World President 2097

Lanky Keith fastened his speed of sharpening the wooden wedge puffing and sweating harder now, after he heard his Uncle Tom yelling at a distance in his regular threatening tone, “Are we done yet?” Sundays were never his favorite because that would be the day when his uncle lazed at home loading him with carpentry work extra than usual. There was no noticeable season cycle that the weather followed in the year 2092 and it would be sultry throughout the year with barely scanty rain in December. One out of 20 trees flanking the highway was for real, rest were plastic. Wood turned out to be an indispensible house-making material as it became impossibly hot to survive in houses made of glass. Oxygen was hardly present in the atmosphere. So, robots invented a pocket oxygen machine which simply produced O2 and made breathing possible through a plastic tube that ended at nostrils. Many pivotal crops went extinct and consequently, men fed on tablets of different nutrients for all their meals depending upon the specific quantity of each nutrient the body would require in each meal. Luring taste of scrumptious food was an extinct thought too. The whole world was one country; one bank, one government, one currency, one president.

Complaining with Keith’s work on this Sunday, Tom threw a bottle of expired tablets at him declaring those would be meals for his entire day. Those were of Vitamin A. Drained and famished by the exhaustive workout; Keith consumed the entire content from the can that triggered a weird reaction from his body and he fell flat on the floor unconscious. The next morning was when he regained senses but the world around him was no longer the same. Skidding on floor in horror, Keith screeched his lungs out moments after he realized what he could see now was not his nightmare but a part of his life. He could see through the walls! The next room, the room after that, his whole house from a single point! The road that ran in front of his 50-storey building which he viewed before this day, only by peeping through his window at the 17th floor, was now as clearly visible as his own bed on his right. For an instant, he fantasized this was God’s answer to his miseries and with that thought, he tried to fly but fell squashed striking the wall. He could only see through not walk and certainly not fly through them.

Fervent adolescent adrenaline rush that was when he frantically ran into people that day on the streets disclosing his new born optical might. Initially shooed off as ‘loony’ or ‘psycho’, it could not take too long for the locals to believe the vigor of this boy as they were witnessing convincing proofs with their own eyes. Keith was telling them about the expired tablets and all that was happening around them beyond bricks, stones and wood. People tried to know from him what was happening in the middle-east. His eyesight was just as normal. Of course, there was only a limited distance up to what he could view and could see through walls only which he was near to. Gerald pled to help him figure out who regularly robbed tablets from his shop, Figo wanted to know if there was any other guy his girl was dating and Ameira advised him to sneak in the Parliament House to gather all the top secrets.

Keith was orphaned on his fifth birthday, taken home by his maternal uncle for selfish reasons that made his life dark and torturously predictable since then. His mind, now eccentric and ecstatic, was far too busy receipting mass attention which he never experienced, naively failing to gauge the next sequel.

Press reached the location in a jiffy with their bulky cameras and poky reporters all set to record Keith’s statement. On cloud nine as it is, he answered every question in truth very effervescently and posed for some pictures like a celebrity. It was ‘Breaking News’ of the hour, ‘News Flash’ of the day, ‘Special’ of the week, new part of ‘Believe it or not’ of the year and this was just the beginning to a new twist in the tale. Uncle Tom returned home to hear the brilliant heroic story of his nephew, only responding “That brat! Again with his pranks to run away from home. Ha! How far is he going to go! He’ll come back when he’s hungry.” National Security Personnel team nabbed Keith quietly that night from the store beneath his building where he lay wasted along with Gerald whom he helped catch the shoplifter of his store red handed. Interrogated with unfriendly questions and scrutinized from head-to-toe, they spent the entire next day trying this young lad who eventually was no longer feeling lucky with his gift of extraordinary sight but actually weak in the knees. To his rescue, Uncle Tom arrived at the FBI grounds and claimed responsibility of him, requested for release and left for home with Keith after signing a heavy documented national security agreement. It was a silent journey back home.

Until today, Keith never knew his uncle’s true profession. He always thought making him painstakingly work on those wood shafts to make different chairs and panes for home was his uncle’s only job. Tom was one of the most secretly important scientists working for the most sensitive lab of the world. It was the reason why Keith was threatened to death when he attempted to enter his uncle’s room once. Tom patiently asked Keith to give him the exact details of that day: which nutrient tablets those where, how many he had, did he remember the exact expiry date and etc. “Is he going to be kind to me from now on?” Keith asked himself. Months passed, Keith kept his limits of movement only to places he was familiar about to save himself from bumping into random walls. His uncle’s attitude towards him was indifferent as ever and getting worse. And one day, Keith heard Tom’s jolting shriek from his room and them from every corner of the house, “I’ll live forever. I’m eternal. I’m immortal.” “What happened?” asked Keith quizzically. Tom shouted back, “I have finally consumed the tablet I made which now makes me immortal. I found the crack. All my research into your expired tablets, experiments with deliberately flawed formulae, sleepless months will all pay me back now! I banged on target. The most delicate and dangerous formula! I won! I won!” Keith felt his uncle really needed good sleep and was over-exhausted.

It was five years after this day when Keith began to believe what his uncle confidentially flaunted to him about all this while was true in reality. The already so-old uncle of Keith should have been dead by now taking account of the average age statistics of humans in that decade. Uncle Tom hardly moved now as all his bones turned too brittle, his nails had fallen off, his skin was shredding, one of his kidneys said goodbye, his memory retained very limited information and he was deaf now; but he wouldn’t die. Miserable at this sight and with cold feet, Keith decided to take a final stance for once. He always loved his uncle for keeping him safe all his young years, forget the trauma he had to go through but it was now time to act for his dear uncle. He sat silently near his uncle’s frail body and wrote on a paper, “Do you want to die?” The sight of the words pushed a desperate “Yes!!” from tom’s flaked lips. It was the first emotionally happy scene this house ever witnessed with Tom circling Keith in his arms, a smile on his face and tear rolling on his cheek. He was so overwhelmed that he then asked Keith to write a will in his own name empowering him of all his uncle’s heavy fortunes and his highly informative research documents revealing untold discoveries and concepts that could reverse world scenario. After spending some last few moments in sentiments, Keith granted his uncle death in mercy.

The coming months, Keith continually studied all the techniques and concepts his uncle had personally invented and began to draw revolutionary conclusions. He decided to uncover these discoveries. He knew the dying world needed it as soon as today. Keith publicized his theories. People already fascinated him being the ‘wall boy’ and diligently listened to whatever he had to say ‘On Air’ that day. After a remarkable speech about his promising ideologies of a reverse world theory, public all-over broke into road-blocking processions. They demanded Keith as the World President. So unstoppable was the mass cry that as a rare case, the World Parliament decided to make this exception and housed Keith as the World President 2097.

Karnika Palwa