A Message From Professor Shanku.

Okay, my good bong friends down on earth; most of you know me. I am the scientist that revolutionized the bong society back in 1965, when my creator Satyajit Ray decided to introduce me to your world, and your world to the magnificent genre of science fiction. Many days, have passed since then – since the day my diary was found in an old shop in Calcutta; that was also the fateful day you came to know me! And of course, my trusted robot ‘Bidushekhar’, my pet cat Newton, my friends and the wonderful world of science fiction that didn’t only have to be set in USA or England or Japan – my friends, I did prove to you that aliens shouldn’t always land in New York, they can do so in Calcutta as well.

So my friends – why do you disappoint me so?

I admit, I did live on Mars – but just a few weeks, well, I can’t mention the exact date because I really don’t want nosy government officials messing with me, but still – mates, where are your imaginations? Where are your creative spirits? I know, most of you study science, want to be engineers and doctors, but tell me the truth – how many of you really love the subject?

I know because the way it was back in our day, I had fun in really doing the experiments, inventing the inventions. Making stuff blow up, because that’s part of the fun, not shirking away and telling your lab partner that it might be too dangerous, just mugging up data to ace the examinations and get into engineering colleges so that I mean……. what’s the point?

What’s that? Big cash? And…… a safe secure career? Really, that’s it?

Most of my other colleagues would have given up hope by now, but this is not why I am writing this, you see? That was one of my greatest – well, you could say that’s one of greatest virtues, or flaws, considering how you look at it – but the more hopeless a situation seems, the more determined I feel to make it right. That’s a real scientist’s attitude, you see? Not calling every science fiction book – like say, my diary – a bunch of nonsense or saying that it has no real meaning in true science. It’s just a waste of time, envisaging “weird things” that probably won’t ever happen……. but can you say why? i just want one of you, just a single person to stand up for your generation and say what you think is wrong.

Well?

Yes, I really can’t see what you might have said – but judging from the conversations of the teenagers around here, I would guess…… you think science fiction and science aren’t related right? What use is thinking about aliens and dystopias and cyber-worlds, where they might never just occur?

To which I ask this question – you must have heard of H G Wells ‘The Time Machine’ right? It’s purely a work of imagination by the revered author of what had seemed an impossible scenario, and yet! That imagination firmly adhered the roots of longing in people’s hearts, the longing to be free of the constraints of time…… pushing forward several important discoveries in science, including hypothetical concepts of faster-than-light travel, and….. dare I say it? The “impossible scenario” might soon be a possible one.

But not soon enough. Alas, but my days are numbered…… my servant Prahllad, though much younger than me has already passed away, and it is due to his wishes that I have made this trip back to Earth, and seen the sights that pain my heart……. which brings us back to why i have been ranting all around.

My fellow bongs, there is potential in you. I know because I have seen the positive aspects too – the sheer brainpower and keen logic that you possess. And that’s a downside too – you tend to just focus on the above aspect, and forget that science lies just as well in the other things, imagination and wonder of the world that we tend to forget as we grow up. That’s my plea friends – please don’t.

Science fiction stories change the world, and warn us about humanity, the consequences of playing god. They aren’t just weird, nonsensical stuff, they teach us important lessons, and make us think philosophical questions. So if you have an idea, like my creator did, do not hesitate and think it’s below you to jot it down – and as for those who want to be authors but are pressured by society to be an engineer or doctor? Do not give up on your dream, and once you are successful, the whole world will cite your example. As an author, you can change the world too.

My fellow bongs, the world has progressed far in science, as well as the rest of the country. So have many of you – but it’s not enough. To have a real scientific attitude, you must dispel bigotry – I have also seen that just because they are not degree holders, and even because they MA in history or psychology, rather than MSc, you tend to look down on them, like studying subjects other than what we call curriculum in science somehow places them below us on the IQ level. That is not the case, my friends – in fact, two of my greatest friends are archaeologists, and have proved more valuable at cracking a mystery than any of us inventors or scientists.

Ah, their memory invokes nostalgia! The world has changed a lot in the last few years. Dust clogs my vision, though it might be my fading eyesight! It’s difficult to breathe, and the jungles are still there, but these are made of grey and bland concrete. This just proves what I said, that the world needs changing again. And though I cannot really meet any of my old friends – I don’t even know if they are alive – I have found new ones in you. And to you friends I say this, please allow me to spend my last few days in peace, so that I know, that even if I am gone, Mother Earth is in safe hands.

So long, and Newton says “Miao”.

 

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