As I sat there on my last working day listening to people who desperately wanted to go back to their past, it dawned on me that I had never gone back to mine. Of course, the Time Travel Corporation didn’t allow staff to go on personal trips, lest the person becomes absorbed by his or her past. But who doesn’t get absorbed by the past? Who doesn’t harp on the past? Who doesn’t regret the mishaps of the past?
The corporation sensed the opportunity and minted money out of it. Tobacco companies, Drug cartels, fast food chains built empires out of one weakness of mankind. Addiction! Time travel was one. It was an addiction that gave so much joy. Nostalgia was just a word back then, but in today’s world, people had the chance to visit the past. The “fiends” were ones who came every week. Of course, the toll that time travel takes on your body is brutal. Nauseous, disillusioned and weak people filled the offices as they reminded me of rehab centres back in the 21st century. Agitated activists and the so called intellects weren’t amused by the idea. They said we were defying the laws, the laws made by “god”. But isn’t everything that man does against the law? Did god want man to make profit out of war? Did god want man to fight and kill each other over his name? Did god want his creation of earth and it’s nature to bear the wrath of man’s whims and fancies?
Time travel wasn’t about changing the past. The corporation condemned any visit that was linked to political, social or intellectual motives. Some say that history is written by winners. That may be true, however it may be written with blood rather than ink. We had to live with the past, how much ever pain and humiliation it would give. I remember an old wrinkled woman who begged to get me back on the day her son was stripped away from her. She told me how her son went to Krakow and never came back. She even told me how he was “gassed” in those chambers that were made by pure evil humans. I could only hug her, but I couldn’t take her back. I was relieved that the chambers made by us gave people a chance to relive their memories. Of course, some wanted to relive the bad ones. A seemingly tough and burly man made me see the sight of him beating his wife with a club to death. I saw in horror and shock even as the burly man laughed his guts out. “She cheated me”, said the big man as I took him back to those days when “Woodstock” was the talk of the town. I saw how ideologies, culture and outlook evolved over a period of time.
No detail was small enough for the corporation. I had to understand what the “visitor” wanted to see. The “When, where, why” followed as I drilled deep down into their minds. Some had silly reasons, and some had diabolic ones. However, one must understand that even the smallest action, the smallest word, or a harmless deed could have monumental consequences. The human race couldn’t afford that. We could regret over the past, but never change it. . I travelled with every visitor whom I assisted and made sure that the past remained past. It was an invention which people wanted badly centuries ago, but it was one which came with a heavy price tag.
Like any invention, there was the danger of bad elements making ill use of it. There were rumours of powerful men using it for their benefits. “Rewriting history books” is a great slogan on paper, but anarchists could use our corporation to do literally rewrite history. The corporation denied the rumours, and l would like to make myself clear by saying that I have never assisted any man of great position for any act against “law”.
But did I do a good job? Did I help people? And as I sat there for one last time, I thought of the poor man who saved money for an entire year, just to see him walk in his younger days. His legs were amputated in a war and he realized how precious every step was for him. It made me realize those trivial things which seem so important when absent. I thought of the “drug fiend” who went back to his past again and again and made me see how his mother had been an addict herself.
I thought of the woman who wanted to go back to school one last time, and wanted me to see her play with pure happiness. She made me realize the pure innocence and naivety of kids, and also the bitter fact that it would be lost over the years.
I thought of the man with a chronic illness, who wanted to go back once and see him making love with his long lost girlfriend.
I thought of the many “love fiends” who kept going back to see their lovers, who kept reliving those failed relationships, and who regretted every bad action of theirs.
I thought of those purists who wanted to go back and listen to music record & radios and watch plays in theatres.
I thought of the rich man who was ready to give his entire fortune, just to go back and see his young daughter’s school play that he had missed years back.
All those memories came back to me, almost completing my journey along with theirs. I never went back to my past, but I had seen “my past” in each one of the visitor’s, and I will be thankful for that. I wouldn’t need the “travel” after all.