So, over the next  few weeks and months, please do expect many confessionals from me.

And of course, I am writing these letters on paper and pen, things we do not have access to, any more. We do read and write, but they are in what we call the electronic format, without making use of paper. So, I had to tap a contact at the Kolkata museum, who has access to a Sheaffer fountain pen from the twenty-first century. I am told that it once belonged to the famous Bengali writer, Biswanath Ghosh. I hope that my mere scribblings can do justice to the name of its illustrious previous owner.

Please do read my letters. Who knows, we might discover that I am not such a big sinner after all.

Your servant in God
Deshprem Babu

P.S: Most of our society is atheistic -- we do not believe in God any more. But, I thought that the sign-off in my confessional should look authentic. So, please forgive the faith. Or, the lack thereof. 

-----------To be continued----------

(Part II)

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