The Robot Who Desired to be More Humanly

“So, what brings you here?” questioned Alex, the robot. Ravi replied in a feeble voice, “I need a job, can you help me with one?” “Yes”, replied the robot sternly. “What are you good at?” Alex interrogated further. Ravi said, “I am a software engineer from IIT Kharagpur”

Alex went silent for a moment and then replied, “Well, then you are a threat to me, I fear, I shall not be able to help you!” “But I can build the best robots you want me to”, said Ravi in desperation.  “I am aware of your capabilities and fear that you will not make a robot but will break me instead”, said a worried Alex. Ravi almost had tears in his eyes when he went ahead with his last try to convince, “Trust me; I will always be your slave.”

Alex was not impressed, he said, “You are human; which is why I can’t trust you! You can do anything to make money or succeed in life”. “What should I do to win your trust?” asked a curious Ravi.   Alex was silent and Ravi waited in anticipation. “Can you work on a code that will help me age like a human and love like a human?” Ravi did not have an answer; he responded after a while, “All I can do is, try!” “You don’t seem to be too confident”, stated Alex. Ravi replied, “I may not be confident, but I shall try my level best.” Alex stared at Ravi and then said, “Well, then I guess, I should let you try, come inside my little house and make yourself comfortable. I shall provide all that you need to do your research and coding. In return, I shall give you a three-time meal a day along with shelter, would that be fine?” Ravi couldn’t believe what he just heard. He nodded his head positively and said, “Yes, that is all I need!”

Ravi had no clue how to go about the code. It was a challenge, which he had already accepted. There wasn’t a choice; he had to do it to continue living. Alex had not given any deadline as such and so Ravi thought he could take all the time in the world for his research. For the first few weeks, Ravi kept wondering. Alex visited Ravi’s room once in a while but never complained. After a month, Ravi could not take it, he told Alex, “What if I am never able to crack this code?” Alex smiled and replied, “You can take your time; it’s okay if you don’t succeed, but you cannot lose your desire to succeed. If I notice that there is no passion left in you, I will fire you that very day!” Ravi felt motivated like never before. “And what if I complete this task? Will you still keep me here?” Ravi sought a clarification. “No”, said Alex firmly.

Ravi was in a shock. He was facing the biggest dilemma of his life. He was not supposed to lose passion, but at the same time, he would also be fired after completing his task. He thought to himself, it is better to get fired after completing the task rather than getting fired for losing his passion.

For the next one year, Ravi dedicatedly worked on his code. He studied the human brain and the kind of hormones it releases when it is feeling loved or is in love. Oxytocin is a hormone that the human brain produces when we feel happy. So he started reading about its properties and thought of ways in which it can be artificially produced. His experiments were a mixture of biochemistry, electronics, and computer science. After seven more years of research, which included thousands of permutations, hypothesis, combinations, and experiments, finally, that day arrived when he managed to recreate Oxytocin. He told Alex about it who was ecstatic after hearing the news. Ravi decided to take a break for some days. He badly needed one as he had worked day in and day out for the last seven years. He had to recoup energy for his next experiments.

The next step was rather easy; he had to write a code as to when Oxytocin needs to be produced. After working on different conditions for the next 4 years, he arrived at a code which he thought was complete. He called Alex to his room and showed him the code. The code had to be programmed into Alex’s body. Alex asked for one final time, “Are you sure this is going to work and it doesn’t have any loopholes?” Ravi was confident this time and said “Yes.” Ravi then went ahead programming the code into Alex. After a few moments, Alex was feeling different. He had experienced happiness and love for the first time ever! He had never felt so human-like before!

Now it was time for Ravi’s second task and so he asked, “How long do you want to live?” Alex was confused. He wanted to experience love and happiness forever. He asked Ravi, “How long do you want me to live?” Ravi was overwhelmed and replied, “I wished you could live forever.” “But, it is against the laws of nature, isn’t it?” said Alex, Ravi was silent. “How long will you take to develop the next code?” Alex continued with his question. Ravi replied in a fearful voice, “It won’t take much time, maybe a day or two.”  Alex wanted a specific answer “One day or two?” “Two”, said Ravi. “Well, then I want to live only for two more days as I won’t have any work for you after that. With so much love that you have coded into my system, I don’t think I would be able to live a day without seeing you.” Ravi could feel the love between them as well. “Why don’t you give me another task then?” he asked.

To be honest, “I had no other purpose in life, I simply wanted to understand the meaning of love. And that I have already achieved.” Ravi was furious this time, he said, “then how do you expect me to live without you after you are gone?”

Alex realized that he was being unfair to Ravi. “In that case, I would prefer to remain immortal in your company, but you would definitely die one day, what would I do after that? Also, what task should I give you next” “Anything that you think would be appropriate”, replied Ravi. After thinking for a while, Alex replied, “You can code love into all robots of the world, I am sure all of us would want that!” Ravi smiled, “That’s a great idea!” “But what after you die?” “Do you want me to work on something that makes humans immortal?” asked Ravi.  “No, definitely not, because that would make them less humanly and more of a robot of some sort” Both of them pondered again for a solution to their problem. “Well then write a code that will make me die in 1 second and teach me how to program it into my own body. The moment you die, I will install it into my body and I will just have to live a second without you.”

Ravi smiled and also had tears in his eyes at the same time. He never thought that a robot who he considered to be his master, would turn out to be his best friend someday!


The Motorman Who Couldn’t Laugh Like He Always Used To!

Anil Singh couldn’t sleep for the last three nights. He was back from the worst trip of his life. Guilt had engulfed him completely like a hungry dinosaur. He thought to himself, “Will I ever be able to ride a train again?” When he shut his eyes, all he could see was the poor man in front of him, staring death without the slightest fear in his eyes. Anil recollected his childhood days when he took pride in declaring his ambition of becoming a train driver when he grows up. It was a well-paid job for which he had put his heart and soul. After being a motorman for 15 years, he couldn’t imagine himself pursuing another profession. Besides that, he was the only source of income for his dear family of his wife and two children.

Farmer suicides have been on a rise in the recent years, especially when the rain Gods haven’t been too merciful. Shiva had lost all hopes as well and thought that death would be better than bearing the burden of a 2-lakh debt which he wouldn’t be able to repay in his entire lifetime. Two years back, times were much better when his groundnut yields sufficed for his daughter’s education. It was now time to marry her off but all the aspiring grooms were demanding dowry that he couldn’t have accumulated even if he lived two more lives as a farmer. His barren fields and torching sunrays mirrored his very existence.

Tired of living a dead man’s life, he decided to take that bold step. His hands shivered when he mixed pesticides into glasses of milk that the entire family had survived on for the last two weeks. There wasn’t an option for dinner. They had to drink it. Shiva watched on as his wife and children shivered to death after they had emptied their glasses of milk into their hungry stomachs. Why didn’t Shiva kill himself in the same way then? Well, Presence of mind and logic takes a back seat when your brain is taken over by depression. After his wife and daughter stopped wriggling and shivering, Shiva realized what he had just done. He quickly peeped into the glasses of milk, to find out if anything was left behind. Nothing! The glasses were as empty as his soul now. He cried like never before hugging on his dearest ones who were mere dead bodies now. He had to die and that was when he heard the distant hooting sound of a train. After taking a deep breath, he got up probably from his last ever sitting position.

Anil was expecting a hike after a month and had applied for his pending 1-week leave. His goodbye sounded more exciting for he was expecting to enjoy his family-vacation in Manali after he was back from his duty. But fate took a different route for Anil, unlike his destined train routes. Like always, Anil boarded the engine of Netravati Express and the train nudged ahead on its journey as per its scheduled departure time.

Shiva walked towards the track which was 5 kilometers away with a strong motive. His walk turned into bursts of jogs which finally turned into a 100-meter sprint. He practically had no energy left but his motive was strong enough to push him harder. He could see the train approaching from a distance. He had to make it now because he knew he would have to wait for hours for the next train to arrive while he did not desire to live even a moment longer.

Anil received a complete green signal after he had crossed the longest tunnel of his route or probably the entire country. He never thought that after emerging out of the darkest tunnels, his life is going to hit pitch black.

Shiva reached there when the train was only 20 meters away. He stood there staring at Anil who knew that pulling the breaks at that moment would not save the man. For some reason, Anil did not look away. And that sight was engraved on his heart forever. The train eventually stopped and some officials we asked to gather Shiva’s body parts that were torn into pieces.

Another farmer suicide; another news report that was it for the world! But for Anil, life would never be the same. He even thought of canceling his vacation to visit the same spot once again, but he never had the courage to do it. So he tried to distract himself as much as he could by spending some good time with his family. But even his heartiest laughs had lost its charm, might as well forever!

The Malayalee Boy Who Breathed Fire!

There was once this boy named Sanil. Just like everyone else, he had two eyes, a nose, and two ears. What made him different was his mouth which could breathe fire whenever he felt like. He discovered his ability when he blew his first birthday candle off!

The celebration was grand as he was turning one year old and was the only child of his 40-year-old Malayalee parents. The Nambiars had lost hope completely and thought that only a miracle could have conspired Sanil’s existence. Guests including closest family friends and relatives were astonished to see something that they had only heard of in fairy tales.

Sanil’s parents were anxious and worried, probably more anxious than the moment when Sanil cried for the first time! They lived in a small 1-room-kitchen flat in Dombivili, outside Mumbai where the guests panicked after the unexpected event. Within few minutes, the celebrations came to a standstill. The balloons inflated by Sani’s Father with a lot of love dangled without any real motive now. They decided to take Sanil to the nearest hospital to examine his curious medical condition.

No other doctor would have been as amused as Dr. Shakti, an MD and Dombivili’s most renowned child specialist! After listening carefully to Sanil’s parents, he exclaimed: “I have never come across a case like this in my entire 15-year career”. Nevertheless, he recommended a few tests immediately.

MRI scans were very new back then in the 1900s, which is why Sanil’s father had to spend a good 10,000 rupees for it. He had to because he was not sure if another miracle like Sanil’s birth could occur again! Sanil’s mother was in disbelief and complete trauma. She had nightmares witnessing that strange moment when her beloved son breathed fire in her dreams. She was a housewife and had nothing else in life to look forward to, other than Sanil.

Mr. and Ms. Nambiar visited Dr. Shakti after a week’s time along with the MRI reports. Dr. Sahkti sighed, “due to a minor hormonal imbalance, Sanil’s pancreas is producing more sulfur than it should ideally. You will have to observe Sanil closely and find out the triggering points that cause him to breathe fire.”

The next 5 years we spent by the Nambiars, observing Sanil closely. He was never left alone even for a moment. The story of his first birthday had spread like wildfire. Though adorable Sanil borrowed his lovely eyes from his mother and a rounded nose from his father, nobody dared to even come close to him, except his parents.

There were quite a few occasions in five years that Sanil had breathed fire. Once Ms. Nambiar was feeding him a Tapioca dish (popularly known as kappa in Malayalam) when Sanil blew fire from his mouth. Ms. Nambiar was too close to Sanil and her cheeks were burnt. On another occasion, when Sanil was three years old and was riding on his father’s back, he blew fire once again which blackened the walls of his small apartment. For once, the Nambiars also thought of disowning Sanil, but they changed their mind after looking at his innocent smile.

They kept meeting Mr. Shakti every six months but they were unable to find out the exact cause or triggering point. But there was a positive change in Sanil – he could talk now. They were waiting for Sanil to talk about any kind of uneasiness before he breathes fire again.

Another 20 years went by and finally, that day arrived! Sanil was with his girlfriend Anita, whom he was going to officially propose on a secluded mountaintop in Gangtok. Anita was gazing at the valleys and golden rays from the setting sun made her look even more gorgeous, probably only in Sanil’s eyes at that very moment. Sanil couldn’t find a more opportune moment to declare his love for Anita. He went up to her and said, “I love you and want to marry you!” Anita was not expecting this but was blown off her feet. Sanil bravely continued, “But I want to confess something”. Anita wondered. “I breathe fire sometimes”. Anita started laughing because she thought Sanil was joking like always. Sanil tried convincing her that he was not lying. Anita slowly controlled her laughter and said, “I don’t care, I don’t mind burning to death in your fire”. Sanil kissed for the first time but breathed fire once again, the biggest one he had ever breathed till date! Anita was burning. Sanil couldn’t do much as there was nobody in sight who could help at the mountaintop. All he could do is scream and glare away from that horrendous sight! That was when Sanil realized that he breathed fire when he was overwhelmed with love.

Sanil’s life was a dilemma after that day’s discovery. It meant that Sanil was forbidden to love anybody from his heart. Unlike those dreadful dragons from fairy tales, poor Sanil only sought love but was never allowed to love back equally! He feared that he would burn all his dearest ones to death one day.

Finding the “me” in “us”

It’s been a while since I wrote for my personal blog. More than being busy with other writing projects and professional assignments, it’s because it was becoming more about me, my views, my opinions, experiences. Almost like a reckless monster that cared less. I wanted to observe other people, meet them, talk to them and know them better so that I could think beyond myself. The “other people” whom I am talking about are the ones dearest to me. Not sure how far I could excel in that attempt, but it has been a truly rewarding experience nevertheless. Now I know I am flawed in more ways than I thought I was. I have changed a lot. I think I am more opinionated than ever before which sometimes offends or hurts others as well.

The time you don’t spend with the ones who need your time the most won’t really come back. So, I think it is much better to offload that baggage of “me” and explore the “me” in “us”. Human minds are much more complex than we think it is. Understanding it in one lifetime is impossible. But understanding how you behave in certain situations, how you respond to someone is a process of self-analysis that could help you become a better person.

Hatred Breeds More Hatred

I live in a country where the current political standpoint of most politically-inclined citizens is extreme. I believe that this could be a very hysterical state to be in. On one side there is a community of people who go lashing all out at “Bhakts”, a word that is associated with anybody who is pro-Narendra Modi/ BJP/ Hindutva/ “nationalism” (quoting nationalism since I believe that the word nationalism has been tarnished and misused by many people). The word “Bhakts” also has been chosen by the same Anti-Modi community. On the other side, there is a pro-Modi community who keep ranting against” pseudo-secular” groups, leftist, extremists and separatists belonging majorly to the minority or Muslim community.

We need to rise above our own ego to look at a situation more objectively. The problem with this rising hatred and this kind of extreme outlook is that it all piles up at the end. The threshold of all this pent-up anger could be disastrous for any country’s future. Both communities are at fault and have been the reason behind many controversies and communal riots. But there is no point in digging graves and rubbing salt in each other’s wounds. Hating each other will only amount to more hatred.

We need to take a fresh start by erasing our memories like we format hard-discs. Having said that, it won’t be easy for those who have lost their dear ones in riots like these! But I don’t see any other way ahead either. Brotherhood is our saving grace. Only if these fire-breathing dragons with rigid ideologies could understand! And like they say, an ideal state can seldom be a realistic expectation. But nobody can stop us from dreaming at least. Just four days ahead of India’s Independence Day, 15th August, this thought seems to be worthy to ponder about maybe. Don’t you think? Give it a thought!

Jai Hind.


Is Consumerism Consuming Mankind?

How much of more is enough? Looks like a question whose answers will be very relative, depending on how much of more is more for you. We live in a world where there is something for everything and everyone. The latest trend has been fidget spinners. Everyone wants them. Everyone wants to pay a few bucks and buy these toys. Mobile phones with an added feature become the sensation for a month. Another sensational model is launched the very next month by another brand to become a bigger sensation. A wardrobe with week-old clothes becomes old enough to be revamped. Things to eat, things to wear, things to get entertained, things to communicate! Basically, there is a thing for anyone and everyone that can be bought to do anything and everything. If there is no such thing, then a demand for such a thing is created by masters of consumerism. There are a million billion-dollar multinational companies in this world which thrive by churning out these things that you supposedly “need”. The big question though here is, do you really need them? Back to the first question – how much of more is enough? A minimalistic lifestyle can make this world a better place. How? When people become self-sufficient with what they have easily, there would be lesser electronic waste, there would be lesser industries, lesser vehicles. They might start innovating to make this world greener and happier. Money would be diverted for the poor and the needy. This would be the beginning of the building of a sustainable society. Maybe. Not really sure.

Words of Solicitude

Hello, beautiful. Hope you smiled. I want you to. Please do. If you did, then imagine me smiling too. Smiles are what we are here for. Let them grow like wild flowers. Without worrying about how ugly or good you look while doing that. Easy boy. Nobody is keeping a count on you. Grief is momentary and is also a part of life. Yes, sometimes weeping is the only way out. Missing someone who is no more or someone who has abandoned you for some reason? I know you love him/her like crazy and you can’t really help it. There is no escaping sorrow, suffering or death. Let me wash that pain away for you. For now, just smile. Cos then, I will feel better too. All those dreams you were dreaming about may seem to be too distant. That’s okay. At least you are trying. Good things will happen when they have to if they have to. So take it easy. Smile for my sake or for the sake of someone you love. Unload all that weight from your shoulders for a moment. Relax your eyebrows, smile just for the sake of smiling, without expecting even the least in return. Hate and anger are not going to take you anywhere; it’s like a furnace that keeps gathering more heat with time. Spread the warmth of love not the flames of hate. We exist to live our lives happily. It is our right to be happy and nobody, not even yourself can take that right away from you. So live, smile and make someone else smile too. Wished everyone thought this way. I am here for you. Let’s see this thing through! Hope my words made you smile 🙂