"Dr. Chandra, Will I Dream?"

Arthur C. Clarke, 1917-2008


I picture them floating through cylindrical black and white chambers, chasing flying food balls like amoeba, orbiting around a marbled cobalt blue hemisphere. In utmost silence they dive into the void—slow-motion underwater ballet for medieval knights—and fix a solar panel or weld an antenna.

Thousands of flickering lights—stars among the stars—surround a crumpled picture. A family of three: the little boy with missing teeth and a crew cut now wears his yellow sleeves rolled up and walks a pretty girl with a pink cardigan down the street. Heavy memories in weightless nights, comforting yet useless to confront the mystery of a deceitfully unwavering crystal ball. How does it feel to see it all—that godly omnipresence from the distant skies—and yet miss every milestone of your loved ones’ lives?

It is an undeniable feat, going where no one had dared to go before. People talk about these travelling heroes from their rocking chairs on cool verandas, watching their own children run and stumble on the grass. Meanwhile, there where they point with dreamy fingers, the loneliness within blends with the outside darkness, and no sun is strong enough to illuminate the spreading black ink of perpetual quietude.

I think I understand them, even though they’re nothing but a blurred sketch in my mind. I do—for in drifting away, I, too, have felt the weight of my heart compelling me back home.