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Excerpt for The next beginning : sequel to The Gift by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Last few lines in ‘THE GIFT’:

The priest in this town said that 9th in February and 23rd of March of the following year would be auspicious for our marriage. You tell your father, I will tell mine.’

‘You are saying as if my father would agree instantly on seeing you and baggage.’

Geetha stopped the car. In a moment of bewilderment, she saw his face and said, ‘You didn’t tell me about the jackpot. What is there in it?’

‘There are diamonds.’

Chapter 1

Vivaswanth and Geetha return from Chodavaram to Hyderabad. Unable to reject their being together by any means, their parents get them married. Two years after their marriage, the couple reached Visakhapatnam on a Sunday to meet their friends with their year old child, Yudhishthira. Harish got married to Vineesha, while Shankar, Kaushal and Rohit got married as well. The five friends were playing cricket in Rishikonda beach while Geetha, with Yudhishthira on her lap and Vineesha and the three women sat by her side, sat on the sand and watched their husbands play. Shankar was bowling and Harish hit a six with his bat. Vivaswanth, who was the farthest, went to get the ball, which struck on the window of a black car. The glass broke and the occupants became frenzy.

Vivaswanth went near by the car and politely asked, ‘I am extremely sorry, Sir. We are actually playing cricket. Could you please give me the ball?’

One of the occupants got angry and got out of the car. He went with a knife in his hand to Vivaswanth and swayed it offensively causing a long deep cut in the latter’s right forearm. Vivaswanth caught his hand to stop bleeding. The other occupants came to him and said, ‘If you are seen anywhere in this city while we are here, you won’t be alive. Here, take your ball and remember that we are very dangerous. Give us ten thousand.’

Vivaswanth gave the money and took the ball and was going back when officer Suresh arrived on a truck and stopped before the black car. Suresh had them put in their truck and went to Vivaswanth and pulled him to a corner. ‘Here is your ten thousand. Thanks for helping me catch those notorious ones. Did they do anything to you? I saw a bloodstain on their knife.’ Vivaswanth removed his left hand covering his right forearm.

The officer said, ‘I am glad that nothing happened to you. Take care, Vivaswanth.’

After the officer left, Vivaswanth, with a bewildered look, looked onto his right forearm. It was clean and healthy, without any wound. He was confused due to the sudden change.

Vivaswanth left and played with his friends for a while. Later when all the friends went to a nearby hotel by walk, Geetha asked, ‘What happened over there? You took a bit longer to come back with the ball.’

He whispered, ‘Keep quiet honey!! We will talk about this in Hyderabad, for sure.’

All the couples finished their lunch and in the evening, Geetha, along with her husband and child, left for Hyderabad in the evening train.

The next morning after having breakfast at their individual home, Geetha asked, ‘What happened yesterday?’

When I went to get the ball, I saw three criminals in a car immediately put a message to a local police officer whom I knew. Co-incidentally the ball struck the window of one of their doors. They got angry and gave me a deep cut in my hand. After a while, the cops came and took them in. After the officer thanked me, I realised that the cut had disappeared.’

‘What the hell! You healed yourself without knowing how you did it.’

Four years later, in a midnight, the doorbell rung, to which Geetha woke up startled and thought, ‘I think it might be a dream.’

She lied down and bell had rung the second time. This time, Vivaswanth and Geetha got up. She asked, ‘Who might be ringing the bell at this odd hour?’

The five years old, Yudhishthira, began to talk in his sleep, ‘Don’t go mommy, there are three thieves outside the house.

Geetha gave an alarming look. Vivaswanth said, ‘Lock the room’s door after I leave. Make sure that Yudhishthira doesn’t get disturbed.’

‘Be careful, honey. They might be dangerous.’

Vivaswanth went upstairs via inner staircase from the first floor, where the bedroom was, to the terrace and locked the door from the outside. He took a long stick and took the downstairs which ended directly on the ground floor. As he neared the down end of the staircase, he saw 3 thieves standing outside the entrance with knives in their knives and saw the gate left open. He hit the thief closest to him, made him fall down and other two got startled. He pushed the farthest one towards the gate and he fell down and ran away through the gate. The middle thief swayed his knife and lifted the other one who fell down. They both went away. After they left, he closed the gate and rung the bell. Geetha relived of hearing the bell went downstairs and opened the door. She asked, ‘Is everything okay, honey?’

Vivaswanth nodded and they went inside. The next day, after Yudhishthira left for the school, Vivaswanth was watching the news when the reporter said, ‘There is a danger of extra-terrestrial impact in the Indian ocean. Asteroid impact of this type can cause mega tsunamis of four kilometres height which can wipe almost half the entire world. We will come back to you with the details later.’ He switched off the TV and started doing Pranayama, which consists of inhaling through one nostril and exhaling through the other and completing one cycle by doing vice-versa. He did it for half an hour and then kept meditating for an hour. After a while, Geetha completed cooking for lunch and went into the living room. She saw her husband in a meditating posture and also saw a gap of ten centimetres between him and the floor blanket. He moved his eyes while still closed and came on the blanket with no gap in between. His eyes opened and he saw her.

Chapter 2

The next day, Vivaswanth got up early, at around 4am from the sleep. He went upstairs from the outside after interlocking the main door. He stood on the terrace with his eyes closed and concentrated his energy. He slowly got lifted into the air and flew away.

In the morning, after she got and freshened up, Geetha went into her husband’s room to see him, thinking that he might be there. Instead, she found a small piece of torn paper on his table. She took the paper and read to herself, ‘Everest, 1 week maximum.’ She thought, ‘Why is he going there?’

In the sky, Vivaswanth kept flying towards North.

Meanwhile, in an army base in Belgium, a man of the rank Colonel spoke, ‘Listen up everyone. An asteroid is going to hit anywhere in Europe, but the probability maximizes to our own country. I want you guys to be ready with all the required stuff, while European Space Agency, ESA, will let us know when it enters the earth’s atmosphere.

Vivaswanth looked down and saw Vindhya Range as he crossed it. He then turned to North-East and continued his journey.

In the ESA, the man tracking the asteroid said out loud, ‘The asteroid is at 234,000 kilometres from the earth and speeding up. It is going to strike at anywhere Belgium within fifteen minutes. Alert them!!’

The Colonel at the army base in Belgium heard his phone beep. He lifted the phone, saw the message and said out loud, ‘Uncover it, and prepare for the launch. We have fifteen minutes left!!’

An officer of the rank Major went from the base into a truck outside it. He started the process of launching and said, ‘Sir, the process has started, but it will take about two minutes at the maximum.

Vivaswanth entered portion of the sky above the Himalayas. After a while, he reached the base of the Everest. He looked up and saw the summit of the mountain. He flew up towards the summit.

Meanwhile in Belgium, the Major in the truck said, ‘Sir, the time of two minutes is coming to an end. Initiating the launch, the countdown begins now. The truck got opened and a missile aligned itself at 45 degrees. The Major said, ‘Three, two, one and initiating the launch.’ He pressed a red button and missile took off.

Vivaswanth kept flying and reached the summit. He got tired and lied on the summit trying to catch his breath and became unconscious.

The missile went through the atmosphere, while asteroid was at an altitude of 1200 kilometres. The asteroid kept speeding up and so did the missile by ejecting its lower empty portion. At an altitude of 700 kilometres, the missile hit the asteroid and broke it into small fragments, each of the size of a small stone which burned before they reached the troposphere.

Vivaswanth opened his eyes slowly and took a deep breath. He stood up on the summit, breathing normally. After an hour, confident of himself, he jumped downwards from the summit and flew home.

He landed on his terrace and took the downstairs to the main door. He was surprised to find his door open and smiled to himself. He went towards the kitchen where Geetha was cooking. Without turning back, she said, ‘You told me that it would take you a week. You came fast than you said.’

You know I was trying to adjust in high altitude for a big upcoming thing. I told a week’s time on the safe side. The food smells delicious, darling.’

She turned around, smiled at him and said, ‘I hope you are hungry because I am preparing a welcome feast for you, my love.’

The couple had their lunch together.

Chapter 3

Geetha woke and freshened up and saw Vivaswanth meditating. She thought, ‘He is on a meditating spree nowadays. I should ask him what is up next.’

After he came out, she asked, ‘What is that you are so concerned about, honey?’

Something big is going to come onto earth. I am gearing up for the same. I want you and Yudhishthira to go Vizag tomorrow evening and for a grand get-together.’

‘What about you?’

‘I will come the next time.’

Meanwhile in ISRO, Sriharikota, a man looking through a telescope make his eyes wide upon seeing something. Unable to believe it, he saw again and gave a shocked expression. He ran out of the room.

As Geetha and her son were travelling in the train, Vivaswanth switched on the TV and saw a channel reporting news via a reporter, who read out, ‘This is deeply frightening to learn of this from ISRO that an asteroid as big as half of India is going to enter the atmosphere tomorrow at around 10pm. It is going to strike anywhere in India, the southern half being the most vulnerable part. Here’s an audio from the ISRO.’

The audio played, ‘We are so sorry to be unable to do anything owing to the size of the asteroid. A missile is ineffective against it and we will have to fire a rocket against it. Even after that, it will break into two which would fall into Pacific and Atlantic oceans and cause mega tsunamis wiping away about half the world. Is it good to launch a rocket which would wipe away half of the world just to save ourselves?’

Vivaswanth switched off the TV and went into meditation. Meanwhile, in India, people have still not given up and went to the temples, churches, mosques, gurudwaras and all the other places of religious significance to pray.

The next morning, Geetha and her son were received by Harish and Vineesha. Yudhishthira played with Sitara, the daughter of Harish for the whole day. In the evening, Geetha’s mobile gave a beep and she opened a message that her husband send her. She saw the message which said, ‘Honey, I love you. You are best thing that happened to me. Take care of him, will you?’

She thought while her eyes moistened, ‘I think I know what he meant.’ She got unwilling ready for the get-together.

ISRO was active with the lights still switched on in the night at around 7pm hoping to witness a miracle.

Vivaswanth wore a track suit and went to the terrace in the dark. There was something unusual about him at that time. There was a golden glow on his face and in all the visible parts of his body. He closed his eyes, concentrated hard. He opened his eyes and all the glow that he emitted disappeared along with him.

The man who tracked the asteroid said, ‘It is 8.30pm now and the asteroid is at an altitude of 2000 kilometres and gaining speed. God, I am so afraid and I don’t know why am I feeling a bit of hope?’

Vivaswanth appeared in the sky distant from the asteroid but nearer to the earth. He closed his eyes and began to concentrate.

In ISRO, The man at the tracker said, ‘Hey heads up! It is 9pm and it seems like the asteroid is losing speed. I want the man at the telescope to see this.’

The man peeped into the telescope and said, ‘He is right guys, the asteroid is indeed losing its speed. Has the gravity become weird all of a sudden?’

Vivaswanth stood still at the height of 600 kilometres with his eyes closed. The asteroid came towards him with deceleration. It came closer, hit him and pushed him away.

The man at the tracker said, ‘Hey it’s unbelievable, the asteroid is still in the air! I repeat the velocity is zero!’

Vivaswanth stopped himself and looked at the asteroid which was in his entire field of vision. He touched it and closed his eyes again and concentrated. The asteroid moved away from him.

The man at the tracker said, ‘Another weird thing guys, the asteroid is accelerating upwards now. Newton must be crying high up in the sky for all his laws of gravity going haywire.’

Vivaswanth stood there still seeing the asteroid going away.

The man at the tracked said, ‘It is 11pm and the asteroid is clear of the earth’s atmosphere. I repeat we are clear!’ The people at ISRO celebrated their joy.

Vivaswanth snapped into unconscious all of a sudden and is completely under the influence of gravity of earth now.

In the news, the reporter said, ‘A weird thing happened today night. The asteroid which was supposed to hit India reversed back into space. The video of the huge asteroid has been recorded by NASA and will be released tomorrow.’

The night was the most sleepless one for Geetha not knowing what happened to her husband. After being unable to sleep for about five an hours, she took the keys of a bike at Harish and Vineesha’s place. She went to Rishikonda beach and parked the bike. She looked at her watch, it was 5am. She walked towards the beach and saw a body of a human distantly. She concentrated on the body. In her vision, she saw the visions of a human slipping into unconsciousness and falling down. She saw the body getting burnt while coming down through the air and then saw a half burnt body hit the shore of the beach. Tears flow from her eyes and she walked towards the body. When she was about two metres away, the human got up and she saw his face covered with sand. A heavy rain fell, wiping the sand off the human’s face. She never felt as happy as she felt now and hugged Vivaswanth warmly. Vivaswanth recalled the words in the inscription on the stone at Chodavaram, ‘Whosoever finds this stone, will do something that others couldn’t. He will also have the danger of facing death twice. I bless the child.’ He thought, ‘It was a boon and that why I was able to heal myself.’

As Geetha kept close to him he looked into her eyes and said, ‘Death is not the end, it is just the next beginning.’

THE NEXT BEGINNING :

sequel to THE GIFT


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