Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven

By Prachi Rathore, Bhopal, India

I was lost. Completely lost.

 Somewhere above the tree tops, over the current cables, under the azure sky, beyond the honks and scorching shadowy smoke, driving my scooter, I was lost in myself. My thoughts were perhaps vacuous. No sort of reality was flourishing in my head. It’s hard to specifically state, but a childish desire of visiting myriad places in the twinkling of an eye might be re-flapping its wings in my brain. Oops! Not sheer brain, but a ‘three’ pound, so called knowledge-lorn, dreamer human brain.

No, nothing else. I kept on driving my vehicle airily. But something happened adventitiously.

I felt a force, a force round my neck… Not internal or emotional, but viable external force. A retarding force on a body, placed on an accelerating vehicle. I had not even a drop of idea about what was happening.

Instantly then, I heard a heavy male voice, as if the sky itself suddenly threw a question upon me.

“How would you like to imprudently die in a stupid road accident?”

I turned my eye balls to my right. Among the distorted series of variety of vehicles rolling at different speeds, I saw an arm… hand explicitly, which grabbed one end of my white lace dupatta (scarf).

I was frightened. I could feel the quick release of adrenaline in my body from the forehead to toe. Even my nails and hair strands were in sync with the unfluctuating flow.

What is the person trying to do? Is it going to be a planned road accident? Is he a chain snatcher?

Many such simultaneous thoughts in the present form impinged my empty head at that very instant along with fear.

“Your dupatta was excited to come in contact with the rolling tyre. Be careful, ma’am…!” Saying this he released my dupatta from his hands. Instantaneously, he released the force from my neck. And, the adrenaline release was much more than enough for today.

This speedy confrontation with fear was obnoxious. I took a deep breath and started counting in reverse under my breath. "Ten, nine, eight, seven..." Like magic, the man who helped me vanished with the counting. And dear digits, like always, came to my rescue.

Digits were always a vital part of my life. I envisaged ‘love’ in digits. The binary zeroes and ones, the decimals, the octal, the hexadecimals… everything portrayed love. The hollow digit zero was consistently the hypnotising factor. Null value. The most significant thing which gets attracted into life is nothing. And this nothing favours everything…

Valuable Zero, the vizier, followed by other value-less digits. These digits when placed together, acted as numbers. Harmonious unison. Augmentation with combination and adjustment- LOVE. Any sort of arithmetic operation on any two digits or more transforms them into something new. Every transformation in this universe is creation. Digits depict creation. Creation is love. Love is creation.

Excitingly well these digits blend into each other. Sacrificing themselves selflessly in an attempt to mingle with others and favouring new blissful creations. Digits in true sense are harbingers of love. Immaculate love. Godly love. Creations… Love…

Sooner, exact seventeen minutes later, I reached the university entrance. I was supervened by a strong intuition that this place is not my destination. I mundanely ignored this mundane intuition like always and moved in, towards the maths department.

The maths lecture was swift as always. Why wouldn’t it be swift when my beloved digits accompanied me? The class was terminated at its regular time. Many students sneaked out quietly one by one and some others giggling away in sets of threes and fours. I kept sitting, lost in my own world, out of this world. I could still feel the scorching sun over my head in this air conditioned classroom. Also, there was a silence. A noisy silence, which informed me about somebody’s presence besides me. I looked around…

Ah! There he was! A person sitting straight in a thoughtful manner, adorning a pencil across his lips and staring right at the board- observing the symbol ‘∞ = infinity’. A person… ‘The person’.

The same identifiable person who saved me today from a road accident.

My senses were such severely lost in myself that I never for once gave a thought about that person who acted as my saviour. And now, out of the blue, my confrontation with the very same person appears quirky. Okay, once… and one more time, equals twice. I clashed with this person twice. My dear digits wanted some addition to be performed now. At least, I must be courteous enough to show my gratitude to him.

I slowly moved up to him for the thanks delivery. A rectangular face, chocolate complexion, jagged chin, sexy rough beard and debonair locks. He maintained the same posture which he had before my arrival. “How come I haven’t seen him in this class before?” I thought to myself.

“Hey!”

No response.

“Hello mister! We just met, right?”

 A slight smile on his confident face made me feel a little light.

Not to mention, I obviously thanked him for what he did in the traffic today. And, after a twenty minute fifteen second session of chit chat, I deduced a couple of things about him.

One, he wasn’t a regular student. Instead, he planned to sit for Open University exams and was allowed to attend a pre specified number of classes here.

Two, he was a maths prodigy.

He was so much into numbers, that he identified an accurate arithmetic progression series of pimples on my face. One on the left cheek, two on the right, and three adorning the forehead.

1, 2, 3. A perfect AP, with three elements, having their total sum as six and a difference of 1. According to him, I had a perfect face portraying mathematical beauty. I had laughed my teeth out on hearing this kind of observation about me. I can feel, the way I blush even now when I think of that incident is inexplicable.

“Iota” this was what he mentioned when I asked his name.

“I’m an imaginary quantity. You can envisage me as the square root of   -1, i.e., Iota, which can never tangibly exist. The square root of a negative quantity cannot be derived. I am hypothetical. Let me remain a mystery. Call me Iota.”

Exactly his words are these. Word to word.

The short story is continued here....