Sunday, December 31, 2006

A thing to dream of and not to tell!!

Aryl Larks leafed through the stained yellow pages of the diary. The last three entries clubbed together caught her eye (the entries prior to this cluster were dates some 12 years back).

FEB 5 - one equation, just one set of inconsistent data .Lies between me and my dream. I am almost through, but for the last step.

NOV 11-Thirteen years and another half a dozen months. It's been a long wait, a very long one indeed. But it was worth the struggle. I finally have everything on paper.

Oh god! Oh god! Should I have done it? The bunch of papers contains earth shattering results.......

NOV 15- No, it cannot be. I cannot let yellow papers veil my success. I cannot let the baby die in the womb itself. The whole world has got the right to know about it...

HOLY CHRIST...forgive me if I am making a mistake...

Aryl Larks, always had control over her emotions, but today was not her day. She had been awake for the past 24 hrs, and had no intention to rest in the next few hours or perhaps the next few days. She clung on to the diary with tears in her eyes. She was enervated ,after 1 year of searching all she found was a diary. She remained there sitting in the dusty basement until she heard the approaching steps of someone coming. She quickly hid behind one of the giant boxes. She realized ,that she had been in the basement for over 5 hrs, and the noise she made had aroused the suspicion of the guards, who had come there to inspect. No sooner, had the guards left than she left the basement the same way she had sneaked into it, that is through a secret gateway, that her father had shown her .Going through that tiny passage, she also went down the memory lane. She recollected the times when she used to come with her father through this passage .she remembered all the things, her father had taught her, and momentarily the pleasant memories of the past turned into melancholy with the thought of the way her father died. It took her 25 minutes to reach her apartment, which usually took only 10 minutes, but time was not in her mind, the only thing that raced in her mind, were the questions that had been haunting her for the past 5 years, answers to which she sought ever since the mysterious death of Dr. Harry Larks, her father, who would have created a chaos in the field of technology, had god been gracious enough to give him what all human crave for, TIME.

Amidst all these confusion, one thing which was clear in her mind was the realization that the only purpose of her life now, was to find out what was the dream, her father wanted to share with the world, a dream which she knew would create havoc in the world by unfolding the mysteries, perhaps, for which even the world was waiting. She wanted answers for a lot of questions, but primarily she wanted to give her father a tribute which he truly deserved .she wanted Dr. Harry Larks to receive the fame and recognition for the project on which he had spent 2 decades, Project – LIFE. She was having a sense of nostalgia, her father had been a friend , philosopher and guide to her, and now she was left alone with no one to confide in. She suddenly felt very weak. If only her father had been alive!

Her immediate search was the papers and records of the projects which had been misplaced, lost or stolen, something she was not sure of. She ransacked the entire apartment like a sniff dog, in search of any document which could answer her queries. Just as she was about to give up her 2 and a half hours search , she found it, a piece of paper, which was yellowed with time, and what seemed to be a piece of a scientific report. She gave the page a closer look, it seemed to be a report on something related to the project life, and it dated back to 15th March 2020. Aryl was sure that the paper had something to do with the "set of equations", which was referred to by her father. Indeed it was some sort of complex algebraic formulas which she could not comprehend. There was one more thing which caught her eye, a name which was curiously similar –

Dr.Joetsna , who according to the paper was the Assistant Professor in charge of the project. She at once hurried to the mini – library of her father, to find out more about the abstract equations. Dr Larks had an amazing collection of books. His vast collection ranged from philosophy, arts to science and technology.

She started with the algebraic books which were her father’s favourites. She tried her best to concentrate on the books, but Dr. Joetsna occupied a greater part of her subconscious mind, yet it was purely her determination which did not let her deviate. 5 hours later she understood the equations. She had always been a genius in mathematics, but that alone did not mean anything. She had to search for more papers, she had to go back to the basement. Soon the thoughts of Dr. Joetsna haunted her mind, and suddenly she realized she had forgotten to wear her ear rings .The ear-rings were special to her, her father had gifted them, and he made sure that she wore only that pair, something which she detested.

She was supposed to remove them only at night, provided she had worn them during the day. She recollected how her father always pestered her to keep the ear rings in night only in the special safe kept in her father’s lab and he made sure that she obeyed him.

She then tried calling Mr. Alfred Hawkins, the only living associate of her father, but she was shocked to find no element of surprise in his voice, instead he was more concerned about the diary which she had found. Somehow her intuition was telling, not to give the diary to Alfred. She was skeptical about this whole idea of giving the diary to him. Amidst all this chaos she decided not to loosen her pragmatic approach to life.

She made an instant decision to drop in N.I.R.T (National Institute of Robotics Technology), the research centre where her father had spent 3 decades. She took a cab and rushed through the busy streets of Manhattan (New York). A conglomeration of emotions surrounded her, as she tried to concentrate on what to speak to the officials of N.I.R.T.

After passing through a series of security checks, she was finally allowed to meet the Head scientist, Dr Frank Christe. No matter, how hard Aryl tried to explain her situation, Dr Frank Christe, showed no interest in Aryl, or in Dr. Harry Larks. After ten minutes of futile conversation, Aryl was brushed aside, in the context that, Project – Life had nothing to do with N.I.R.T. and they could not divulge the information, of anybody working there. He even refused to acknowledge the presence of Dr. Joetsna in N.I.R.T.

Aryl was highly disappointed by her first attempt to do something for her father. She was walking past the entire group of Scientists with a sullen attitude, when someone collided with her, and before she realized, a piece of paper was in her hand, and the person disappeared …

She quickly kept the paper inside her purse, and took a cab back to her apartments. Inside the cab, she looked at the paper: "Remove the Mask it is surely a Good Deed and May He quit. Dog has granted Elephant is not quit. Rise. Does the Zeal Quit! Before Going check out.” She at once knew it was an encrypted message, but why ? Why someone had to give her such a message, she had no idea. No sooner had she reached her Apartment, than she began to decrypt the message, having done a Doctorate in Mathematics, and she at once started guessing the key. To start with, she separated the alphabet in capitals; she got a set of characters which made no sense – R T M S G D M H Q D G E N Q R D Z Q B G. It still didn’t make sense, was she going in the right direction, or did she miss out something? She recollected that when her father was alive, he used to pass all the messages in an encrypted form. Though he generally used a simple Encryption algorithm. in which the message was first reversed, then each alphabet was replaced with the one before alphabetically. She knew that this one could not be that simple, yet she wanted to try it out, this time she got a message which looked like – SUNTHENIREHFORSEARCH, and lo! she got it, the final decrypted message was "search for her in the sun ". At least for the time being she assumed she had got the right message, but now the question was, what does the word sun stand for. One thing was sure; the person who gave her this message was familiar with Dr.Harry larks and herself. The first thing which amused her was, her apartment was named "Sun apartments" .She was confused, could it be that simple? Does Dr. Joetsna live in the same apartments as she? She even considered the idea that perhaps someone was trying to fool her. But she was not in a position to take chances. What if the message was true!?. It was her father’s strict order that she was not supposed to interact much with other people, hence she did not even know the names of people who shared the same apartment. She at once went to the Security in charge and inquired about Dr. Joetsna .To her surprise, Dr. Joetsna lived in the flat, right opposite to hers. Too many things had been revealed to her in such a short time, she felt uneasy, a bunch of questions remained unanswered in her mind yet she knocked at flat no.103 –the flat right opposite to hers – She was both exhausted and confused.

Dr.Joetsna was around 55, yet her age did not kill her enthusiasm and energy. The ambience of the flat spoke volumes about Dr. Joetsna’s personality. The walls were painted white and the room was neat if not posh. Strangely she was at ease with

Dr Joetsna. She was not sure if this was because, she was interacting with another woman, or because she was talking to someone at a personal level for the first time since her father’s death. Aryl had very little idea of what lay ahead of her. As soon as she sat in the warm cozy ambience of the flat, she sprang up as she saw a portrait of her father in the drawing room. She couldn’t believe her eyes; her father had never mentioned about anybody named Dr .Joetsna. As she stood there staring at her father’s portrait, Dr.Joetsna came there, patted her shoulder and told her that Dr Harry Larks was a good friend of her. She even recognized Aryl; she knew almost everything about Aryl.

Aryl was too shocked to speak. She looked through the window panes and saw the sky was changing its color, it was dusk. The day was coming to an end, but her queries were not answered yet, she could not afford any rest now. She started asking Dr.Joetsna about N.I.R.T. Initially to her disbelief Dr.Joestna reacted as if she had never heard of N.I.R.T. , but Aryl knew she was lying . The paper she found in the morning was the proof. After an hour long conversation, Dr.joetsna finally agreed that she had worked in N.I.R.T. , but she still said that she had no idea about project – LIFE, and that she had never worked in the same project as Dr.Harry Larks.

It was well past midnight , when Aryl went back to her apartments. She decided to visit Dr.Joetsna more frequently, perhaps she would divulge, after she comes in personal terms with Aryl. Aryl had no idea what she would do next, over the next week. She kept re-reading the diary, and she tried to find all applications of the equations she had found, but yet she did not come across anything convincing. She decided to visit the basement

again .She was left with no other choice . She knelt in front of her father’s picture , and asked forgiveness -she was about to do something which her father had strictly forbidden her to do.Though this was her second visit to basement after her father’s death , she made up her mind that this was going to be the last visit. This time she took a bag with her , she had decided to bring everything which had her father’s name embossed in it.

She kept her designer shoes aside, and wore walkers , because she did not want to make any noise this time. This time she was quick , she did not waste any time sitting in the basement. She got hold of a file which contained about 50 blank sheets and picture of a black cat . Though it made no sense to her , she knew she did not have time to think. She kept the file and a host of other things inside her bag. The first thing she looked in her apartments was the file, there she realized that the sheets inside the file had holes in them, pin-size holes . It looked really wacky and the picture of the black cat , just didn’t make sense . She noticed a sentence in the picture just below the cat – " I am the number that represents a woman’s best friend" . She was sure this was not just a line , it was a key , but the question was ‘to what’ ? She again tried to figure out the holes in the papers. Suddenly everything made sense , 6-7 holes made up an alphabet , and thus a word was formed , and then a sentence was formed.

She could at last see the silver lining. She was suddenly full of panache .She knew , she would achieve her dream , she knew Dr. Harry was going to be famous soon.

The next two weeks was spent in writing the entire file of papers in a legible format . To her disbelief and happiness the file was the synopsis of the project – life. She could not believe what she read , her father had designed a robot – that could not only talk , but was designed to behave and feel like humans. Dr.Harry Larks had foresighted the technology and with his dedication and knowledge in fields like cognitive theory , artificial intelligence , he had created an artificial human. Aryl read the part containing details about the robot around 4 times. She now wanted to see the robot herself , and read for the sole purpose of finding its whereabouts .She was highly impressed with the way the robot which was called S236A-1 , was programmed to learn from the behavior of other humans.

Aryl was highly enthusiastic about the way S236A-1 functioned .She was inarticulate . The page in front of her said that the best thing about S236A-1 was the way it gets charged ,the robot did not have to depend on any human for this. Instead it simply was charged by something which looked very similar to ear-rings , but only they had to be charged regularly. She was surprised to see that ear rings were exactly like the one she wore .The best part was that the battery could also be charged by solar power. She was getting highly inquisitive about the robot. She further read that the ear-ring had to be charged in a special charger , which resembled an oven or perhaps a safe. This charger was also similar to the safe in her father’s laboratory. The next few pages contained the construction details of S236A-1 , along with sketches of the robot . Somehow she was not at ease with the idea that the robot looked an exact replica of Aryl herself.

She had always pondered over her body’s physiology , which was strikingly different from the human physiology which she had read . This was something to which even her father did nor respond , and she was always told , that the only reason is that she is special , and she should not talk about this to anyone except her father . The more she read about the robot and saw the working sketches of S236A-1 , the more horrified she was . She could not believe it , the robot’s physiology and anatomy was similar to her in an astonishing manner.

She had to confirm her doubts , she couldn’t possibly live in this dilemma she had to find the true ARYL. Suddenly the lines "I am the number that represents a woman’s best friend" , made sense to her . She somehow believed that the picture was some message hidden by some steganographic technique. The number she believed was 6-the atomic number of carbon. She believed that the sentence was an adage: diamond was a woman’s best friend ; and diamond is made up of carbon which is represented by 6-it’s atomic number. She was not sure of the number but she had to try it. She had to change the last 6 bits of each pixel to the binary form of 12-carbon’s mass number , or was it the other way round ? She did not know if she could find anything that would calm her down, or perhaps she find something that would take away her very identity , she was not sure .

Two hours later , she saw something for which she was not prepared . The decrypted picture showed how S236A-1 transformed to Aryl. She stood like a statue , though now all her queries were answered , yet the fact that she was not human , was too strange to accept. She looked outside , it was dusk , the day was coming to an end , she looked at the birds flying back to their nests - that part of the day which brings thoughts of longingness, but she knew she had no rest anymore- her fight had just begun .She stood there as dusk transformed into night and the night broke to dawn .

She had no idea what she was supposed to do next. Her very existence was a question in itself. She could not understand why her father never spoke to her about this. She suddenly started having a feeling of anguish for her father. She simply could not understand why Dr Larks induced her to dream, to aim for higher things in life, when he knew that she was a machine. She was not sure of what she was thinking. She had to talk to someone, someone humane enough to understand her.

She knocked on flat no.103 again . Dr.Joetsna was shocked to hear Aryl had discovered the robot in her. Dr.Joetsna stood in disbelief as she listened to the desperate plight of a daughter whose one and only aim was fame and recognition of her father , but what touched her was the fact that the daughter was not just a daughter , she was a machine. She had decided to break Dr. Larks’ promise , she had to give the letter written by him. She had to tell Aryl about the frustration that Dr.Larks was going through when he decided to end everything.

Aryl was given a 4 page letter which as per Dr.Joetsna was the last piece of communication from Dr. Larks before his death. Aryl was left speechless as she read that her father did not present his creation among the scientific intellects , because of the love for his daughter. He buried his 13 years work just for Aryl , just because he wanted Aryl to live a life of normal human . All this while Dr. Joetsna looked at Aryl as if she was in front of a divine creation of god, she was really amused to see so much of compassion between a human and a machine .

Aryl knew it was not easy for her father to give up his dream , his aspirations , yet he did what perhaps no other human would do. Aryl’s desire to give her father a tribute which he truly deserved grew stronger than ever. She had decided to unveil the creation of her father , she had to prove to the world the high intellect of Dr. Larks .She knew that this meant it was the end of Aryl , death as humans called ; but she had no other way .

The sky suddenly seemed clearer than before. The sun looked brighter. Dr. Joetsna knew that it was not the end , instead it was a beginning , the start of a new revolution.

2 comments:

avik said...

Nice effort. Keep it up :)

Arnav said...

@ Avk

THanks Bro :)