On The Run
by Rattan Mann
Prof.Dr. Rattan Mann, the head of the Psychiatry ward, Ulleval Hospital, Oslo, was on the run from the whole world.
Prof.Dr.Mann was on the run from the British MI5. Long ago the MI5 had spread a sinister rumour that he kissed a minor in an inappropriate and suspicious manner and forced the state attorney to press legal charges against him. The case collapsed on the very first day when tiny Rashmi, the nine year old alleged victim, declared in a packed court,
"My honour, all this is an ado about nothing, a tempest in a teacup, a conspiracy to put behind bars an innocent man. It was a very harmless kiss, the way a father gives a daughter before leaving for office. No violence or terror or national security issue of any sort was involved."
The wisdom and sincerity in the little girl's voice moved the old judge to tears. He threw the case out of the court without further ado, and warned the MI5 not to indulge in conspiracies in name of national security.
A tiny girl, at whom every child’s uncle, Prof.Dr. Mann, had indeed blown a kiss in the subway; and an old judge who happened to be there by chance and so knew the truth, the whole truth, and nothing else but the truth, had made him an instant celebrity. Everybody was happy at this favourable turn of events except Prof.Dr.Mann himself, because he was the only guy in town who fully understood the true consequences of this historic judgement.
Even before he stepped out of the court to meet the mad media, he was convinced that both he and the noble judge were in mortal danger from MI5 - MI5 will not take the defeat lying down. In fact, the MI5 knew years in advance that they would be defeated in court and had already laid plans to eliminate both him and the judge by other means. Instead of meeting the press and basking in fame and glory, Prof.Dr.Mann escaped from a backdoor and rushed to the nearest post-office. There and then he dashed a long and rambling letter to the judge warning him of the danger he was in. Furthermore, he suggested to the judge that they both go underground simultaneously, and resurface in the Amazon rain forest after about two months. There they can form a United Front against MI5.
In the coming weeks and months he wrote dozens of such letters to the judge. Unfortunately, the judge never responded.
Having given up on the judge as a gone case, Prof.Dr. Mann decided to save his own skin before it was too late. One cold, dark, and rainy night he escaped from England and took refuge in Norway. And ever since then Prof.Dr.Mann was on the run from the British MI5.
Prof.Dr. Mann was also on the run from the US Homeland Security. Even after staying in Norway for years and becoming a Norwegian citizen he never felt safe there because Norway was infested with MI5 agents who were still looking for him everywhere in the European Union. To checkmate them he decided to immigrate to the United States where he would be in a better position to counter-balance their evil intentions. As he was highly qualified, he got his immigration visa almost immediately. The real problem was to escape from Norway. He couldn't risk going to the airport because it was teeming with secret agents who would go to any length to prevent him from escaping this time. The only viable means of transport was the food-container of a cargo ship
So he entered into secret negotiations with the captain of a cargo ship, and paid him a huge sum not for being smuggled into the United States but for being smuggled out of the European Union. As the ship sighted American shores, Prof.Dr.Mann emerged out of his hiding. He was in bad shape. He had had nothing to eat or drink for days. He was dehydrated and delusional. But he was in very high spirits because now he had nothing to fear. He had a valid immigration visa and nobody could deny him entry into USA - not even MI5 or Homeland Security.
Unfortunately and typical of him, he got a little too excited. He leaned over the railings to get a better glimpse of the Statue of Liberty but lost his balance and fell into the sea. With great difficulty he was rescued but he lost all his money and passport. From a legal immigrant he immediately metamorphosed into an illegal alien - a boatman without hope or identity. The sudden metamorphosis looked so surrealistic that somewhere, somehow MI5 must have been involved in this surrealistically unfortunate change of fortune.
But fortune really took a big U turn again.
The immigration officer who spotted Prof.Dr.Mann stealing into USA was a huge, towering lady six feet two inches tall - not too different from the Statue of Liberty herself. She was to retire the next day, and so she wanted to make a final contribution to her conviction that USA belonged to and only to the poor, the hungry, the naked, and the tempest-drenched rabble. Nobody fitted that description that day better than Prof.Dr.Mann so she simply let him go without as much as asking for his passport. His condition was his identity as well as his future potential. Everybody in the Immigration Office lauded the old lady for her wisdom and foresight and welcomed Prof.Dr.Mann to America with open arms. But Prof.Dr.Mann was a fortune-teller, and there and then he saw his own future in a crystal-ball suspended right in the middle of the immigration office.
He saw himself falling into a trap. A new generation of the powerful anti-immigration lobby in the Homeland Security had surrounded him. In the crystal-ball he was bearded, wore a turban, and looked very suspicious, and the anti-immigration lobby was laughing and discussing his fate right before him. They were just waiting for the noble Lady Liberty to retire because they wanted to hide from her the bitter truth that all her life-work was in vain - America had no place for suspicious-looking guys like Prof. Dr. Mann anymore. That would have broken Lady Liberty's heart. But as soon as she was out of the way, playing with her grandchildren on a remote ranch, they would reverse her decision, rescind his rights to stay in USA, and arrest him, and send him to a far-flung prison on high seas as a very disturbed product of a very disturbed age. Then the crystal-ball became a huge shiny balloon and engulfed him, and the shiny balloon metamorphosed into a dark metal-prison and entrapped him forever.
Prof.Dr.Mann had seen more than enough because, like Nostradamus, he had seen the future. Now it was time to act which Nostradamus never did. So within seconds, he changed his plans and thus changed history. Instead of stepping on the US soil, he stole to the bathroom, shaved his tell-tale beard, flushed his tell-tale turban down the drain, changed into woman's clothes, and set in touch with the ship's captain, begging him to smuggle him back to Norway by the same ship. Again he agreed to pay a huge amount for this smuggling operation. The ship captain was only too happy to oblige. He was paid twice for something which was not at all illegal.
To give Prof.Dr.Mann the full worth of his money, the captain ordered him to strip naked, gave him twenty lashes to make him look like a perfect victim of immigration police brutality, and ordered him to reach the ship by swimming underwater to avoid detection by coastal guards. Then he forced him to use a rope rather than the gate to get on board.
All the immigration officers, coastal guards, and Homeland Security watched this strange drama with great consternation. Prof.Dr.Mann had indeed broken Lady Liberty's heart. She couldn't make head or tail of this lunacy. Her retired life would always be marred by the memory of this last working day and her rejected tribute to a suspicious-looking guy. But she was helpless to do anything. Even after being welcomed into the US , a man had a right to go home, and that too the way he chose - by swimming underwater, climbing a rope, dangling naked from a helicopter, or whatever. Without a formal complaint, she couldn't even punish the captain for whipping a gentleman. And that is how Prof.Dr.Mann arranged his world-shaking escape from USA, right under the nose of the mighty Homeland Security.
As soon as bleeding Prof.Dr.Mann was bloody safe and sound in his food-container, he started dashing letters to Lady Liberty pleading to her to escape from the US like him and join him in Norway so that they both could live together happily after. Then he slipped those letters out of the cracks in the food-container in the happy belief that the captain would pick them immediately and pass them on to the next captain heading towards the US. Prof.Dr.Mann was in the grip of his first-ever feelings of love.
At the Norwegian end, this inspiring saga of the war between Truth and Falsehood had to be as melodramatic as at the American end, if not more. Both Prof.Dr.Mann and the ship captain were of Indian origin and both had suffered racial discrimination and abuse at the hands of the Norwegians countless times. So it was time to take a sweet and long-overdue revenge.
As the ship approached the Oslo harbour, the captain suddenly changed direction and started heading back as if he was running away in fear. After half an hour, he again changed direction and started approaching the harbour at full speed as if he was going to attack it. Then at half way he suddenly switched off the engine and the ship came to a virtual standstill on high waters. And so it stayed till dark. Panic broke out at the Oslo harbour. The Norwegian army was put on red alert. An army division was dispatched to the harbour, and within hours the harbour turned into a military fortress. Yet nobody could do anything to the ship or it captain. The captain had indeed acted very suspiciously but not illegally - to switch off a ship's engine is not illegal. So nobody could do a fig to him.
As soon as it was dark, the door of a food-container was smashed open, and a naked man with blood all over his body jumped out and started running and jumping all over the deck. He was no other than everybody’s friend, Prof.Dr.Mann, bleeding from the lashes he had received in America at the hands of the captain himself. He was screaming, " Help, help, I am bleeding to death. I am a victim of terror and tyranny at the hands of monstrous dictators and blood-thirsty tyrants. Help me, give me shelter, oh good guys of the civilized world."
The ship captain was running after him. He too was screaming, "Prof.Dr.Mann, please come back, come back at once. There you were a victim of terror and tyranny for three months. Here you will remain a victim of racism and hatred for life. Tyrants have been overthrown a thousand times over. Racism and hatred has yet to be overthrown even once. Norway is the most racist country on earth so keep away from it, please. It treats immigrants like lepers and have created a special leper-colony for them like the leper-colony in Ben Hur. It is called Gronland. This is not the civilization you are looking for. We both are ship-wrecked sailors. We are lost on the high seas, we will be far far away from true civilization for a long long time to come."
Prof.Dr.Mann paid no attention to the captain and jumped into the sea. That was the moment the Norwegian army was waiting for. Dozens of gun-boats armed with search-lights sped towards the ship and immediately arrested both Prof.Dr.Mann and the captain. But within minutes all those heavily armed commandos looked like fools. As soon as they found out that Prof.Dr.Mann was a Norwegian citizen, they had to release him as well as the captain. It was not illegal to enter ones own country by jumping into the sea and swimming to the shore. Though very unfortunate and undesirable, it was also not illegal to call Norway the most racist country on earth. So the soldiers had no legal basis for detaining the two fighters against injustice.
Prof.Dr.Mann and the captain saluted each other, raised their first fingers at the Norwegian commandos, and went their different ways never to meet again. Thus ended the tale of two non-violent Gandhians who managed to hit back at least once the people who had been hitting them for ages.
Prof.Dr.Mann had hardly shaken MI5 and Homeland Security off his back when the Italian mafia pounced on him and unfortunate Prof.Dr.Mann was once more on the run from the forces of evil. One hot summer afternoon, he was having beer at an Italian restaurant in Oslo. Suddenly there was great commotion on the street. Like everybody else, he rushed out to see what the matter was. A young and beautiful lady had apparently fainted from the intense heat and was lying unconscious on the road. Prof.Dr.Mann - the knight in white armour that he always was - rushed home to get his first-aid kit. But by the time he returned, the beautiful lady had apparently recovered and walked away. This threw him into a pit of depression. He couldn't bear his impotency to satisfy a damsel in need. So every lady’s lover, Prof.Dr. Mann forgot all about the unfinished and unpaid beer and returned home in a dejected and sucidal state.
Next morning he remembered the beer he had not finished or paid for. He wanted to rush to the restaurant, apologize to the owner, and finish the job there and then. But unfortunately it was all too late now. There and then Prof.Dr.Mann became convinced that the owner had already contacted the mafia, and the mafia was now looking for him everywhere to settle old scores and teach him a lesson for cheating and double-crossing their compatriot in the vicinity, though not actual presence, of a beautiful, though unconscious, lady. Ever since then, Prof.Dr. Mann avoided all streets which had an Italian restaurant on them which meant practically the whole of Oslo. Often he came out of his one-room flat dressed as a woman to avoid being recognized by his Italian neighbours and then betrayed to the mafia.
He had also deviced the perfect escape plan. As soon as the mafia knocked at his door a pre-recorded message would start playing: "Most honourable guests, you are most welcomed. I am Prof.Dr. Mann's automated PA. Please come in and wait in the drawing room. Dr.Mann is in the toilet and takes exactly 27 minutes to come out...now your waiting period is just 26 minutes...25...." Half-an-hour's lead was more than enough to escape by the back door and lie low in some public lavotary till the mafia left after turning his house upside-down.
Then one unfortunate day, unfortunate Prof.Dr.Mann had the most unfortunate panic attack – just when he was beginning to get an upper hand over the forces of evil which were out there to destroy him. One very normal evening of a very normal day, Prof.Dr.Mann had a very normal dinner, and retired to bed in a very normal way. But as he was about to lie down, a very abnormal thought crossed his mind. He cursed the King of Norway and wished him a very painful death because the King had not responded to the Open Letter he had written to him exactly 4 years, 7 months, and 12 days ago. It was a completely unplanned and random thought. It was not even put into words. Even if it had, there were no witnesses, and his bedroom was not bugged. So under normal circumstances the abnormal thought should have been forgotten the next moment.
But Prof.Dr.Rattan Mann was anything but a Normal Mann, and every circumstance around him was the most abnormal one. So instead of dying, this abnormal thought gave birth to a second abnormal thought - in fact, the most abnormal thought that has ever crossed the human mind - past, present, and future. There and then Prof.Dr.Mann became utterly convinced that his thought has been transmitted live – in real time - to the secret police, and now he would be in great trouble because the police knew that he had cursed the King of Norway. This single abnormal thought changed Prof.Dr.Mann's life, his perception of reality, and even the world around him. Things that had been an enigma to him since a long time became crystal-clear.
A casual thought had woken Prof.Dr.Mann out of his long slumber, and like Kant and Hegal, forced him to re-interpret the world around him and re-examine the past and the future in a new light. Now thoughts started gushing into his brain like water from a burst dam. He lost control over them. They were so jumbled up that he could not understand them or see any pattern in them. But that was a great hope. If he could not understand his own thoughts, then the police which was receiving them live - in real time - won't understand them either, and he won't be able to get into more trouble than he already was in. Even his arrest might be postponed for a while and give him enough time to escape. Slowly he began to go through every event in his life and the life of others around him - in fact, he began to go through every event in history and see it in a new light. His would be the greatest reinterpretation of history and enunciation of the future since Marx, Kant, and Hegel.
The first event he remembered was a dream he had had sometime back. In the dream, he was dozing in his office when one of his colleagues stole in very quietly and began to examine his head. He tapped his skull several times. Suddenly, he pulled out a lock of hair and ran away with it, leaving him squirming with pain. Now Prof.Dr.Mann knew that it was not a dream at all but a real incident, and the colleague had not pulled out a lock of hair, but implanted a bugging device - the Thought And Dream Transmitter - into his head which was capable of transmitting his thoughts and dreams live to the Police Thought And Dream Receiver at a secret location.
That made perfect sense and explained a lot of other strange events that were worrying him for a long time. He remembered a very timid, docile, and apolitical friend of his, Dr. Usha Singh, who was always so engrossed in her medical research that she did not even know the names of the Norwegian or Indian prime ministers. One morning she was suddenly fired from her job without any explanation. She got such a shock that by afternoon she committed sucide. Now Prof.Dr.Mann knew the reason. This poor girl by chance had a wrong dream in the night because dreams are beyond one's control. The dream was transmitted live to the Police Dream Receiver, and the next morning the poor creature lost both her job and life.
A similar, though not so tragic, incident had happened to Prof.Dr.Mann himself. One morning, as he entered his office and put his bag on his table, one of his former students rushed in like a silent breeze, whispered in his ears, "Sir, you have been black-listed!" and before Prof.Dr.Mann could see his face, he disappeared like a ghost. That didn't make sense. Since ages Prof.Dr.Mann had stopped all political activities, stopped abusing politicians, and had made peace with all his colleagues. There was no reason to black-list him now. In fact, just a few months ago the head of Oslo Police had told him personally in a cocktail party that he had been removed from the black list for becoming a “good boy”, and handed him a list of Top 100 Black-listed Dreams which he was not suppose to dream if he wanted to remain off the black-list. He had lost the list so he did not know what those dreams were. But now he knew at least one of them.
He remembered that on the night previous to this episode he had had another of his strange dreams. He dreamed that he had thrashed the justice minister for extending private protection to racism and racists in high places in Norway. Probably Dr. Usha Singh had dreamed that she killed the justice minister for abusing her. Therefore, she had to pay for her dream with her job and life instead of getting away just with a last warning. What a just and beautiful world, he thought in order to hide his real thoughts from the police.
A weird thought, or a kaleidoscopic dream in the night, and a crystal-clear message from the police before dawn - a pattern was emerging and the pieces of the puzzle were falling into place. Prof.Dr.Mann had once more begun to understand his thoughts and the world around him. And therein lay the danger! If he was understanding his thoughts, the Police Receiver receiving them live must be understanding them too. And very soon they will send a clear message that they understood. He had very little time left to accomplish anything. What Kant took sixty years to do he will have to do in a day.
What a paradise I am living in, a paradise which even poor Socrates could not imagine with all his wisdom and foresight, he thought again to confuse the Police Receiver for a while and use that time-slot of Receiver Confusion to think real thoughts. Prof.Dr.Mann was faced with one of the greatest challenge man had ever faced - past, present, or future. The answer to that challenge would change the topography of Man himself. Either he had to devise a method by which he could prevent thoughts from entering the brain. For example, they could be made to hover in mid-air, in a ring round the head. He should be able to understand and interact with them, but the Police Thought Receiver should not be able to receive them live because they were outside his skull and out of reach of the Thought Transmitter. Or he had to prevent the Transmitter from transmitting them live, say by hiding in an underground bunker with concrete walls thick enough to block the transmission.
The first possibility was beyond present day science, though Prof.Dr. Mann himself was working franatically on it. In fact, he had already devised a rare-metal ball the shape and size of his head, and a laser Thought-Pump which could pump his forbidden thoughts into the rare-metal ball. This Thought-Ball could then be buried underground somewhere out of reach of the Thought Police. Unfortunately and as always, the forces of Darkness were preventing his apparatus from working properly.
But the second possibility of underground bunkers was another matter. Bunkers lay scattered everywhere, just to be picked. Mother Earth was disfigured with underground bunkers dug everywhere in Norway as a tribute to human stupidity called the Cold War. But before reaching these safe havens for thoughts, Prof.Dr.Mann had to suspend his own thoughts in mid-air otherwise the police will know where he was heading. Here his knowledge of the Tebetian Book of the Dead was a great help.
He took a deep breath, and directed all his power and energy to his brain. This focused laser-like beam of energy evaporated all thoughts from his head – his head became empty of thoughts. The transmission from the Transmitter became white noise and fooled the police into believing that Prof.Dr.Mann was having a thoughtless and dreamless sleep. Having put the police off his trail, Prof.Dr.Mann grabbed a few things lying before him and was on the run once more - this time looking for a place where not he but his thoughts could be hidden safely. He took the Thought Ball and the Thought Pump with him, hoping against hope that this time he might succeed in transferring his thoughts to the Ball and then hiding the ball at a secret location.
The nearest underground bunker was many miles away and it was always locked. So an alternative had to be found fast. There was an alternative, The next best thing to a bunker is a sewer. Thick lead pipes and the concrete roads over them had the strength to make the Transmitter dysfunctional. The Transmitter was definitely not powerful enough to transmit thoughts through meters of thick lead and concrete. A sewer was indeed a poor man's bunker, and right now Prof.Dr.Mann was the poorest of all his fellowmen.
Prof.Dr.Mann knew the way to the sewer. It was his secret hideout from the MI5, the Homeland Security, and the mafia. In fact, it was his Vigilance HQ from where he kept a close eye on all the covert activities of the CIA, FBI, and MI5. It was cold, dark, wet, and very noisy down there. But with great trouble and perseverance he had discovered a dry black hole big enough to accomadate the Anti-MI5 Wing of his Vigilance HQ. The first thing he did in his newly discovered paradise was to fill the walls with big, bold letters:
“Crush Injustice with Justice!”.
After a long time he had discovered a true paradise on earth where he could escape from the world and live with his own thoughts and dreams for days and weeks. But soon he discovered that this paradise had its snakes too – wild rodents and big rats. Adam and Eve were never afraid of snakes but he was shit scared of rats. They forced him to abandon that very piece of land he had fought so hard to wrench from the grasp of a mad world. The world had indeed gone mad. Rats had acquired the power of God to expel man from paradise at will. Where else could it happen except in a mad world? It was because of these mighty rodents that he had never used his own Anti-HQ as a real hideout. It became his emergency hideout. And unfortunately, today was such an emergency. To hide oneself from the MI5, Homeland Security, and the mafia, there were safer places - like a public lavotary. But this was one of only two places on earth where thoughts could be hidden safely.
Prof.Dr.Rattan Mann should now have been a Happy Mann. He had re-entered Paradise and transformed it into a new Haven for Thoughts. The Thought-Transmitter had stopped transmitting them and now he was safe and free to think beautiful things. But a cloud hung over his thoughts and it wasn't clearing - the sun wasn’t shining even in Paradise. It was a cloud of fear of the rodents and that cloud hid his thoughts even from himself. But think he must, and that too very fast. He could not fake a thoughtless and dreamless sleep for ever because sleep is rarely thoughtless and dreamless. The police would see through the ruse if he faked for too long. He had to hurry and kick-start his thinking process. He did not have the sweet luxury of Socrates or the reclusive safety of Kant. But how?
His thoughts were presently battling with horrific images of an army of rodents approaching him...soon they were swarming all over his body....eating his flesh...and already portions of his skeleton were clearly visible through the clouds. It was the Battle of Tehran all over again. For a moment he even thought that the rodents were talking to him like human beings, warning him that his land was their land and his family their slaves. Prof.Dr.Mann started shivering and screaming. He looked around him in horror. There were indeed a few huge rats looking at him threateningly. But there was definitely no army of rodents rushing at him , at least not yet, because words had not gone around that Prof.Dr.Mann had come back to his Vigilance HQ. Words spread slowly in Dante’s underworld. And thank god, none of them could talk like a human being. Prof.Dr.Mann felt like rushing out of the sewer and surrendering to the police rathen than the mighty rodents. The police would only dismiss him from his job but the rodents would eat him alive.
But History stood in the way. History closed his escape route because he had borrowed so heavily from History and now in conspiracy with Shakespeare, History was demanding his pound of flesh. Prof.Dr. Mann was trapped between two God-like powers and that too in Paradise. Can Paradise be so cruel? He had no choice but to fight on two fronts – the terror of every Field Marshal. He had to dig his heels, control his terror, and hang on for a while till he found what he was looking for. If it got too hot even in Paradise he could always exit in disgrace with his head bowed like Adam and Eve.
As soon as Prof.Dr. Mann stopped asking why and was willing to do or die, a miracle happened in Paradise. The clouds vanished, Shylock ran away without getting even a gram of flesh, and the rats were thrown into the water by the Pied Piper. It looked like Paradise Regained. And in this Regained Paradise, he became a bundle of Pure Thought, Pure Reason, and Pure Being, utterly fearless and perfectly free to ask the greatest question Mankind has ever asked: How, when, where, and why the bugging of the human mind started?
Thoughts were blowing in the wind once more, memories wafting towards him like sweet and sour scents from a bygone age when the world was not so cruel. They were truly Remembrances of Things Past, coming in bits and pieces...a discussion with a colleague here...a fight with a minister there...a gnawing pain somewhere...and that ever-elusive joy round the next block everywhere....He remembered he had actually seen all this coming. Only his timing was totally off the mark.
Dr.Teresa Hawkes, the head of Neurosurgery ward, was rushing out of the misty memory lane to tell him that she was taking her children to the Peking Olympics this August. He thrust a rod in her excitement and hijacked her happiness into the marshy jungles of the future.
"Teresa, mark my words. One day they will control us at the very roots - one day they will be able to know and control our thoughts and dreams and happiness and excitement live - in real time. Just wait and see." Dr.Hawkes was jerking in pain with the emotional U turn forced upon her and she turned on him like a true lioness protecting her kids from the devil,
"I don't disagree with you in the sense that the technology would exist in a couple of decades. But I am dead sure what you are saying would never happen. Woman would not allow it. There is an intrinsic goodness in woman which has always rebelled against such gross violations of human rights and human dignity. Mark my words too. Now you know how Peking can..."
Prof.Dr.Mann had no interests in Peking except purely Marxist ones and did not agree with Dr.Hawkes theory of the intrinsic goodness of woman or man. So he interrupted her again.
" Answer my puzzle otherwise I won’t allow you to set foot in China! Answer or die at the hands of your own children!
“Suppose on 8-8-88, exactly eighty years from the Peking Olympics of 8-8-08, there is a massive campaign to implant bugging devices in human brains - devices which would be capable of sending human thoughts and dreams live - in real time - to the police. For example, everybody who came to attend the opening cermony of the Olympics of 8-8-88 would leave with a bugging device in his head without ever knowing or suspecting it. What can you do and what will you do? Solve this riddle before you die?"
Dr.Hawkes wanted to slap him but remained calm because it was a long time since she had been really happy and she won’t let a Mad Mann ruin it for her.
" Like Kerberos I would be guarding the gates of the Olympics stadium and wont let anybody escape without an operation. From that day, 8-8-88, I will make it my life mission to operate every brain and remove the bugging device, even if it means losing my job through dismissal, my husband through divorce, my children through the Child Welfare Department, and my sanity through you."
Prof.Dr.Mann jumped up from his seat and screamed a victory-scream, "Got you dummy. You will be dead by then."
She was indeed gone by then. She had indeed metamorphosed into a multi-headed Hydra at Hades guarding the Future from the Past. He was left alone in the marshy jungle, or so he thought. But as usual he was wrong.
His arch enemy, Dr.George Orwell, the head of Physiotherapy ward, was hiding behind a huge oak tree and pounced on him as soon as he was alone and defenceless. He had overheard his phony riddle and now challenged him to “The Genuine Riddle of the Future, by the Future and for the Future”. Hegal stood under a Papal Tree as the judge.
Dr. Orwell shot his Thesis at Prof.Dr. Mann like an arrow. "The Big Brother would always be enough to control man. His methods of control – surveillance cameras, and audio recorders - will be sufficient for all times to come."
Prof.Dr. Mann shot back his Anti_Thesis like a cruise missile. "The Big Brother is on his way out - he is about to retire. His methods of control are old and outdated like himself and soon both would be confined to the dustbins of mausoleums and museums."
The battle for “The Heart and Mind of the Future” grew murkier and lethal Thought-Experiments were devised to produce Thought Bombs more lethal than atom-bombs.
Dr.Orwell's Thought-Bomb: Supposing a harmless-looking man is standing on Karl Johans Gate. He is doing nothing. Nobody suspects him of anything. Now suppose he suddenly takes out a bomb from a bag, throws it in the crowd, kills 20 people, pulls a mask over his head, and disappears. After a few minutes he returns to the scene as a spectator, totally unsuspected and safe. Now you see my point - nobody can catch him except the Big Brother. Only the Big Brother knows who he is and what he has done and where he had disappeared because He had His surveillance cameras everywhere the guy went. Thus the Big Brother has at his disposal perfect methods of control, and nothing more is needed. Thanks to the Big Brother, the man is caught the same day and the riddle solved.
Prof.Dr.Mann refused to surrender. He had hid his Thought-Bomb in his Thought-Ball and took Dr. Orwell utterly by surprise by hurling a metal-ball at him which was doing all the thinking and talking. The metal ball was providing the counter-argument. The Big Brother has solved nothing. The bomb has been thrown, people have been killed, and sooner or later, the man would have been caught anyway, even without the help of Big Brother and his surveillance cameras. And anyway, catching him isn't much of a consolation to the dead. Now suppose again that the same harmless-looking man is standing on the same Karl Johans Gate. He is doing nothing. And again, nobody suspects him of anything.
But now suppose there is a surveillance device in his head instead of on the lamp-post. This device transmits his thoughts live to the police. So the police knows that he would be there at this time already when he was at home planning his trip. Now suppose at Karl Johans Gate he thinks of his next move. He plans to walk to the railway station, put a bomb in a standing train, and then quietly disappear. Now comes the point of a Thought-Ball. Even before he starts walking, the police knows what he intends to do. So the moment he climbs a train to put the bomb, the police grabs him because they were waiting for him. No surveillance camers, audio recorders, or spies and informers of any sort were necessary. There was no role for the Big Brother in the whole operation. Point made. Theorem proved. Finito.
Long live the Thought-Ball. Prof.Dr. Mann had indeed succeeded in pumping his thoughts into a Thought-Ball and hiding it from everybody till it was needed to pin down his opponents. The police had no idea that he had ever thought such forbidden thoughts powerful enough to fell a giant like Dr. George Orwell.
Hegal had never seen such a debate and he rushed to History to ask who was the winner. History took no time in passing the judgement:
Rumours spread like California fires that Prof.Dr.Mann was not right in his head. His only mission in life was to disagree with everybody, and say the opposite of what others said. And Prof.Dr.Mann noticed that not so many patients were coming to him anymore. Sometimes he had nothing to do in his office except stare at his colleagues rushing by as busily as bees. Somebody wrote on his door “ Some carry everything in their heads. Others carry everything between their legs. Prof.Dr. Mann carries everything in a Thought-Ball”.
So Prof.Dr.Rattan Mann became Prof.Dr.Unhappy Mann. Right now too, as he sat in his Vigilance HQ in the sewer, he was more of an Unhappy Mann than Rattan Mann. He was unhappy because his thoughts were not moving in the right direction. What he had predicted was wrong. He was totally wrong when he said that live control over human thoughts would not be established before 80 years or so. His so-called future was already a thing of the present. To be off the mark by 80 years is not a mistake, it is not even a blunder, it is a downright crime punishable by death.
How could he be so wrong? How, when and where did the future steal upon the present without his having the faintest idea about it? That was the problem he wanted to get at before the rats got at him, but he was nowhere near it. He began to go through each event of each day of each nation. Was there anything suspicious that had happened in America or England or India or anywhere else in recent times? So many suspicious things were happening everywhere everyday that he had set upon himself a hopeless task. There was no point in proceeding further. He had to stop trying to look for a needle in a haystack and look somewhere else.
He looked around and noticed that he was slowly being surrounded by rats. He stared at them as they circled round him, closing the circle a bit more with every round. He had lost and they had won. They would eat him before he would be able to answer the only question he so desperately wanted to answer - when, where, and how the bugging of the human mind started? He became emotional. Tears came to his eyes. He wondered what was in Socrates mind as he drank the hemlock as a reward for seeking Truth. But Plato was there to record his feelings for posteriority. Now the rats would be rewarding him for the same offence – looking up to Truth and staring down the Future. But he had no Plato to record his words and feelings. He was alone in a sewer. Nobody would know how he felt. Then he remembered that God was everywhere, even in a sewer. So he started talking to God about his feeling. At least God would know how he felt at the last moments of his life. As he talked to God, a rat bit him hard and tore away the first mouthful from the pound of flesh he owed to History. The stream of pain that gushed from his heel to his head juggled his brain cells and threw the answer right at History’s face.
How could he have been so stupid? The answer was lying right under the nose. Like all simple but deep truths, it was there all the time. Only he couldn’t see it. The answer was not a suspicious event on a spooky night but an event in broad daylight which no Norwegian could ever forget to his last day. He remembered that one evening, at prime time, all TV programs of all TV channels in Norway were stopped, and it was announced that the King of Norway would urgently address the nation within minutes.
Panic broke out immediately. People rushed towards underground bunkers and sewers. They thought that ETs were on their way to attack Norway. Many committed suicide. They could not stand the sight of aliens, whether from a galaxy in outer space or a neighbouring country on this very friendly earth. But unperturbed by mass hysteria and en masse sucides, the King appeared on TV on schedule. He was a towering figure, dressed in military uniform which was laced with medals all over.
He came to the point at once. He started by patting his own back. He said that under his rule Norway has become more than the most civilized nation on earth. Than he saluted himself for his own achievement. Then he said that it was not enough. He wanted Norway to be not a nation but a paradise on earth. Then he saluted himself again for his vision of paradise on earth. Then he declared open a "Norway is Paradise Week" and saluted himself for a third time in as many seconds for opening this Paradise Week. He promised that within this “Paradise Week” Norway would outshine the Garden of Eden.
How, he explained. God allowed snakes in the Garden of Eden. He won't repeat God's mistakes. He will destroy all snakes - all sorts of legal and illegal immigrants crawling on their starving bellies eating the dust of norwegian streets.
Karl Johans Gate would be the New Garden of Eden, a Paradise without snakes, he screamed. Then he saluted himself for outshining God. Then he declared that within a year comparing him to God and Norway to paradise would be an insult to both him and his country - in comparison to him and his country, God would look like the devil and paradise like hell.
Then he saluted himself for defeating God at his own game. Then the King came to his edicts - his means to his ends, the bills already passed by a rubber-stamp parliament. He declared that within the “Paradise Week” all surveillance cameras, video and audio recording devices from every street, office, home, and shop will be removed. Even tape recorders and video recorders for home use were forbidden because of their potential misuse. All spy-agencies were dissolved and secret police disbanded. All informers were expelled from Norway. Then he ordered the president of United States to do the same by disbanding the CIA and the FBI once and for all. Then he asked all the people on earth to roam naked in their capitals to celebrate the Second Coming of Paradise on Earth – emulate the innocence and freedom of Adam and Eve in the New Garden of Eden.
Suddenly the King pulled out a small surveillance camera from his big back-pocket, raised it to the masses as if it was Robespierre’s head, and then dashed it to the ground. As he trampled on the broken pieces, he screamed, “Alone and singled-handed, unsupported by international community or other world leaders, I have overthrown the Big Brother and his
evil Surveillance Empire. Now Norwegians will be as free of any surveillance as Adam and Eve.”
Many did not wait for the King to finish his speech. They were in great hurry to celebrate this Second Coming of Paradise and the end of the hated Surveillance Era. The things they were taught to love now became the things they were told to hate. They ran and smashed their own beloved TV with a hammer, and threw their own beloved camcorders out of the window. Then they rushed out to the streets just to find that others had got there first, and were busy in wiping out the last vestige of the Big Brother and his evil Surveillance Heritage. Thousands were hanging from the light-posts tearing down surveillance devices , others had attacked their own banks, calling them the last bastions of Surveillance Nightmare. A few brave ones checked their tears, suppressed their feelings, closed their eyes, and mustered enough courage and strength to attack their most favourite TV station for broadcasting their most favourite program – The Big Brother.
The unexpected overthrow of the Big Brother had created a political vacuum and it had to be filled fast. Pitched battles and hand-to-hand fighting broke out in every Norwegian town between the believers in the Second Coming of Christ and the believers in the Second Coming of Marx. And that was not all. Many were carrying the fight to the oceans and the Outer Space.
Hundreds of Norwegians got together and hijacked a submarine from the Navy HQ to scour the ocean-beds from surveillance devices. Thousands were air-borne within minutes and were heading towards the moon and the Mars in home-made rockets to destroy any surveillance device the Big Brother might have planted there during his countless secret trips to Outer Space.
A crazy Norwegian in a mental asylum in Hammerfest – the most nothernly town on earth – was weeping and hugging the other inmates and saying goodbye to everybody because he was on his way to the Milky Way. A voice told him that the Big Brother and his shameless stool-pigeon, Prof.Dr. Mann, had escaped from the earth and were on their way to seek political asylum in the Pole Star. He calmed down and unpacked his hand-bag only after the other inmates assured him that the trouble was no longer necessary. On his own orders, his own army of ETs from distant galaxies was already moving towards the earth with the speed of light to intercept them and prevent them from polluting Outer Space the way they had polluted the earth. Very soon he will have the heads of two of the most hated men in the universe – the Big Brother and his vile henchman, Prof.Dr. Mann – on a platter.
Blissfully unaware that even before the speech was over the Norwegians were calling him the Second Christ and killing each other for his sake, the King continued with his speech. Suddenly he became very emotional and tears came to his eyes. He started talking about the queen as if she was already dead when she was actually standing right besides him. Then he startrd going round her in circles and she round him as if they were re-marrying on TV in the Hindu traditions.
Suddenly he thrust his hand in her bodice and pulled out something, and again raised it to the masses as if it was Hussein’s head. But this time nobody could see anything. Whatever the King may be holding in his fingers was perfectly invisible. He better explain what the gimmick was all about and that too very fast before the same masses who had called him the Second Christ a moment ago started demanding his head instead of Robespierre’s or Hussein’s.
But it appeared as if he was suddenly out of words and ideas. So he started jumping on the stage and scratching his ass with his other hand and playing the clown to maintain the fickle interest of the masses. But it was all turning out to be an embarrassing anti-climax to a great speech – a historic speech which started a new era but was now ending with the orator himself jumping on the stage like a monkey and waving something in his hand which did not exist – something as false as an election promise.
The queen saw the thumbs moving down and the King’s bleeding head flying into her lap. She pushed him aside and played the orator to save the orator in disgrace. Noble Norwegians, Jewels of my heart, the King holds my soul in his hand. He is playing my dreams with his fingers, singing my design of the universe with his song - the passport to paradise I designed for you with my sweat, blood, toil, and tears. Our love offers you the talisman which will catapult you into the future faster than any Time-Machine. Yet what we offer you is no cranky machine but Pure Idea. It is called the Paradise Ear Ring. Wear it and you will be distinguishable from the rest of humanity as the Citizens of Paradise – as Adams and Eves of the future. It is the new Star of David which will make you stand out as the new beacons of mankind. It is invisible, it is a gold wire weighing less than a nanogram. Call it the Nano Ring if you want – the Nano Star of David. The King became inspired and possessed. Blood rushed to every cell of his body. He did not know that the queen could speak so beautifully and powerfully. She had decorated the path to the climax with herself. Now it was for him to do the rest - reach the climax by ejaculating the most potent words ever uttered by man and show the queen and the world who was in command.
He rushed to the queen, threw himself upon her, and set in motion the Cosmic Orgasm ending with the Cosmic Sigh of Relief,
“ Friends, Norwegians, countrymen, this is not a Nano Ring. This is the end of Anno Domini. A tsunami of catastrophic thought-waves had struck Norway. So much had happened in the last fifteen minutes that it would take fifteen lives to absorb and understand it: The Big Brother and his evil Surveillance Empire had been overthrown, Anno Domini ceased to exist, time-hallowed dates became instantly outdated, the earth became a Paradise, and a new Star of David was born. In celebration, bonfires of outdated diaries and calendars – the last relics of Anno Domini - made the night as bright as the day.
Those damned souls chained to Inferno, like Prof.Dr. Mann, who could not take so much in one go went mad. Others looked at the Nano Ring as a saviour in the Dark Age ahead and went on their knees to seek its blessings. Still others started running on the street and tearing their clothes to enter the same state of nature as naked Adam and Eve. There was a stampede to the King’s palace to get the Miracle Ring which had brought Heaven on earth. There was no time to go to the doctors to get their ears pierced. They pierced their own ears as they ran and with whatever they could get hold off – a toothpick, needle, or scissors. Some used the plain old nail and hammer because they did not believe that there could be blood. sweat, toil, and tears in paradise. And when they started bleeding and crying in pain, they refused to go to the doctor because they did not believe that there could or should be doctors in Paradise. And everybody was pinching everybody else’s ears just to make sure that they all were really alive and indeed in Paradise.
Within no time five million Norwegians was wearing the Nano Ring – totally invisible except through a big, bleeding, and swollen hole in the ear lobe. Again a few damned souls dangling in Purgatory refused to run with the crowd because their strength lay not in their legs but their head. But headless people with only legs to show were not worried because soon these heads without legs would be cast out of Paradise too like the immigrant snakes.
Huge posters appeared on Karl Johans Gate out of nowhere. One read: God wrongly banished Adam and Eve from Paradise. The King has rightly banished snakes - immigrants - from Paradise. Long Live the King of Paradise.
Another poster read: The Nano Ring is the Gateway to Paradise. Enter the Garden of Eden through the Paradise Ear Ring.
Still another read: Burn Anno Domini to save the Future.
Two posters carried war slogans: Crush God's Paradise with snakes with King's Paradise without snakes. Crush God's Will with King's Bill.
and Hang high the Big Brother and his evil henchman, Prof.Dr.Mann, till they die. Smash surveillance cameras with Nano Rings.
Prof.Dr.Mann boxed himself as many times as the King had saluted himself. How could he have been so stupid? How could he not have seen something lying in broad daylight and right under his nose. He boxed himself again and again as he wailed like a dog in distress, "I knew it was coming, I knew it was coming. Then why didn't I see it when it came? Why? Why didn't I see that the Nano Ring is the Thought Transmitter, the X-Rays machine for thoughts and dreams – the Wonder Weapon (Wunder Waffen) of all future dictators and tyrants."
He boxed himself till his eyes were blue and ears red. He did not notice that a tiny mouse had climbed on his shoulder and was whispering in his ears to stop torturing himself for the sins of others. She was so gentle and harmless – not at all like the other rats. But he had so much on his mind that he paid no attention to what was on his shoulder But soon enough he was forced to notice her.
It appeared as if the tiny creature was on the run from Ratkind the way he himself was on the run from Mankind, because soon he began to notice that an army of huge rats was advancing towards him, sniffing in every direction as if they were looking for something. And that something could only be the mice, because they were sniffing the most in his direction. They were not only huge, they looked furious and ready to devour anything that stood between them and the creature they were after. Prof.Dr. Mann felt an instant affinity for the lady in distress. She reminded him of himself – always on the run from somebody or the other. And an inner voice told him it was time to be on the run once more - to save a beautiful lady who herself was on the run.
He took the mouse in his hand, gave a war-cry that shook the underworld, and stepped on the army of rats to step out of the sewer and into a mad world. As he resurfaced on Karl Johans Gate, he was utterly naked and covered with rats who had dug deep pits in his flesh. He was bleeding all over and had no idea where and how he lost his clothes, but he still had the mouse in his hand and she was perfectly safe. He was screaming like a man in flames, "Hear me guys, hear me everybody. Throw away the Nano Ring. Throw it in a bonfire. It is not that Gateway to Paradise you have been told. It is the gateway to permanent enslavement of body, mind, and soul. It spells the End of Mankind. It is a Nano Machine which scans your thoughts and dreams and sends them live to the police. It is the dream machine for future dictators and tyrants – a Thought and Dream Scanner and Transmitter."
Everybody who saw him screamed. Nobody had seen a man covered with rats on Karl Johanns Gate before. He ran and shouted like a man possessed. Some bold and beautiful ones, who were not afraid of rats, rushed to help him. As they started tearing off the rodents from his body, he grabbed their ears and begged them to throw away their Paradise Ear Ring even though none of them wore any ear ring at all. Nobody paid any attention to him. They knew the poor fellow was in a shock. But even after all the rats had been thrown away by their tails and he was given first aid and clothes to cover his nakedness, he kept on grabbing everybody's ears and removing ear rings which were not there in the first place. As soon as he had clothes, his lady had a house. He slipped her quietly in his pocket.
The police arrived very soon and asked him for his identity card. He handed them a crumpled up piece of paper he held in his fist . It read:
1) All human thoughts and dreams are private and sacrosanct.
2) Nobody has a right to spy on, control, or manipulate thoughts and dreams live and in real time.
3) Nobody should be arrested and killed for his dreams because they are not under one's control, and nobody should doctor the dreams of his fellowmen. The list of Top 100 Forbidden and Black-listed Dreams should be banned.
4) Faith in the intrinsic goodness of man should not be lost even after 8-8-88.
The police could not make head or tail of this crap. As he had no identity card, they asked him who he was.
“I am a pilgrim from the Past to the Future, stuck in the Present with guys like you. My childhood chum, Dante, helped me out of the Dark Forest of the Past. But then he betrayed me and ran away to sing with Virgil, leaving me stranded in the Present. Now he sleeps with 14-9-21 as I stride towards 8-8-88. Lady Beatrice will show me the way. She has been there, she has seen the future, she has celebrated every 8-8-88 – past, present, future. She knows them all.”
And he took out the mouse from his pocket and introduced her to the police as Lady Beatrice.
When the police heard him raving that a mouse knew the future and could guide mankind, they immediately got a very clear picture of his mental state and knew exactly what to do next. So the next moment Prof.Dr.Mann stood handcuffed before the gate of the very Psychiatry ward of which he was the head. Pandemonium broke out among his colleagues and former students. They had seen it coming. Some had betted huge money on this very day. They were running and shouting with joy and spreading the good news all over the Ullevall Hospital. They had every reason to celebrate because they had won a bet for the first time in life. It was a unique show. Never before had doctors, so used to forcibly dampening the excitement of others, been so spontaneously excited themselves.
"Prof.Dr.Mann has come back. He has come back. The police found him weeping in a urinal. He is sitting handcuffed in the waiting room. He is still weeping and saying that he has fallen in love with a mouse. How pervert. Go and see it for yourself if you don't believe me." floated the rumours, not as a whisper but as a carnival-cry. This single carnival-cry brought a lot of money to a lot of medical gamblers. Aspiring heads of the ward who had not betted on him but who resented him nevertheless rushed towards him and started punching him. He looked very dangerous and suspicious to them even though he was unarmed and handcuffed. They tried to snatch away his mouse before binding him to his bed with straps.
That drove him mad. He knew where they would take her, what they will do with her, how slowly and leisurely they will kill her. “Don’t kill her. She is the only creature in the universe who has seen the future and can take me there. You killed Christ. Don’t do it again.”
His hands were tied, so he started hitting them with his head. He even hit his head against the wall. Everybody could see he was very upset. So for the time being they left his lady alone. But they dragged him to a hospital bed and tied his hands and feet to the four corners to save him from himself. They put his lady on his stomach and very soon she was roaming all over the bed. But strangely they did not put a tape over his mouth. They had their reasons. The more he screamed and shouted, the stronger the case that he had indeed gone mad, and greater the chance for someone among them to become the next head.
So day and night Prof.Dr.Rattan Mann lay tied to his bed in Oslo like Dr. Gulliver in Lilliput, with a Lilliputian mouse crawling all over him, and showing him people, places, and things he had never seen before. But the less he could move, the more he screamed to be set free. He raved incessantly about a mysterious Nano Ring, about the Second Coming of Christ and Marx, about 8-8-88, and about a mysterious Lady from Lilliput who would save mankind. Even a child could see that he was mentally disturbed.
And weeks and months passed without Prof.Dr.Mann becoming any better or the police any wiser about his true identity. As the Norwegian police ate its head off figuring out Prof.Dr. Mann’s identity, and begged the MI5 and Homeland Security to help them, rumours, like rolling monsoon clouds, began to fill in the vacuum created by the total absence of truth. The first rumour was a low-intensity whisper-campaign: It was alleged that Prof.Dr.Mann was never the head of the Psychiatry ward, but might have become one, had he not gone mad first.
After the effects of this whisper-campaign had worn-off, a second bomb was thrown which did considerable damage to Prof.Dr.Mann's reputation: It was now alleged that Prof.Dr.Mann was neither a professor, nor a doctor, and had never been employed in the Psychiatry ward or any other ward of Ullevall Hospital. He was a self-employed quack who eked out a living by selling home-made pills on Karl Johans Gate.
The third bombshell killed Prof.Dr.Mann once and for all. He ceased to exist.The Social Office in the Oslo suburb of Hauketo leaked a document to the police that showed that Prof.Dr.Mann was neither employed, nor self-employed, but a totally unemployed old man of 64 living on Åsbråtstien 15, and coming to Hauketo every fortnight to collect his dole.
The fourth and final rumour ended all doubts and speculations, brought a very weird saga to a logical conclusion, and satisfied everybody except the CIA and MI5: A mole in the Norwegian Education ministry leaked to the press that sometime back an eviction notice was served to one plain Mr. Rattan Mann for defaulting on his study and house loan. He then wrote several letters to the King of Norway asking His Majesty's help in getting a job, so that he could start paying back his loans, avoid beating and torture by mafia loan-sharks, and retain a very tiny roof over his head.
The King never responded, and the day the bankfolks came to repossess his tiny flat, he attacked them with a kitchen-knife, and when he heard the police knocking at his front door, he escaped by the back door, and hid in a sewer till the rats chased him out. Somewhere during this time he lost his mind and went mad. It was in the sewer that he started imagining things and events which never took place and were a mere figment of his imagination. He had already been charged for insulting the King of Norway by involving His Majesty in a grotesque speech he never gave, and the police was waiting to arrest him as soon as his identity was established and he was fit enough to stand trial.
On this confusing battle-field where lies and counter-lies, rumours and counter-rumours flew like gangland bullets in Harlem and suicide bombs in Baghdad , it was very hard to be sure of anything concerning Prof.Dr.Mann. But one thing was reasonably certain. Prof.Dr.Mann's days on the run were over once and for all. He had finally arrived home. Once more being the same old unemployed Mr. Rattan Mann, he had no worry, nobody to run from, and nowhere to run to. A happy end at last.
But even this happy end in a mad-house could not quench all rumours and speculations.
Long long after the happy end some curious souls continued to believe that he was indeed that world-famous Prof.Dr. Mann who went missing with Dr. Livingston more than a century ago. Others insisted that he was the first mental casuality of the recent global economic meltdown and the house-market collapse. And all wondered whether he was really mad or just pretending, and if so, why.
The naked Truth was somewhere out there in the starry starry X-files waiting to be discovered – by Prof.Dr. Mann himself.
Copyright Rattan Mann
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