Have you ever stood on the roof (no, I don’t mean like Spiderman, but in the more conventional way, on the terrace on top, accessible through steps) of your house at night and looking around felt you were the only one alive? What-if (Yes, this is another what-if post. For the others, click here)…?
How remiss of me, I omitted to make clear that for this to be felt, you need to be by yourself, but of course. Another requirement is that there should not be anyone out at that hour because moving figures or vehicles anywhere in the vicinity spoil the effect altogether, though television sounds don’t matter as much, as you will see when I explain. With these conditions satisfied, the stage is set for you to let yourself go, and think, what if I am the only one here on earth?
I have done precisely that. What if there was really no one around? What if everyone else had, mysteriously so, disappeared off the face of earth and I was the only one left? It is true I could see the well lit streets below and the lights that shone from houses. A curtain could be seen blowing in the wind. Snatches of conversation from a television could also be heard. All this only served to underline my imagination that the people everywhere had vanished leaving everything exactly as it were. I admit these thoughts never failed to send cold shivers down my spine. Not that it in any way bridled my imagination, only spurred it on.
The next thought was, what if I was indeed alone in this world, I mean not in the ‘people suddenly vanished’ way, but more like there never had existed anyone other than me in the first place, that they were just an illusion from which I finally woke up? Yes, I thought this way before the movie Matrix was ever released, so there!
This line of thinking, I admit, is a bit more darker than the earlier one. In the former scenario the remote possibility of those who I imagined had been mysteriously spirited away returning just as suddenly existed. But there was no such hope n the latter. Everyone, including those you considered your near and dear ones, friends, foes too for that matter, and also other humans known or seen are written away as mere the workings of an illusory mind. A really a scary situation to imagine.
Today was one such day of my imagination taking over. I was on the terrace, enjoying the cool breeze and shivering, not with cold but with chilling thoughts of being the only one left on earth. True the television from the house across was blaring unusually loudly. Besides, spoiling the eerie effect of being the lone one was the shadow falling on the curtains, of my neighbor walking across the room. I turned away to look at a different direction, the distant hills from which lights shone here and there. No one to disturb my morbid story-lines on this side, I decided, while delving into my mind looking for scarier possibilities.
Suddenly I felt something cold and wet against my hand and almost shrieked out loud. It was Luci, her cold and wet nose, that is. She wanted to know if it wasn’t time for us to go back downstairs. A dog needs her beauty sleep, unlike a certain crazy dog-mom. She didn’t exactly say that of course, but I could guess that was what was written all over her long-suffering Labradorean face which I could not see in the darkness but could well imagine.
Yes, nowadays it is very difficult to recreate fascinating scenarios of being the only one left on earth, thinking up all those fearfully exciting details, trying to figure out where your food would come from (should I start growing things?), if I’d be scared to venture out of my house (even though I knew no one was around, yup, what a scaredy cat!), how I would lead the rest of my life without anyone at all (what if I fell sick, what would I do with my time, apart from reading?), what would happen when I got really old (should I just kill myself when I am able?), and… and… and…what if one day I heard footsteps approaching (happy or terrified)?
No way can I do this sort of thinking any more. I am never left alone, you see. There are two bright eyes watching me ALL the time, not to mention the panting I can hear from close quarters. And then the wet nose that pokes me if at all I manage to drift away.
©Shail Mohan 2015