The day began just like any other day and I did not know what it had in store for me. But from the time I woke up a strange feeling engulfed me, as if something terrible is going to happen. I started getting ready for school and noticed the leisurely way my mother is doing things. When I went to the dining room for my breakfast, surprisingly she did not get ready for her office. I looked at the calendar thinking that, that day might be a Sunday. But, no, it’s a working day. Both my parents are scientists and work together. When she noticed me, she said” no need to go to the school, Neeha. We will be leaving for Kryptanyo soon, as soon as the government finds seats for us.
It’s as if a bomb fell on my head. Going to Kryptanyo became a regular feature now a days. People, not only from the scientific fraternity but many civilians are also going to Kryptanyo, in search of greener pastures. A few months ago my parents criticized them. What happened now?
“Why mom? Why should we go?”
“Both your Dad and I got good job opportunities there. And we are not going there for good. We can return whenever we want to”
But everybody knows it’s not that easy. Those who went there, never returned.
If we go into the details, Planet Earth has been teeming with population. Every inch of the land is occupied by humans and animals. No palatial houses anywhere. Houses became like pack of cards. Even Billionaires could not afford to buy big plots. At that time scientists discovered planet Kryptanyo. A planet just like earth. The living conditions are the same but the only problem is, there are hardly any rains. But Earthlings lapped it up. All the Countries in the world shared it equally. There is a whole new world to explore, literally. Soon people starting migrating to this new Planet. It’s a difficult transition to many. Just Imagine, living in another Planet, leaving earth! Moon, and other planets, man explored for human friendly living conditions, finally Kryptanyo fitted the bill. Initially it’s the Scientists, Engineers, Architects and labor that went there to make the planet habitable.
Now after almost a decade of hard work, Kryptanyo had been open to public. Those who want to migrate permanently were given free plots of land, and livelihood. Everyone is also given a choice to return to Earth whenever they like. But till now no one who went there returned. To Neeha, imagining life on a new planet is exciting, but she never guessed that she had to live there in reality.
“We still have time Nalini, we can say ‘no’ even now” said Naresh with a plea in his eyes. Neeha looked at her mother expectantly. But Nalini was firm.
“What are you saying, Naresh, we discussed about this issue for a couple of years. We looked into the pros and cons of this journey. It’s not made on the spur of the moment. We also thought that it will be beneficial for Neeha to know about a new planet so early in life. And some of our friends are also there and we are getting positive feedback from them” That made Naresh to keep quiet and Neeha sulked.
“Why are you like that Neeha? You should be happy that you will be exploring a new planet, how many will get this opportunity? Just imagine Neeha all the countries in the world living as one country, and I came to know that the education there is excellent. And most importantly Hriday Roshan’s film shooting will be done in Kryptanyo”
“Really, mother? Can we watch the shooting?”
“It’s almost impossible to even look at Hriday in India. But there will be few people, we may actually meet him”. With her mother’s words Neeha looked cheerful. She is a huge fan of Hriday Roshan, as any girl of her age. This grandson of yesteryear hero Hrithik Roshan, did what no Bollywood hero done before. He is the reigning leading actor not only in Bollywood but also in Hollywood and his romance with Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan’s granddaughter, Karmana is the delight of gossip writers. As people of all ages want to know about it.
They left all their things back, including Hruday’s full length posters that adorned Neeha’s bedroom walls.
Later everything happened quickly. We were driven to the Space Station and in no time at all landed in Kryptanyo. Global village is an old saying. Universal village will be apt for Kryptanyo.
What hit the new immigrants is the immense heat. There is virtually no night, in Kryptanyo. The Sun always shines there. Every living area is air conditioned. Everything in Kryptanyo revolved around the Sun. Everything also worked with solar energy. Water is manufactured by blending Oxygen and Hydrogen.
When I went to school, I felt that I am not welcomed by the other students. When I told them about rain, moon and stars they laughed at me. They never witnessed rain in their life. Most of them came to Kryptanyo as babies or born there. Kryptanyo is the only world they know, so, they did not miss anything. There are no Indians or Americans, Chinese or Japanese or Europeans or Americans here. They are all Kryptonians and very proud of the fact. They were fiercely patriotic and do not want to hear praise of another planet. One of them said, “My parents said that earth is a shabby place”. I had to agree that Kryptanyo is very neat and orderly, people are very disciplined and no traffic jams anywhere. But I long for my planet, my Earth. Even though it’s shabby. It’s shabby because people made it like that, else there is no planet in the Universe as beautiful as Earth.
Even after a year of staying in Kryptanyo, I could not feel that it’s my home. Home will always be Earth for me. One day I heard my parents talking “We have to think of leaving this place and going to Earth. Look how Neeha changed. From a lively girl, she became dull and dispirited” I waited with bated breath to hear what mother will be saying. She did not say anything for a while. Later I heard mother’s voice, “You know Naresh, we came here for free, but to leave we have to pay the charges. We may have to cough up what we earned till now. We have to search for new jobs after returning”
“Don’t worry about the jobs. We will find them very easily. Even if we lose everything, we will gain our daughter. Her well being and happiness should be paramount for us” said father.
“Okay! Talk with the authorities. But it may take a long time. For us to return, there must be someone from the Earth to fill our places”
“I know that. That’s why we have to file the application as soon as possible”.
Within a few days, everyone at school came to know about our impending return to the planet Earth. Naturally all others are treating me like an enemy. The barrier between other children and her became even thick, which she could not break.
Her troubles were forgotten in a few days, as Kryptonians started to make arrangements for a very important event. Rain comes to Kryptanyo once in five years only and that time has come now. Every Kryptonians home has a big cellar which is being cleaned and readied to preserve the rain water. Every activity on the planet comes to a stop and everyone is busy with preparations to collect water.
The administration as well as the public waited for the rains to come. Soon the Sun went behind the black clouds. Cool winds blew all around. Everyone savored the natural coolness, which they experience only artificially. Thunder stuck and the sky darkened. Everybody watched the rain with wonder. Children danced in the rain while elders are busy collecting the rainwater, which they had to use till next rains. But as the rains come for only five hours, Soon the Sun came out more brilliantly than before and everybody are forced to go indoors, to live artificial lives. The plants which came up with rains soon died with the scorching heat.
Neeha longed for Earth even more than before. Where there will be no need to collect rainwater and use it for five years. She longed for the moon, for the stars, for the rivers and oceans, for the forests for the seasons which brought variation to life. And the more she wanted to return the late it is getting to go back to the Earth. With helplessness Neeha started to weep.
“Neeha, Neeha”, she heard her father’s voice as if from a long distance. Slowly she opened her eyes,
“Where am I” she asked.
“Where you have already been, in your bed” said her mother. “Now stop being a goose and go back to sleep!”
“When are we leaving this planet Kryptanyo and going to Earth?”
“Kryptanyo? What are you talking child?” asked her father gently.
“Are we not on planet Kryptanyo?”
Her mother laughed loudly, “You must be dreaming. We are on Earth only. This is the result of watching too much Science fiction” said to her father.
“Is it true mother? Are we really on Earth?” There is so much relief in her voice.
Her father lifted her and took her outside. Yes this is her home, her country, her planet. Kryptanyo is only a dream. She closed her eyes as the cool breeze of the night enveloped her.
Later, sitting between her parents on their bed, she told them about planet Kryptanyo and how scared she felt being there.
“Father, I will never want to leave this planet”.
“No, I promise we never leave our world. Now go back to sleep and dream only about Earth.”
“And stop watching those sci-fi movies and serials” her mother warned sternly.
Neeha went back to sleep cozily in midst of her parents.
* * *