The Question

“This man, what is his name?” the doctor asked.
“Powell, Doctor Richard Powell” I replied.
“When did he die?”
“Ten years ago, approximately”
“And you see him everyday.”
“Yes, for the past week or so.”
“Does your wife see him as well?”
“I don’t know. She has never been around when I see him.”
“When was the last time you saw him?”
“When I was 18, I remember he nursed me back to health. I had been injured quiet seriously in a motor cycle accident.”
“There is nothing I can tell you that can cure this in an instant. If this Powell keeps appearing try to ignore him. He is probably just your imagination.” He said with a sign.

That was the first time in 10 years I had gone to a doctor. It was my wife; she was scared that I had begun to see ghosts. What did we know that very soon everything was going to change.

It all happened about 2 months ago. I was returning home from work when I first saw him. He stared at me. I did not recognize him at all. It was not until I saw his photo in the album. The picture freaked me out. I had mourned his death and attended the burial.

The very next day he approached me at the traffic signal. He knocked at my window and mumbled something. I was looking in the opposite direction. When I saw the face I stepped on the accelerator.

I am a software programmer. I trust only logic. I don’t believe in god. I don’t believe in fate. Why? Because I like to believe that I am in control of every situation. I believe in what I do. Ghosts! I don’t believe in them.

I had to prove to my self that he was not a ghost. I took me a week or two to muster the courage to meet this man. When I walked up to him, he was surprised. He said something. I have no idea what; there was no sound from his mouth. I gave him a buck or two and walked away.

I returned home, not knowing what the man had tried to say. The next day he was at the very same place. He signaled towards me with a nod. I parked my car and went towards him.

“After what I tell you today, you are either going to hate me or thank me” he said. I was taken aback of how fluently he could talk.
“You can talk!” I said. “Whether I can talk or not is going to be the least of your problems, in 15 minutes.”
“What?”
“Let’s go and sit there”, he said pointing to the bench in the park.

I had not noticed it before but the way he walked, talked and interacted was very different than anyone I remembered.

“Remember the accident.”
“The Accident!”
“The motor cycle accident, you were my patient.”
“Yes, what about that.”
“The accident had caused severe head trauma. Few days after the accident you slipped into a Coma.”
“What! I don’t remember being in coma.”
“You can’t. YOU ARE STILL IN COMA.”

There was a silence. I burst into laughter. “Okay, I give up that is the best gag anyone has tried to pull on me.”
He remained serious. He added “It’s beautiful isn’t it.”
“What? The garden.” I said chuckling.
“No, this dream world.”

He looked at me and said “Your body was asleep but mind was not. Your mind could not sleep. So it created this a dream world where everyone was what your mind wanted them to be. The human brain is the most magnificent and yet unexplainable. Haven’t you wondered how you know who is calling before the phone is picked up, who was at the door before it was opened. It was you that was calling and it was you that was knocking.”
A beggar approached us,” Alms for the poor”
“Do you know why this beggar is here? Because you want him to be here. You want me to stop.”
I looked at his face there was still no expression in it.
“I don’t believe you. How do YOU know this?”
“Its been 10 years. Your mother has not left the side of your bed. She would not quit on you. We would not as well and why?” he paused “Yours was a very different case. You were mentally improving. You showed signs of happiness and shock. Your mind kept transmitting messages, just like an ordinary person but the messages were not speech it was electronic messages. Something like telepathy. It took us years to decode these messages and when we did we found this place in your mind. We learnt to transmit messages back to your brain and that is how I was projected here. Remember the first time you approached me. I could not speak, that was due to malfunction in our projecting machine.”
“I still don’t believe you.” I didn’t know what to say but then it flashed” If I could have become what ever I wanted, why not a famous person? Why not someone important?”
“We figured it was because your deepest desire was not that.”

I looked around and then into his eyes. I knew what I was going to say but could I say it. Before another thought I added, “All this, IT HAS TO BE REAL.”
“Wake up. Its time for you to wake up. Your mother is waiting, for her sake wake up. We know you can do it. If you can create this, you can do anything in the world. Wake up.” he pleaded.

I remember running across the park towards my car. I jumped into my car and sped towards home. Every one I saw, I could not help but think, if they were here because I wanted them to be here.

The ride home produced more questions than answers. I have heard of people having delusions but what happens if the whole world itself is a delusion. How would you feel if everyone you loved, everyone you hated, everyone you saw, everyone you touched did not exist. I could not take it. I stopped my car on top of the bridge, walked up to the ledge.

Have you ever had the dream that you are falling and just before you hit the ground you wake up? Let’s see if that works. I stretched out my hands and felt my feet leave the ground.

The light green color of the hospital walls greeted me. My mother was next to me, she was asleep. I stood up and walked up to the door. Every part of my body hurt, I fainted…

I woke up and there were doctors all around me. My mother was crying. Dr. Powell said “You did it son, you did it.” I fainted again.

The next few weeks were the bitter part of being awake. Every one knew me but I hardly recognized anyone. There were press and television cameras in my room, It’s not everyday we see someone wake up after
10 years.

Doctor Powell entered my room. I had requested to speak to him. “How is my boy doing? Hope you are well rested.”
“I am alright doc. I had some questions.”
“Shoot”
“Why me doc? Why me?”
“I am not certain I can answer that. But I do have a theory. Humans use only 10% of their brain in a single life time. You have probably used 95% already.”
“Does it mean it can happen to anyone?”
“It’s rare but possible.”

I did not know whether to cry or not. He then added “I knew before entering your head, that this was risky. Both for you and me. The wake up call was actually not in the first plan. I decided to say it only when I was sure you would think about it.”

The next month was a killer; I found out that my father had died about 8 years ago. I was not told this earlier because of my condition. My home was the same one I had 10 years ago. Every thing like walking, talking was easy to get accustomed to, compared to the ordeal in learning to smile again.

Do you know what we remember the most about someone we love and whom we cannot reach again? Ironically, it’s not what everyone saw and loved in them it is those small things they did that remind you of them. Like my wife’s face when she bumped our gate when she was learning to drive. Her face when she wanted our son’s first words to be “MA” and it came out “PA PA”. The time I thought of teaching my son to play with a ball and he tried to eat it. The first time the nurse handed me my son.

I cried at nights knowing that all was fake. I cried at my loss even though I never really had them.

Sometimes it’s an object that triggers my memory. The object may be a rose, a ball, a greeting card, a car anything. I knew I could not take it anymore. I was home sick and love sick. I went to the neighbourhood pawn shop and bought a gun.

I woke up next morning and right next to me was my wife. I ran up to my son’s bedroom. He was there fast asleep.

I have never tried to remember what happened that night. Maybe I just couldn’t. I am back with the ones I love and that is what matters.

-CHANDRAHASA REDDY N

  • Viv

    I could not follow.

  • @Viv: Which part? :)