The Future Gardens
: Adhya Bhatnagar
There was a beep, and I was sucked into a vacuum.
Everything went black. Darkness surrounded me. When I opened my eyes, I found myself in a small room made up of shining metal. It had no windows or doors; it was like a closed box. I looked around, thinking of ways to get out and then decided against it. This was a strange place, and I didn’t want to get lost. I went close to a wall and slouched against it. I started thinking rapidly and asked myself many questions. “Where am I? What is this place? What is going on? What was the time?” I looked at my watch; it said 3:27. I was so late; mom would be worrying about me.
I felt hungry. My school bag was still hanging on my shoulders. I took it off and opened it, reached out for my chocolate and was about to eat it when suddenly there was a flash of light that almost blinded me. I closed my eyes and opened them only after I was sure that the light was gone. I was alarmed to see three robots staring at me. They were gleaming, white, and had flexible bodies with wheels for their legs.
They wheeled towards me. “Who are you? Why are you here and what is that in your hand? Is that a weapon?” All the robots asked me in a mechanical voice at the same time. I was not going to answer these questions to some robots in a strange place. Instead, I ignored them. When I didn’t answer, the robots repeated the same questions. I got impatient. “Who are you?” I asked them, “and what is this place?” “We are robots,” they replied. “We can’t tell you the name of this place until you tell us where you are from. Security systems enabled.” All the robots replied at once.
None of the answers helped. “Who is your owner?” I asked yet another question hoping for a useful answer. Before the robots could answer, another light flashed. My eyes! I opened them and saw a boy standing in front of me with a remote in his hand. He pressed a red button, and the robots stopped talking. “I am Mike,” he said, “How did you come here?” “I don’t know; I was just coming back from school when I saw a shiny object on the ground. I picked it up, and there was a beep, and I fainted. When I opened my eyes, I found myself here,” I replied.
He asked, “School? What is school?” I was a little surprised he didn’t know. He didn’t wait for an answer, but pressed a button on his watch and said, “It’s all right Sania you can come.” Another flash and a girl came in. “This is Sania,” he told me. “What is school?” the boy repeated. “It is a place where kids go to study,” I replied. “Adults we call teachers teach us and give us assignments at the end of the day that we have to complete. It is called homework.” I explained to them as if explaining some alien from another planet. “Don’t you go to school?” I asked them. “No, in fact, we barely step out from our home. Our robots do all the work for us. The last time I remembered going out was three years back when Mike hid the remote control outside and forgot about it, and I had to go out to find it, it was so difficult with all the smoke around me,” said Sania.
“Tell us more about your school,” said Mike. “Science is my favorite subject,” I said, opened my bag and took out my science book. “What is this?” asked Sania. “A book; don’t you read?” I asked them. “No” came a blunt reply.
I showed them my school calendar. Mike flipped through it. He laughed. “2017! You mean 350 years ago! Is this a joke?” he asked me mockingly. I stared at him blankly. Something clicked in my mind. I asked them, “Are you from the future?” Sania said, “No, we are from the present, and you are from the past.” That’s when it dawned on me; the object lying on the ground was a portal that transported me here! I got quite giddy with excitement, quickly grabbed my science book, and started flipped through the pages. “What is this?” Mike pointed his finger at the picture of a tree. “This is a tree. It gives us oxygen, and we are alive because of this,” I said. “We don’t have trees. They are extinct. We breathe with the help of air giving machines,” said Sania.
I couldn’t believe my ears. Were trees extinct? Was the future of earth going to be like this? I asked them, “Do you know about animals?” “What are animals?” they asked me in surprise. Creatures, beasts, I did not know any other name to describe animals. So I showed them pictures of animals, “Look, this is a tiger, this is an elephant, and these are my favorite animals; dolphins!” “Wow!” They exclaimed, “There are no animals now, only humans!” “Actually, did you know that humans are animals?” I pointed out.
That’s when my stomach grumbled. It must have made a loud noise because Sania laughed loudly and said, “It seems you have been hungry all day.” To be honest, I was. I had not eaten anything since breakfast. I had skipped lunch to play during the school interval, and now I was hungry as a bear. Mike pressed a button on his remote, and a robot flew into the metal wall that opened up for it. The robot flew back in and put a tablet in my hand. “What am I going to do with it?” I laughed, “Do you always eat medicines before eating food?” “This is food!” Mike and Sania replied, “Just suck it, and you will feel better.”
I sucked on it, it had a sweet-sour taste. it made me feel better, but then I remembered mom. She was going to make my favorite pasta this afternoon for lunch. I told them, “I have to go; mom will be so worried. I was supposed to reach home at quarter to three.” All of a sudden, I missed her and her food.
I kept the books back in the bag and found my chocolate again. I tore open the chocolate bar, broke a piece and offered it to them. Then, I quickly wolfed down the rest. When I finished and licked my fingers clean, I saw them looking at me with a question in their eyes. “Oh!” I said as if I had figured out a hard math problem. “Just eat it, it is sweet. I know you will like it.” They hesitated, but then took a bite. I looked at them curiously. Various expressions changed on their face. Confused, surprised and then happy. This is always the case after you eat chocolate. “It…It tastes intriguing, it tastes different,” said Sania, “I never tasted something like this before, It is yum!” said Mike.
“Guys, I must go now,” I reminded them. “But how are you going to go back?” asked Mike. I scratched my head and looked around, spotted the object which took me here. I picked it up and shouted goodbye. They said goodbye. And then I closed my eyes.
When I heard familiar noises, I opened my eyes slowly. A crow was cawing loudly, and the wind was making sounds rustling through the tree leaves. Cars zoomed by, and some street vendors were shouting out their wares. I felt a tinge of happiness. I thought we are so lucky. I couldn’t believe that after a few hundred years Earth would have no trees or animals! I was happy to be back. And with a contented smile on my face, I ran all my way home.
That night I wrote in my diary:
Life is an exam where the syllabus is unknown, and question papers are not set.
We create our own syllabus. If this is going to be the future, we should strive to change it, so that all the beings on the earth now and after will benefit.
I smiled. If we care for our planet, then Mike and Sania will be able to taste wonderful things like chocolates and pasta. They can play in the gardens.