An Alien Hand

Chapter Summary

The story ‘An Alien Mind’ by Jayant Narlikar is about Tilloo a young boy living in artificial conditions with his parents under the surface of “Mars”. Tilloo is a young boy so he was not allowed to go beyond and hence he never witnessed either the Sun or the stars. One fine day, Tilloo’s father went to his work using an underground passage which was forbidden to Tilloo.

One day Tilloo got an opportunity and he stole his father’s security card that granted him access to the passage. He walked along the path but was halted by the security guard and was escorted back home by the same. He came back home only to find out that his mother was furious at him but his father handled the situation calmly and explained to him about his nature of work and also explained to him the situation outside. Tilloo's father told him that he needs an artificial suit, oxygen and other equipment to survive on the surface of the planet, they initially used to live on the surface but the change of nature had forced them to live beneath the surface with artificial conditions and they work relentlessly to keep the pieces of machinery on the surface in working conditions. This situation inspired Tiloo and he wanted to be like his father.

The next day when Tilloo’s father went out to work, Tiloo came to know that there were two spacecraft coming close to them. The president of the planet called for an emergency meeting and decided to watch over the unmanned spacecraft. Tilloo accompanied his father to the control and was watching the spacecraft. An artificial hand approached the soil and was collecting the soil sample. Accidentally, Tilloo pressed a red button from the control panel that stopped the hand from working.

As a result, a press conference was called on Earth as the scientists concluded that it was a sudden malfunction that stopped the machine from working properly, later on, the mechanical hand was made to function properly and scientists reaffirmed that there is no life on Mars.

Tilloo’s Father’s Advise

Tilloo's father advised him to not go to the surface of the earth because the surface of marks would present adverse conditions that are not suitable for survival. Tilloo's father told about the thin air. It will be extremely hard to breathe on the surface and the surface of Mars was presented with a very low temperature. The water on the surface of Mars is frozen, and all the living creatures on Mars have gone extinct due to such extinct conditions. Tilloo would not be able to withstand such conditions without proper pieces of equipment.

What forced people to live in underground homes?

Tilloo’s father said life initially existed on the surface of the earth. Mars sustained life form on its surface for millions of years. But the climate on Mars started to transform and not in a good way. The Sun became too cold, the temperature declined over time, and the air became shallow. Hence, the birds and animals could not survive on the surface and they went extinct. These conditions made the humans live underground and continue with their civilization.

The Spacecraft

The spacecraft was sent from Earth. The purpose of the unmanned spacecraft was to collect samples of Mars’s soil. Often such exploratory missions are carried out from earth.

What did Number One and Number Two suggested?

Number one suggested that they sound to let the spacecraft land on the surface. That would be helpful for them to make it ineffective.

Number two on the other hand stated that they should wait patiently as it would be wiser to not take a rapid decision and reveal their existence to the alien creatures. In the end, the surface showed no signs of life forms on the planet.

What, if anything, might drive mankind to make their homes underground?

The surface of the earth is already experiencing adverse conditions due to global warming. In case this situation continues, people on earth will be forced to live underground with a controlled atmosphere. It will cause a rapid decrease in the population of mankind and most of the other flora and fauna on earth would go extinct.

Do you think there is life on other planets? In what ways are they likely to be different from us?

The Universe is vast; it is quite unlikely that there are no other planets on earth that do not present suitable conditions that will support life forms. Research is being carried out to further explore astrobiology. Spacecraft and signals are being sent out into space to explore any trace of forms.

In case a life form is found it will be quite different from us. The conditions of those planets will vary from ours.


Q1. Why did Tilloo’s family live under the surface?

Ans. Tilloo's family used to live under the surface because of the critical climatic conditions on the surface of Mars. Initially, the climate was favourable for the life forms on the surface but gradually the temperature decreased and the air became thinner. Resultantly, various life forms went extinct and the people on Mars were forced to live underground.

Q2. What job was Tilloo’s father engaged in?

Ans. Tilloo's father belongs to the surveillance team that used to look out for the pieces of machinery on the surface of Mars and maintain them when needed. These pieces of machinery were responsible for harvesting solar energy which is crucial for their survival.

Q3. How was Tilloo’s father equipped for his work?

Ans. Tilloo’s father often had to maintain the pieces of machinery on the surface. Hence he had to wear special warm clothes and carry an oxygen reservoir to work on the surface of Mars.

Updated on: 05-Jan-2023


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