Near the Palace of the Maharajah.
He’d been keeping himself as well as he could. When riding his ancient bicycle through the throngs of humanity on the streets of Jaipur, he looked like a normal sized man. Standing next to his percussion guru, he was rather small, not a meter and a half tall. He was very thin and couldn’t have weighed much more than 40 kilos. He still had all his teeth, however, and an enviable full head of hair. The signs of a lifetime of malnourishment were clear. Ram looked over 50, but in reality was maybe 38 years old. Survival in Northwestern India had its challenges.
Ram’s life consisted of three things; his family, his job in the ruby mine, and his drumming. His children were all grown and married but they visited him almost daily. He lived in a small rented room on the edge of town with his wife.
Ram attended the palace music college and played tabla in the afternoons. For the last four months, he’d been playing with a westerner. They were close to the same age, but Ram looked like he could’ve been his father. Ram considered their mutual understanding of rhythm to be their bonding point. They created rhythms together, they were musicians. The Keherwa Taal second version was Ram’s favorite.
At Ram’s job in the mine, he crawled through the darkness in search of precious items. It was here that he found the fate stone, a rugged uncut crimson gem the size of a rupee. The day he found the stone he was alone deep within a new crack in a side wall more than a kilometer underground. He immediately experienced its power.
Ram held the crystal in his hand and closed his bony fingers around it. It felt warm next to his skin. The soothing heat reached up his arm to his brain. A mild euphoria swept through his mind. He squeezed the gem firmly.
The city appeared before him. Not the one he was used to, but one many years into the future. He saw towering glass buildings, personal hardware, and a technologically enhanced society with an extravagant standard of living. He was going to live there one day. His spirit would be passed on by his children to live in this future age. Ram was the immortal carrier of his genetic code and he would be reborn again and again and again.
Ram squeezed the stone even harder, closing his eyes, and focusing his mind. He saw himself in a future life, that of his great great great granddaughter. She walked the shiny steel decks of a spaceship. It glowed with such sparkling beauty it put the Maharaja’s palace to shame. She walked into the flight control room of the bewildering vessel and looked out the window. Ram saw great spiraling galaxies and planets with rings of color wrapping around them. He looked into the heavens and a tear came to his eye.
Lastly, Ram saw himself, but this time as his namesake Lord Rama, the supreme being of the universe. He had conquered time and space and brought about the end of the Kali-yuga age. The cycle of time would start anew.
This little unknown man from a dusty desert city saw the infinite and that he was himself part of it.
Ram woke up on the floor of the cave. He stuffed the fate stone into the bottom of his shoe. If he was caught taking the gem from the mine he would be fired and imprisoned. His wife would be thrown to the streets for survival, even his children would be punished to pay the full value of the stone to the mining company. It was the one true crime in the industry. He had to have the stone though, it was his.
He made it out with it. Luckily, he had found several other valuable stones and his boss was graciously pleased. Given the rest of the day off, Ram pedaled off to play the drums with the stone still stabbing into his foot. As he made his way into town, visions of the future filled his consciousness.
Ram would work in the mine until his death there some years later. He would do this to cover his tracks and to secure his family’s future. One where his grandson became a scientist, his great-granddaughter an astronaut, and his most distant reincarnation became one with the cosmos.