Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Tracing Alice...

Calvin was growing up so fast that had he placed his palm on top of his head he would have felt himself grow-up many inches daily. Just like Alice from Wonderland, his most favorite bed-time-story. He was being introduced to so many new subjects at school at such a frantic pace that he was facing great difficulties in coping with them all. His head whirled with so much information being stuffed into it, all at the same time! He was barely out of his age of devouring comic-books and he was already being introduced to Maths & Physics, Literature & Biology. He hadn't even questioned the existence of Santa yet, to deserve punishment of this kind! It seemed that his transition from a world of fairy-tales to that governed by necessities & laws was going to be rather premature & abrupt. He looked so over-informed & drowsy that day that his mom offered him a nice warm cup of chocolate-milk & tucked him early to bed along with his favorite tiger-toy.
As mommy shut the door behind her, Calvin sprang up & prodded Hobbes to stay awake. He wanted to read him his favorite bed-time story for the umpteenth time. Hobbes looked disinterested as he, by now, knew it by heart! Calvin turned the first leaf and started narrating. "A white rabbit ran past wearing a coat and carrying a watch, lamenting running late". Wondering why Calvin had stopped narrating, Hobbes asked "Ain't Alice supposed to follow it?". Hearing no response for long, Hobbes opened one eye of his to see what Calvin was up to. A perplexed Calvin was turning the pages frantically. "Something missing, eh?", inquired Hobbes. "Yeah, Alice's amiss & I need to look for her", replied Calvin. Right before Hobbes' spell-bound eyes, Calvin shrunk & entered a frame in the comic book. Hobbes followed suit...
"Now where u gonna look for her?", asked Hobbes. "Let's ask that aging gentleman with unkempt hair puffing at his pipe over there", replied Calvin. "Sir, have you seen Alice?" inquired Calvin. "Call me Albert, I'm yet to be knighted", he replied. "She went down a worm-hole, right there", he went on... "U mean a rabbit-hole", said Calvin. "Umm... u may say so", replied Albert.
Calvin walked to the 'door' of the worm-hole, but found that it was locked. A table next to the door had a key placed upon it but Calvin couldn't reach it as he had shrunk. He looked around & picked an iron nail which now seemed like a giant-rod & starting digging into the door. Irritated by this noisy activity, a man popped out his head from a bath-tub placed close-by. He had a long beard. "Don't dig. Use it as a lever & lift the door open", he advised. "But it's such a tiny nail & the door is so huge!", replied Calvin skeptically. "Duh! Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth", muttered the guy as he slipped back into the tub. Calvin obeyed & the door indeed gave way. "Eureka, eureka", yelled he with joy, as he entered.
The door opened into a beautiful orchard. Spring had just set in and the flowers & fruits of choicest colors & fragrances were in full-bloom. It looked like paradise, but there were no people around & Calvin was getting desperate. He had to find Alice! After walking some distance, he bumped into a finicky guy, Werner. "Have you seen Alice, Sir? She entered this door through the worm-hole", said Calvin. "How fast was she traveling?", questioned Werner. "And how does that matter?", asked Calvin. Sensing the irritation in Calvin's voice, he answered, "I saw a girl there, no here, no no there...". "Are you always this uncertain? This doesn't help!", yelled a disgruntled Calvin as he walked on.
After haphazardly looking around for sometime, he came across a stout balding man with distinctive side-burns quietly and intently studying the transmutations of species in a Mock-Turtle. "Sir, is this the Garden of Eden & are you Adam?", asked Calvin. "No, I'm Charles and what garden?", he replied. "The place where the first man & his wife lived after they were created by God", replied Calvin. "Don't know 'bout that but not everything was 'created' for mankind. Life evolved...", he continued. "He seems to be an Atheist", whispered Hobbes which Charles overheard. "No, I'm more of an Agnostic, or a Naturalist u may say...", he replied. "Who gave u this address, anyway?", inquired Charles. "Oh, we just followed the white-rabbit wearing a coat & carrying a watch", replied Calvin. "What!? Now those rabbits have taken to this too?", yelled a visibly upset Charles. He threw away a fat book he had nearly completed writing & started all over again. 'On the Origin of the Species - by means of unnatural selection', he wrote on its cover and turned the leaf. Calvin was shaken up, but nevertheless was happy to have run into the Mock-Turtle. Now Alice had to be around. "Where can I find the closest habitation?", asked Calvin. "Follow this path of white-pebbles left by Hansel and Gretel", directed Charles getting back to his writing.
The path sure did lead Calvin & Hobbes to a tall castle. It had two windows, but no doors nor stairs! An apple tree grew under one of it's windows. A young love-struck Romeo stood at the foot of this apple tree, contemplating how to scale it in order to reach the window. His accomplice, Euler, put a reassuring arm around him & adviced, "Traverse depth-first". "Thanks", replied Romeo as he hastily scrambled up the apple-tree. So shabby was his climb that he dropped an apple over the head of another fellow, Isaac, resting under the tree. "Why did the apple fall straight down?", wondered Isaac. Calvin enquired with Euler whether the apple tree lead to Alice. "No, this one leads to Juliet", he replied. "Check out the other window", he further added.
On reaching the other window, Calvin noticed a beautiful long braid of golden hair reaching down from it. It was 20 ells long & touched the ground! Three young men stood at its tip, caressing & admiring it. "Does this golden-braid lead to Alice?", asked Calvin. "Oh, this double-helix leads to Rapunzel", replied James. "Sigh!", uttered Calvin, with drooped shoulders. "We're new to this place. Check out with that old guy, there", added James pointing to a shabbily dressed old man round the corner.
A tired Calvin now approached the old man. He was so old that he looked ancient! "Seen Alice?", asked Calvin keeping his question short.
"Oh, this place looks new to me too, son. I mean, I do belong here but I've returned after 20 years, u see... Things have changed such a lot since then... ", replied Rip. "Phew! I've looked for her all day. I must have traveled more than Gulliver!", sighed Calvin.
"Was she lame?", questioned Rip.
"What? No!", replied Calvin.
"Then was she deaf?", Rip inquired further.
"No! She was hale & hearty", replied an annoyed Calvin.
"Then I have sad news for u kid. She must have been abducted by the Pied piper of Hamelin. One hundred and thirty boys and girls followed him out of the town, where they were lured into a cave on the Köppen Hill and never seen again."
"No!!! Take me to the Koppelberg Hills, please, please take me to Koppelberg...", Calvin kept pleading.
"You first need to go to school", said his mom as she woke him up. "You're late, Calvin!", yelled she whilst thrusting a tooth-brush into his mouth and making him stand before the mirror of his bathroom.
As a sleepy Calvin stood in front of the mirror brushing his teeth, he pondered what the world would be like on the other side of the mirror. He was so overwhelmed by the urge to experience that alternate world!
Right before Hobbes' spell-bound eyes, Calvin shrunk & walked in through the looking-glass. Hobbes followed suit...

Dedicated to - All those kids who are made to grow too early, too fast.