The world around me was changing very rapidly. Life was getting tough, for me as well as for those around me. Ileana, Ameline, Ocean, Mr. Walder, Mr. Renaux and my father, these were the only people I could trust. It was not the best of the times, at least not for the residents for Elder. The news that Bestial paid a visit to Elder spread much quicker than expected. But what shocked me most, was what Ameline had told me. That she was a healer!
Was she aware of that earlier? Was she hiding it from us? From me? I had no idea until I discussed about it with her. And I realized that, she was more terrified than I was.
“How many times should I tell you that I discovered it a few days ago?” said Ameline.
“But come you didn’t know about it? You are a – ” I whispered ” – healer.”
We were at our regular Weekend Cafe. though it wasn’t a weekend. Ileana and Ocean were working for the upcoming events at the school. I was too, a part of that event. But I had to practice my seeking skills and Ameline was going to dropping me to Prof. Florence’s house for the practice. But it turned out that professor was busy that day, with some ‘important’ work. So, she asked me to come in the evening. And that was how we got in Weekend Cafe, discussing about a killer who was assigned to kill us.
“Welcome on the hit-list!” I said.
“Be a little serious. Not everything is worth joking.” said Ameline. Disappointment flashed on her face.
“I know. Life is doing the same with me.” I sighed.
We arrived at the school after the practice. I was surprised to see that Ameline still retained a few seeking skills. Last lecture that day was – Neurology. Biology was never my area of interest. But neurology was an exception. I always wanted to know about the mysteries of human mind, the place where it all started.
“What is consciousness? Anyone?” Asked Prof. Ivanov, in what seemed to me Russian accent. His voice was not as hard as his stature. He looked pretty much like a wrestler forced into teaching. But no, he was one of the best professor the school had.
As always, half of the class raised their hands. “Yes,” said Ivanov pointing to a boy sitting in far corner.
“The element of our mind which helps us to understand our surroundings and ourselves. And which is one of the reason we are ‘alive’.”
“I will say you were a bit technical. But your last line caught my attention.” Prof. paused and pointing towards another student, he said, “Yes, Miss – “
“SIlven, sir.” said the girl.
“Yes, Miss Silven. What do you think consciousness is?”
“I think it is a living component of us.”
“Nice try. Anyone else. Yes, you.”
“The only sensation of being alive which remains in a subject under induced coma.”
“Close enough, but no.” Then he pointed to another student. Then another and then one more and then at Ileana.
“Sir, I believe it’s what helps us distinguish between truth of our existence and death.”
“I’ll call it a definition but not what I want to hear. Well, tied Miss Walder.”
Ileana was disappointed by what professor had just said. She supposed her answers to be perfect and ideal. If she was wrong then no one in the whole class can answer it, that was our belief.
“You.” Professor pointed his finger towards me and asked, “We would like to hear your thoughts on this topic.”
I tucked my feet under me. “I… I think it’s… it’s something that… that helps us sense… sense time.” I said whatever came to my mind at that time.
“Exactly! Time. The most essential part of our existence, which most of you guys missed.”
I was surprised to see that my answer was correct. Professor threw a keen look towards me and continued his lecture. After the lecture was over, Prof. Ivanhov asked me if I can accompany him over a cup of tea. Tea was rare beverage in Elder city. And if someone asks you to join him or her for tea, it meant that something important was to be discussed. I followed him to his cabin.
Being in Ivanhov’s cabin felt like being in a Victorian palace. Except for a tousled aroma which smelled like a Paris Hilton perfume with wine. Then I noticed a cupboard full of perfumes.
“I’m a perfume collector.” said Prof.
“I… I noticed that.” I said.
“I hope you’re not osmophobic,” he laughed. “Prof. Acel is osmophobic and whenever he comes to this place he either faints or flees in a hurry.”
Enlighting! “What did you wanted to discuss with me, sir?” I asked.
“Nothing special. Just wanted to hear your thoughts.”
“My thoughts?” That came as a surprise.
“Yes, Advik. I see that you’ve got potential as a thought expert.” he said, while handing over a cup of tea to me.
“Thought expert?” I had heard this term for the first time.
“It’s a conglomeration of a philosopher and a seeker. Very prestigious position.”
“But how can you know that I deserve this position. I’ve only answered one question of yours.”
“The answer I’ve been waiting for last twenty years.”
“Really?” I was surprised to hear that he was on the faculty from last twenty years.
“Absolutely. No student has ever answered that question with the mention of ‘time’. You did.” He said.
“What is so significant about time?”
“Everything, boy, everything.” Enthusiasm was poring out from his voice.
“I don’t get you.” I said. He smiled and waled towards his bookshelf, picked a book and handed it to me.
“Time and Consequences by Sir Rigel Ivanhov.” I read out the title. “You’ve written a book on time! That’s amazing.”
“I’m glad you noticed that. Many people ask me where I earned my knighthood.” He gave a hint of smile.
“Knighthood? Which means you’re from…” Before I can complete my sentence, professor cleared my doubt.
“The otherside? Yes, I am. Just like you. And you can keep the book. I want your thought on whatever I’ve written.” He sank in his chair and said, “I think I am missing a very important point there.”
“It would be a pleasure to help you sir.” I said.
“Thank you, boy. You’re just as helpful as my other favorite student. She was as brilliant as you are,” he said.
“Who was she, sir?” I asked out of curiosity.
“Your mother, boy. She was the best Thought Expert our city ever had. But unfortunately, fate struck.” He let out a breath.
“You knew my mother?”
“I taught her and I was the one who suggested her name to the committee.”
“Wh-what committee?” I asked.
“The Presidential Committee.”
“Elder is a part of a country?”
“It was. Now it’s an independent nation. We separated after our healers were slaughtered. Arvovalta, Elder and Aeon were the three cities which made our country what it was. Aeon was destroyed and Arvovolta was the one to betray. Arvovolta is now called as Snoutband.” His eyes softened with moisture.
“Aeon was a part of the country?”
“It was. Your mother belonged there. After the committee fell, the Snoutbands attacked the Aeons. It was not a war fought morally. Aeons were brought into an ambush. Poor fellas. They trusted easily.”
Somethings were becoming clear. Now, I understood what Aeon meant. It was a city. And probably I was the only Aeon left.
“Were the Aeons powerful seekers?”
“They were no seekers at all.”
“Then… then what skills they had?”
“Time, my boy, time.” he said.
“Time?” I asked. Many questions were burning inside me.
“They understood the truth about time. And when they refused to tell that truth to the Snoutbands, they were killed. Elder’s healers were next. But we seekers hardly trusted anyone, that’s why we survived.”
“It’s difficult to digest all this.”
“Indeed.” He appeared to be thinking about something deep. And he continued, “Perhaps, you’re getting late.”
“Y-yes. I must leave. Thank you professor, for this book.”
“Goodbye professor.” I said. He nodded. And I left his cabin.
Walking through the corridors of the school, I noticed Prof. Florence standing aside the same Bamboo door that I’d tried to enter. But faced only darkness.
She came towards me and said, “It’s time for your practice sessions. Follow me.” She opened the door and this time I saw a light on the far side.
‘Many truths remain to be discovered,’ I thought.
“Yes. You’ve a long way to go.” said Prof. Florence who was walking ahead of me. And I suddenly recalled that we were to train in Prof. Florence’s house and not in the school. Then why had she brought me here? I was about to know.