Mama… I have lost your moon.

 Mama… I have lost your moon.
(short story - 1987)
Sketch credit - Shashwat 

It was 4 in the morning, Yuri looked out of the window as he brushed, gargled and spat. To his shock and disbelief, the window appeared like a photo frame with the moon hanging as if its existence hung on a delicate puff of cotton. It looked familiar he thought, then filling his glass gulped a mouthful, gargled and spat. Wiping his face he tried to remember where had he seen it. “where, where, where” he muttered to himself, “where!!!”

From space he remembered the moon appeared like a withered apple, rotting, lifeless with its juices sucked out. 

And as he wondered “where” a dark thought creeped into his morning consciousness, “what if” it whispered like a little worm, “What happens to us if we loose the moon… What a strange question to ask” he wondered, “That’s absurd” he smirked twisting his lips imitating Lenin, “how can you lose the moon.”

He got dressed, attended the briefing, looked at the weather report, checked the craft, boarded the plane and tore the silence with the deafening scream of the jet engine.

From the canopy of the arial machine the moon hung clutching to its little ball of cotton.

Something was not right, his hand was shaking and his eyes had turned blurry. He removed his glove and felt a warm drop trickle and run down his finger. The past flashed past his eyes. 

He wondered whether this was the same moon that had escorted his mother to guide the cows to the cowshed. He remembered once hunting for rabbits they lost their way in the forest and how the moon had become their friend and guide. He remembered his father’s words, “In the darkness of the forest the moon becomes your eyes.”

So what was it trying to tell him. 

Suddenly his body was flooded with emotions and the sky burst into words:

No regrets, no cries, no pain will ever

Touch my heart like blossoms touch a tree ‘

Whose words were they, he never recalled ever reading it. “Does it blossom for me mama and how does a rose know that, “I exist” the joy, the joy, he cried, “if my life could but be such a blossom for you mama”, he sighed…and all the while the moon hung to its life.

The man in the front had signalled ‘go’. And like an automata Yuri steadied himself, his hands gripped the coldness of the joystick. And then the grip loosened, He felt like he had to speak to his mother. He wanted to get out of the cockpit and go and sit besides her watching the tall grass sway in the wind as the cattle grazed on the dew soaked blades. To see her burst with joy at the sight of tiny wild flower as the snow withdrew exposing the wetsoil to the sun .

He muttered:

I will come back, mother, when our garden

White with spring, outstretches its branches.

But this time, mother, wake me not at daybreak,

The way you’d do all those years ago.’

And now he knew, knew it all. The man in the front waved his glowing stick, the engine went full throttle, the state-of-art fighter jet rose in the air as the light within the moon began to fade. 

Midway in the flight he spotted a deer who was running at incredible speed, how is that possible he wondered, he swung the plane to have another look at the deer and the plane went into a tail spin. Just then another jet whooshed dangerously close to his hurling it to the ground.

He felt as if time had slowed down, and as the plane spun out of control, he could see the large eyes of the deer, it had stopped running, and was looking at them. “I am Yuri”, he waved at the deer, “the first man in space, run, go away, trust the moon”, he muttered.

Nearby villages heard a loud explosion. Dark smoke bellowed from the distance.

The next day the world woke up to the news of ‘Yuri Gagarin was no more’

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