“Can I come with you?” She asked. I looked at her with irritation. It was clear that she was interested in me. Middly- what a name! Like Iddly.
I actually liked Middly. She was kind of cute. But her hair was curly. I hated that. Why do girls have pimples, by the way? They left those unsightly pitted marks that took a lot away from the perfection of a face. And then, there was her small but flatter nose. That made her look chinese.
I squeezed one of my pimples. It was mildly painful, like a distant memory. I stewed in the cocoon of my adolescence, longing to shake the fluid out of my wings and soar into the clear sky of the real world. I had a mission. I could see the problems with the world. I had to make it better. For me and everybody else. A fault free, blemish less universe lay before me in my young dreams. The future- what would it be like? I wondered eagerly.
I shook my head and walked away, as her smile drooped a bit, like a tired hibiscus.
The path was tree lined and gloomy in the approaching dusk. As I turned the corner, I stood, stunned. I gaped.
A gap in the canopy let in a slice of bright light onto the sidewalk that illuminated clearly, a woman standing in my way. An absolutely gorgeous woman.
She was erect, like she was balancing a pot of water on her head. She was the most perfectly beautiful woman I had ever seen. As tall as me. I liked that. The clarity of her complexion and the sculptured precision of her curves registered instantly in my brain, as a pleasant startle. Pale blue sari and a blouse without sleeves. She had a name plate over her chest that said IDL. I pinched myself to make sure that I was awake. Who was this woman? And why was she looking at me with an amused smile that was better than that in a cosmetic ad? I looked at her enquiringly. I noticed that though she was perfect in every way, as if custom made by a designer, there was something strange and unsettling about her. A vague shadow of….something. Not sinister, but nameless.
“I am from the future, young man, she said. Good to meet you at last. I am Miss. I.D. Liji. They talk about you a lot in the times that I come from.” She said. The voice was smooth, as if it was lubricated with Castrol, like in the motor oil ads.
You may find this strange, but the first thought that came to my head was- ‘sari- they still wear saris in the far future? I would have imagined something like the costume of superwoman.
She took my hand and led me to a vehicle. I complied, as if hypnotized. It was a flying saucer. Sleek- typical futuristic stuff. By now I knew that it was all real. We got in. In front of me was the most elaborate, switchi, buttony and blinking lighty console that I had ever seen. Miss Lji flashed a dazzling smile and switched on a bright red button the size of a champakkai, marked ‘time-forward’.
“I will take you to there. The future.” She said.
“How far into it?” I asked. My tongue had reappeared in the floor of my mouth.
“Far. My times. Yes- we are over the earth of the early twenty-third century. “
I started. I didn’t even feel the time travel. The lady pointed to the window with a flawless finger. I walked and looked down. It was just like looking down from an aeroplane. Only much higher, and the clouds were not there. To my surprise, there were neat boundaries, and landmarks with names superimposed on the scene. Obviously a computer generated image.
“We are flying over Utopia number two- Reddistan.” Liji said. “The entire world is divided into a number of perfect Nations. We are in a perfected world now.”
“Why different Nations; then? “ I asked.
“The masters decided that variety was needed. A different system of governance for each Nation.” She smiled again. This time, again I got the feeling that she was strange. As if she or something was trying to hide something…I mean about her. I ignored it. I was listening keenly now. It was all so interesting.
“Look at Reddistan, for example. It is ruled by a single party of incorruptible human beings, who always have only the good of the state in their minds. The government controls all the means of production. They give jobs to everyone, each according to his or her ability. Everyone is given equal pay and has the same status. All services are given by the state. No one transfers wealth from one generation to another. There is no use saving money in this system”
“Everyone works hard there?” I had to ask.
“Of course.” She continued. “There are more Nations and many systems. Look at Greenistan, for example. This is a harsher system. It is ruled by a priest-king and a hierarchy of priests. As it is sanctioned by a single god, all citizens automatically obey the state. Punishments here are very severe, but practically, no one undergoes them as no one breaks the laws anyway. There is a lot of hierarchy in the system. For instance, the women have a secondary status. No one complains, because of their staunch faith in god. All the citizens are very happy in this system. I mean, happiness is same in all Nations in this century, studies have found.”
“But this God’” I blurted out- “He is really there?”
“That is irrelevant, as long as all the people thinks he is.” She said. I nodded. That made sense.
“Are there other systems based on God?”
“Yes- there are many. Take Orangistan, for example- Utopia number eleven. There are platoons of many Gods. And classes of people based on their birth. Some classes are very low status, and they serve others.”
“Dont they complain?”
“Never. It is destined for them. They will never act against destiny.”
“Then there is a system of priestly rule where people pray all the time and chants and talks about love incessantly. Forgiveness, prayer and sacrifice is discussed ad nauseaum. But in practice, it works just like Greenistan.”
“But the people are happy?”
“Extremely.” She said.
“Are there no Liberal Democratic countries?”
She looked puzzled for a moment, and then said:
“There are some systems in which governments come in by popular vote. But the politicians are all uncorrupt, eager to serve and are self-sacrificing. No punishments in this system. There is total freedom of expression and liberal values. But everyone thinks intelligently and acts only for the common good, quite voluntarily, without any coercion.”
I felt happy. Miss Liji smiled and put her perfect face close to mine. I wanted to kiss her. Now I could see her nameplate clearly. It was written:
“I.D-eo- Logy.” The other letters were very small. So one could read only IDL.
I slowly drew her face closer. Red lips loomed. The fragrance of her perfume. My heart beat faster. “I am not really there, you know.” She drawled sexily.
I drew back. I suddenly realised what was strange about this perfect woman.
She didn’t exist. Miss I.D. Liji was a myth.
I felt a terrible sorrow enveloping my soul. An explosion occurred. The space ship heaved.
I woke with a start. Middly was gently tapping and shaking my desk. I had fallen asleep on my classroom, resting my cheek on the desk. It was recess.
She smiled a bit hesitantly, showing a prominent canine on one side. Curly hair danced in the breeze blowing through the open window. But it was a cute smile. These days she approached me only rarely, fearing a snub.
I smiled at her.
“Come let us go for coffee.” I said. She laughed. Even the pimples looked happy.