. . . She didn’t hear the click of a lock when he closed the door behind him but she knew she was a prisoner here. Deciding against testing to see how much freedom she really had she lay on the bed to sleep, perhaps to dream, to await as events unfold.
She couldn’t be sure if it were part of dream or if she pulling up memories but sounds of the boys twittering were filling her head. She awoke. Unsure of what had happened or, if, anything had happened but there was the feeling of distant discovery running through her. What can this be? What had happened while she slept? She had been somewhere. She had been somewhere far, far, away – too far away to put a label on it. Too far to touch, to identify, to find again even. Where had she been?
“Come in please,” she said when there was a polite tap on the door. The Air Marshall’s face appeared. “Oh, hello. I had been sleeping. Sorry, I was far away.”
“In that case please excuse my for interrupting your slumber.”
“Oh, no, you are not interrupting – I was awake when you knocked.”
He nodded. “I’d like you to join me for dinner – nearby. There’s an hotel with a half decent restaurant quite nearby. Say fifteen minutes?”
“Oh, please, make it five. I never need more than five minutes.”
“Very well than.” He bowed and left.
“You are fond of Indian food,” he asked as they sat at a table for four with an immaculate white cloth.
“I am, very much so, although I suspect I’m fond of western Indian food – the sort of Indian food I would prepare.”
“That sounds like the best of both worlds. Let’s hope the food here is to your liking.
She had only to eat and to admire the excellent service as it was clear that he had planned the meal carefully, leaving only his probing conversation with which to deal. “Your mother is a friend of the President of India I understand.”
She smiled and nodded.
“Was she was also a friend of the previous President?” She nodded. “And the one before that?” He sat back as she nodded again. “She would be a great age than?”
“Yes,” Meira agreed, “she is – by modern standards.”
“Modern standards being three score and ten?”
“We do a little better than that now. Many live actively into their nineties. Our predecessors – our ancient predecessors, developed lives much longer than currently.”
“How much longer?”
“Six or seven times longer.”
“People lived for six hundred years?”
“Oh yes. Catherine, one of my direct ancestors, was more than seven hundred years old before her body failed her. An amazing woman.”
He thought for a moment of two. “You seem very sure.”
“I am. I’m certain”
“How can you be? Where’s the evidence to support such a view.”
“Oh it’s not a view. It’s a memory. I have much of her memory in my own. That’s what we do, we Matriarchs – we hand down our memories.”
“And archaeological evidence. Where is that to be found?”
“Probably under our feet. This part of the planet was populated by some of the earliest migrants out of the Indus Valley.”
“Surely if it was there it would have been found by now.”
“No. It’ll be far deeper than any archaeologists have ventured. We spend our time counting money – counting costs in monetary terms so the money runs out before the important evidence is revealed. Short term thinking is all we’ve ever done since the cataclysm some twelve thousand years ago.”
“Are you saying that before the cataclysm, before the great floods, there was a more sophisticated society?”
“Oh, yes. Up until that time humans had developed continuously – not linearly you understand – Life has always evolved in fits and starts, but continuously one way or another. We reached the point when the female line began to dominate the leadership around one hundred thousand years ago.” She paused as she read the incredulity passing his eyes.
“At that time,” she continued, “hominids had been in the Indus Valley for eighty thousand years or more – plenty of time to graduate from hunter gatherers to farmers and solar engineers. Much of the apparent mystery surrounding monoliths and megaliths disappears when you realise they were solar devices. They were the earliest attempts to store the heat of the Sun.”