He was delivering the lecture to a packed audience, when his smart-phone pinged inside his jacket-pocket. Nonetheless, he continued with his presentation. At the end, he received a standing ovation for his brilliant presentation. Coming out of the lecture-hall, he grabbed an empty chair along the wall of the long corridor, took out his smart-phone, and began reading the latest messages. There was a long one from Dr. Barry Burton, the chief clinician of the human trial program. In a preliminary report, he had delivered the good news of observing the drug’s effectiveness in the majority of the participating patients. However, then came the disturbing part. Many treated patients were also succumbing to temporary dementia. And as the treatment had progressed, this dementia became severe. Stunned Prof. Wood realized that somehow this new medicine was also entering into a patient’s brain to affect the region responsible for one’s memory.
Dejected, he came out of the building and decided to explore the city. He remembered his late grandfather, early in his career, was stationed in Madras in colonial times and kept a detailed diary of everyday life. Specifically, he had mentioned about a colorful market on Mahabalipuram Road. Prof. Wood managed to locate the market, entered through its main gate, and magically got transported to a past world. Every little stall, selling anything from needle to haystack, appeared the same way as his grandfather had described. He found the flower shop with a young lady inside, writing on an old-fashioned ledger, while sitting exactly in same pose, described in the diary. The only difference was her simultaneously watching a show on her smart-phone screen.
They exchanged pleasantries, when the young lady introduced herself as Seema Rajan. She was a college student helping the long-running family-business in her spare time. Prof. Wood mentioned his grandfather’s diary. Seema responded that the lady in the diary must have been her late great-grandmother. Then, with a chuckle, she pointed to her smart-phone and announced “The difference you see lies in this gadget of modern invention of communication that now binds our ancient civilization.”
Later that evening, Prof. Wood would begin to formulate new scientific theories how to circumvent the side-effect seen in the clinics in the battle against a scourge to humanity.