The Magic Leaf – Renjith RJ

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Author      : Renjith RJ
Company : Applexus Technology
Email        : Renjith.rajeev@applexus.com

                                                                             The Magic Leaf

I could feel the sun rays falling on my face, through the narrow gap of the window curtains. Gently opening my eyes, searching for my mobile, I found it near my legs, and unlocked it to know what time it is.  It displayed “7:23 AM, 2th January 1970”.

I was half asleep and my mind was just about coming back to normal, refreshing my memories, and I realized that my phone’s date had changed automatically.  I corrected its date to “21 September 2015”.  It was normal business, brushing my teeth, sipping coffee while reading the news, and then it was time to check my Facebook wall.  This happened to be a daily routine for me and even though I won’t be spending hours in Facebook, I loved to be as actively browsing and sharing interesting content as much as possible for the time I am in it.  Suddenly my eyes struck a post about childhood and the random things which we used to do as a kid, such as balancing the switch between on and off, closing the fridge slowly etc.  I did have lot of fun as a kid and very often I wish if I could get a time machine to travel to my past for enjoying those days again.  I was lost in thoughts of my childhood when a phone call broke those thoughts and brought me back to my busy life.  I am no more a kid now.  My parents are getting older, and now I have a wife and a baby.  I am having the responsibility of looking after them.  Being a kid, I only had to worry about marks.  Now, I am 29, and a more responsible person.  Life is calling like in the Bacardi ad but office is calling louder.  My client happened to be someone who’s never satisfied with anything we give and so you can guess my work schedules.  Nevertheless, I try my best to maintain a perfect work life balance.

Morning 9.30 also is the peak time for road traffic.  Some are going for work and some are going to drop their children to school.  I hate this traffic and that’s why I always prefer travelling on bike rather than on car.  There is a railway crossing on my way and as usual, it was closed.  I waited there, and I could see boys and girls walking in school uniforms.  It again brought back my thoughts of school days.  It was so much fun in school and I am still in touch with most of my school friends.  I used to stay in a housing colony during my school days, and my school was just a 10 minute walk from home.  Most of my school friends were staying in the same housing colony and I used to spend more time with them every day even after coming back from school.  It was so much fun and I was thinking why did I grow up.  This time the speeding train sound brought me back from those wonderful thoughts.

I almost reached office and then suddenly I felt my bike ran over something hard, which initially I thought was a big stone.  I nearly lost my balance but stopped my bike and looked back to see what it was.  It was a mango which fell on the road, and I was standing below a mango tree.  I just looked above, and could see lots of mangoes, and was equally surprised to see that nobody passing by is interested in it.  People nowadays do not have time for anything.  We never used to leave any mango untouched in our childhood.  We used to try our aims with stones, hitting the target almost every time.  The stone could go anywhere after ripping the mango, most of the time, into the window pane of the house owner.  We would be picking as many mangoes we could before the owner comes out charging.

As I was looking above on the mangoes, I could see a small green leaf falling down, floating in thin air, towards me.  It fell on my shoulder, and then slid into my shirt pocket.  I took it from my pocket; it was a small fresh mango leaf.  For some reason, I just kept it back in my pocket, and rode on to office.

Having felt a slight back pain and headache, I got back to bed the moment I returned home.  Thanks to the hectic day schedule I dozed off with all the tiredness.

I woke up the next day, hearing somebody shouting my name loudly.  I was wondering who is calling me so louder, standing near my window early morning.  I opened my eyes, and to my horror, I saw a different, yet familiar room.  It was my old housing colony room where I stayed during my school days.  I was quite puzzled.

“Am I still in a dream”, pinching myself for testing.

“No, I could feel the pain”.

How on earth did this happen?

What happened last night after going to sleep?

Did God really hear my prayers to take me to a place I loved the most once?

Somebody was again calling me by my name from outside.  I went outside only to see my old school friend Shyam.  Shyam was one of my best friends, who studied with me still 12th grade.  I broke into laughter seeing him in school uniform.

“You are not ready yet? Come on hurry up, we are getting late for school today” Shyam shouted at me.

I could not speak anything since I could not figure out yet about what is happening.  Is he deliberately dressing in school uniform to fool me?

But, then how did I end up here?

“September 22!” Shyam replied as I asked him the date.

“Which year?” I asked.

“1997, and please stop asking this nonsense and get ready”, he replied.

Now, something serious has happened.  Did I travel back almost 18 years back to my past?  My parents also look young and normal.  They were preparing breakfast for me.  I looked myself in the mirror, and to my surprise, I saw myself younger as a school kid, without moustache and beard.  I came back to my room and saw a text book opened on my table.  It seems that I was reading it last night.  The name slip on that book says that I am on 6th grade.  I tried to put up the school uniform when I felt something in my pocket.  It was a green fresh mango leaf, and now I could sense what was happening.  That leaf was a magic leaf which fulfilled my wish to come back to childhood or school days, where I enjoyed my life the most.  I was surprised and thrilled to be back to school days.  Now, I decided to enjoy every bit of my school days again before getting back to my present life, of course, with the help of my magic leaf.  I kept the magic leaf safely in one my books and dressed up immediately and went to school with Shyam in his bicycle.

We were a bit late to school.  I was thrilled to enter my old school again after years.  We came to our class room and the teacher shouted at us for being late.  I immediately identified her, as Mrs. Mary, who used to be my English teacher.  She asked us to stand outside the class room.  Shyam looked worried for standing outside, but I enjoyed it.

“Why are you looking so happy and looking around everything as if you are seeing it for the first time” he asked.

“Leave it, you won’t understand” I replied.

The bell rang at the end of the first period and it was so pleasing to hear the sound of the bell again.

“Oops, did you study for the mathematics test? Next period is mathematics?” Shyam asked.

“Oh, no, is there a test paper today?” I asked him.

Now, this is the only thing which I hate being in school – exams and test papers.  I remembered my mathematics teacher, Mrs. Jessy.  She is very strict and used to give impositions for making mistakes in test papers.  Now, I am in trouble as I don’t know what is going on in class and about which topic the test paper is.  I would be getting zero and will become a laughing stock in class.

Mrs. Jessy came and she asked us to join the class.  She didn’t speak anything and immediately started drawing something on the black board.  I noticed everyone tearing papers from their notebooks for writing the test paper.  It looked funny to see the old faces of my friends again.  They were big and tall as I know them recently, and now they are in class room as small boys, without any moustache or beards.  Suddenly, one of my friends, Rohan stood up and told Mrs. Jessy that he was unaware of the test since he was absent yesterday and told her that he did not prepare anything for the test.  I wanted to ask Shyam whether I was present yesterday, but then he may think that I am mad.

“If you were absent yesterday, you should have asked your friends about what happened that day on school.  Now, stop making silly excuses and write the test paper” Mrs. Jessy shouted.

“Mam, but I was down with fever” Rohan replied.

“Oh, so you are saying that you would be scoring full marks if you were aware of this test paper? Do you know how much marks you got last time? Just14 out of 50; I don’t know what you will be doing in future?” Mrs. Jessy shouted again.

I almost laughed, but then noticed that all were very serious and scared.  Rohan is one my best friends and he now works as a nodal officer in one of the most popular banks in the city.  Mrs. Jessy made fun of him in front of the whole class and he was so depressed.  He looked helpless as if he had taken the words of Mrs. Jessy very seriously.  I could read his mind as he must be seriously concerned about his future.

“Cool down man, you will become a bank officer” I wanted to tell him, but I am going to be the next victim of Mrs. Jessy today as I am going to get a zero for today’s test paper.
By then, Mrs. Jessy has finished writing down the questions on board.  At the first glance, I understood that it is Geometry. And then, I realized an important thing.  As I travelled back to 6th grade student from the age of 29, only my body has changed as a 6th grade student, but my mind is still the same as of 29-years old.  I understood this fact as I read the geometry questions which was there on the board.  It was too easy for a 29-year old to solve in no time, also to note that I was pretty much comfortable in Mathematics.  I finished it in 5 minutes, but waited for some more time, pretending to be thinking of the answers, because I don’t want anyone to smell my secret of time travel.

“Congrats, you have done everything right” Mrs. Jessy praised me as Shyam gave me an angry look as if I lied to him that I have not prepared anything for this test.

I pretended to be very normal for the rest of the day because I don’t want anyone to get a hint on what is going on with me.  I wanted to enjoy the school life as much as possible before getting back to my normal life.  But, another tragedy happened at the last period of the day, when our class teacher announced that the quarter exams will be starting next week.

“I landed in the wrong time” I said to myself.

“Perhaps I should choose a vacation next time”

I came back home sitting on Shyam’s bicycle.  Presently, I am having a 2-wheeler and a 4-wheeler, but I always missed this as I grew up – travelling on a bicycle.  Shyam will always be my driver, who will be coming to pick me and later drop me home after school.  Though I had a bicycle, I preferred travelling on Shyam’s cycle as I felt pretty much comfortable.  I will be taking my bicycle only on very few occasions where he is tired to carry my weight also.

I came home and changed my dress.  Mom gave me tea and biscuits.  As it has been my regular routine to check Facebook updates along with my tea after coming back from office, I took my tea and came to my room, but to my horror, I realized that I was not having a laptop or computer in 6th grade.  Even, Facebook did not exist in 1997 as it was launched only on 2004.  I then realized that I was having only a black n white television in my home that time, without a cable connection.  Only thing I could watch on my television was Doordarshan and nobody today is interested in watching Doordarshan.  I checked in the shelves for something to read and found only some story books, which was supposed to be good for a 6th grade student, but pretty much boring and childish for a 29-year old man.  I suddenly felt so boring without any computer, cable connection, or without a mobile phone.  I felt all alone in this planet.

Then, suddenly the thought of magic leaf came to my mind.  I sensed a ray of hope as I would be able to get a laptop or something with the help of my magic leaf.  I immediately closed my room and took my magic leaf out from my book.  I kept it in front of the table, closed my eyes, and wished for a laptop.  I slowly opened my eyes and noticed that nothing had happened.  I repeated the same by holding the magic leaf in my hands and by putting it in my pocket, but nothing changed.

“May be this this magic leaf could only be used for time traveling” I guessed.

Finally it was evening 5.30 and I decided to go out to play at least.  But, my parents did not allow me to go out since my exams are starting next week.  Somehow, I convinced parents that I will score good marks and went out.

I went out, but none of my friends were available due to the exam season.  Then I thought of some of my neighbors with whom I used to play.  There are 2 siblings staying next to my home, who are in 7th and 8th grades, and an another boy who is in 4th grade.  Luckily, they were ready to play.

“Come on, let us play” They were all ready.

“Yeah, thanks guys, I was feeling so bored.  Do you guys have a bat or ball so that we could play cricket” I asked them since I was not having a bat or ball at that age.

“No, let us play some other game” They told

“Other what?” I asked.

“Police and Thief…. Or Hopping and catching?” They replied and I was shocked to hear that.

No way am I going to play these puny games.  They were surprised from my reaction because according to them, we used to play these games every day.  I am just a 6th grade student for them.  Then, I agreed to play Police and Thief, since I don’t want to reveal my identity to them.  I played for some 10 minutes and then I felt so awkward.  You cannot imagine how it is for a 29-year old man to play Police and Thief.

Couple of days passed.  With a 29-year old brain, I could now easily understand the syllabus of a 6th grade text book.  I had suddenly become a scholar in my class.  Teachers started discussing about me on my transition as a scholar.  I could feel that by the manner they spoke.  My friends started asking their doubts to me and I was able to clear all those silly doubts.  I was wondering what will happen if I continue like this.  Will I be able to change my past?  But, the only subject I hate in school life was History.  I was unable to digest History even with a 29-year old brain.

Gradually I found it boring to sit in a classroom for a day since I am not used to it now.  I had become restless.  I was missing my family and wanted to play with my little baby.  The main hobby of my friends during free hours were pen fighting, bingo, flying paper planes etc on which I had no interest considering my matured mind.

The next day, a cricket tournament was being broadcasted live on television where India and Pakistan were playing 5 matches in Toronto.  This tournament was famous for Sourav Ganguly, India’s previous captain, winning 4 consecutive Man of the match awards.  The first match was scheduled for tomorrow and I badly wanted to watch that match, even though I was aware on the results.  But, I had no option to watch the match since I had no cable connection in my home.  In my childhood, I used to go to nearby homes or some shops to watch the cricket matches.  It was those days where we depend on radio news to get the score updates.  I and my father used to listen to the news on radio.  Match will be starting only at night because of time zone differences and will go all through our midnight.  But, the last news on radio was at 9 pm, and after that we have no idea on the match updates.  We have to wait for the news at 6 am next day to know the match results.  I cannot imagine such kind of things happening at present because of the technology we have access to.

Finally it was Saturday, but I was not allowed to enjoy the weekend with friends since I am having exams from Monday onwards.  Unfortunately, I was having History exam scheduled for Monday, which I found very difficult to understand.  I tried to open the History text book thinking that I may find it easy at this point of time.  But, everything was the same.  I was very much confused and finding it difficult to learn the subject.  I understood that childhood was just not about fun.  Now, I really wanted to go back to my present life where there are no more exams and more importantly, no History subject to learn.  Presently, I was living in an era where technology was far more advanced and I was unable to cope with my past now.  I found it very difficult to live without a mobile phone or a laptop.  Now, I understood how much we have got addicted to technology.  I decided to use my magic leaf to go back that night itself.

“If you complete your studies today, we will take you to native place tomorrow” Mom said.

Next day was a Sunday and I was happy that finally I could meet my relatives, more eager to meet my grandmother, who passed away last year from present.  So, I decided to postpone my time travel to a little later.

Next day, I was excited to see my relatives but, the only concern was that I need to walk 3 kilometers to reach the bus stand.  We were having no private vehicles at the time.  Moreover, we waited for an hour to only board an overcrowded bus.  We somehow got into it, and finally had to walk 2 kilometers again after getting down.  I don’t remember walking so long recently.  Finally I reached my native place, and I was again excited.  I could sense that all the others were feeling something odd about my behavior.  I met all of them except my grandmother.  She looked after me when I was small, and she passed away last year, in 2014.  I met all of my relatives except my grandmother.  I could not see her anywhere in the house and I know that she usually won’t go out.

“Where is grandma?” Finally I asked.

By then everyone gave me a startling look.

“What?” They asked me.

“Why? Did I ask anything wrong? Where is grandma?” I confirmed to myself once again that she passed away last year only.

“We have been noticing you for couple of days.  What happened to you son?” Mom asked

“What?”

“Don’t you know that your grandmother passed away last year?” Mom replied.

Now, I was seriously confused.  I know that my present year from where I came was 2015, and my grandmother passed away last year from present, that is in 2014.  But, in 1997, my mom is also mentioning the period as last year.  How on earth will that happen? How can a person die on 2014 and 1996? Or is it not possible to see a dead person even if you do a time travel.  Now, I was getting mad with all these confusions.  All were afraid and confused about me.

“Is he not getting enough sleep” Uncle asked.

“Or did he see anything scary?” another question from my aunt.

“Please, please leave me alone for some time.  I just need to relax as I am disturbed.  Mom, can we go home?”  I was seriously disturbed.  I immediately wanted to go home and to use my magic leaf.  Now, I am not sure if my magic leaf will work or not.  What if the magic leaf will work only once? What if I’m stuck in my past forever? All these thoughts increased my tension.

We came back home.  I rushed to my room, closed the door and took my magic leaf.  But, to my surprise, the leaf no longer looked fresh.  Its green color has faded and now it has become brownish and fragile.  The leaf had already become a skeleton inside my book.  A part of it had already withered and fell down as I took it.  I was frightened to see the condition of the leaf.  The leaf was green and fresh till yesterday.  How did it become so today?

“More importantly will it work again?”

Without losing any time, I took the broken leaf in my hand and wished to go to my present life.  I slowly opened my eyes and found myself sitting on the same place.  Nothing had happened.

“I am gone, I am trapped.  I had ruined myself” I started crying.

My eyes started to fill with darkness, which I could not handle.  I desperately tried many ways of holding the leaf, but nothing worked out.  I even tried putting the leaf in my pocket, sitting, standing, and lying on bed.  Nothing worked out and I slowly realized that nothing will work as my magic leaf has stopped producing magic.  I was upset and helpless, and lied on bed, crying on my disappointment. I don’t remember when I dozed off.

Mom wakes me up the next morning saying that it is already 8 am.

“Oh, did Shyam come to pick me” I asked.

“No” Mom replied with a doubtful voice.

“Oh, then let me sleep till he comes.  He will come to pick me”

“Okay, then I will call you when Shyam comes” Mom said and she went to kitchen.

“Time is 9.30 pm, aren’t you hungry. You haven’t eaten anything yesterday also.  I tried to call you for dinner yesterday, but why didn’t you open the door?” Mom came again to my room.

“I am not feeling hungry” I will come after sometime”.  I replied.

“By the way, I am not going to school today.  I am not well” I added.

I was expecting a scolding from mom for saying that, but instead of that I could hear she laughing.

“Are you still talking in sleep? You have to go to office, not school” Mom replied.

I jumped out of the bed hearing that.  I am not in my old home.  I tried to feel my face with my hands whether I am having moustache and beard, and it was there.  I could not believe what had happened.  I checked my pocket and I could see the same fresh green leaf in my pocket.  Oh, so was it a dream I saw last night, or the leaf was in fact a magic leaf?

I was again confused.

“Oh my God, so it was just a dream”

It took a while to get me into reality.  I still cannot believe that it was a dream as it looked very much realistic.

Anyway, now I understood that there are good times and bad times for everything.  I badly wanted to go back to childhood, but that one dream made me realize how much difficult it was to cope with that age as I was very much used to present day technology.  May be, the thoughts about my childhood on my way to office, made me see that dream.  Anyways, everything has two sides, even the technology.  It is good to say that technology has advanced, but it had ruined something, which was there in my childhood.  Nowadays people share a lot through social media, but won’t talk to each other in real.  There are many problems which can be solved simply by talking to each other.

“Here is your tea” Mom came again with the tea and left.

“Uff, it was such a horrible dream I should say” I told myself.

Now, I clearly remember everything happened in that dream, and I seriously thought of noting it down somewhere.  I remember the year to which I travelled in my dream, which was 1997.  Ironically, I found many coincidences in my dream and reality.

Yesterday was September 21, 2015 night when I went to sleep and I woke up in my dream on September 22, 1997.

“Wow, this is the mother of coincidence”.  I told myself.  I wanted to tell my wife and my friend Shyam about this dream and how I spent one week in my past.

The most horrific thing however happened when I checked my mobile for the time.

It showed – 9:47 am, September 29, 2015!!

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