The Creator and the Creation

Bela decides to repair the broken time machine that she found in her basement to go meet her father who went missing years ago.
Reading time: 21.515 minutes.

Time is mysterious. It both creates and destroys things. Sometimes I feel that time is the real god. Time has created this universe, time governs it and, time will end it. Other times, I just wonder what created time? Who or what can be so powerful, can have the authority and wisdom to create such mysteriously beautiful thing. Sometimes I just wonder…

Chapter One
The Mysterious Disappearance of My Father

My father went missing right before I was born. Nobody could ever find him. I don’t have any memory of the time, how could I? But I heard a lot of things while growing up. My neighbours would talk for years. They said he ran on my mother. A friend of my mother’s helped her until I was one year old. I vaguely remember her. Kids in my school taunted me for my entire school life. Bullies just teased me while beating me up. I would be on the ground, crying and, asking them to let me go but,

“Who would save you now, huh? Wanna call your dad?”

“Where’s your papa you crying little girl?” they would say.

I hated my father even more than I hated those kids. He was the reason I had to go through all this. He abandoned me – his daughter.

The hatred grew with time. I forgot about the bullies and forgave them by the time I hit puberty but I hated my father. Every time I looked at my mother, I remembered him and I hated him even more. My mother, you see, went through a lot- a lot to raise me. She had to do multiple jobs. I barely ever saw her around. She left home early before I could even wake up and came back home late after I had already gone to bed. Sometimes I couldn’t even sit and have just a little chat with her even on weekends. Every time I missed her while sitting alone at home, it wasn’t like I could just go out and play with other kids, I remembered my father and what he had made us go through and I hated him even more.

The year I turned fourteen changed everything. One day I was looking for something, I can’t remember now what it was but I thought my mother must have put it in the basement because that was the only place left where I didn’t look. I tried to find the key to the basement, my mother always kept it locked, but I couldn’t find it. The next time I saw my mother I asked her for the key so I could look for the thing. She simply denied that it was not in the basement.

“Let me check anyway, what’s the harm in looking, right?”

“It’s not in there. I'll find it, wait.”

Then she searched the entire house and eventually found it but what puzzled me was that she took half an hour out of her strictly busy schedule to find me a thing that I can’t even remember just so I wouldn’t go into the basement. I also noticed that she always kept the key in her handbag. I wondered what was in the basement that she didn’t want me to see.

That night when she was asleep, I snuck the key out of her handbag and the next weekend when she was at work like always and I was at home, alone, I unlocked the basement door and headed downstairs. What I saw there changed my life.

It looked like a study. There was a bookshelf with a lot of books on it. There were a small table and a chair beside the wall. I found a lot of papers and notes, charts and graphs and, then I noticed it. I wonder how I missed it in the first place because it was a large instrument. It was in the back, hidden in darkness and covered in dust. At first glance, it looked like an escape pod. I opened its small door and looked inside. It was dark, I couldn’t see it clearly but there appeared to a lot of switches and dials of some sort. It looked broken. I couldn’t understand what was it? I wondered how it got there?

I went through everything. These notes and charts were old. I didn't see anything harmful about me seeing them then why, I wondered, my mother had these locked. There could be only one explanation. This all must belong to my father. I was looking through the papers when I caught my name on one of them. It was a letter addressed to me. It read-

'Dear Bela,

This is hard to explain. You are about to turn one next week. I wish I could stay but the time is calling. I need to find some answers for both of us. I'm writing this letter so you don't have to suffer as I did. I don’t know how to put it because it is going to sound crazy but I guess I have no other choice than to simply let it out. You see, you and I are both the s'

The letter ended abruptly. I kept staring at it. I looked through all the notes but I didn’t find anything else but when I gave up I noticed a tiny word scribbled on the top right corner of a page - 'Time Travel'.

Suddenly a dark corner in my brain lit up. A train of thoughts started in my mind. I looked across the dark basement at the broken instrument. I looked around at all the notes, charts, graphs and, the equations, though I couldn’t understand them I knew what they were all about and at that moment, I realized that my father didn’t run on my mother. He didn’t abandon me. I realized he was a time traveller and he went away in a different time.

I could not sleep that night or many following nights. I kept thinking about my father. My hatred for him dissolved and turned into respect. He was a man of science. He even wrote a letter to me. Why didn’t he finish? I wanted to see him, talk to him. I missed him for the first time in my life. I wanted to run across the neighbourhood and scream to all of them, to those bullies that my father wasn’t what they all thought he was. He was a time traveller.

That's when my obsession with my father began.

I was suddenly more interested in science and mathematics. I would go down into the basement whenever I could and try to understand my father's work. That was impossible for a fourteen-year-old. Suddenly I got so good at studies, especially mathematics and science because now I was paying more attention. Everybody in my school was surprised. My mother was proud. For the first time in her life, she could walk the streets with her head held high.

I showed the weird long equations to my school teachers but they couldn't understand them either. I guess a school teacher couldn't break them down. Years passed and my father’s work remained a puzzle to me until I got a scholarship and went to college. I chose mathematics. The day I left for college I was so happy. The only person happier than me was probably my mother. It didn’t bother her that she would get to see me only on holidays.

After a year, my father’s work finally started to make sense. Though it was not easy I had help. My college professors were fascinated to see my father’s work, I didn’t tell them the truth, they thought it was done by me.

When I was in my senior year, my mother passed away. I was so devastated to lose her I couldn’t think of anything else for months. I was all alone in this strange scary world. I had to take a job at one of the research facilities. I didn’t get time to study my father’s work, honestly, I didn’t even think of it until one day.

It was dead of the night. I was sitting awake in my living room, drinking and, thinking about life. I missed my mom and then suddenly it came to me. I don’t know why that happened that very moment. I don't know how I solved it. At that moment, something just happened to me like the silence itself whispered in my ears. The darkness itself showed me the path. I immediately ran downstairs to the basement, took out all the notes, found the one which had the word 'Time Travel' scribbled on the top of it, looked at it. I finally understood it. I screamed in happiness. My cheery voice echoed through the night. I was both happy and proud of myself.

It took me almost five years to repair that pod. Some of its parts were broken and burnt. Others simply got old. I also attached a new faster computer to perform the calculations better. I was so consumed by it that I didn’t have any social life or friends but it was alright. I accomplished more in less time. Whenever I was not working on it, I would miss my mother. Sometimes I would think about my father. I read his incomplete letter to me again and again in those five years so when the machine was fixed and it was time to test it, I already knew where I wanted to go. I would go to see my father.

I packed my bag, took all my savings, converted them into gold the day I decided to go. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out so I had to be prepared. I set the time around my birth, it wasn’t like there was an exact science, there was still a lot to figure out. I fired up the engine and started the process. The computer started doing the calculations. I took a deep breath in. I was both scared and excited and finally, after remembering my mother, I stepped in and closed the door. It took a second and then the pod filled with bright light but it wasn’t a blinding light, I didn’t have to close my eyes or anything. It was like the light was coming from me, I was the source. Then I felt as if I was floating in nowhere. I didn’t feel gravity or air around me or even my body. I waited for, I don’t know how long but then suddenly, the light dissolved and it all came back, my senses, the gravity and, the air. I landed on concrete. I took a deep breath in and stood up.

It had worked.

It was just like my childhood. Everything was exactly like I remembered except for a few things. I was standing on the pavement beside one of the main streets of my city. It worked. I had never been happier in my life. I figured it out. I was so excited to see my father, to tell him that I figured it out. I ran to my house but,

it was empty. It was open to rent, nobody lived there. I was confused. I had lived in that house all my life. What happened? Where were my parents? I was walking back thinking about what I could have missed. Was this the right year? I reached back to the street, I was in my thoughts walking on the sidewalk and wasn’t paying attention so I bumped into someone.

A woman. She fell. A pregnant woman, I looked and-

“I’m so sorry.” I helped her get back up and then I recognized her.

My mother.

Chapter Two
The Waiting Game

I couldn’t believe my eyes. My mother was standing in front of me with a little version of myself growing in her womb.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

She didn’t have any sense of where she was or who she was. I looked at her clothes and it seemed that she had been living on the streets. She was so thin and weak that if I had bumped into her a little harder, she would have died. Was that why I landed there? Was that a coincidence? She looked at me, I mean her eyes were focused on me but she had no idea who she was looking at or even if I was a real person.

Tears streamed through my eyes. I couldn’t help it. I helped her walk and took her to the hospital. It took a week for her to recover. We left the hospital but we had nowhere to go except

our home, I bought the house and the first thing I did after getting my mother to take rest was going downstairs in the basement but it was empty. I mean, not empty, there were some storage boxes and other old rusty stuff but for me, it was empty as the rest of the house.

I had so many questions but no one to ask. I could not just bombard my mother with all the questions especially when she could barely understand me. I had to be patient. I had to wait.

Months passed. Finally, the day arrived. I was going to be born. I was in the waiting area of the hospital when my mother was in labour. I remember it felt a little strange. But then, it was time travel. Everything about it was strange. My heart was always racing with excitement even though it had been months. It felt like an extremely long adventure ride. It went up another level when I laid my eyes on myself. I looked so tiny. It was difficult to imagine that this baby would grow up to be me, so obsessed with her father that she would travel to the past. Once again my head flooded with questions as I remembered my father. I walked out and thought I'd buy some toys for baby-me just to distract myself.

I was looking for some toys in a toys shop. I didn’t have to struggle to decide which toys to buy. I mean it was for me, I knew what I would like. Still, it felt strange but I was happy and I was distracted. I was smiling wandering around the store when I saw a toy that I used to have when I was little and a thought hit me. It hit me like a big truck moving at the maximum speed. It hit me like the lightning hits the ground like the light hits the darkness. I picked the toy up in my hand and took a close look. It was the same toy. I stood there looking at the toy in my hand. It felt like the earth had stopped moving. A few words fell out of my mouth with a feeble but sure voice of realization.

“It was me.”

Chapter Three
The Creator and the Creation

My mother was sitting on the bed. She was holding the baby-me, looking at her face, smiling, playful. I walked in. I had to do it now. I couldn’t wait anymore. I had to find the answers. My mother looked at me and smiled. I smiled back.

“I named her Bela, after you.”

I couldn’t say anything. I looked at myself sleeping and I looked at my tired mother. Then out of a sudden,

“Thank you.” She said. “I wouldn’t make it without you. If you had not helped, my baby and I would be dead. I could never thank you enough.”

"I did what was right," I replied. “Listen, can I ask you something?”


“You think- you think you're gonna tell the father?”

She looked away.

“He would wanna know," I added.

“Um- I don’t know.”

“It’s okay. Think abou-“

“No,” she interrupted, “you don’t get it. I don’t kn- I don’t know who the father is.”

The earth that had stopped spinning was now moving twice as fast. My mother’s voice kept echoing in my head. I couldn’t even ask anything else but I didn’t have to.

“There were so many drunken nights. Doesn’t matter anyway because I couldn’t keep track of each of my-“ she hesitated a little, “-my customers.”

So there it was. She said it. It was not my father. He was never around. Even she didn’t know who or where my father was. He could be a trucker and could be with another woman at that exact moment. He could be an alcoholic lying in a gutter, drunk and unconscious. He could be a criminal, he could be in jail right now. He could be dead.

But it didn't answer my questions. Instead, it raised dozens more. If he was never here then who built that pod? Who wrote all those papers? Who made all those notes, all those charts and equations? Who wrote that letter to me? And now that I'd found out the truth. Where do I go? Now suddenly I wanted to go back. I didn’t belong here. As I thought of going back, I remembered that I needed a pod and that thought settled every confusion in my head. Of course, it was me.

Time works in mysterious ways. It did not only helped me to save myself from dying of malnutrition, it provided me with a way to do it. Was that why I landed at the exact spot where my mother and myself were?

I remembered what a famous professor once had said whose lecture on time travel I attended.

“Time travel is the basis of modern physics, and, for anyone that looks up at the night sky, an everyday experience. When we view the stars and planets, we see them, not as they are now, but as they were in the past. For the planets, this time delay is only a few minutes, but for most of the stars in the night sky, thousands of years. For galaxies, faint smudges of light made up of very distant collections of stars, the delay can be millions or billions of years. By observing the faintest galaxies with the world's latest telescopes, we can look back through time and watch the whole history of the universe unfold.

“But this is not the most satisfying kind of time travel. It allows us only to gaze into the past as remote observers. One of the key challenges for modern physics is to determine whether it is possible to influence the past.

“One of the key concepts of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is that objects exist in a long line in 4D spacetime, a unification of time and space. Although all observers agree on the length of the world line that connects two events, they may have different views about whether the events occur simultaneously, or at the same location but at different times, or a mixture of both. For example, while I sit at my desk to eat lunch, then work a little and get up to go home several hours later, a very fast-moving observer will see me whizz by eating lunch and immediately getting up to go home. In Einstein's theory, time and space are mixed: we cannot think of them separately. It, therefore, makes the best sense to think of myself as always moving along that 4D world-line, travelling into the future at the speed of light.

"But is it possible to cheat the safeguards of Einstein's theory and to travel backwards through time? At face value, the answer is no, but then again, the science of earlier generations would have said mankind couldn't fly. Perhaps all scientists need is an inspiration and a cunning idea."

I had a moment of realization that I was never obsessed with my father. It was the idea of time travel. It was a desire to explore the mysteries of the universe. To understand it better. To experience the un-imaginable with my own eyes.

I soon began working on the pod to return. I had to start from scratch but it wasn't that difficult. I drew every chart and graph I had once held in my hand. I wrote every equation that once I had struggled to solve and understand and when I finished the last paper I scribbled the word 'Time Travel' on the top of it myself without even realising that this had once changed my life.

It took me about a year to finish the pod. The night it was completed I decided to say goodbye to my mother because I knew she wouldn’t be where I was going.

“Listen,” I caught her after dinner, “I wanted to inform you that- I might be leaving now.”

“What? Like right now?”

“No, No. Not now. I just wanted you to know that if you wake up one morning and find me gone, don’t get upset. Don’t look for me. Just keep my stuff safe, keep the basement locked.”

She was looking at me with love in her eyes. For a second I thought I should tell her who I was but I didn’t. I didn’t know if I could leave after that, if she would even let me go after that or if she would even believe me.

“I might come back someday to get my stuff back.” I was on the verge of tears and so was she. When I couldn't speak anymore she came closer and wrapped her arms around me. We both started crying.

“I’ll miss you.” She said.

"I would too," I replied.

This was the last of her that I would see, the last of her that I heard.

Next morning I was in the basement, ready to go. I fired up the engine. Started the sequence on the computer and waited. It was going to take a while. There was now only one thing left to do. I sat down on the chair, took the pen and a blank sheet of paper and, started writing. This time I would finish it, I thought. I couldn’t leave myself to go through all that I had gone through. I wrote

'Dear Bela,

This is hard to explain. You are about to turn one next week. I wish I could stay but the time is calling. I need to find some answers for both of us. I'm writing this letter so you don't have to suffer as I did. I don't know how to put it because it is going to sound crazy but I guess I have no other choice than to simply let it out. You see, you and I are both the same person-'

But before I could finish the sentence, the pod started buzzing. It was a warning alarm. I jumped at the sound. What went wrong? I thought. I looked at everything trying to figure out where the problem was. I couldn't find anything. I thought maybe a wire was loose or something. Then I did the worst mistake of my life, I got into the pod.

As I stepped in, it engulfed me in a ball of white light or better to say I engulfed everything in a ball of bright white light. I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I was thrown away and suddenly everything got dark. There was nothing, there wasn’t even me. There was just the darkness from the beginning to the end.

When my feet hit the ground, I had all the answers to my questions. I once wondered what created time. I realized that time itself created the time. Just like I saved myself. Time destroys everything, even itself, just like I did.

“-and that’s how I ended up here. In the 15th century with no way to go back.” I finished my weird story. The rain had stopped. The barn had survived the storm. There were still a couple of hours left before sunrise. I looked across the barn at the alien sitting in front of me, playing with the hay which, thank god, had somehow managed to stay dry. He was listening to the story intently.

“So why didn’t it work the second time? I mean it worked perfectly fine the first time.”

“I realized later that the computer that I was using wasn’t fast enough to do all the calculations. The processor that I used the first time wouldn’t come out until twenty years later.”

“I don’t understand any of it.”

“Uh- it was a technical thing I overlooked.”

“Well I couldn’t understand many other parts of your story as well but I get it and I don’t feel ashamed to say that yours was weirder than mine.”

“You know I would be thrilled to talk to an alien but now nothing surprises me. I wouldn’t have believed you in the first place if I hadn’t seen your skin turn green-blue myself.”

“Yeah. So what are you going to do now?”

I just shrugged my shoulders.

“I have an idea. Come with me.”


“Yeah, I mean I don’t have anywhere to go either but we'll find something. At least we wouldn’t be alone.”

"Yeah. Whatever. It doesn't matter to me anyway.” I said playfully.

“And I could tell you so much about the past. Anything you wanna know.”

“Honestly, I'm not that interested in the past anymore.”

“But I'm so thrilled that I would get to know so much about the future. I mean I might see it for myself one day but still. I have so many questions.”

He seemed very curious. I saw the eagerness in his eyes. It made me a little happy so I smiled and said.

“Yeah sure. Shoot away.”

'Bela' (Hindi: बेला /Beɪlɑː/) is a synonym of the word 'Time' (Hindi: समय /sʌmʌy/).


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