“Hey Maggie, we have a special guest tonight. Let’s welcome Mr Becker, the professor of Astronomical Sciences from the University of Illinois.” Mr Smith was extremely happy and more than that, excited to introduce Mr Becker from Illinois. Smith too was a professor, of Biological Sciences at the University of California. His wife Maggie prepared sumptuous food and behaved like a perfect host that she was. Smith did not doubt her hospitality skills; the strong reason for him to invite intellectuals to the house and throw bashes frequently.
Guest is Extremely Special
“Mr Becker is a visiting professor this semester and wants to have a word with me about the research he’s presently working on,” Smith was unable to hide his excitement while helping his wife in the kitchen,” And, you know Maggie, Mr Becker will also quote my name in his papers. I’m honoured to work with a professor of his stature. Imagine my name written along with the great scientists of the world!” Maggie smiled and felt happy for her husband who she knew was completely absorbed in academics.
Maggie entered the living room and found the two professors deeply engrossed in serious conversation. It had been five hours since Mr Becker came and their discussion didn’t seem to end. Without disturbing the esteemed guest, Smith signalled Maggie to go. In the fifteen years of her married life, Maggie never witnessed such a situation when she had to leave her husband with a stranger in her own home. Upset, she retired to her room. Little did she know that it was just the beginning of the series of such spectacles.
Laboratory is the new workplace
Becker became a regular at their home and worsened Maggie’s concerns.
Night after night the two academicians would spend curious time together without being bothered about Maggie’s presence. The personal laboratory of Becker started looking like a new home to the two geniuses. Maggie couldn’t adjust to the new norms and so raised a question.
“Maggie, you know Mr Becker is a scientist of great capabilities. I am trying to help him in critical research work and hope to learn something in the deal. I wish to become a fraction of what he is today. Please leave us alone until we reach the desired result.” Smith was determined to continue the joint research work.
Maggie enters the Laboratory
The night was getting longer than usual for Maggie as she was not able to sleep.
She picked up a random book from her husband’s shelf.
She wanted to try reading to speed up time and coincidentally the book was about time-travel. A smile emerged on her face as she dived deeper into the contents.
“Ah….I’m hungry. Grabbing a sandwich and coffee will surely help!” She had developed a habit of talking to self. Climbing down the stairs to the kitchen, Maggie couldn’t resist listening to the loud voices coming from the laboratory. Her husband seemed to be furious enough to leave a chill in the silence of the night.
Maggie entered the laboratory rather quietly with a deliberate intention to avoid inviting the professors’ attention.
“Prof Becker! Do you want to say that the research papers will be published after 70 years? The probability of my flipping through those papers to see my name is zero. And, as far as I can tell, you are not so young to live 70 years more. I want to see my name in the research papers in my lifetime!”
Mr Becker opens up
“Hey Smith, please try to understand what I’m going to tell you. I don’t belong to this time. My birth is scheduled somewhere in the next 50 years. I belong to your future. I’m here because I chose to be here while travelling by my time machine! In my research work, I need to find the biological changes humans have gone through in the last 50-100 years. You are a renowned name in my time and so it automatically occurred to me to contact you for my study.” Becker said in one go.
Startled by knowing Prof Becker’s reality, Smith became more curious to know about his mysterious guest. With twinkling eyes, he hurled a request, “Mr Becker, would you like to show me your time machine so that I can believe in what you just said. I mean, I can help you better if there’s nothing hidden between us.”
“That I can, for sure, but promise me you won’t tell this to anyone; not even to your wife. You know, wives can sometimes be unbelievably chatty!” Becker smiled looking into Smith’s eyes and both shared a hearty laugh.
Meanwhile, Maggie was watching from a distance, with her mouth wide open. She couldn’t hear most of the conversation but the feeling of something fishy made her frantic.
Becker took out a battery-operated remote control from his pocket. He pressed a purple button and within a few seconds, a strange-looking machine appeared from nowhere. At least Maggie couldn’t see the entry source of the gadget.
“Here you go, my friend! This is the time machine that brought me here, forty years behind from where I dwell. We do have quite a few such instruments that are used for research purposes. I’m studying the biological changes humans go through with time. Your knowledge and experience have helped me to carry out my work with perfection and I’m grateful for the same.” Becker continued as Smith looked awestruck at the time machine.
“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” – L. P. Hartley.
Smith wants a time travel ride
“Time-travel! That sounds interesting Becker. Can you do me a favour? It would be a great opportunity for me to travel to the future in your time machine. I mean, can you send me to that period so I may check my name in your research papers. The clues you want to include in your work are still used under my name. To acquire them and to convince me, you have to send me to the future for me to know the truth. I promise to return to this time as I have a life here, not there!” Smith was getting practical.
A few minutes were spent finalising the deal. Since there was only one seat in the time machine, Becker instructed Smith how to control the knobs.
And phew!!! The time machine took off with Smith on board.
Shocked, Maggie felt giddy and lost consciousness.
The doorbell rang in its usual chirping sound. Maggie opened her eyes and found herself in her bed.
“You back!?” Maggie couldn’t expect the time travel to be so short.
“Yeah Honey! Mr Becker left early and I thought of making tea and breakfast for us. It was his last day at our university. You seemed to have a good sleep; reading my time travel sci-fi, eh?;)” Smith’s words brought her back to the existing moment.
Maggie first looked at the book and then at Smith. The dream she had last night was the reflection of her assumptions about the distinguished guest and her ambitious husband.
While sipping tea together, Smith teased Maggie, “Believing your dream, I’m sure he was a time traveller!!”;)