Shukrday (Friday-Earth) night on Nuboru! There’s an excitement in the air. In fact, this excitement is a weekly occurrence on this planet; we, the Nuborians call as Nuboru. It’s a night of celebration since the next day is a Holiday. But the next day is a special day too. Why? We will shortly come to that point. It’s a day when Nuborians like us, like to get up at the stroke of midnight to enjoy the full 24 hours. But Earthlings, why should you be interested in our lives? But first, let me take you to that historical Shanday, when the first contact was made.

That Shanday, we woke up at the stroke of midnight, the entire family, excited about enjoying the full 24 hours. My family consists of 4 members; me, my parents and my baby sister, Amara. I, Ramer, was waiting for the Sun to rise. Till then, like every Shanday, after doing the daily ablutions by about 1 am., the next 2 hours were spent in praying and thanking the Almighty, for this one day of the week, when the Nuborians are blessed with all the bounties of the Lord. By 4 am., the first rays of the Sun were welcomed by all of us with folded hands. We then enjoyed a mouth-watering breakfast prepared by my mother. After breakfast, we all were playing a game, when suddenly we heard a great thunder in the sky. In the next moment, a deafening whooshing sound was heard followed by a gigantic thud which caused our entire house to vibrate.

For the next few seconds, everything went silent; the only sound was a distant humming. Our entire family huddled together and we approached the open door of our cottage to check what had caused such a deafening sound. The visibility outside was very poor due to great clouds of dust swirling before us. It took a few minutes for everything to settle. As the visibility improved, the sight stunned us. For, lying half buried in our farm was a huge metallic triangular shaped contraption, with lights running around its periphery. As we continued looking at it, we saw an opening through which something emerged.

It was white in colour, shiny all over but built very much like us Nuborians, having two legs and two hands, but with a huge bulbous membrane where a head should have been. In one of its hands, it carried what looked like a weapon. Alarmed, my father rushed inside the house and emerged with a Nuborian laser sabre, which we kept as a precaution. Maybe alarmed by the sight of my father carrying a weapon, the white figure raised both its arms above, while at the same time, dropping his suspected weapon to the ground. While all this was happening, we noticed 2 more white, shiny figures emerge from behind, all with their hands raised.

My father, emboldened by this apparent surrender, made his next move, his laser Sabre threateningly raised, in a striking position. He shepherded all of them towards the house and pushed them into a room and locked it from outside. The emergency cameras in the room were then switched on, so that we could observe them and understand them. Father forbade us from going anywhere near the triangular contraption which was lying half buried on our farm. In this entire melee, we had totally forgotten the plans lined up for the day. But this was exciting enough and I and father started observing the three individuals in the locked room, on our monitor. For the first few minutes, we could see that they were arguing among themselves, flailing their hands in a comical manner, and the noises they made were illegible. Father, then connected the two sensors from the monitor to his temples and after some moments he smiled. He could now understand the language. He then extended his thumb towards me, I touched my thumb to his thumb; now I could understand the language too. For the next few moments, we sat in that meditative pose with rapt attention, trying to understand these alien visitors.

“It was all your fault, Rocker. If you had shown little patience, we would not have crashed on R21N. Perhaps, you left your sleeping pod, a tad early, due to which you were still delirious and not thinking clearly”.

The individual, at whom the tirade was directed at, was clearly uncomfortable, vigorously shaking his legs. “Shib, don’t be a fool. Just because you are the captain, you have no right to belittle me. After all, it’s just one mistake in all these years of travel, so away from our Mother Earth.” However, he appeared defeated, as he kept sitting with his head lowered. As for us, we had not heard about anything called Earth before.

Now the third individual, who had been quiet all this while, finally spoke up, “Guys, don’t worry. Keep your cool. Count your blessings that we have landed in a world which is so similar to ours. Even these people who have captured us appear similar to us, though I noticed that they wear the gaudiest clothes, if I may say so. But even though it looks familiar, I am not very sure whether we can release ourselves from this membrane which covers and protects our head. Right now, nothing is in our hands, and we just have to wait and watch.” With that, the room went quiet for a while.

My father removed the sensors from his temples and I let go of his thumb. The small dialogue between the aliens was enough for us to imbibe their language since we had been successful in reaching the language region in their brains to understand their entire word structures. My father made a decision…

He approached the room and unlocked it, but kept the laser sabre at hand, just in case. “I come in peace. I have heard you and understand that we resemble you but due to your bulbous membrane, we cannot see any resemblance. However, please let me know your atmospheric details; which are the gases which make up your planet’s atmosphere?”

The one named Shib answered, “Nitrogen is the most abundant gas, which accounts for 78% followed by Oxygen at 21%, though it is now showing a decreasing trend. Carbon dioxide is another, at 0.04% but which is now increasing, due to heavy industrialisation and deforestation. For us, oxygen is most important since we will not survive without it. It enables our cells to produce energy and enables us to live. Nitrogen is also useful as itis makes proteins which help us grow. Another important ingredient is water, without which we will never survive. Again it is made up of Hydrogen and Oxygen. And higher the carbon dioxide percentage lower is our chance of survival”

This information was enough for the father to feed in all parameters into the home computer and what he saw on the monitor, brought a smile on his face. He barged into the room again and announced, “You are in luck. Our atmosphere is made up of almost the same gases with minor variations, but which should not be a cause for too much worry. The gas, you call Oxygen, makes up 20%, Nitrogen makes up 76%, carbon dioxide makes up 0.1% and we have water too. I think you can safely rid yourselves of your membranes”.

All the earthlings were happy to hear these words, but were still hesitant and looked at each other with trepidation. Finally, it was Rocker, who peeled off his membrane. For a few seconds, he felt nauseous but recovered fast enough. Seeing him, his colleagues too joined him. Soon all three were minus the membrane and both sides were stunned by the similarities in the two species, though there were quite a few differences. The eyes of the earthlings were larger, the ears were smaller and rounded, not pointy at the top like the Nuborians, the nose had smaller nostrils and the skin was comparatively smoother. Comparatively, we had slit eyes, our nostrils were quite large and our skin had very minute bumps. During the time we had been observing the earthlings, mother and Amara had prepared lunch and the fine aroma of food was now wafting throughout the house.

The alien visitors had lunch with us and though they were initially hesitant to eat, once they had tasted my mothers cooking, they were hooked. After many years of canned food, they were tasting food lovingly prepared by a mother. After lunch, the father informed the other denizens of the village, who had been intrigued by the loud noises of the morning. The villagers sacrificed their weekly enjoyments and were more interested in meeting the aliens and getting to know them. The interaction between the two species reiterated the similarities between them. Already the aliens were feeling at home. For them, it was home away from home…or was it. Soon the historic Shanday passed and everyone had gone off to sleep.

Ravday! Another holiday on Nuboru, but very unlike Shanday. After the exciting Shanday, came the dark and silentRavday(Sunday-Earth). Like every Ravday, we woke up late. After all, there was nothing to look forward to, on this day. Nothing, except the Earthlings, since they had brought a certain excitement to our lives. It doesn’t always happen that aliens land on your planet does it? We woke up and after the daily ablutions, got together in the Prayer room. The morning prayer of repentance was repeated in our minds to the good Lord. This was followed by a weekly ritual of wearing all the accessories for getting through the day. It was going to be a slow day. The accessories, though not the real thing, made us aware. Today, everything was a blur.  And the day passed in a silent, tasteless, odourless blur! The earthlings were served to the best of our abilities, but we could sense their fidgeting, the sudden discomfort in them. But there was nothing we could do.

The next day dawned. Somday (Monday-Earth). In the morning I could hear a great cacophony in the Earthlings room. I tiptoed towards it. “Shib, I think, the Nuborians are already impatient with our stay. Did you see how they were royally ignoring us?” So saying, the one named Rocker, collapsed in a chair in the room. Shib said, “Rocker, I agree with you. Just the day before they were all excited to see and meet us. In fact, the lady served us the most delicious food. But yesterday…yuck! If they don’t want us to stay, at least tell us. We will leave…though I don’t know, where”. Grainger, who had been silent till now said, “Let’s talk to them today. Let’s ask them upfront”.

Hearing all this, I was very upset and barged into their room, though taking care to avoid any accident. “Why are you saying all these things? What have we done that you are saying all these negative things?” Seeing me flustered they kept quiet, but not for long. “Ramer, you heard us. That was the reason why we feel that you don’t want us in your house. Otherwise, why did your behaviour change within a day? And why are you covering your eyes with that funny thing! Why is everybody covering their eyes? In fact, yesterday all of you had something on your ears, nostrils too. Today it’s just the eyes. Why?”

Now it was my turn to be surprised. “Are you not wearing these accessories? Then how do you manage to see today?” I asked them. “Of course we can see”, it was Shib who spoke up. “In fact, you were not wearing anything on your face, just the day before. That means you can see too”. This discussion was making me uncomfortable so I shrieked out to my father. In fact, mom and Amara too rushed in. I blurted out the brief discussion with the Earthlings to all of them. It was too much of a shock to us all.

Finally, father started telling them, “It has been like this since eternity. When you crash landed on Shanday, all our senses worked fine on that day. That’s why we all celebrate the day. But yesterday, Ravday, everything just switches off for everyone on Nuboru. Hence we have no choice but to wear all those accessories. The accessory on our eyes allows us to see but only just…just blurry images. The one on the ears enables us to hear just whispers. Vibrant Nuboru was foggy today. Without the accessory, only darkness! The one on our ears enabled us to communicate in whispers. The one in our nostrils enables us to differentiate between smells. And I am sorry that yesterday the food might have been bland, on Ravday we cannot even taste anything. And you might not have noticed yesterday, but we put a lotion on our entire body to help us feel. If we don’t put the lotion, someone might cut off our hands and we would sleep through it. On Somday, which is today, all our senses start working except for our sight. On Mangaday (Tuesday-Earth), we cannot hear. On Budday (Wednesday-Earth), we cannot taste our food. On Gurday (Thursday-Earth) we cannot smell and on Shukrday, we cannot feel anything. And so it goes on, week after week.”

For the next few minutes, silence descended in the room. Then Shib said, “This is so unfortunate. We don’t face this problem at all. All our senses work fine, all the time. Of course, there are some individuals who fall ill or who face an accident, then they might lose one of the senses, but it’s very rare. Wow! It’s so much better on our Earth”.

Father looked at them for some time and then uttered, “I am sorry, but I have been studying the history of your planet which we call SU3. When you landed I did not know that, but then I did some research at the local library. Our so-called handicap is our strength; we have learned to respect our own body. We don’t abuse it, we don’t abuse our planet. But I cannot say the same thing about your species. You abuse yourselves by consuming certain chemicals which you call drugs, you take your planet for granted, you abuse it for your short benefits, you have made your planet unliveable by cutting every tree, you burn fuels, your beautiful oceans have turned into junkyards, and your forests have turned into deserts. As if this slow death was not enough, you have used the worst weapons to annihilate entire cities within minutes. You kill each other wantonly, without reason. You use these very senses to destroy. You don’t respect them like we do every week; you just take them for granted”

The Earthlings stranded on far-off Nuboru were stunned into silence.

Are you!

*****

Yatindra Tawde

Written by Yatindra Tawde

In my daily office grind, I make it a point to find time for writing. It is my good fortune to have found discerning readers like you who appreciate my amateur attempts.