A Tale of An Antique Book

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It’s an era of the thirty-fifth century. An era of gene therapy. And, diseases such as cancer & AIDS are completely & readily curable. They have solved the problem of pollution. The average human age is about 150 years & it’s an era where robots play an important role in society. India is now a developed country.

Maya is a 7-year-old girl. She is sitting with her grandfather. Her grandfather tells her interesting stories. Stories about the origin of the universe. Old stories about Mahabharata & Ramayana. Stories about Ram, Krishna & Pandavas.

Therefore, she loves Grandpa. Most of the time, she remains with Grandpa. She says, ‘My mechanical teacher (robot) does not love me. He always gives me homework and problems to solve. He does not tell me interesting stories. But my grandpa is a ‘live book.’ I can ask him any question I want & he gives me a good answer.

Maya asks his grandpa, ‘Papa, how do you remember so many stories?’

Grandfather replies, ‘Beta, in our times, I have read so many books. My grandfather was a great writer. He wrote books on science & books on religion. The books were of paper. Stories & information were on the paper.’

It was surprising for Maya to hear this. Says, ‘What? Books made of paper? How is this possible?’

But Maya is still thinking about the books & the fairy tales written in them.

Maya’s mom reminds her of school time. She shouts, ‘Maya, it’s school time. Your mechanical teacher (Robo-teacher) is waiting in the schoolroom. Submit your homework and attend the class.’

The humanoid helper, the robot, reminds her of school time & therefore she runs away to attend school. The school is in the house itself. Next to her bedroom. Only a single student & a robot teacher. A mechanical teacher.

There is great news. They have recovered a time capsule. Recovered at Delhi. A capsule containing ‘books’ of the 19th century and buried under the ground. All the books are in a museum. Because the present generation is not aware of the books of the past. Few ‘books’ are open for auction.

Grandfather immediately leaves for Delhi in the driverless automated flying machine to purchase the book. He wishes to purchase a book written by his grandfather.

He is back home with a book. It’s a book on- science fiction. He places the book on his table.

All family members gather to have a look at the book. Maya’s dad & mom. Maya’s dad is working as an architectural engineer at the Space Station. He arrived after one month. Maya’s friend Sonu has also come to see the book.

Maya says, ‘Surprising, papa, but it’s dirty & torn. The words are so-so but not moving.’

Maya is familiar only with e-books.

Grandfather admits, ‘It’s an old book, hence it’s torn. It’s older than me.’

Now, it is 10.0 p.m.

Maya’s grandfather plans to rest.

He says, ‘OK., goodnight everybody. We are meeting tomorrow. I shall tell you something interesting tomorrow.’

Everybody whispered & went to sleep. The book was lying on the table.

Next morning.

It’s early morning. The house-robot ‘Sam’ is cleaning the house. Wherever he finds germs, tiny insects or viruses, he cleans them. He finds viruses & germs in the old book and does not understand the old age book. Thus, he takes the book and disposes it. Thus, the book vanishes.

Maya now wakes up. She comes to Grandfather’s room.

Maya says, ‘Grandpa, where is your book? There is no book on the table.’

His Grandfather wakes up & looks here & there. There is no book. He is afraid.

He once again closes his eyes and goes to sleep.

Maya now asks the robot, ‘Sam, have you seen a book lying on the table?’

Sam says, ‘Yes, there were a bunch of torn papers on the table. There were tiny germs and insects in it. I have disposed of it.’

Maya runs to Grandpa’s room. Grandpa is still asleep. Maya tries to wake him up. But, no response. Maya calls her mom.

Their Grandpa is no more. Maya touches his feet & starts weeping.

Maya lost her ‘live book’ once again.

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