I look at you, brown little baby squirming underneath the blanket, and am overcome with an eclectic mix of emotions, ranging from happiness to dread, wonder to melancholy, and from feeling blessed to feeling enraged. You have nothing to do with what I feel right now, but your entry into this accursed world changes everything.
You are going to bear the torch on behalf of the human race, going forward. It is going to be a lonely journey for you as you grow up. You will go to play school, but there will be no one to play with. You will be looked at with curiosity and astonishment by everyone you pass. Some might even get angry on seeing you. After all, your presence will only make them confront their personal failures and make them angry at themselves, and in turn at you. As a result, you will find yourself surrounded by gun-toting security force every waking minute of your life.
You will be subjected to a lot of medical tests, scores of doctors and scientists will pore over every living cell in your body and analyse everything that comes out of you. You can take solace from the fact that I will be a part of this team of lab-coat clad bastards who’ll be monitoring every beat your heart makes and every breath your lungs take.
You will grow up realizing that you are not like others around you. You will be shorter and stockier. Your forehead and nose will differ from everyone else. Maybe, you’ll be smarter than everyone or maybe you’ll not. It will not matter.
At some point, you’ll resent being born. You will place the blame squarely on my chest for bringing you into this children-less world. You’d never believe me if I told you that I am not your father, but it’s true and I can prove it. Your father has been dead for at least fifty thousand years. My dear baby boy, you are the first live Neanderthal in fifty millennia.
You see, some two hundred years ago, a deadly virus plagued us, the Homo sapiens, and left all the male fragment of our species sterile. The idiots we were, drunk with our own delusions of grandeur, didn’t even realize that something had gone awry for the first few decades. It was China’s removal of the limitation on the number of children allowed per family that set alarm bells ringing. That, and the sudden increase in the number of fertility clinics all around the world which made us understand that there was a very real possibility of humans facing extinction unless we rallied fast.
And rally we did! Over the last hundred years, we have done some outstanding work in genetics. We have discovered the cure for most diseases, we have slowed down ageing and our work on artificial insemination is truly ground-breaking. We have enough nanobots swimming inside each human that would put the viruses to shame. We have also made huge strides in human parthenogenesis, the process of asexual reproduction in which the embryos are developed and grown without fertilization, though success is still few decades away.
We have tried all the tricks ever known to us and every trick we could conceive. Nature has a great way of bringing its creations to heel. Yes, I’m talking about the sixth extinction. It is very real and it is right around the corner. Every male child born through artificial insemination turned out to be sterile as well. A world filled with fertile women and sterile men cannot exist for long. Forget about biology, I’m talking about us, the men, losing our alpha status in the society. The world has not been a very comfortable place over the last few decades because of this very reason.
That’s where you come in, my greatest accomplishment and our species’ salvation. I’m sure you’d grow up and ask me one day why there aren’t more of you around. I have no definitive answer for that question. Your species were around for thrice the amount of timescale than that of ours. Yet, some fifty thousand years ago your father and his kinfolk ceased to exist. Was it because the Homo sapiens absorbed the Neanderthals as they multiplied or was it because that my forefathers committed a mass genocide of yours? If the latter is true, it will be a great way to even the scores. That the future of the human race being entrusted to the representative of the species they eliminated would be the greatest joke nature would play on us.
I sincerely hope that in the past the Neanderthal race got absorbed into the Homo sapiens. That would solve a lot of problems, some biological and some moral. Supposing you grow up to be fertile and if your DNA could be used to create a new fertile life, that would be the most undeniable proof that Neanderthals and Homo sapiens interbred with a lot of success all those years ago.
The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it. That’s what we are striving to do now. To right our wrongs. To be more understanding, to be more accepting. To look forward to a new day when our species will continue along with our long lost cousins. And, I’ll be there with you every step of the way. I told you that I’m not your father, but know this – you will always be my son.