The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity
- Albert Einstein
Sarala was pleased with Tilak. He never disappointed her. He was audacious and always the first to sign in.
“I appreciate your enthusiasm Tilak, but I would like to hear from everyone”
All replied at once “We are ready”
“Good, hope you all have the same spirit level until the end of the journey”
“But what are we going to search for? Are you going to tell us?” asked a quizzical Mona.
“Of course, I will”.
Sarala gave a dramatic pause and then continued.
“What I have to tell you may sound absurd and bizarre. But you can have my word that it is true. There is an urban legend that King Ashoka possessed a stone that has the power to overrule the World. It has the power to construct as well as to destruct. But out of fear that it may fall in evil hands, he locked it in a wooden case and buried it in some unknown location. Many have gone in search of it and eventually died without getting any closer to the same. But recently, we found something that gives us a proof that such a stone exists, and also possibly the location.”
“Can we have a look at it?” asked Jessi.
“Hold on, I will be back in a minute”
Sarala hurried inside her room.
None of the group spoke a word. It was Riyaz who first broke the silence.
“Hey guys, do you believe this crap?”
“Shh, she may come out any second and do not forget, she has sharp ears” replied a totally annoyed Jessi.
“Don’t shush me. Did you actually hear what she said? A stone that would rule the world. I do not buy it. And if you want to waste your time on such an insane assignment, so be it”
“Hey stop, she is coming”
Sarala came back holding a wooden box in her hand.
“Can someone tell me what this is?”
Goutham was the first to answer.
“A wooden tablet, a medium for writing in the earlier days”
“Good. To be more precise, this is a wax tablet”
She put it down so that all could have a clear view. It had two layers. The outer layer was made out of wood, and the inner layer was covered with wax.
“In olden days, people used it instead of writing on wood. They had a stylus to write with, and since this is written on wax, it could be easily erased and re-written.”
“Like a modern day note book?”
“Exactly, and if you notice more closely, you can see something written on it”
On giving a closer look, they noticed that some symbols were carved in the wax.
“Can anyone identify this?”
“It is Brahmi script” shouted Riyaz
“Brahmi script?” asked a surprised Jessi.
“I guess Riyaz could explain it”
“Brahmi is one of the oldest scripts used in ancient writings. Most of the South Asian languages have their origin from it, including our very own Tamil. One of the most famous inscriptions found, written with this script are the Edicts of Ashoka”
“I believe you could also translate it to the modern English for us”
“Yep, just give me a couple of minutes. May be you could have your coffee, meanwhile I will be done with it”
Leaving Riyaz, the remaining went to the dining room.
“Could you tell us where this was found?” questioned a dubious Goutham
“In the third century BC, there was an ancient city named Ghoripur, in Orissa. But in the twelfth century the city was washed away by Tsunami and it went under the Bay of Bengal. Recently, this wax tablet washed ashore. So, probably the stone was too washed away by the ocean and it is resting somewhere inside. We have got the co-ordinates for the ruins of Ghoripur, located under the sea. And that is were you would start the research”
She sipped her coffee and continued.
“Remember, this will be a secret agenda. You will go there under the disguise of examining the ruins. But all that you would be doing is to search for the stone”
Jessi interrupted “But why can’t we get the governments permission and do it? Why should we lie?”
“Because…what King Ashoka feared of, might come true”
“Do you think this wax tablet may reveal the exact location of the stone?”
“I do not think so. I know it” stressed Sarala.
No one spoke after that and they started drinking their coffee immersed in their own thoughts.
Sarala knew she failed to convince them. She looked at Tilak. He was just staring at some distant object. She thought he was distancing himself from the situation. She wanted to gain at least Tilak’s confidence. Her mind was racing on how to build it.
Tilak could not believe Sarala would have made a mistake. But at the same time he could not believe the existence of such a stone. He was totally confused. Mona was excited as always to visit a new place, but worried with Tilak’s reaction. Jessi was wondering if she should drop out. Goutham was thinking what would be the message on the wood.
“Guys, you should see this” shouted an overwhelmed Riyaz.
All came running to the hall.
“Have you translated it? What does it say?” questioned Tilak.
“Better you see it for yourself”
The translation was written in a bit of paper.
O You Mortal Being
Go No Forward
For Death Will Chase You
Until You Die
Go No Forward
For Death Will Chase You
Until You Die