“So you are trying to say that I can actually…?” I asked with so much curiosity and a restlessness was making me fumble at times.
“Yes, I already did a research on this for the last three decades. I am sure Carol, if you try, you can.” Dr. Hutson seemed convinced upon his own theory. Though for me it was still seeming as a silly method of hypnotising or manipulating one’s subconscious mind.
“But, how will I be able to look into the past?” I held still onto my curious questions and added.
“Well! All you need to do is to concentrate.” Dr. Hutson smiled at me softly and replied with the same confidence. He sensed a doubt in my mind for his treatment and added theoretical weigh to his theory. He added, “You see, your mind is a very powerful tool. Every memory has a weight. But that weight depends what intensity your memory holds inside your brain. So if you think hard enough for anyone to think you are in frenzy, then it’s definitely possible to travel back in time to regain lost memories.”
I was suffering from ‘Vascular Dementia’. Since a year it was getting worse and I was under a constant treatment. Daily therapies and medications were healing me somehow. Now that, the incident I completely forgot, that I should have never forgotten, was making me restless. At times I was told that I act like someone else that’s not me.Some called this as earlier symptoms of bipolar disorder that often causes due to loss of certain memories and a hard try to regain them. Dr. Hutson noticed that I was lost in some thoughts, so he cleared his congested throat a slightly bit louder so that I get my sense back at once.
“But there has to be something else too?” I looked at him and asked with a hope to hear everything I have to do to recall that night.
“Yes, there is. There has to be absolute silence around you, nothing to disturb your concentration at all.” Dr. Hutson clarified while gazing into a book. He raised his head, looked straight towards me and smiled.
I wondered what was there to smile about. I had my doubts, this was sheer madness! It was just not possible, breaking all the rules of physics, how can you look into the past?
I was certainly not ready to accept that several things I was forgetting due to the symptoms I was suffering from. Remembering things through the objects or process of manipulating memories was still an acceptable theory for me but by just looking deep into a photograph…!
“Doctor, I still think this is not right. I know you want to help me out. But I don’t think it would be helpful. Since past one week, I am practicing the way you instructed but…” I expressed my difficulties.
“Listen, a photograph ingenuously does something that not even most complex mechanisms fail to do. It captures time. Something that flows, something that cannot be brought back, but a photograph, it captivates time. Thus it acts as a gateway to go back to that time, and revive our memories.” Dr. Hutson explained a simple theory of relativity. Probably this could be the reason photographs from past swifts our memories suddenly to that happening.
In 1975, Craik and another psychologist, Endel Tulving, published the findings of an experiment which defined why is it that we can recall a memory at will from decades ago, and what purpose does forgetting information serve.
Psychologists Roger Brown and James Kulik recognised this memory phenomenon as early as 1977, when they published a paper describing ‘flashbulb memories’ – vivid and highly detailed snapshots created often (but not necessarily) at times of shock or trauma and the same reason that lead a certain memory to be lost forever. Those lost figments could be found with objects, evidences and stuffs or people related to that particular incident. Yet I was getting confused with every word being said. How is it possible to literally enter a photograph and go back in time!
Dr. Hutson continued, “The time that has been captured in the picture is fixed. But that time in our present frame of reference is an event in the past. You may say that this gives rise two parallel time dimensions, one that is going on right now, that is, the present. The other is the stationary one in the picture. And our thoughts, they give you the power to translate between these two dimensions.“
I didn’t know what to say. This seemed like an inconceivable thing to happen. I was getting angry with him. Now days I too was realising that several times I was loosing grip on my anger. But Dr. Hutson seemed so confident and being a psychologist, he exactly knew to control it. I got up to leave. After hearing all these intricate assertions, all I wanted was some rest.
“And one more thing…” Dr. Hutson stopped me.
“Since you are the subject that has to travel, you must be present in the photograph. And the time of the photograph must also resemble the time of the actual incident. Then only will you be able to know who murdered your father.” Dr. Hutson said with one gulp. I left his cabin and headed towards my home.
I was standing on the terrace at my home. It was the right time, around 5 pm. The sky looked so bright and the breeze was chilling. For one split second, I forgot why I was here. This terrace was the same place where my father was murdered a week ago. Cops and extended investigation said that it was a flat case of suicide, but I didn’t believed them. My father was not one of them who could commit suicide. He was a man of headstrong principles and values. He had faced so much in life that nothing in this world could cause fear in his eyes. The whole business empire, and raising me especially when my mother left him for another man years ago, it could not have been done by a man with a fallible heart.
Dr. Hutson was my father’s close friend and like a family to us. When I was first diagnosed by the exaggeratted symptoms of ‘Vascular Dementia’, My dad decided him for my treatment and counselling. He is a renowned U.S.-cognitive psychologist. He came to visit me after my father’s death. When I said that I doubted if it was a suicide, Dr. Hutson asked me to visit his office. And what he told me days ago was way beyond anything to be believed. But then, what could go more wrong? I could give it a shot, though deep inside, I knew that all this would result into nothing.
I disembarked my camera on the ledge and sat down on my daybed. The timer was set, after a fixed time interval, the camera captured the picture, the picture which holds the time, the picture which may unlock the mystery of my father’s murder.
The next day, I had the photograph developed. I was eager to conduct the experiment as soon as possible. So I went straight to my room, switched on a very dim bulb, and looked at the photograph. It was just me sitting on the terrace. I stared at it for a very long time. My mind was still filled with doubts.
“What a foolish idea this is!” I thought and said to myself. I was unhappy that investigation wasn’t in favour of my believes and every single clue was leading the case towards a fatal suicide. I further concentrated more.
I didn’t know what to do except looking at the picture. It was just me, I didn’t see my father, or anyone else. I started thinking why I was doing this! I could be wrong about my theory that he was murdered. I kept staring and thinking about his death. My eyes became watery, my head throbbed, dizziness was taking me over. I kept thinking about him and the moments I had shared with him. The life he gave me was a gift for me and a life time struggle for him. I still remember the time when I got the news of his death — the first time I saw his lifeless body — I was numb with pain.
I thought I was going to pass out. And then, suddenly I felt that I was being lifted upwards, my body seemed weightless though I could see my feet on the floor. I started hearing screams in my head, and all I could see was my father who was smiling at me, the next glance was his lifeless body and his murderer on the terrace.
And then there was all darkness.
I wished I could die. The suffocation was becoming too much to handle. I wasn’t able to breathe — the blinking lights in my head were making me insane. I wished I could make it stop. But I couldn’t — if only I could know what was happening.
The door in front of me creaked. Wait! There was a door? Where the hell was I? I started to get up to see what was happening, but then I realised, I was floating, not in air but in water. I started to swim — I was losing my stamina under the sun. The door ahead was still open — I was sure my answers were hidden behind that mystery door. I kept swimming under the bright sky. The chilled breeze was flowing and making me feel like frozen. The evening was all set at the pinnacle of its beauty. I was getting tired from the excursion. After what seemed like an infinite time, I reached the door. My clothes were drenched with water (or was it all sweat!). The door was held wide open. I went inside to find myself on the terrace of my home. This was strange. I went ahead to see that there was someone standing at some distance. It was my dad!!
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My dad — he looked so alive. I couldn’t control my emotions. I started running towards him. But suddenly a stupendous force hit me. I was thrown backwards. Somehow I got up and started running again. But at the same point as before, something hit me and I failed to move one step ahead. This time, my nose started bleeding. My dad was very far away, he was pacing on the terrace, definitely tensed over something. I was giddy from all the sweat and the blood. I started again to reach my father, if only for once, I can feel him, it seemed a long time ago had I felt his touch.
“Dad! Look over here…” I screamed but I couldn’t hear my own voice. I was almost knocked out. My eyes were filled with stars, everything was zooming in and out of focus. In this frenzy I could still see him talking to someone — probably a girl, tall and in a purple t-shirt. Wait, who was that? They were having an argument, my dad was definitely very angry.
“I told you, You can’t stop me from dong anything!” The lady was loud.
“Sweetheart! You are sick. Go back to bed. We can talk on this tomorrow.” Dad was humble yet frightened.
The lady took my dad by the arm and brought him closer to the ledge. I wanted to save my dad but suddenly I felt the floor beneath me cracking away. I was going to fall down any minute. If only I could see the murderer’s face before I fall down.
Suddenly that stranger purple t-shirt lady pushed my dad over the ledge, and my dad, he was falling — down the 11th floor like a dummy — screaming all the way down. The floor finally gave away and now it was my turn to go. But I kept looking at the stranger who killed my father. The murderer also looked back at me and for one split second. I thought the world had ended, the gravity did its work, I was falling — falling freely with nothing to hold me.But at the last moment, I saw the face, the grotesque visage winking at me. There could be no confusion at all. It seemed I was looking into a mirror kept far away. The other me standing on the terrace turned away, leaving me to fall down to the infinity, as I remembered everything what happened a week ago.
“Hello Carol, what made you come here?” Inspector Broad Mark asked.
“I have something to tell you.“
“Oh please, I told you so many times. Your father committed suicide.” He castigated.
“I have a confession to make. It was not a suicide, I killed my father, pushed him over the ledge. Please arrest me officer.” I told, holding my v-neck purple t-shirt in my left hand and the photograph in right.