By SHIKHA RASTOGI
Present 2nd September 1886, 1:00 AM
The only thing he wanted that moment was to hide the truth. What if someone had seen? ‘No one must know’, he assured himself. He paced around the room. He was dizzy. Someone had killed his beloved.
15 hours ago
The summer of 1886 was going to be the most stirring of all. ‘Dr. Jekyll was in love.’ he murmured to himself. Yes he was in love. She was good-natured. But he did not find the idea of loving her so gratifying as he had always imagined it to be. They strolled for an hour in St. James Park. He had said goodbye to her and sat down under the tree. He went into deep slumber when there was a sudden awakening by horrid screams. He rushed. He saw blood splattered all over the woman. He wished she was some stranger. But this was the woman he was going to marry.
Death is not an episode; it is an experience which divides the truth into two. The Living and the Dead. All our lives we seek to find answers of innumerable questions. But everything comes to a standstill at the juncture of loss. There the only question is why and the only answer is pain. That pain is unknown and ruthless.
It seemed like a serpent‘s teeth biting into him. The poison filled his veins.
Present 2nd September 1886
He was calm now. He comfortably placed himself in the padded chair. It was classic wood. The wind was blowing hard mimicking the very racing of his heart. He was in his laboratory, working out his new formula for the treatment of chronic fever. He was unenthusiastic about the discovery of his. He needed to concentrate. He bent down to add the contents of the flask into the boiling mixture. It was then, when everything around him became numb. Something was wrong. He had to stop this. He tried hard to keep his eyes open. His head was hurting. He could no longer control what was happening.
‘No, not yet…I have to complete this.’ The flask hit the ground and so did his head.
He woke up in the arms of a beautiful woman. He could now understand what people meant when they said that the very glory in dying is when you reach heaven.
I have never believed in ‘love at first sight’ but at this very moment he could not demarcate or name the feelings he was going through.
He was twenty-seven years old. He had experienced a subtle variation in love. The only women he knew, who spoke of true love and its power, were the whores while women who were married spoke of things other than love. During those days, when he wanted to explore the intricacy of love and be bound by it yet liberated in his senses, he found no human female to have rendered salvation to that thought.
The chain of contemplation of his fervent heart came to an end when the lips of the woman parted in speech.
‘You have slept quite long my lord!’
The words somehow did not enter his head.
‘My Lord, you look pale.’ She looked concerned. He was attentive now. His eyes searched for answers. He was no longer wearing the white robe. He was unclothed while his legs were enclosed in a sheet.
‘Call me by my name’ he said.
‘Forgive me I cannot.’
‘I ask you to’
Her nervousness was evident.
‘My name is Jekyll not Hyde. Where am I?’ he inquired.
‘You swooned, my lord.’ She told what she witnessed.
He was desperate now.
‘Stop calling me my lord. That was in 16th and 17th century. Not anymore. ‘His voice was harsh.
‘It is 2nd September 1666. The day is Sunday’. She replied.
‘Stop all this. You might as well tell me that I failed in the research. It would not hurt. I have come to terms with reality. I will work hard…’she stopped him in between and continued to speak.
‘My lord, I will get something for you. You seem feeble. Fragments of supplies would keep your spirits alive.’ She went away
He looked around. The feelings of his beloved were still in their prime stage. Her death only made him miserable. He wanted to escape from there and he did. The question was how. He must be suffering from a disease, unknown disease.
She entered the room.
‘My lord, I find it difficult to put forth this proposition. But I seek your permission if I could visit my father.’ She waited for him to answer.
He did not know what to say. Instead he asked.
‘Why are you asking me?’
‘You are my husband. She paused and said ‘I shall return tomorrow. My lord.’
‘Where are you going?’
‘To the bakery on the Pudding Lane. My father lives there.’
He wanted to hold her in his arms. It was an impulse. He felt protective for the feeble creature who addressed him as ‘my lord’. He brushed aside the twisted locks of hair from her face. He touched her lips with his finger, visualizing them being explored by his mouth.
‘Do you love me?’ he asked. He wanted to be loved.
He kissed her. He held her for a very long time. He did not want to go back. He did not want answers. He had his love in his arms. He kept dreaming of all the things he would do now. God gave him a chance.
The intimacy was broken by the sound of chariot wheels.
She spoke. ‘My father has come. I must leave. I will be back before sunrise.’
He did not want to let her go. He had lost once. But she walked away. He was left only with the memories of her smiling face. Yes he was tired. He retired to eat.
He calculated the events and tried understanding what had just happened. It was 1666. How did this happen. It can’t be a dream.
Suddenly the truth dawned on him. He was going to lose his love yet again. The Great Fire of London happened in 1666. Oh yes, the same place where his wife had gone.
How could he miss such a detail? He remembered the timelines of every event that took place in London. He had to do something.
By the time he reached the bakery it was already burning. The wind had fanned the fire. The houses nearby were burning too. He did not know where she lived. He kept searching. It was impossible to go near the area. He remembered why they called it ‘The Great Fire of London’; it killed nearly everyone in London. He would die. Suddenly he felt the same numbness he experienced hours ago.
He was back in 1886. It was September 2nd. The clock showed 1 am in the morning. Just in less than 24 hours he had lost his love twice. He felt betrayed by Him, whom most of us call God. He wanted to scream till everyone on this earth felt the coldness of his being. He lay motionless.
He heard a knock on the door. It was his lawyer friend, Gabriel John Utterson. He was of the view to narrate the events that took place but then thought otherwise. He had to find answers.
Gabriel entered the room. He said ‘Jekyll my friend. Where have you been?’ he continued. ‘I know it is a difficult time but you must not be defeated. Dear friend I know you are distressed but you must not shut yourself or else you will lose touch with reality.’
He moved closer to me and said in a tone which I could not miss. ‘You are my brother. I shall not leave you here to stay alone. Come with me, brother, please.’
He could not. He had questions in his mind. Not before he unraveled this puzzle.
He spoke, “I am fine. I wish to be alone. I acknowledge your concern but I request you to leave me alone at this moment. I will be fine in no time. Life goes on. Yes, I only want to find a way to bury these memories and find something worth to live for. I do not want to breathe, Gabriel, I wish to live. Give me some time. That is my only request.”
Gabriel bid his brother goodbye. He asked for time he shall give it. But he will not leave Jekyll alone.
Present: 3rd September 1886
The morning light was like a curse. He had closed his eyes but his mind was still sprinting in the thoughts. What was happening to him? He got up. He felt dizzy. He knew what this was about. Just like before a tempest, the silence in the atmosphere gives an indication of the approaching storm, so was the numbness in his head giving an indication of the impending disaster.
He woke up in a bedroom. It was magnificent and very beautiful. But there was an eerie silence. He reached up to the window and looked outside. He was in some other world probably. There were houses which were like boxes but beautiful boxes. None of the houses were more than 2 storeys. They were designed in amazing style with bright and sophisticated colors. The air was warm unlike in 1886. He knew he had moved forward in timeline or more so his dream. The city was clean and very organized. The roads cut in right angles and he was alarmed when he saw vehicles. They were marvelous. Extraordinary. They were like nothing he had ever seen before. They were fast but they did not emit smokes. He looked closely and recalled that hydrogen produced a lot of energy same like sun. Was it being run on solar power or hydro-power? He will figure it out. His eyes shone in excitement. He would go back in 1886 and work out the formula. He will be able to invent and discover things before the time.
There was just one big building which looked like a tower and that was the tallest building. All the other houses were by some convention small and box shaped.
He heard footsteps. He saw a beautiful woman. The third beautiful woman and not sure if he would lose her also.
She said. ‘Oh Hyde! Morning love, how are you?’
She shouted then. ‘Winker, get some toast and a glass of fresh juice for master.’
She asked, ‘what happened? You do not seem well.’
He asked and waited for the unexpected answer. ‘Where am I? Which year is it?’
She said, ‘Darling why are you asking this?’
She saw he was serious. she continued. ‘Okay, if you insist. This is 3rd September 2086 and you are in the city of Raulasia. Now don’t say there is no city like Raulasia. Okay I understand sometimes you forget it all. After 2012 when there was a third world war when everything turned into ashes there were many reforms. Cities were rebuilt and named after philosophers there are cities like Hobbesin after Thomas Hobbes, then Raulasia after John Rauls , Rousseau metropolis after Jean-Jacques Rousseau and so on.’
It seemed absurd. He still hung on those words. ‘After third world war…’
So there was going to be something disastrous. He will have to stop it. Once he goes back in time to 1886 he will write every detail and undo things. Amidst those thoughts he suddenly saw a figure which was neither human nor anything he could imagine. He was carrying a tray that had juice and toast. He was made up of steel. What was he, he did not know. He was wearing clothes. But he was not human. No human flesh. He did not even have eyes.
He shrieked, ‘Good lord! What are you?’
Her wife answered. ‘This is Winker. The RoboGuy. After the third world war, I told you about the transformation. There was a complete change. My great grandfather’s e-mails and videos showed how more than half the world’s population died. After which there were leaders who wanted peace and then with the environment depleting, lot of care had to be taken. The remaining human beings joined hands and worked for peace. The earlier demarcations of continents have changed. It is different now. You can see these videos I am sure you will find your answers. So the scientists were the new leaders they made Robots to assist us making a new world. There were very less humans. They designed robots and machines who worked tirelessly around the clock. Now every household is to have a RoboGuy. They assist us in everything. This is done so that there can be no more wars. RoboGuys are like police force. They keep a check on everyone. If once your robot is turned off, official comes to your house immediately. They need to be charged and taken for maintenance. But all this is compulsory. I am sure now your memory has come back.’
It was more than just his memories. It was great. This new world was challenging and impressive. He accepted the tray from Winker.
His wife turned to go into the kitchen. She asked Winker to make the bed and left. Suddenly he heard a sound from kitchen. It was loud. He entered and it was like déjà-vu. The body of the woman was on floor. Blood splattered all over. The strange equipment had burst. He felt the numbness again.
Present 3rd September 1886
Gabriel entered and found Jekyll on the floor. After few minutes Jekyll was fully awake.
He was in 1886 again. He was highly disturbed by the plethora of events. But he wanted to confide in Gabriel about everything that had happened, specially his visit to 2086. He said, ‘Gabriel, I am unable to put the words but I was in the year 2086 and before that 1666. There is going to be a Third World War. We have to stop it. Believe me Gabriel, It is quite absurd. You know every time I was in these two periods I was called Hyde. Maybe I am not Jekyll. I have to see who Edward Hyde is’
Gabriel was not listening anymore. There was no scientific reason for the way his friend was acting. It was the emotional distress that was finding a way out through his weird imaginations. Absurdity was followed by illogicality of his words. He was suffering. He was trying to find an escape route from the bitter truth. Reality was skewed with perception. As some say reality is an illusion. He created another reality or so to say a set of illusions which comforted him. We all seek happiness. In some way he wanted a break from the sudden misery that was bestowed upon him. The burden he carried in his heart was like a thread weaving dreams for him.
Jekyll was still explaining. He did not miss any detail. He was eagerly waiting for Gabriel to react. Gabriel said, ‘Are you serious? This is just amazing. You went to future.’
‘You believe me?’ asked Jekyll.
‘Yes brother I do.’ Gabriel lied.
The first thing Gabriel did was tell Poole, who is Jekyll’s butler, to keep an eye on him. By noon, everyone in London had come to know of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and the escapade to the future and past. Gabriel consulted with fellow doctor Lanyon and somehow from the servant to butler everyone had come to know about it.
Outside Jekyll’s house people gathered to have him out of the city. Some said he was possessed by the evil spirit. Some said he was going mad and that there was no cure. Some even identified these characteristics of him being god or also Satan. But majority of London considered him a threat. He was a threat to morality and stability in the society. It is utterly ironical how people are so excellent in judging. The same man who saved their lives, who cured them of diseases was now a monster. The sole reason was he spoke of things other than what were discussed in the ordinary course of life. It can be so said that people have always been afraid of ‘eccentric’ ideas. Majority of them do not like revolution or the galloping of imaginations. They stop their mind from generating and understanding the ‘beyond’ of everything they see, hear or even the people they meet. Only some who are unconventional are original. They create history. But then again this originality comes with a lot of sacrifice and sometimes at the cost of their lives.
Present 5th September 1886
Nothing had changed. People were still blaming him. His butler had left. His house was like a lost bird in the sky. He did not answer phone calls nor did he open the door to anyone. He spoke only to Gabriel who was bringing with him a doctor to understand what was wrong with him.
Before Jekyll could act he turned into Hyde. This time he knew very well where he was. His mind was made. He was in future. He will not go back. He had found a solution to stop his escapades. He could peacefully live as Hyde now.
He was in 2012. The world was ending right in front of his eyes. But his decision was made. He had to put an end to his suffering. Back in 1886 everyone would know he was not lying. He had left a note which read:
I am in future and I shall never come back.
I am called Edward Hyde. Meet me Gabriel some day.
I will miss you, my friend.
He was ready to be killed. A bullet pierced his skin. The world was dying and so was he. The difference was he came from past to die in future. He recalled memories. One of his patients saying
‘Dr. Jekyll is mad.’
People shouting, ‘He should be buried under the ground. He is evil.’
Gabriel’s voice, ‘you need help Henry Jekyll.’
At last he heard the voice of Salvation.
‘You have slept quite long my lord!’