Good old Clive
The usual Friday evening, I was swimming and enjoying the skill I developed last year. Simple doggy style makes me feel good, while the freestyle makes me pant in one length — I don’t know butterfly, breast stroke or any other advanced style, and so I stick to the elementary way; it takes away most of my unwanted thoughts, forces me to be in the present and allows me to charge up for the weekend.
Kids on my right are floating on their backs, I know I can’t do that, but I don’t feel bad, I know I will learn to do that someday, I’m not in any hurry. Laura, the instructor, is walking back and forth, giving them a nudge when they need it. Other swimmers on my left are doing butterfly, and I don’t see any familiar face. Beyond the pool, towards the right, I see the bald old man, sitting casually in the Jacuzzi — arms spread out and relaxed, making small talk with everyone near him. I don’t know his name, but we have spoken a few times. We know each other by this Friday evening ritual.
Jacuzzi seems crowded, four people with their colliding legs, I continue to swim.
Kids have learned their lesson, and now it’s time for them to dive into the pool. I get out, and enter the Sauna room next to the Jacuzzi, the old man waves his hand and I nod with a smile.
The steam room was on a high, a small blurred room; I took my seat and couldn’t see the faces of other people in the room, just the tip of their toes or knee caps or some skin on their arms was visible. Using that information, my mind had to guess I was sharing room with a beautiful woman, well built guy or a bulky middle aged man. The silence was beautiful. The warm steam was refreshing. The guy occupying on one of the the corner seats left, and I took his seat and stretched my legs. I stared at the white led bulb which had two concentric shadow circles formed around it. The steam danced around the bulb and it was pleasure to watch it with a clear mind free of thoughts.
Eventually I made my way to the Jacuzzi and sat on the left of the old man. It wasn’t crowded, three people.
After the usual How are you, he asked with a clear voice,“Looking forward for the weekend?”
“Not much with me, just going to chill and read, how about you?”
I adjusted my position, to make myself comfortable; now, two water jets touching the ends of my back with a gentle force.
“I have an important meeting this weekend… tomorrow in fact”
“What is it about?”
“It’s at the church. We are going to meet to decide how should be spread the Gospels of Jesus.” At this point, my mind has been trained to not listen carefully, but his faith and enthusiasm made it very difficult not to listen. He said, so and so, and ended with,“It’s going to start in the morning and go on till tea time. It’s just coming up with a few sentences, but it will be interesting…”
I knew how difficult it is to come with a few good sentences, and even harder if you want to pursue people, I said,“But, it would be really crucial to get those sentences right”
He didn’t get it, because of the word crucial, even after I repeated multiple times; instead, he replaced it with important, and I nodded along.
“Your work is good? What do you do again?”
“I write software — ”
“Yes, you told me…”
“You know Disney?”
“Yes, yes, I do”
“You also might know ESPN, the channel on TV?”
“Yes, I do, but is ESPN owned by Disney?”
“Yes, and I have been working for their app, ESPN plus, which was released yesterday. You know how everything is going towards Internet. So in the coming years, people would cut the [cable] cord and only use Internet to stream everything. ESPN just launched their app, so people can stream on the Internet”
I remembered how I told my mom yesterday about it, and she wondered what my contribution was: I had said, like a pawn on a chess board, and then corrected it — realising the pawn has a significant role — to a soldier in a battle field.
He said with a happy face,“This sounds interesting, how long have you been doing this?”
“You mean software? Or Disney?”
“Working here [Manchester], for Disney?”
“One and a half years…they have been buying companies and my company was also bought as they were growing very fast. It was supposed to happen slowly, but things happened quicker than we had thought…”
“All this, within your one and half years?”
“Yes, I have been supposedly lucky. Things work out well for me…”
I asked him if he used a smart phone. And then we talked about Apple, Android and which is more widely used. After a while, he asked,“Do you think, one man will be able to control everything? The entire world through this Internet?”
Does he know about the Facebook thing going on? Or is he actually curious? He seems afraid that might happen?
“That will likely not happen, as you and many others are aware of this fear, the majority and government will prevent it from happening. To give control in hands of one person. You know about the Facebook Debate which is going on?”
He shook his head, which was strange, because I thought he did, but when I began to explain, he recalled seeing it on TV or news channels.
“Facebook was becoming a kind of Monopoly, and hence government has intervened to protect users, its citizens. Zuckerberg, the one person was becoming so powerful to own the complete social network, and so…”
He repeated the name of Zuckerberg and nodded.
“User data should not be with them, it should be with the users, and that’s where it should ideally live. The power should not be at one place, but be decentralised…so whenever company becomes very big, like a monopoly, government will break it down”
After a few seconds, he spoke and his next few sentences were strangely fascinating…
“You know how Jesus is going to come back. I and many other millions of Christians believe, it’s time for him to come back… There is mention in the bible of this one man, who has complete power of this world; He is called Man of the Lord (or Lordness)”
I was wondering about his fear of single person control, but he is one of those from the other sides, who wishes his new Jesus to be the single person who has the complete power of the world. At the same time, my mind was getting the image of Ayn Rand’s idealist character John Galt, and Archimedes quote, Give me a lever long enough, a fulcrum to place it and I shall move the world.
“If there is this Internet and every one is connected, then it might be possible. Cash might be still a problem…” and he got lost wondering how that one person would control people if they have cash in their pockets?
He recalled something,“There is mention of this mark [he showed some random spot on his arm] in last chapters of bible, about this mark, it can be the chip, with which He will control the world…”
Black Mirror came to me, and I wondered if his idea is coming from there.
“This all has been written thousands of years before… and is likely to happen. He will return”
“Is this person going to be from this world, our living world? or from outside?”
“Jesus will be a human, he is born or not, that we don’t know, maybe he already is…but he will return, a world war or maybe something huge will happen and everyone will be fed up by the government and their lives, and then he will restore the human life…”
“And when that happens, you will remember, that old man had said so in 2018, in Kingfisher Club. That Jesus will return. You will remember…”
“I surely will!”
“I will take your leave”
As I stood up, he turned towards me,“I forgot your name?”
I said my name, we shook our right hand and his name was Clive…