Prof. Jagdish Mitra sat brooding on his chair-bed. Age seems to be fast catching up with this brilliant scientist. So, what's wrong with that? He was already in his eighties.
Acclaimed the world over for his pioneering research into several facets of cosmology, he once headed the entire gamut of projects dealing with S.E.T.I. Even though his theories and predictions about alien existence were given due weightage by the scientific community at large, this deep reverence actually didn't mean much to Prof. Jagdish. He had dedicated his whole life towards his work.
Since he felt marriage would be a hindrance in his pursuit he had opted to live singly. Not surprisingly, he has worked zealously throughout his life. He had been decorated with several awards for his outstanding achievements thus far.
The evenings seem too long for Prof. Jagdish these days. Lately he had developed this habit of spending the evenings quietly. He liked being left to himself. He treasured these moments spent in quietude. The madness sweeping the world all around held little interest for him. He had detached himself from all the trappings that a mortal human being usually hankers for in this world.
It is difficult to put it exactly into words but unknowingly, he has elevated himself to a much higher level than any average human being. His philosophical insight into life and beyond had charmed innumerable minds.
Inspite of all this Prof. Jagdish was not a happy man. All through his life he craved for an interaction with an amiable alien from outer space. He recollected in his youth he had seen some films and read some books about aliens and that had fired his imagination and led him to his profession and towards his dream. How he longed to have a tête-à-tête with such an extra-terrestrial creature before his death? He was eager to know whether the alien would understand his language and vice-versa.
Time dragged on laden feet. The eeriness of the surrounding was gradually spreading its tentacles. A rap on the door startled Prof. Jagdish. He walked up to the door and opened it. What greeted his eyes truly flabbergasted him! He saw a gigantic man, around twenty or so feet tall standing a few feet away from his door. Before he could say anything the giant spoke, "Prof. Jagdish, I've come from a distant planet far beyond Pluto. On behalf of my people, I have come to invite you to our planet. We would be grateful if you give us a talk enlightening us with your profound insight about life, cosmos and--our spaceship is waiting outside to take you--if you kindly--"
The stillness of the night gnawingly clawed into Prof. Jagdish's being. The next morning Prof. Jagdish was found dead.
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His right hand was clutching a piece of paper. The following message was found there, handwritten in purple ink in what some linguists suggested could be a future Sanskrit dialect: "Beloved sisters and brothers, your Universe has a heartbeat of its own. It expands and contracts. Its present expansion or diastole is about to come to an end. However, this time around there will be no succeeding systole. It is an old, ailing universe and it will suffer a heart attack, die and eventually reincarnate. It will enjoy four additional lives and then attain Cosmic Samadhi. Further details will be given presently to the Secretary General of your United Nations. Fear not, for we attest to the eternal validity of the 'soul', as you have chosen to call it."
Most scholars were skeptical concerning the source of the disturbing message. However, one of Prof. Jagdish's former students came up with an unexpected piece of information. A few days after the funeral he told how, back in 1993, while driving at night in his car along the dirt road that led to the …