Odep sighed, ‘What I am trying to discover is what we have lost in this journey. This is not to say that the past was better or that we are doing something wrong. But, as a species, if we have gained unending life, we must have lost something. That is what I want to identify. That is why I have decided to make my time finite and see how I live differently. And I have realized that as my body gradually deteriorates, the desire to have a creation has started taking root inside me. That is why, Ime, I would support Radul’s stand of opening the debate on the moratorium. We need to start talking about creations. We cannot let that fall out of our sight. I think the urge to create is something we have lost in our journey. As I said before, destruction and creation is a rhythm of the universe. Our way of life has brought a long pause in destruction so we have lost the urge to create. I guess there must be other things, other yearnings that we have lost as well. I want to understand that loss. Maybe there is something that is worth reviving, worth looking for. For me, creation, for one, is worth reviving.’
After listening to Odep, Valhan found himself agreeing with Ime. Odep, with all his knowledge and his brilliance, was on completely another track.
‘Odep, for a moment, let us keep this thought of loss and gain aside. If we do not find nepo reserves on Tai and we are unable to come up with a substitute readily, do you think it is time to go for a last push against the gynake?’ Valhan was taken aback by his own question. He realized that this thought must have been lurking somewhere within his subconscious for it to have come out with such ease.
‘Imagine, Valhan, our planet without the gynake on the other side of the Fence. How would it feel? If we nexed that species and were on our own on Elone?’ Odep threw the idea before the other two and waited patiently for their responses. Elone, their beautiful planet, would belong entirely to them. Valhan thought about Elone’s serpentine rivers, the majestic mountains, the lush trees and the endless seas—it would all be theirs to enjoy. They would have access to the unused reserves of nepo and would also get their hands on the substitute the gynake had developed. There would be no need to maintain the Fence and the Unumo. Men would be free to create, to exist and live without the spectre of the gynake hanging around them.
‘It would be the right thing, Odep. This planet is ours and we should own it completely,’ Valhan felt a strange sense of relief as the matter clarified in his mind.
Ime remained quiet and looked at the twinkling galaxies visible through the telescope. He had been tracking the stars and planets for so many zacs. Each time there seemed to be a semblance of a transmission or any sign of life from anywhere, he would get excited. But there had only been false signals. There was a thundering silence in the universe all around them, there seemed to be no signs of any kind of life present anywhere. As far as his knowledge went, they were alone— apart from the gynake—in this unending cosmos.
‘All I know, Odep, is that if we vanquish and destroy the gynake, we will be all alone. And at least for me, it is a rather disconcerting idea. I think we should be exploring ways of sharing our respective knowledge rather than aiming to annihilate each other at regular intervals.’
Odep looked at both the men with their diametrically opposite views as they stood together, but were not looking at each other. Odep’s questions had opened a wedge between Ime and Valhan that they, themselves, did not know existed.
‘Remember, Valhan, I told you nearly the same thing on that ledge the other day. The gynake are the only similar species that we know of in this universe. We have lived with them across the Fence for a long time now. In fact, we lived with them on Earth, and we came to Elone together. There must have been something that tied us together. I think that is also lost to us now; lost to both of us. We have never stopped to look for that bond, never questioned the roots of the animosity that plagues us today. But the knowledge that we shared an intertwined existence is still with us. I agree with Ime—we should not lose them…not now, not ever. As for this planet, Valhan, it belongs to them as much as it does to us. We should acknowledge and accept this fact. solutions to the problems of men need to be found in this framework.’
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