Sunday, February 11, 2007

Mahatma's own country... (Part IV)

I woke up to the sound of waves crashing to the rocks. Wind was blowing hard and the nature was showing its fury. I had a slight cold and even though Jenny told me to take some rest today, I went to my computer room. The noise of wind took me to Miami, where I landed with $5 in my pocket...

Mr. Joydas Ganguly, a jolly bengali professor, came to pick me up at the Miami International Airport. I went to work from the very next day. Life in America was good. My research work kept me busy. Although there was intolerance for having different political views. Communism was a no-no word and even though I had minor arguments with my fellow professors about the same, I kept my views to myself. I was a guest to the country and was always conscious of the fact. As the time passed, my promise to return to India, was relegated to obscure part of my brain. My research work took most of my time until I met Jenny.

Jenny and I had opposing views on a number of issues but always respected each other's opinions. It was that respect for each other which lead us to marriage. We had a baby boy with my blue eyes and her nose, a year later. Day to day life kept us busy until the day I got that letter.

A letter from India. There was no name of the sender only a faded print of Indian post on a stamp of Bapu. I opened it up without any curiosity. It was a handwritten letter on the Government letter pad. On the top it was typed in blue ink, Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India. It was signed by Homi J. Bhabha, Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission of India. The initial part of the letter was a formal introduction to himself, although I knew Mr. Bhabha from pre-Independence days, when I considered him to be my Draunacharya. The last paragraph of the letter was directed to me...

I know you have been doing research in Atomic Energy field. It will be my honor if you could come back to your country to serve it further. I know that you have already given a lot to the country but your country needs you back...

I didn't had to read any further before I told Jenny that we will be moving to India in a month. It was my time to fulfill my promise. I wrapped up my research work in US before taking the flight to my country.

India hadn't changed much in last 10 years except that corruption and bureaucracy was visible everywhere. I had to fill a 10-page form just for the re-entry into my own country and the immigration officer still expected some chai-panni, for faster process. I took the tonga to the research centre where Mr. Bhabha himself came at the door to receive me. He gave me the keys to the guest house and showed me around the research center. I came to work the very next day.

Mr. Bhabha called me to his office the first day of work and told me about his vision and ambition, to make India a truly independent state by exploring nuclear energy. He told me to help him establish research labs all over India. It was a big responsibility considering I was the youngest person in the organization but I took it as a challenge. It was after I started working there that I was exposed to a new malice in Indian society, casteism.

Atomic Research Centre was dominated by Brahmin South Indians from Subramaniums to Swamys to Balakrishnans. I was the only non-Brahmin Punjabi among the top ranks. I was never given the kind of respect that one expected from such position. There were a lot of things that made me an outsider. Firstly, I was the only one who came from outside India, I was the youngest among the lot, I was given a big responsibility at such a young age, I was not a yes-man to Mr. Bhabha and I was still the favorite of Mr. Bhabha. Infact, Mr. Bhabha used to call me his blue-eyed punjabi scientist. All this didn't go well with the neo-conservatives that were in the research center. I was challenged on a number of issues and when I spoke against them, I was called a rebel and trouble-maker. I was fighting bureaucracy and casteism half the time. I kept working against all odds and helped create research centers all over India but the constant fight for recognition was taking its toll on me.

I went to Mr. Bhabha and told him that my job was done. I told him that I was a scholar at heart and it was about time for me to return to the quiet life of US to do more research work. I had served my country to the best of my ability. Mr. Bhabha was a fair man and knew about my struggles. He told me that he will make sure that my journey back to US would be without further hitch. And then he asked me for a favor.

"Can you do me a favor?", he asked politely.
"It will be my honor, Sir", I replied.
"There is an intern who joined recently for some experience. Can you take him in your wing by the time you wait for your visa"
"Sure sir and Thank You for giving me the opportunity to come back and serve my country".

The intern joined in the next day. He was a very shy young man but very bright. He had a twinkle in his eye that reminded me of my earlier young days, when everything was possible. He would come on time everyday, get instructions from me and by the end of the day complete his task with utmost sincerity. At times he would spend his nights in the institute. His dedication to work was infectious. Working with him was one of the best experience of my time in the institute. I wanted to train him further but my plans my changed suddenly.

I was attending a Diwali function when I was introduced to the Canadian high commissioner. I told him about my plan to move back to US, when he took me to a corner.

"How much time will it take you to go to US", he asked.
"The visa takes about 3 months, so 2 more months at the very least", I replied.
"Can you please come and meet me in the office tomorrow. I may have a proposition for you", he said while passing me his card.

And so I went to meet him next day with Jenny. He told me that his Government will be honored if I could instead come to Canada. He can arrange my visa in a week, if I was ready. I looked at Jenny, she nodded and we were on our way to Canada within 10 days.

As I was switching through the TV channels, I stopped at CBC news. The host was talking about the visit by President of India to the nation's capital, Ottawa. And there he was, shy young man, Abdul, taking the royal guard of honor. It was a proud moment for me...

(To be continued....last part coming soon)

Garden of Love...a new picture up @ kaarindah...

12 Comments:

Anonymous Mehak said...

Mez first this time!!!

post the last part soon.

10:23 PM  
Blogger The Bhandari's said...

already mehak has marked her entry :D

10:27 PM  
Blogger The Bhandari's said...

little bit confused with the post so me waiting for the last part now, pls post it soon
:)

10:36 PM  
Blogger Sadik said...

Hello again...

why so surprised my friend... if someone is not commenting, u can never be sure that he's not visiting!

but yeah it's been a long time since i commented.. yesterday was the first time i commented on a blog after more than a year...

anyways... hmmm the story is going well.. but let me say the events are too fast-paced and dont really seem convincing.. for instance, all of a sudden on a letter from bhabha he suddenly left US... it aint that easy... is it? and what abt Jenny.. come on man the guy married her.. at least say something abt her!!!

but hey crticisms notwithstanding... i love the setting and the idea of a nuclear scientist... let's see, i wanna knw what happens.. and who's Abdul???

12:34 AM  
Blogger Fuzzylogic said...

Hmm..I perhaps would have liked if he had not given up so soon on the fight and decided to come back.Anyway its taken an interesting turn:)Get the next one soon:)

12:54 PM  
Blogger Colors said...

Hi..managed to sneak in a read during work hrs but couldnt comment. So am back again.

Cant wait to finish up the story so that I get a better idea regarding the story on the whole. But u have written well, the narration and all is pretty good!

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Juneli said...

in a short, you tried to say a lot in this part :).

So AJP Kalam was also there in the story :D. Great. Good going.

Waiting for the next part. I think that is the last part.

1:24 AM  
Blogger anks said...

this gets interesting - wanna know who the narrator is... but i guess that is something which you will reveal in the end...

KPFUVMKM - this is what i typed for word verification

grrrrr....

2:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

payal:
waiting for the final part.... :) sooonnn... cant wait yaar :P

3:52 AM  
Blogger Ricky said...

mehak - You get the GOLD but when you will you comment, after the last part???

bhandari's - Yeh Mehak bahut tez hain, koi na next time main aapko hint de doonga :P

I will post it by tonight, hopefully. Let's see if that can clear your confusion

sadik - Hello Sir, I didn't meant that. I meant that it was a nice surprise to see your comment.

If you get an oppurtunity that you always dreamt of, wouldn't you take it? Homi Bhabha is to Atomic Research what Gandhi was to Independence movement.

About Jenny, hmm...well I may tell you about her after the story maybe. Some love don't last forever is all I would say at this moment.

Thanks for your honest comments and praise. Abdul is our President, APJ Abdul Kalam Azad.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

fuzzylogic - The next part is up. Tell me what you thought overall :-)

colors - Good good. Work main blogging karne ka alag hee mazaa hain :P

Thanks and do share your views on the last part.

juneli - Thanks!! Yea, last part is up there.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Ricky said...

anks - Let's see if it answered your questions.

Ha ha!! I removed the word verification yaar but got so much spam :-(

payal - Thanks Payal!!

8:04 PM  

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