” We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;
How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver,
Streaking the darkness radiantly! yet soon Night closes round,
and they are lost for ever… “
Professor Heed was reading Percy B. Shelley’s Mutability. His voice was magical. Just like Ameline. Rather more musical. Literature is never a boring lecture for me. It is an opportunity to learn something new. Because when you are reading something it isn’t just words, but the experiences of the author or the poet. Their mistakes, their achievements, their life and their emotions. Prof. Heed continued.
“… Or like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings
Give various response to each varying blast,
To whose frail frame no second motion brings
One mood or modulation like the last…”
But that lecture, my first lecture on my second day at DIGITS was different. I was not able to concentrate. Nothing except, Prof. Heed’s captivating voice seemed comprehensible. My mind was constantly turning back to the black box kept in my room. I woke up at around five in the morning. I was not able to sleep the previous night. I had tried to open the box, but trick was fruitless in front of that black ‘mystery’ box. Prof. Heed was still reciting the poem:
“…We rest. A dream has power to poison sleep;
We rise. One wandering thought pollutes the day;
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep;
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away…”
What can be there in that box? I gave up and continued listening to Shelly’s creation. I looked around for Ameline. She was sitting a few desks to my right. The sitting arrangement used to change daily. Her face looked impassive.
“…It is the same! For, be it joy or sorrow,
The path of its departure still is free:
Man’s yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow;
Nought may endure but Mutability…”
Prof. Heed finished reciting the poem. And I came back to the real world. Then he let out a deep sigh. And said, “Well, I hope you guys enjoyed this craft.” (He never said ‘poem’. Instead, he used the word ‘craft’. For him, literature was not just a subject. But an art.) “Tomorrow, I want you all to find a craft. Read it, learn it, make it a part of you, give it a place in here.” He pointed where his heart was, “- not here” He pointed towards his head.
He continued, “Each one of you is going to read a craft here. Don’t worry, everyone will get a chance. So, keep your findings short. I’ve just received a message from the Headmaster’s office saying your Holography lecture is going to take place on this Saturday. I hope you’ll receive the apology letter by the teacher soon. Enjoy your day. See you guys soon.” Then throwing his charming smile at us left.
“So what are you going to recite?” I tilted my head to look where the voice was coming from.
“Hi, I am Ramin.” The boy to whom the voice belonged said. He shook my hand when he greeted me.
“I am Advik.” I said.
“Haven’t you decided what are going to recite tomorrow?”
“Not yet. I haven’t yet found anything. What about you?”
“I am going to recite this – ” Then he showed me his Speculo. The poem read as:
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.
“Yeah. I’m glad you know. I am the Head of the Craftsmen Club. I wanted to invite you to join the club, if you’re interested.”
“Craftsmen in the sense poets, right?”
“It would be a pleasure.”
“Amazing. I’ll send you a message later about the working of the club. Welcome aboard!” We shook hands, vigorously. He looked overjoyed. “See you in next lecture.”
“Of course.” I said. Then he left. I was the only one left in the class. ‘So, what am I supposed to do now? One whole lecture off.’ I said to myself.
My Speculo beeped. It was the apology letter from Prof. Amber. I sighed. Got up and left the class. I was in the empty corridor. Then I saw someone walking towards me. A silhouette was taking a shape. Then it became clear. It was Prof. Florence. She was walking straight towards me. Then she stopped, her dark blue eyes were staring me. Then she turned around and walked away. ‘What was that?’,I thought to myself. I followed her to a very old door. The door was made from Bamboo sticks. Still, it was heavy as hell. It took me a few minutes to open it. Complete darkness was looking back at me. It was cold. ‘Where did she go?’ The next moment, I felt a hand on my left shoulder. I turned around. I was all alone. There wasn’t anyone. ‘Maybe my mind is playing with me.’ I closed the door and left immediately.
When I left the Orwell tower, I saw a few familiar faces. And in those faces I saw Ameline. She was sitting under shade of a birch tree which gave a very little protection from the rays of morning Sun. I walked there. Sat beside her; she didn’t notice me (perhaps, ignored me). She was reading a diary. The same diary that her dad had give us to hand it over to Ameline.
“Ameline?” I interrupted.
“Oh! Hi. I didn’t notice you.” Her voice was shaking. ‘Was she crying?’ I don’t know.
“Did Ramin asked you for the Craftsmen Club?” I asked.
“Yes. He did. But I won’t be attending those on weekends.”
“I go to my grandma’s home on weekends.”
“My mother and brother are buried there.”
“Oh… I… I’m sorry. Yesterday… I…”
“I can understand. I’m not angry with you.”
“You miss your mother and brother, right?”
“Very much.” She was on the verge of shedding tears. ‘Oh. Please, no.’ But she didn’t.
She continued. “Ileana told me everything about you. And I think we must not waste time. Let’s start you training.”
She told me that there is an empty classroom at the eastern end. The classroom was empty. Totally empty, not even desks or any platform. Nothing. It had a few posters and numerous wall paintings.
“Who did all these painting?”
“This room was earlier used by the Artisians. Now, they have a new space so no one uses this room.”
“Artisians? Are they like painters?”
“In a sense, they are. But they can also create objects out of thin air. They can breath ‘life’ to their creations. They are seekers with some extraordinary powers. Not skills, but powers.”
“No. It isn’t. Many Artisians were abducted by Snoutbands. But they offered resistance and defeated the Snoutbands in the Battle of Exo-dome.”
“Battle of Exo-dome?”
“The battle between Artisians and Snoutbands. That was a few years before they tried to overrule our seekers and gain power of Elder city. Many were killed in that. My mother and brother too. They both were Artisians.”
She stood facing me. “I am going to try to read your mind, anytime now. You have to focus and try not to think.”
Well, ‘try not to think’ was enough to provoke my mind to think. No matter how hard I tried, a thought tripped through.
“Are you reading my mind already?”
“Yes. And I saw what Ileana said to you when you visited her.” She began to laugh.
“Very funny, huh?”
“So, if you don’t want me to take a look at you private moments, focus. Concentrate on a memory that makes you laugh, that brings a smile on your face. I bet you have a memory like that.”
Then I focused on the my fifth birthday. I was celebrating it with my parents. They looked so happy. There was a cake which had my face drawn on it with white cream on the black chocolate cake. There was someone else there too. But who? I was not able to remember. Was my memory getting weak? Why was I not able to identify the third person?
“Who was the third person?” Ameline asked.
“Wait. I thought you can’t read my mind.”
“When you think on a happy memory, it doesn’t stop the other seeker from reading your mind. It just shows him or her what you want to show them. I always use this trick with Ileana. I think of the moments when I had helped Ileana. And when she reads my mind, she regrets it.”
“That’s a nice trick.”
“But it won’t help you with Bestial. He can force into your mind. And believe me it will be terrible. Very painful. You will choose death than facing Bestial.”
“Thanks for motivating me.”
We practiced for about half an hour. With each memory I felt as if a part of me was getting detached from me. I was exhausted. I gave up. That memory was unbearable. Whenever I tried to think of something happy, a fourth person in that memory.
“Why are you trying so hard to think about that fourth person?”
“I don’t know. My mind is diverting me.”
“I think you should take some rest.”
I retired to my room. Ameline went to the library after dropping me there. She said she would be picking me up after forty-five minutes. Dizziness was taking me over. The next lecture still had one hour to go. I dived on the bed. Ocean was not there. I was feeling as if I was drowning in water. It was getting harder to breathe with every passing moment. Someone was heading towards me. It was a woman. No! It was a girl. She was drowning in the water too. Who was she? The next moment I saw something crimson taking over the blue water. It was blood. The girl had disappeared. I was drowning in blood.
“Advik? Wake up.” Someone was whispering. It was a high-pitched voice. It belonged to a girl. The same girl. “Advik… Advik… Aeon” She was calling me.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“You know me. You always knew me.”
“Then why I am not able to remember who you are?”
“Time. The right time. Wait for it.” Everything was getting blurred. My body felt heavy. Darkness was taking over. Depth was taking over. I was drowning very fast.
“Advik? Advik?” This was a different voice. A very familiar, male voice. “Wake up.” Another voice. A female voice.
I woke with a start. Ameline and Ocean were starting at me. I was perspiring very fast.
Then Ameline rushed forward with a glass of water. “Here” My throat had dried up. I gulped the water. “Are you feeling good?”
“Y-yes.” I said.
“You were murmuring something in sleep – ‘She’s drowning. Help her!’ – Something like that.” Ocean told me. He looked terrified.
“Was I?” I asked Ameline.
“Yes you were. I think you had a bad dream.” Ameline told me.
“Yes. A very bad dream. A nightmare. Anyway, next lecture will start in fifteen minutes. Better hurry.” I said.
“I have to make a call. I’ll wait in the hallway downstairs.” She left the room. A worried look adorned her face.
“I’ll bring coffee for you.” Ocean said.
“No! Wait. Thanks, but we’re getting late. ”
“No worries. I must leave now. I have practicals. See you in the evening.” He said with his impressive smile.
“Yeah. Fine.” I held my head with both hands. It was throbbing with pain.
I checked the Cyclo and took out a pill which had a ‘head’ written on it. The pill was tasteless and melted as soon as it touched the tongue. My headache was gone. I drank a sip of water from the glass. I felt relieved. My eyes got fixed on the water. Water! ‘Was it just a bad dream? Or an old lost memory?’ I asked myself. Then I heard a whisper,
“Time. The right time. Wait for it.” It was the same voice. I was on my feet. I looked around. Nothing! I was alone in the room.