Take a sheet of paper the size of a drawing pad. The universe,
as we perceive it, must be accommodated within the borders
of this rectangle. Draw a circle the size of a marble to represent
the Earth, then hitch the moon to it. This travel companion will never
leave the Earth’s side. Now surround them with planets in their proper
elliptical positions. Reserve a central place for the sun. Cram the entire
backdrop with stars, thumbing in a smudge to mark the Milky Way.
Then set the whole facsimile in motion, in perpetual
rotations and revolutions.
But you are not done yet. Fold this sheet
to fashion an origami pigeon and release this messenger bird
into the sky. It will quickly reach a vanishing point flying among
billions of other winged creatures, each carrying its own universe.
If your head is spinning, try this: crumple the piece of paper
and store it in the black hole of your pocket never to be found again
There is a third alternative. Place this sheet at one end
of a panoramic screen and proceed to jump off the brink of our universe
into neighboring galaxies spiraling outward, endlessly. Shrunk, relegated
to a corner, our universe is virtually erased, leaving us adrift.
Here, far beyond imagination’s reach, infinity unravels leaving us
speechless. But seeking solace in myths will get us nowhere.
We have to make the journey back to reclaim the Earth. As we start to
descend and fall towards what seems like a speck of dust, it turns into a rock;
then, this enormous circular globe packed with mountains, oceans, forests, all
suspended, frozen at two ends and burning elsewhere, this jewel
of an Earth, this blue planet escorted by clouds, which has hauled its rich
load of life for millions of years, not straying from its given path,
but gliding, floating, owning this alien but familiar space, returns
to our side, smooth, unruffled, like the messenger bird back from its epic
pilgrimage, finding the ball of crumpled paper saved in our pocket.
by Saleem Peeradina, from Final Cut (£8.99, £3.99 Kindle)
Be part of our story. Join the Valley Press newsletter.