The Last Man: Seeni Mohan ( A Tamil anti-nuclear short story written in 1991)

This story was published twice in the author’s short story collections Iravugal Udhirum (Nights Will Wither) and Seeni Mohan sirukadhaigal (Seeni Mohan’s Short Stories) in 1991 and 2003 respectively. Both the books are available in Tamilnadu Government Libraries.It is being published separately as a need of the hour as well as a recognition of people’s fear about the nuclear power stations.
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Thanks to
Thiru. Dheeran
Thiru. Neelamani
Thiru. A.G (alias) Rajendracholan

Best Wishes to
People of Idindhakarai near Koodankulam for starting a campaign to disprove this story.

Dedicated to
Millions of innocent people who last their lives / became handicap at Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobil and Fukushima.

English Translation by

Mr. J. Arivuchelvan,
Teacher in English Dept,
Sainik School,
Amaravathinagar, 642102.
Tamil Nadu.
(December 2011)

 Shakthi was adamant to visit the earth ever since she had heard about it. Is it so easy? We had to travel about 40 days. Since many changes and progress have taken place, it is about 40 days. The same would have taken 18 months, 50 years ago and 31 months, 60 years ago.

I too wished to visit the earth. So, I consoled my daughter by promising that I would soon take her to the earth. My wife and I sought a hundred day permission to go out of this planet and return. We were granted permission within fifteen days on certain restrictions. The permission was accompanied by the information about the then weather of the earth, the safety suits that we had to carry, the vehicles and the roads etc.

Shakthi did not have teachers like the olden day schools. She has only computers. She knew well about every planet and the researches and changes that has been taking place there. These things were not possible during her grandpa’s time when teachers taught everything at schools. Only a handful of knowledge was available about everything. One could not go to the maximum extent of anything.

Even till the recent past teachers in the earth had used black-boards and yelled out in their classrooms. But now it is doubtful whether man lives on earth. The reason for this uncertainty is the latest news that we got. It was because of this news that Shakthi started learning about the earth. Shakthi and I shared a couple of Tamil poems related to this news. She had enquired about something and instead of providing her the exact answer the computer had sent these couple of poems.

I shared this poem with Shakthi,
He was lying on his side.
A nuclear power station was to come in south!
Knowledgeable person. Face was looking north!
The northern wind smelt human blood…….
The blood borne elite address….. Shocked!
Long ago the nuclear reactor had started functioning there.
He turned and lay flat on his back!
Bright future glittered in his eyes
The atomic light had lit divine light all over the world.
Ah! Symmetries all around.
Throat experienced a burning wheel rotating and extinguishing
Aye! No companion even at death…….
Only the “radiation” was treading the ball of earth without any foot prints.
The evidences of human existence were gradually disappearing.

Shakthi liked this poem very much. When Shakthi logged on to the computer and asked a few questions, the screen continuously displayed – Dheeran, March 1989 AD, “ Nuclear Reactor – A tomb of the generations” etc. For further questions related to Nuclear Reactors, computer poured out a lot of poems. Neelamani, Chernobyl Neveda, Kanaiyazhi, Nov 1986 AD was one of them, which Shakthi gave me.

I accepted that the poem’s diction had intensity and impact and read out the same to my wife. She was patiently listening me.

Wind unfurls its feathers of smoke
Water turns into fuss
Thorns are plaited
Thick woods – sorrow woods – straw woods

Wounds adorned the golden lotus ponds
Seasons abort
Hailing the rain is an unanswerable question
The present time usurps
The future time withers
A folk of dance of mendicants
Who breaks his own self?
Alas! Is man creating his own fate?
Apple – it might be a spherical snake!
While revelling in sparklers
It is darkness that laughs
A wisdom that plaits the noose for hanging
Instead of weaving the clothes
In the attempts of conquering the stars
We are loosing the earth
When the suns we made rose
The world sets
Poisonous dust in the artificial mineral bags
Man a evolved from apes in a healthy environment
The belief that uterus-es are safe
Is no more true.
No assurance for the purity of mother’s milk
Consuming the poison offered by the learned
Is an unavoidable etiquette.

Though not all, at least a few Thamizhians had lived with the wisdom of prophesies. The danger of Alpha, Beta and Gamma had been known. But the courage to avert them was very less. This amount of knowledge did not reach everybody. The knowledge that plaited the noose failed to muster the strength to over come the air’s smoky feathers.

I thought I had started packing all required items to visit earth. But I had forgotten an indispensable item. That was the translation gadget. I have been conversing and writing in the Sua language which is in vogue in our planet. Unlike the languages of the earth it does not have the sentence structures. For each sentence it has a code. The size of the translation gadget is as big as a match box. One can talk to any body in any language. Whatever I speak will be heard by others in their language and vice-versa. Only after three days I realised that I had forgotten to pack the translation gadget. When my wife and Shakthi knew this, shades of fear appeared on my wife’s face. There was a reason for her apprehension because the gadget was an indispensable item when we visited other planets. But Shakthi’s face showed no signs. She was engrossed in playing with her computer.

The journey was fearless; our space shuttle was completely operated by a control room. So we had nothing to do with its functioning. Whenever required we can take enough rest. When the oxygen ration for forty days was spent, from the stock of 300 day’s quantity for three persons, we were descending on earth. As planned we landed in south Tamil Nadu. Before alighting we noticed a few horrifying scenes on earth.

The complete earth was covered with smoke. We wore special suits that were thinner than our clothes. We hung the oxygen cylinder on Shakthi’s shoulders. It weighed 2000gms. From that all three of us had oxygen supply through tubes,. No apparatus on earth can destroy either the cylinder or the tubes. Many temple towers were visible in the town where we landed. Shakthi’s computer indicated that the place as “Madurai”. A couple of people were crawling very slowly at a distance. Many people might have lived there. The city had evidences for that – roads, bridges, dams, buildings, rail roads – they might have lived in lakhs. Both the heat and the light were maximum. When Shakthi raised the doubt whether the heat and the light would be so much at 5 pm on earth, we got both controlled with the help of the control room.
We wanted to meet people. Our space shuttle was taken over by the Central Control Station. Rows of unclaimed vehicles were parked on the roads. One can drive any vehicle one likes. I have not received any training so for in operating any vehicle of the earth. I had made a great mistake. What to do now? I contacted the Central Control Station. I heard a loud laughter. I didn’t understand the reason for the laughter. Just then a beautiful luxurious vehicle appeared before us.

Shakthi got in and asked us to join her. What to do after boarding? Shakthi insisted us to get in. My wife obliged. I went around the vehicle a couple of times. It was written “ Swaraj Mazda” in English on the vehicle. Not only this vehicle all others – the name boards of all shops either side of the road, and the entrances of the buildings and everywhere one could see writings in English only. There had been a mistake somewhere.
Computer lies. Central Control Station has betrayed us. This is not Tamil Nadu. This town is not Madurai. It must be a plot. This must be the country called England. I got into the vehicle and asked, “Which town is this?”. “Fool. This is Madurai”, retorted the computer. When I asked why it had scolded me it replied, ‘Why are you asking the same question?” . I told that I had a suspicion. Suddenly the computer warned me not to behave like the men of the earth.

A buzzing noise. With a jolt the vehicle started moving. Shakthi looked at me and laughed. I understood why the control station laughed at me. The fact is that computer can operate any vehicle. We just travelled a short distance. There was an unbearable stink of rotten materials. It penetrated even our foolproof oxygen tubes. Shakthi changed this foul atmosphere. The vehicle stopped. We got down and walked a little. Dead body…….dead body………..dead body……… human beings as dead bodies.

Three fourth of the bodies were decaying and lying without the outer skin exposing the bones and flesh. Two dogs were further disintegrating the decaying human bodies. We were almost frozen. After that almost we witnessed similar scenes throughout our route. It was frightening to stop out of the vehicle. But the control Station reassured us not to panic. We were travelling south. Both the heat and the light were increasing steadily. We had to control them steadily with the help of our control station.

A village near a town called Tirunelveli. It was burning. We alighted. The control station led us to a building. It was some factory. An air proof glass cabin. A man was seen sitting with his head resting on his palms. It seemed he was reading a bunch of printed papers lying on his table. Uninterested to play further, Shakthi gave the translating gadget to me. I knocked at the cabin door. The man was taken aback and jumped from his chair. He gestured his hand to me. He refused to open the cabin door. We understood his apprehensions.

We brought safety suit for him from our vehicle. But he continued to gesture his unwillingness to open the door. With all my strength I pushed my self through the door and at once shut it from inside. First I made him wear the safety suit. The man was totally frightened. He did not trust me who was two feet shorter than him. I assured him that the safety suit I gave him would withstand any radiation and further informed that still people were living in north and I had come to rescue him.

All his attention was on the printed papers he had on his table. He told me that all reactors in the world had burst and the men I had seen might have died as there was no chance for any human being to survive. Further he apprehended that there was no chance for him to survive if he had left his cabin. After I guaranteed him that the suit was so safer that no air or any radiation could penetrate, I connected his mask with the oxygen cylinder. He picked carefully all the printed papers lying on his table. While browsing them I came across the following poem.

On the lake bund tree
On the spine of balance
In the dilapidated house
In the palm grove
And in the grandma’s tales
Following everywhere and slapping on the back
Causing profuse bleeding through nose and mouth
Crushing the spine
Uprooting the soul
The superstitious ghosts of olden days
The blind vampires
Today have become devils of science
Dwelling in atoms
The fission not only has heat but
The devils of radiation too
Will spread poisonous feathers for thousands of years
Rings of Radiation all over the earth
In the sky, in the space,
On the earth, in the air, in the vegetable,
In the water, in the milk, in the green grass,
Devils of radiation
In all life giving maters
The ghosts which have caught us
Are the magic ghosts
That eats human beings like cancer

(A.G alias Rajendra Cholan)
The man gasped like anything before getting into our vehicle. The safety kit did not suit the man of the earth. At last he answered in one word to Shakthi’s question,” Which place is this?”

August’ 1991

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