ODD ODYSSEY – by Ron Persaud

Introduction:

The whole plot of this story germinated around the fact that there were two radio stations in B.G. before ZFY. They were coded VP3BG and VP3MR. The two EMF signals that Dlandor picked up were the broadcast signals from them. The idea of an alien slowly distilled after an incident in a City Park. I was spraying a weed killer and used a dye to track where I sprayed; The product got on my hands and colored them. A kid in the play ground exclaimed “Look mom! His hands are green!” I carefully calibrated the situation before explaining, “That’s because I am an alien; I’m from another planet!” His eyes opened wide…and his mother – thankfully – enjoyed the whole thing. And now you know the whole story.

Most of the rest is as accurate as I can recall from my one-year stint as a teacher in the South Rupununi. As an aside, one month was spent at Sand Creek School where Ms. Stephanie Correia AA, was interim headteacher. She was the daughter of Stephen Campbell, Guyana’s first Amerindian Legislator; and I have been a better person because of that.
Cheers to everyone… (Ron Persaud).

 ODD ODYSSEY

By: Ron Persaud  –   rpersaud7@tampabay.rr.com

Towards the end of the Second World War, at a time when everyone’s attention was focused on another continent, the even tenor of the rain forest night in November was deafeningly disrupted as a spacecraft crash-landed through the resilient canopy of greenheart and wallaba trees. It was quite some time before the cacophony of animal noises, splintering timber, stressed metal and crackling fires subsided, during which time Dlandor, the pilot, focused on shutting down the many systems in proper sequence, ever conscious of the fact that in the future he would need many of them and the power to operate them.

So absorbed was he that the strident wailing of his infant son barely penetrated his consciousness as he prepared to leave the space ship but suddenly an emotional maelstrom made him turn and take the three short steps to where his wife, Ixor, was doing her best to comfort their son within the confines of a reclined seat. His grim features softened as he struggled to find an outward expression of his love but in the end he could only raise his gloved hand to his helmeted face and then touch the cheeks of his son and wife – a kiss by proxy- rendered infinitely more tender because of the tense and trying circumstances.

Resolutely, Dlandor headed for the airlock.

His anxiety increased as the door swung outward and downward to form a ramp. He strained every sense to discern some clue that would tell him whether this alien world would be friendly or fatal to him and his beloved Ixor and their precious son, Kampto. He activated the monitor, which would analyze the environment outside his space suit and display the results inside his helmet. As he studied the figures scrolling across the tiny screen, he noted with some relief that the atmosphere was similar to that of his native Xadalanth and that the gravity was less; the thought crossed his mind that Ixor would be pleased with her weight on this planet and he smiled with genuine amusement, the first time in almost seven days.

Finally he opened the valve which would permit the outside air to enter his helmet. A pungency assailed his nostrils and his eyes felt teary but there was no real discomfort as he took a tentative whiff of the air on this planet. He wanted to take off his helmet and shout with joy but years of disciplined training overrode his exuberance.

He had done it! After years of unceasing effort, downright deceit, paying false homage and stooping to despicable depths to win favor and confidence, Dlandor had got on to Xadalanth’s program for exploring space, worked his way up to the position of Chief Astronaut and at the eleventh hour had sneaked his wife and infant son aboard the spacecraft and daringly and single-handedly launched off into space towards Earth.

Earth, the planet that he had studied intensely and secretively; generally at first, and then focusing in on a small country called British Guiana. He had stumbled upon a strong EMF signal while scanning the wavebands one particularly calm night and without knowing why, he had punched the “fix” button on the rediffuser which automatically saved the coordinates of the signal in its gargantuan memory banks. About an hour later he was still trolling the waves when a similar signal again came through but the rediffuser was flashing an amber light indicating that the coordinates were close but not the same. Had it been the same wave the light would have been green and steady. Dlandor stabbed the fix button once more. Two EMF signals so close in wave length and coordinates was sheer luck!

Before he went to bed, he carefully recorded the coordinates and the time interval between the waves. Next day he fed the data into the Agency’s  Magabus computation station and two hours later the printout indicated that both signals had emanated from the same area on the bulge of the third planet away from the sun. Dlandor  secretly tuned two EMF receptors to the frequencies and manipulated an obsolete and forgotten videodrone deep in space to bring up pictures of life on that part of the planet. He listened to the sounds on the receptors and watched the pictures from the videodrone and assiduously he tried to match sounds and pictures. Over time and after much painstaking work, he learned that the little country was called  B.G and it was the only country that spoke the language they called English on that land mass. The neighboring countries used other languages.

There were also remarkable differences in the people of B.G. Dlandor  thought that he could distinguish at least 6 distinct groups judging by the way they looked, dressed (some seemed to shun clothes) and the manner in which they observed every seventh period of light/dark which they called a day. He carefully reasoned that if he landed somewhere towards the south western part of B.G, his lack of language skill and his pronounced Nubian features and stature might him enable him and  his family to blend into this cosmopolitan society.

And now here he was; far away from the inner fear, the outward humiliation and the downright degradation of human dignity which was the terrible symphony of life on Xaladanth under its oppressive and corrupt leader.

The landing of the spacecraft did not go unnoticed. A group of Wapisiana  Indians watched in wonder as the spacecraft, in the manner of a high-flying airplane, descended towards them, glowing brighter and brighter; and the sound, a low hum turning into a banshee wail and then a screaming, earsplitting whine which caused them to fall down prostrate with terror, convinced that the great spirit, Kanaima, was about to destroy the earth and everyone with it. The news spread rapidly, through the “kaiyambeh bush”, as they say in that part  of the world and after that, everyone avoided the area lest they arouse the wrath of the Great One all over again.

This suited Dlandor fine because it allowed him the time to observe and assimilate the culture of the local population. He had landed, more by accident than design, in an area where the forest clad elevations of the Kanuku mountain range rolled out into the open savannah region south of the pristine and ever meandering Rupununi river and from the cover of the forest he could venture out at his own pace, and in comparative safety to learn to live like the natives. He learned how to hunt, fish and “bleed balata”. Fortunately he did not have to worry about food; the spacecraft had been designed for a trip of many light years and the provisioning for the journey was distilled from years of research and field trials across the full spectrum of the physical and behavioral sciences. It took a long time and great effort but gradually Dlandor carved out a niche in the unforgiving forest where he and his family lived in comparative comfort and safety. His greatest reward was intensely personal! Up to this time he had only fantasized what freedom would be like. But the real life experience was vastly more fulfilling than his wildest dreams. Ixor could not herself feel so enraptured with this new life; she experienced occasional yearnings for the life, relations and relationships on faraway Xadalanth . Nonetheless she found an inner peace, basking in her husband’s enjoyment and delight with this strange planet.

For Kampto there was no transition. He grew up believing that he was a native of the British colony and certainly a son of planet earth. But shortly after his seventeenth birthday a sequence of events took place which was to change his life profoundly and  irrevocably. His father fell ill with malaria, a fearsome plague in those times. Sensing that his end was near, Dlandor spent almost a whole month unburdening his soul to his son, in the presence of Ixor  and imploring her to continue the epic they had lived; and charging Kampto to take care of her as long as she lived.

The two of them buried Dlandor in the shadow of the now derelict spaceship. Dlandor had preserved it as shrine and museum and since Kampto had been told of its existence, he had spent many hours examining it and questioning his mother about the events of his early life. Ixor bravely continued from where Dlandor had left off but the death of her beloved Dlandor  coupled with  a deep sense of loneliness sent her  into bouts of deep depression; for the truth was that she never wanted to leave Xadalanth; she never quite accepted this planet and its strange people and even stranger customs.

One day she went down to the creek to wash some clothes and never returned. Her death was recorded as “accidental drowning”, extremely rare among the Wapisiana Indians; up till then there were only two known cases. Kampto himself was never quite sure that it was an accident. He suspected that his mother in a fit of depression may have committed an act of self destruction. These thoughts made his grief almost overwhelming.

Kampto made it known to the entire village that he was going to bury his mother’s body in the “Kanaima field”. They told him about arousing the wrath of  Kanaima and entreated him not to put his life in such danger; Kanaima had painful and uncomfortable ways of putting people to death. He ignored their pleas and buried his mother’s body next to that of her husband as she had asked. He spent 3 days in deep thought and then set off on the “cattle trail”.  The village was not surprised when he failed to return. It reinforced their resolution to avoid an even bigger area of Kanaima land.

Kampto followed the old cattle trail which was used to drive cattle, cowboy style, to the coastland markets. The trail was routed along the country’s southern boundary with Brazil to avoid the country’s three biggest waterways, the Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice Rivers. He found work easily because he was quite skilled at practical tasks. He also awakened to the desire to learn. He read voraciously and was one of the first graduates of the University of Guyana – the name chosen for the country when it became independent. In due course he settled down to a career and got married.

But the realization was dawning upon him that this country too, was becoming very much like  Xadalanth, according to what his father had told him. As he surveyed the deteriorating situation, Kampto reluctantly decided that he too must make an odyssey similar to his father’s, long ago and oh so far away!  As he prepared for this, his biggest challenge yet, Kampto began to have a greater appreciation of his parents’ daring and caring, for their faith in each other, in him and in God. He prayed fervently for divine guidance and also that his parents would be proud of him.

Kampto, his wife and daughter left Guyana and eventually settled in a quiet little town not far from where you live. Indeed he might be your next door neighbor! He will freely admit to being an Alien.

He is quietly amused that everyone thinks that he is merely from another country.

—Post #1162

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