Year — 98 A.A. (After- Apocalypse)
I bit my lip gazing the sun melting to the empty barren land far beyond my ambit. I want to reach out, see if the blazing sun burns my skin, if the air is as pernicious as the ID tab hanging around my neck alerted me.
“Attention Province 7, in four minutes VacTube 4.0 will be crossing Zoriath, the affected country of ‘Evil-Pot’, 5th, the second last nuclear bomb dropped 3 years B.A.* in 22nd century.” A robotic voice vibrated through the compartments of VacTube 4.0, the fastest train known to mankind till date moreover engineers are working on the next version to make it more secure while travelling outside the walls of provinces.
“Vida, stop frowning, you’ll get permanent lines.” Roma, my classmate mumbles.
“Quite a sight, isn’t it?” a husky voice brushed my neck. I tried to ignore the stupid flutters in my stomach and turned towards the withered expanse of Zoriath stretched for miles and miles, a land of Death and Bones. My heart quenched, I don’t want to look at it but my traitor eyes won’t look away. VacTube has slowed down, and I can hear the announcement telling how toxic the air and soil is, no trees to purify it. Once Zoriath was one of the most Hi-tech city in balance with nature. Even after a century you can see the soul shattering remnants of the biggest catastrophe.
“Quite a sight?” I countered almost angrily.
“Yeah, evidence of our bloodthirsty ancestors.” Shan bleakly nodded towards the Window.
“You misjudge our ancestors Shan. Their blood thirst was for survival. They were greedy and greed is a curse when it is in the darkest shade.” Madam Frusha, one of the well renowned historian and our guide on this education trip, told us.
“But they destroyed everything Madam, everything!” He exclaimed “I haven’t seen a single tree in all the four provinces I have traveled. When was the last time it rained? And normal rain you told us about, not the death-rain that burns and kill.” He is furious now. He has been since he lost his little sister in the plague, the same plague which took my Granny away along with many others. There is no cure for the plague virus yet, scientists believe its origin is the reaction between Death-Rain and nuclear radiations. I shrieked witnessing the sudden death-rain burning the decayed skyscrapers of Zoriath.
“Vida, Don’t look at it. We are safe.” He assured me in a soothing voice. I know we are safe but the sight of death-rain is scary, it’s the worst kind of acid rain. VacTube runs at the speed of 8000 mph in highly toughened transparent fibre vacuumed tunnels and train itself is airtight with screen sized windows; there is no scope for any lethal drops leaking inside.
“May I have your attention please. VacTube 4.0 will arrive at Province 6 in four minutes. Please wear the safety kit provided under your seats before leaving the VacTube 4.0.” Robotic voice announced.
We all geared up in over coat, face mask and the gloves, traces of plague virus were found here last month. Province 6 is inhabited by most of the people affected by nuclear radiations who are immune to the plague virus; side effects are still there in their DNA even after cutting edge medical treatment. I saw many differently able people, a little girl with an under developed leg in her parents arms, every time I see an effected person, my heart bleeds for them, how can someone be so barbarous, is winning the war is more important than an innocent life? Almost every country in 22nd century had a nuclear weapon and no one restrained themself form using it. I don’t pity this generation but them who were so blind with greed.
We are here to visit the only Books and paper museum on this planet. The museum is huge, there are 8,766,105 books all preserved under controlled climate in glass cases. I saw the Last Ramayana printed 157 years ago with a glossy orange cover. There were Bible, Quran, many classics, encyclopedias, dictionaries and many books in all the languages, even the extinct ones.
“Attention students, can someone tell me the population of Earth before apocalypse?” Madam Frusha asks.
“Nine Billion Madam, now 1/10th is left” We reply in unison.
“Yes, and to accommodate the population, they had to cut the forests which lead to the shortage of paper. And — ”
“And that wasn’t a wakeup call for them.” Shan interrupted Madam Frusha.
“Shaan.. they gave us the technology we are using today. We shouldn’t forget that. And getting back to the topic, inadequate supply of paper decreased the production of books considerably. Global war destroyed books and manuscripts along with.. well almost everything. Some experts saw that coming and preserved these books we are seeing.”
We all know why the museum and the nuclear radiation affected people are in the same province, so that we always remember the consequences. Today, none of the province has a nuclear weapon.
“Don’t touch it with your bare hands Roma.” I handed her my hand sanitizer “Use it then wear your gloves.”
On our way to our next destination province 4, we crossed many dry rivers and water reservoirs and vast barren lands but encountered no life, not even a bird.
“Eww.. this taste like rubber!!” Roma fussed.
“Have you tasted rubber?” I asked innocently.
“No, but I want to taste strawberries, apples, cherries… Yum!!” She moaned
Shan laughed “You can buy another kidney at lesser price Roma.”
Only artificial packed food is available which on microwave grows from fist size to big enough to feed 8 people but it is not as nourishing as natural fruits and vegetables. Though is comes in many artificial flavours, still it tastes the same. We drank the water making faces.
“ You know guys, in 21st century people used to bath, brush their teeth, wash clothes, and god knows what not with water. Like the real water, not this crappy artificial one.” Shan said bitterly. We are provided with the artificial water invented by scientists, it is developed by reacting oxygen and hydrogen under favorable conditions but it doesn’t taste anything like water.
“Shut up!! That’s unbelievable!!” Roma exclaimed.
“I know, and there were so many animals and birds that they were almost annoying!!” He added.
“Oh those people, they had no idea what luxury they had, and I hope they were still alive to see what their carelessness had done to us.” I asserted. Water is not charged therefore its supply is very limited and it’s calculated. We don’t have the luxury of water, we only use soap free body/hair cleansers and Body/hair polish, it requires no water even the dental creams. It’s hard to fathom to use water with such a free hand.
Our next stop is Province 11 where we visited the oldest Pipal tree and Lord Shiva’s Jyotirlingas. The air here is pristine that I don’t want to leave.
“Madam, why the Global war started?” Someone asked.
“Well… many factors coerce the war. Over population, global warming, depletion of non-renewable resources are believed to be the key reasons. Countries tried to claim the well resourced regions, with global warming sea lever increased. There used to be 7 continents, now one in almost submerged in the ocean. They needed more land so acquiring others by force seemed the only option to them.” Madam Frucia explained cautiously.
“Weren’t there any warning sighs Madam?” I asked
“There were, plenty in fact. Like water crises, it started in 21st century along with all other crises and natural calamities and erratic weather cycle. But… ignorance is a bliss child.” She replied, her eyes were dull with sadness.
“Shouldn’t they have conserved the resources and fight the crises together instead of fighting with each other?” I frowned in confusion.
“Vida, this is why we conduct this education trip every year. So that we remember that fighting crises together will help like all the eleven provinces are doing.” She informed smiling with hope for a better future.
“It is to prevent another war?” Roma proposed.
“War thrives on greed, murky heinous shade of greed. Greed is human nature. This trip is to know which war we choose to fight, the one with each other or the one within ourselves, to fight off that revolting greed so that the coming generations do not curse us for our doings.” Shan said.
“Right Shan, it is also to enlighten us about the consequences of ignoring the warning signs.” Madam Frusha replied.
* B.A.– Before apocalypse.
Moral – Greed has many shades, and none of them is pretty. Powerful enough to rip nations apart and unleash apocalypse.
We all are aware about the crises we face every day, like water crises, over population, depletion of forests, increasing greenhouse gases and the list goes on. Weather cycle is as unpredictable as India’s traffic. What do we do about it? Nothing, just write stories or give speeches. That won’t solve the issue. If only instead of ignoring these warning signs we try to conserve what is left then we could save this Planet for many coming centuries.
Image courtesy : Here