Aga was a spoilt boy, everyone believed it yet no one had ever dared to speak up. Being the only son of a billionaire, he had every privilege that one could think of.
From the fastest racing cars, beautiful, majestic villas, farmhouses, private aeroplanes to yachts, sometimes it was difficult for him to pinpoint what he needed next.
The only new invention that struck his mind was time travel. In the twenty-third century, Visual reality was the thing of the past. An opportunity to travel back in time, to lead life hundreds of years before, was a talk of the town. It was a fascination hard for him to resist, different from any other holiday destination. Especially when he was one of the few ones to afford such a luxury.
His family was somewhat reluctant to allow him. They argued he was too pampered, too privileged to survive. With much persuasion, persistence and assurance somehow the permission was reluctantly granted.
Much curious and excited that he was, Nowhere was he close to being mentally prepared to what he was about to witness next.
In the presence of many scientists, he was mounted on a chair, made to drink a tea, after which he lost consciousness.
When he opened his eyes next, Aga found himself sitting on a street, surrounded by many people. Strange simple faces, plain outfits, with care and concern in their eyes.
They hailed to see him regain consciousness as they had been trying to revive him for a while.
‘How are you young man, where are you from, you look dehydrated, here have some water’.
They passed on something like a bag made of animal skin, while Aga looked in astonishment they helped him drink some water from it.
Aga was surprised not only he understood their language, but he was also able to speak it.
‘I am a traveller, I seem to have lost my way. What is this place?’ He enquired.
‘Brother, you are in Istanbul, a land of dreams.’
Aga looked around to find a number of easily identified engineering marvel, including Hagia Sophia. It did not take him long to realise he was in the sixteenth century.
‘Can I find a place to stay’? He asked.
‘I want to do some work and earn my living. Does anyone need some help’? The question somehow shocked himself more than others.
‘What can you do young man, are you an architect, scribe, animal tamer, cook or painter? What are you good at’?
The question left Aga speechless. For the first time reality struck, he had no survival skills at hand. He was a lazy brat who did nothing other than bossing around.
‘I can tell stories, stories of a land far away, where people stand, while the way moves and takes them up, down all around. They fly in steel birds and travel on steel carts. They can talk to people thousands of miles apart just by the click of a button. They can also send and receive emails in a glimpse’.
As he stopped he looked around. The entire mob was listening to him in amazement. With their eyes wide open.
Enchanted by his fantasy, a boy came forward. ‘You are welcome to come along with me, my father is a storyteller. He knows stories around the world. He will be so happy to listen to you’.
They sat on a horse and rode to his house. The market place looked simple, yet busy. There were fishmongers, spice shops, pickled and dried fruits of all kinds and carriages pulled by four stallions.
He saw bakers baking bread, drunks winding through with a bottle, toppling on everything that came there way. There was a mad man shouting at the top of his voice while people tricked and laughed at him. He also witnessed people heading to the mosque on the call of prayer.
From narrow alleys and closely built wooden houses, they stopped by a house. The family welcomed Aga wholeheartedly as if he was a lost remember within them.
It did not take Aga long to captivate the family with his stories. From a stranger, he was soon part and parcel of the family.
That was not the only strangest thing of all. The food was cooked three times a day, with fresh eggs, garden vegetables and fresh meat. The taste, the aroma, the flavour of the food was unlike anything he had witnessed.
Was it the reason there were no snacks, no variety, no choices or simplicity.. since fridge, freezers were out of the question, the food was made in less quantity, enough to suffice at one time. Any extra food was distributed around.
What surprise Aga was that there was hardly any use of medicines. No indigestion, no acidity, no Bowel syndrome. Most of the times, in the name of medicines, certain pouches were opened by the ladies. With dried herbs, powders and sticks, a cure was consulted with old members of the family.
Oil was massaged on the head and the skin to keep it nourished. Despite no fancy bath bombs, emollients, scrubs and soaps, Aga was surprised people had very few complaints.
Aga worked hard. He took any work that he could get hold of. The building task was the most difficult. Huge mosques, castles and magnificent buildings were art of beauty. Despite no camera and photocopy, the architects drew beautiful sketches with a pencil. Without any heavy vehicles, elephants, horses and donkeys were made use to carry wood, stones, glass and marble.
The inside of the buildings had beautiful glass structures, so when the sunlight dropped, it lightened up all the surrounding inside, without leaving a glare. The buildings were high and curved so even a whisper could be felt like an echo… an adjustment to the lack of microphone and sound system.
In order to study from the architecture of other countries, apprentices were sent via sea or on horses in the neighbouring or the faraway countries. Apart from the enemy countries, borders were usually opened. The apprentices roamed around the cities, learned another language, with a pencil sketched the buildings they wanted their architects to see. With a prism-like glass, they would see the amount of light being reflected. Something was thrown from the top to find the amount of noise it generated to learn the sound mechanism.
Such simplicity and such art and beauty. The grandeur, the creativity, the authenticity and the amount of dedication and hard work that went into the buildings was out of this world.
Although people were generally hard-working, there was no technology, no intertwining wires of smart devices, that invisibly strangled the humans too. One thing people were afraid of was the plague. It used to start as swelling in armpits, thighs and necks of the patients, the ominous sign led to boils all over the body, followed by fever and vomiting.
Other than the plague, famine and drought were also a frightening experience, so the people told Aga. When he worked hard as a labourer, animal tamer, a helper at the dungeons to keep criminals in the most wretched conditions, as an innkeeper and also as a storyteller.
In a little period, time taught him that what he could have never learnt. He liked the fact that talented people were keen on imparting the knowledge to those who seek, without asking anything in return except dedication.
What exactly was talent, he learnt there. How power and greed brought about the brutality to kill one’s own brothers gently, opened his eyes. The aftermath of wars was a disturbing sight.
He learnt how to fight, how to save someone, how to support others, how to build friendships and how to be clever around enemies.
Aga realised there were no multinational companies, playing with the minds and the psychology of people, alluring them to feel that emptiness without their products. Making people realise how badly they needed an upgrade. He felt that solace, that peace and comfort that rests in the heart when one stops running around the pool of desires like a mad dog.
He could not see around any signboards, displayed items or advertisements, yet life went on more satisfied and happy.
At night, with no nights parties and speed drive, he enjoyed sitting under Murano-glass oil lamps and mirror globes hung on the ceilings of the buildings. He could see ostrich eggs, painted, decorated and suspended from iron hoops to ward off spiders with peculiar smell. He could see ivory miniatures within glass globes. When the lamps burned the mirrors reflected there light, Aga could not believe how enchanted and magical it felt at night.
During the day, while sitting on the seaside, watching the ships taking passengers, transferring goods and animals was quite a sight. People talked about the storms, the sea robbers and the places possessed.
Seaside was the main gateway to trade: which made the city busy around itself. In that hustle and bustle of the trade, it was fun to see the seagulls who soared in the sky, trying to get the fish from the fishermen’s basket.
One night when Aga slept, he woke up to find himself back in time. His heart skipped a beat. Pleased to find his family around and sad for the friends he had left behind.
When everyone surrounded him to ask about his journey, he could only think of one line,
‘Time is the best teacher’.