The class was eerie quiet. If the human ear had the ability to listen a few notches down, it would easily have picked the sound of heartbeat in this quietness. This was how he liked his class to be. A mathematician by profession, this gave him a sense of power. Power was what he needed in this most important day of his life. He had never felt so alive before. Glancing at the inquisitive looks on the student’s face seated in front of him, he opened his lecture- “Today, we shall learn about the Möbius strip.”
Mundane. That’s what he thought about his job. As a forensic pathologist in a morgue, he dealt with dead bodies day in and day out. In his early days, he used to be panic-stricken seeing the disfigured bodies, with bones sticking out of all the wrong places. The foul stench used to do no good to allay his worries. But now, it was all just a routine. The body in front of him, had his face smashed beyond recognition. Male, mid-thirties, well-built, he started making a mental list as he examined the body. It was a case of a jumper. 10th floor, was written in the accompanying report. Cowardice, he thought. Bravery is going through the hard phase and not being submissive to life.
“A sphere has two sides. An outer one, and an inner one. The door of this classroom has two sides. One side brings you to this dreaded and boring lecturer while the other takes you out to the free world, where you can do anything without any repercussions. Even the books lying in front of you is comprised of pages which has two sides, and they are numbered for your convenience. But, a Möbius strip has only one side.”
Was it really a cowardly act? He replayed the incident back in his mind. He was at his usual hideout spot away from the world’s snooping eyes. Nobody came over here, and that’s why it was perfect. He removed the freshly rolled joint from his pocket and lit it. The first few hits were always the most cherished. Ohh marijuana! What would he do, without its support. His heightened sense of hearing alerted him of approaching footsteps. Who could it be? He dragged his weight, with much effort, behind a wooden box. He saw an elderly man taking gingerly steps towards the railing. Some guy in need of fresh air, he thought. But the guy had other plans. He stepped on the railing, and looked towards the sky. He was about to take his life! Should he do something? But how would he explain his stuttering speech, his red eyes, his… His thoughts was caught short by the man, who, unlike he, didn’t take much time to decide and surrendered his body to gravity. It was not cowardice, it was self defense, he thought. Taking the last few drags, he called Maria.
“A Möbius strip can easily be created by taking a strip of paper, and giving it a half twist. Then you need to join the two ends of the strip to form a loop. Now, this loop will have only one side. If an ant were to walk along the surface of this strip, it will traverse the entire length of the strip on both sides of the original paper and return to the starting point, without ever crossing an edge. Hence, we conclude that the Möbius strip is uni-dimensional with only one side. The start becomes the end, and the loop is completed.”
Maria had just taken a shower, when he entered. He having an extra key to the house was key to their affair. He had a sombre look on his face. ‘Maria,’ he whispered, ‘I guess I saw a man die today.’ That explains the look on his face, she thought. Even while the colour was drained off his face, he looked alluring. Better than her husband, she told herself. She lied to her husband everyday, and she used to lie down with her lover, while he was away. She embraced him and her passion made him forget about the man on the railing.
The lecture on Möbius strip was over. Few of the students told him goodbye. This motivated him further. He had never felt more alive, he thought again. The professor walked up the stairs, and continued walking ignoring the ‘Do Not Enter’ sign. The door hardly provided any resistance, and he found himself on top of the terrace, mesmerized by the view. He heard some scuffling behind, but dismissed it thinking it of as mind tricks. He walked towards the railing and stepped on it. Looking upwards towards the sky he closed his eyes. Scenes of his wife’s body entwined with that of a stranger flooded his mind. That was the final nail in the coffin. Maria, was the last word he ever spoke as his body took a free fall.
The start becomes the end, and the loop is completed.