I was on my bed, looking at the pendant lights hanging from the ceiling. Some random thoughts were crisscrossing my head and that’s when my son called me.
“Dad, my robot is out of battery and I’m unable to sleep, can you tell me a bedtime story? Please..?”
“Oh sure, of course I will. What kind of a story would you like to listen to?”
“Anyone Dad! Maybe an anecdote from your childhood days?”
“Ah! Childhood?!!”, that very word took me 20 years back in time. I really wondered how my life has changed in all these years. What a transformation? I never expected the world would change so much in two decades! I was again lost in thoughts.
“What are you thinking daddy, come on, tell me a story please.” Pleaded my son.
“Okay kid, did you ever wonder how we used to study in our childhood? You know, in our childhood schooling was all together a different ball game, we used to go to a separate building which we called ‘school’ and all of us kids used to gather there physically for learning…”, saying so, I was reminded of my dad who used to narrate stories from his childhood days and how they had to walk for miles to go to their school. The stories have indeed changed over time.
“Oh dad, this is taught to us every day in our history lessons. Tell me about something which I probably wouldn’t know, like the games you used to play”
“Okay, so my friends and I would play every day for about 2 hours after the school. We did have video games back then in early 2000, but our parents never allowed us to get hooked on to them. Unlike you kids who always waste time on online games, we used to play physical games almost every day. It is a lot more fun than your online games.”
“Dad, not again…Tell me something that really seems like a story, not like a rebuke. Now, you’ve been telling me all the changes that have come up over time, instead why can’t you just tell me how these changes took place?” said my son unsurely
Now that was something on which I could speak for hours.
“Oh yes, I will tell you this story, and you need to listen to me attentively.” He swayed his head as I continued “It was the year 2020. A year that became the turning point of the 21st century. It was this year that brought masks into our lives. The mask that you’re wearing now wasn’t even a thing before 2020. It was in 2020 that schools and classrooms went online. Else you would’ve gone to the school like me. It was the same year that stopped all the usual things, and the world became digital world. Now the world is totally digital. Before 2020, we used to go to theatres to watch movies. We used to go to shops to buy anything. We used to actually go out of our houses to do things. But now we’re all in a lazy, helpless state sitting in a corner of a room getting the robots assist us. How I wish, that one year never came in our lives. Our world would’ve been a much greater place to live in. Anyway, I’m happy that this digital and technological changes have at least helped us to find some solutions to the environmental problems we had in the past. Anyway, these changes have completely erased the population of earth making it a calm place.”
Before I even finished my story, my son slipped into a deep sleep. I don’t think my story was so boring that it actually made him sleep. Now going to sleep was the next challenge on my mind, who would narrate an anecdote from the past to me? Or should I recharge the robot to possibly listen to what the future has in store for us? After all, history and future waver between BCE and CE, certainly not ‘Before the Common Era’and ‘Common Era’ but ‘Before COVID Era’ and ‘COVID Era’.
(This is my entry for the UNESCO world tales short story writing competition on the theme ‘Once upon a time in my future’.)