By Yoginder Sikand
Raju came back from school very excited. In History class that day he had learnt about miracles that are mentioned in various religious scriptures. Such happenings were brought about by God, sometimes through the agency of noble people such as prophets.
That evening, Raju told his father about what he had learnt in school. ‘Papa! If miracles happened when the scriptures were written, how come they don’t happen now? Or maybe they do?”
Raju’s father didn’t know what to say. Sometimes he wished his son wouldn’t ask questions that he couldn’t answer!
‘How I wish I could see a miracle!’ said Raju.
‘Why, you just might!’, Raju’s father replied, hoping that this would silence him.
‘God, please let me see a miracle! Please! Please!’, Raju prayed before slipping off to sleep.
That night, Raju had a very strange dream. He dreamt of a vast planet”called Metalotopia”located a billion light years from earth and inhabited by very strange creatures. They were made of metal and had metal buttons for eyes and metal sticks for hands and feet. No plants grew on the planet, and there was no water, too. It was pitch dark on Metalotopia, the closest sun being several million trillion light years away!
It was not clear how, but a particularly adventurous Metalotopian travelled all the way to Earth, and guess where he landed? In Raju’s backyard, with a great thud! Raju saw himself rushing out into the yard on hearing the noise, flabbergasted at the sight of the eerie-looking creature from outer space floundering about.
You generally don’t remember every single detail of your dreams, and Raju could not recall how it transpired that he befriended the Metalotopian, but in just a short while he was taking his new companion for a walk in the garden. He recalled, when he woke up the next morning, the Metalotopian repeating over and over again in a daze, ‘I’m in miraculous land! I’ve never seen anything like this ever before!’
The Metalotopian was right! Everything that he saw, as Raju took him, around was, from a Metalotopian point of view, simply miraculous, for no one could ever imagine such things back home: the giant sun (which, he learnt from Raju, was some 330,000 times the weight of the Earth and floated about smoothly in its orbit, something it had been doing for billions of years with unfailing regularity!) the dazzling variety of plants and trees, the little pond with frogs lazing on lotus leaves and goldfish chasing each other.
‘Yet another unbelievable miracle!’ cried the Metalotopian, as he spotted an eagle high up in the sky, dumbstruck at the sight. He had never seen anything like this before! When Raju explained to him how giant trees grew out from tiny seeds, how brilliantly-hued butterflies emerged from seemingly lifeless eggs, how two parts of an invisible gas called Hydrogen combined, one part of another gas called Oxygen, to produce the liquid that he saw in the fish-pond and how human beings extracted various metals from the earth to make different things, he could hardly contain himself. ‘You won’t believe how lucky you are, Raju, living in this world full of such astounding miracles! Everything here is simply amazing! We have nothing like this in Metalotopia!’ he cried out.
‘But what’s so miraculous about this?’ Raju retorted. ‘It’s just all so very ordinary!’
‘You wouldn’t say this if you were a fellow Metalatopian, I assure you!’ the creature from outer space replied. ‘You seem to have got so used to seeing all these miracles everywhere around you that you’ve ceased to regard them as miracles at all!’
The next morning, before going to school, Raju rushed to his father and gave him a hearty hug. ‘Papa! Remember I asked you if miracles still happen? Guess what? I’ve found the answer! They still do!’
‘What do you mean?’ said Raju’s father, rather taken aback.
‘Everything around us is a miracle, Papa. It’s just that we so take it all for granted that we don’t realize how miraculous they are! We wouldn’t do that if we were Metalotopians!’
‘Metalotopians? What’s that?’ Raju’s father asked.
‘Getting late for school! I’ll explain it all in the evening’, Raju said as he raced out of the door. Raju’s father laughed to himself. ‘That child of mine is really wise! That an old fool like me got a son like him is definitely a miracle!’