“Yes, that is correct indeed,” she nodded slowly in agreement. She had not thought of it that way. This was what made discussions with him special, even on things he was unfamiliar with. There was always something new to learn or a different point of view, which left you enlightened.
"How are you handling all the data?
“The encoder takes care of that. The photonics quantum information processor is the encoder which encodes all these probabilities as superpositions, specifically within the polarisation states of photons. But that only gives us the data. I'm running some deep inferencing on the q-Pis to process the data. That is how I can reconstitute any possible world from the collected quantum states.”
"So, you are observing a future or futures?" her father stopped smoking and had a small frown on his face as he asked her.
"In a way. This is where the imprinter comes into play. It can bind the probability states to a target. Even a substrate. Or the visual cortex, maybe. At the moment, I've imprinted it on a layer of photoreceptors on an LCD screen. But I'm working on something that would make it more, shall we say, user-friendly?" she said with a gleam in her eyes.
There was more talk about the possibilities of the QSD, but Kauveri did not remember the details, nor did they matter. What she did remember was the pride she saw in her father's eyes at the end, before the call ended. At the end of the day, that was all that mattered.
The apparatus that she was putting together was a prototype. The original QSD predicted a future action, picking it up from all possible future actions. That was mainly because the alignment vectors on the Reiman manifold always looked in one direction. But reversing the direction enabled it to detect concretised past events also. She finished her calibrations and took a deep breath. She needed closure. Her hands trembled slightly as she held up the prototype.
What would she see? How would she feel? With a slight trepidation, Kauveri put on the photonic transference goggles and activated the synaptic imprinter. Unlike normal photons, the photons the imprinter produced contained a lot more information. They were encoded with superpositions of past probability states that the imprinter sampled of the room. The beam of light blasted her ocular nerves and entangled with the neurons in her visual cortex. Chromatic aberration overlaid her perception field. The room seemed to shift between the various versions in discrete temporal steps. She could see ghosts of people coming in and out of the room, mostly her dad, sometimes her mom. At times, she saw multiple overlays in the same space and sometimes it was multiple versions of her dad. One sat in the armchair smoking his pipe, while another was writing equations on the board, while yet another was on the step ladder picking some book from the shelves. Kauveri was overwhelmed with emotion. She was seeing her dad again, alive, at least in relative terms to fixed points of time. The world states flashed past as the goggles tried to index her memories and lock on to a specific moment in the past. She was having trouble remembering clearly. But slowly but steadily the chromatic aberrations and the ghost images were slowly fading. The room became clearer. She saw residual ghost images of a younger version of herself, with her dad. They were talking and walking out of the room. As the room solidified around her, she found herself wondering why the goggles showed her this particular instance of time. Perhaps the goggles dipped into her subconscious and locked on this one. The room, although very similar to the one that she was actually standing in, felt very different, very alive. There was the warmth of use. Momentarily lost in thought, she felt another presence and turned around.
Her dad was standing at the door. He was looking right at her. That was impossible. He shouldn't be able to see her. Bi-directional information transference? Where did the energy come from? He was saying something. But she could not hear him speak.
"Acha, it's me! Kauveri!" she blurted out involuntarily. It was pointless, of course. The goggles did not relay audio information across two universes. As she got up on her feet, he was walking towards her.
"Acha!" she called out and extended her hand.
There was a sudden glitch, power fluctuated and the whole room seemed to shift. Losing her sense of balance, she fell. Reflexively she grabbed onto the nearest object, a hand. She thought, with incredulity, that she felt her father's hand, but could not hold on and fell to the floor.
The goggles had powered off and she was alone in the empty study, the present study. Her breathing was sharp and quick, as she processed the impossible events that transpired. And then she saw the pipe in her hand, her father's pipe, the one that he said he had misplaced somewhere all those years ago.
The door to the study suddenly opened and her mom came in, her face showing concern. She saw Kauveri lying on the floor, trying to pry a complicated looking device from her head and rushed to her side.
"What is this? Kauveri, did you find your father's old pipe?" Her face reflected a commotion of puzzlement and worry. Worry for her daughter and puzzled upon finding the pipe.
Kauveri did not answer. She just held onto her mom and clutched the Castello Bent Panelled Dublin with the fumed rim.
Tears ran freely, now. There was no heaviness in her chest.
You always knew, dad. She was smiling. And you were right. I found happiness from your loss.
1. Achan: Father, in Malayalam language
2. Amma: Mother, in Malayalam language
3. Molé: Daughter, in Malayalam language