“Come on! Wake up!” Didi was screaming and shaking me furiously as I barely came about.
“What is going on?” I asked, trying to find out what the anxious excitement was all about.
“The political goons had come around looking for you yesterday, while you were away. It is not safe for you to stay here anymore,” she spoke and continued to arrange all my clothes and books in a couple of large suitcases.
“I am not going anywhere leaving you here. Stop packing my things,” I protested and tried to block her from going through my things.
“We are taking you to Delhi, from there you are taking a plane to Boston, USA. She was not joking, there was absolute finality in her voice.
“Ramesh sir has been corresponding with Gopal, his friendand professor at MIT University in Boston, during the past couple of months. He was discussing the computer model of the Pokhran nuclear tests you were working on. Given the recent developments, Gopal is willing to accommodate you and help you start your college there at MIT,” she spoke. Just then, there was a knock at the door.
“That must be Ramesh sir, here to accompany us on the train to Delhi,” she continued, as she went out of the room to open the front door.
“Good morning, Chaitanya,” Ramesh sir popped his head in with a smile on his face. “We will go to Delhi and get your US visa formalities completed within the next couple of days. Gopal and a couple of his research students will be there to pick you up at the airport in Boston when you land there,” he told me.
“You may not yet realize it, but you have an amazing mind and you can offer a lot to the world. Despite these current setbacks, you have to look towards the future and how you can make this world a better place for everyone. Intelligence and smartness are wasted if they are not put to use for the betterment of humanity,” Ramesh sir continued. Such tall talk always left me quite queasy inside as I could never see myself capable of living from one moment to the next. If I really hadany such smartness, I should have been able to find and bringback Devyani by now, and also protect those that I loved from harm, including papa and Samarjit.
“I can do all that from here. I don’t want to leave Pokhran or didi or you. This is the only place I really know and really feel comfortable in,” I protested, looking pleadingly at Ramesh sir, not wanting to go anywhere else.
“It is not safe for you here. They have already murdered papa in cold blood. I don’t want to lose you as well. You must leave for US, now!” Didi was choking up in tears as she spoke.
“Who will take care of didi, while I am gone?” I knew didi liked Ramesh sir by the way her eyes lit up every time Ramesh sir joined us at home or while at school. In asking that question aloud, I was hoping that it would be Ramesh sir who would answer it.
“I have a job as a teacher at the school and I have this house to live in. I can take care of myself,” Didi spoke, reassuring me.
“I will be around to help her out as well. So you can continue your studies in US without worrying about how we are managing here,” Ramesh sir chimed in. Deep in my heart, I hoped that they would decide to marry each other someday, as they both seemed to like each other’s company and were united in their passion to teach and improve the lot of people living in that town.
Excerpted with permission from Pokhran: A Novel, Uday Singh, Srishti Publishers. Read more about the book and buy it here.