Science Fiction and Fantasy | An Indian Experience

Mirror Image! By Dr. M H Srinarahari |
Issue 27

Mirror Image! By Dr. M H Srinarahari

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“Hi!” exclaimed she.

“What happened? Asha,” responded Sowmya after a while.

“Mum, come and see for yourself. You will be surprised about what you are going to watch on the web.” Asha was browsing one of the Indian websites. She was flabbergasted at this piece of information.

“Wait, in two minutes let me finish the job on hand and I will be there.”

“Woh! It could be done at any time of the day. Now come quickly to take a look. Take my word mum, I know for sure that you will scream with ecstatic pleasure after you go through this kind of a news.”

Asha the only child of Mr. Chandra and Sowmya was eleven years old. She was cute and mature for her age. The parents were working at New Jersey. They were the heads of two prominent branches in the same multinational software company. In spite of their high position in an American society, they were trying to bring up their girl in a traditional Indian way. At home, they conversed in their mother tongue, were sticking on to the Indian traditional cuisine and followed most of the rituals on certain Indian festivals.

It was Chandra’s grandfather Abhilash who had migrated to America in the year 2006 AD. He had married an Indian girl Shyla in 2010 in America. They started working in the same company. Their child was Suryanarayana who was also born and brought up in the same place. He had married Chandramukhi. They could not squeeze out time to visit India not even once in a century due to the prevailing work pressure. Now in 3005 AD neither the parents nor the grand parents were living. They had a few video clippings from India stored in their old Computers called PC’s! Those PC’s should have been dumped as junk at the corner of the road where each week the authorities would appear in their usual uniform to smash them on the spot with hi-tech machines and at the same time maintaining the ecological balance. But Chandra had retained the PC as he thought that it was a legacy of their ancestral property. The family had an inclination to visit to India. But the way they lived since many decades had made them to postpone their visit year after year.

Sowmya appeared at once wiping her face with a napkin and questioned, “What on earth made you invite me to chat with you? What is the matter?

Asha turned to her mother and drew her attention towards the information given in that website. Sowmya slowly drew a chair near the Galaxy Internet Receiver while going through loudly the matter, which was displayed over the monitor. She said, “cool mum cool. Watch, what is going on there and then you will realize whether I have wasted your time or otherwise.”

“Next week!” exclaimed Sowmya, “It is highly impossible. I have got to make preparation for the Galactic Conference of our company executives. If you desire, you can go with your father or you can go alone. I do not come your way.” Asha would have wept on that occasion. But she remembered that his grand father Suryanarayana had taught her not to pour out emotions in the form of tears and to control one’s emotion at all times. He had taught her the essence of life from the Bhagawat Geetha. But all of a sudden, her father Chandra appeared on the screen. He wanted to intimate to them that he would not be home for at least a week as he was to remain in his cabin in order to complete a project. Asha and Sowmya did not feel bad, as it had become a routine kind of life. They reported him about the event. He said with his usual business like tone “I cannot help it. It is left to Asha. Let her make bookings for both of us. If I can complete my project within a week surely, I shall accompany her. Otherwise it is left to her discretion.”

§   §   §   
Sowmya had returned from her office. She was in a jolly good mood she had earned a good name for her latest venture in the office. Chandra was not returning home that night. Anyways, Asha was back. Together they had a sumptuous dinner. While watching a Television show she asked “Asha, Tell me what happened at home?”

“Mummy, I helped in revealing the most confidential secret of the administration there unexpectedly,” replied Asha. She wanted to draw her mother’s attention as she was craving for an extra dose of love and affection from her mother.

“Ah! Speak the truth. How can any one believe that you could make miracles?”

“No, Mum, please listen to me till I complete my narration of my experience, then you can pass on your sarcastic comment.”

“Do you mean to say that I always pass on sarcastic comment upon your word and deed? You do not know how much I missed you when you were away from home.” But, Asha alone knew how much her own mother loved her!

” Mum, what happened you know, when we arrived in Mysore, the entire city was celebrating Dasara festivals in a variety of ways. You see, mum, There was Bharathanatya dance in one of the heritage buildings, Hindustani Music in another building, there was a folk dance in yet another, exhibition, cultural show, twentieth century cat walk was going on – it was funny to observe that Indian models were clad in zaratari sarees or some thing else they were describing. There was a footwear exhibition somewhere; they had exhibited the imitations of the footwear used by Maharajahs, Peshwars, and by ordinary citizens of ancient India. Mummy, it was very interesting to see a donkey, which could trace the hidden things and match a ‘made for each other’ pair whose images were displayed on the net separately.”

“Mum, formerly a century back, any person who was coming from outside was exploited by charging him or her a lot on entry fee, parking fee, for transportation, lodging and food. People say that at present the things have changed. Any outsider will not be charged even a Thousand Rupee. Free transportation, communication, accommodation and food are available for outsiders. There used to be a large crowd at the ‘Mandakalli Space Lift Port’ to receive the stranger guests whoever will be prepared to go to their house.  Mum, people were telling me this is a ‘Hospitality Year!’

“I know all those things, Asha”, Sowmya commanded “come to the point straight.”

“Wait mum, I have a lot to tell you. You obstruct me from speaking whenever I want to speak to you. What has happened to you?”

” Never my child, I was getting sleep”

“Okay Mum, the point is that as you know that the main attraction of Dasara festival is on the procession to the Bannimantap field from the Mysore Maharaja Palace. Hundreds of thousands of people in spite of the availability of the online ‘Three Dimensional Viewing System’, they prefer to watch it live. It has a tradition of its own. Dasara is also associated with many mythological and historical events. They were traced back to Ramayana and the circumstance leading to worshipping Banyan tree.  The victory march or the procession will include a few tableau depicting the progress in every horizons of life in this region.”

“Oh! Yea! What a cumbersome exercise you are giving all the time,” said her mother  “You have not come to the point yet. It seems that you were a petty politician in India during the last century in your previous birth. I know for sure they used to talk out of focus always and never ever spoke on the thing!”

” Mum, you may be knowledgeable. But listen to me at least today. You might have noticed that the tradition is Grand Ma used to tell stories to their grand children. Mum those days are gone. You have to listen to me till you till you retire to bed. Oh! Sorry, you have undergone an operation to overcome that last month. Now listen I wont take much time.”

“Come on let us go to the bed so that you can listen to me while you give rest to your back.”

After they shifted to the bed, Asha continued, “see, I was telling you that the main attraction of this particular event ride of the Goddess Chamundeshwari idol on the chosen decorated elephant” said Asha. As she always knew the art of story telling, after a pause she continued, ” this time there was no choice of the elephants because, the last of the species of the elephant on the Earth by name Sthitaprajna was to carry the howdah on which the Goddess Chamundeshwari was installed. Hence, there was a mad rush for watching the procession. The local people term the procession as Jumboo Savari.”

Sowmya heaved a sigh, “Oh! I see!” she exclaimed.

“Later we could get free tickets easily because people adored us as their guests of the city. People treated us saying thus: Athiti devo bhava. Mum they elaborately explained how a guests are gods.”

“Mummy, preparations were going on every where for the Vijayadashami. Grand ma and the entire family were happy about our presence. In fact, the members of the family had prepared eatable of various kinds for me. They were narrating the history behind each dish, the ingredients, and the method of preparing them. Unluckily, all of a sudden, I caught cold on the previous night. Grand ma Savitri in Mysore told me that it might be due to the change of water. How can it be mummy, does that ever happen? After all every particle of water is made up of H2O.”

” Asha, don’t show your ignorance. You can finish your story early. I am sleepy.”

“Mummy, you see they did not allow me to watch the procession live because I may infect the cold to others that too in a crowd the effect will be large. I agreed to stay back blaming my own misfortune. Having come all the way to watch the important function in ones own hometown after a lapse of one hundred years during which no family member had the occasion to watch it live. Mum, just imagine how bad I must have felt.”

“Oh! Finally couldn’t you make it?”

“No mummy, that is the tragic part of my story. I had to resort to watch the procession on the 3DVS.” Asha took a longer pause than usual before she continued, ” It was in another way a boon for all of us. I was terribly upset, you know. I was disgusted, bored all that I could not control my passion at that time. In order to divert my attention, I just played a game in copying the image, editing it and then taking the web cam focusing on the images, which beamed from the device. Repeatedly I played the game, as I was unable to concentrate upon any thing. Simultaneously, browsing for the Liverpool team experiment on mirror reflections.”

“Are you referring to a study carried out a century back by a team lead by Marco Bertamini on mirror reflections?”

“Yea mum…how do you know it?”

That was a marvelous finding by Marco as he found out that a person must be directly in front of the mirror to see himself or herself. Because, light bounces off a mirror at the same angle it hits. That is the basic fact about mirror reflections.”

“You are absolutely right, that was their study. Though not directly the findings created a terrible impact on my mind to apply the knowledge that I had derived just then on what I was watching. At that time something flashed to my mind in a split of a second. I do not know how it happened so quickly.”

“It was reported that the Stitaprajna‘s left knee joint was injured. As I was watching the procession over the 3DVS, to my astonishment I observed that the right knee joint was injured. I checked the same by contacting papa. He was at that time an eyewitness for my case. He confirmed that its right knee joint was injured. Contacting others he confirmed his view point.”

“Mummy, I like India because Indians react spontaneously to every situation. I have noticed that when you watch a Television program or a movie in a theater there, you will not notice any thing awkward about the left and the right side of the formation of images. You will notice it to be as natural as possible. You have noticed several people are so engrossed in viewing including 3DVS that they take every thing to be real. Watching a movie will be so engrossing that every one without his or her consciousness react to the situation because viewing is identical to that of facing a person right in front of the person who is watching.  Often spectators react to the virtual images in such a way that they laugh when a character cracks a joke, supports when the characters shout or screams loudly. It is more commonly noticed in a country like India. In case of a camera, the display screen next to the eyepiece will also exhibit as naturally as you see a person as though he is sitting in front of you. But, when you are sitting before a web cam or a handy cam or even take for instance you are chatting live with another person on the web world, you will notice that on the camera screen, on the monitor screen or on a mega screen or on the object screen you notice that images only. When you watch the image formed on the screen you will notice the mirror image of the same. If you raise your left hand, you see an image as though the right hand is raised. It is the mirror image that you notice. I tried to experiment with the same idea. If you keep a clock before it and observe, for example if the time is to be 3.00 it will appear as 9.00! By this phenomenon I inferred how it might have happened. After persistent efforts the truth came out. The authorities have confirmed papa that Sthitaprajna had died a week earlier to Vijayadashami. After the death of the elephant, the authorities immediately speculated that the news of Sthitaprajna would surely bring commotion among the general public. The news might also irate the traditional and religious Mysoreans. They thought that the spread of the news might result in the destructive activities everywhere. To maintain law and order police will have to forcefully impose restrictions on the freedom of the people. The action taken in this regard at this hour will surely hamper normal life of the public. Momentarily, they wanted to make an alternative arrangement, which could prevent the possible commotion. Hence, the news regarding the death of the elephant was not disclosed. In a hurry they could bring a cameraman who was an amateur photographer who lived in the neighbouring town Robotalli. In great haste, the organizing committee ordered that new company to make a replica of Sthitaprajna in the form of a robot. Thus, the Sthitaprajna robot was made ready. Had the technicians been somewhat mature they could have taken the mirror image option in the tools menu to get the image. But they relied on the image taken from the out put screen. That was the cause for the decline of the authorities. One of them…” She turned towards her mother to watch her reaction but in vain as her mother was already in deep sleep.

She could understand that human relationship was getting worse day by day in this place. She could very well predict that the chasm would go on widening day by day. On the one hand, with a clear vision of the future she could conclude that her home would not be an exception to this rule to this country. On the other hand, her eyes brightened when she visualized the human relationship in India. The Mysoreans have given her an open invitation to get free education facilities with all amenities if she desired to settle in Mysore. The offer made her to decide ultimately to return to India alone and settle there.

Cover pic by Volker Stetter.

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Dr Srinarahari has obtained B.Sc., B.Ed., Diploma in Marathi, MA in English literature. He has been awarded a doctoral degree for “The Robotistic Works of Isaac Asimov: A Study” by Kuvempu University, Karnataka state. After serving for 40 years in Government of Karnataka he has retired as Principal. Now, he is working as Principal of Animaster College of Animation and Designs in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India for the last 5 years. He can be reached over; Dr Srinarahari is the Vice President of the Asian Science Fiction Association. He is the Secretary-General of Indian Association for Science Fiction Studies®, Bangalore, India. He has organized 14 National and 5 International Science Fiction Conferences. He is an SF writer, critic and reports for the number one SF magazine of the world namely Locus. SF Writing Short Story Workshop that he has conducted for the children of the age group 13-15 is acknowledged as a pioneer attempt. Also, he has conducted similar workshops for Scientists, Science Fiction Writers, Women writers, Research scholars, PG and UG students, Senior citizens, Working Women, Housewives as well as for all levels and age groups. The workshop products are published in the form of books. He has been compared to Thomas Clareson of the USA for his effort in bringing together people of all walks of life to be involved in Indian Science Fiction association activities. has several of his articles which reflect the holistic approach to the Indian Science Fiction Studies.