MN Devarajan was a nice fellow. Just that he always managed to put me in trouble. Back then, my father had a Bajaj Chetak scooter…and Devarajan sowed the seeds of inferiority complex in me by saying that his father went to office in a helicopter.
I continued to feel bad about this for a long time…till, another classmate came up to me and said, “My father is starting on a new job tomorrow. He is going to work on moon.”
Back then, my desk was my store house for used chewing gum…whenever I didn`t have money to buy new ones, I would pluck one from under my desk and start chewing. One day, when I was selecting one of the dry chewing gums stuck under my desk, Devarajan asked me: “Have you ever been scared of secret agents?”
“I have seen them in movies….never really been scared of them. Why?” I asked.
Only the previous day, my father had told me that Issac Newton was an intelligent man because he asked a lot of questions. Since then, I had asked 1024 questions. But unlike all others till now, Deverajan didn`t answer my question. Instead, he pulled me closer and whispered into my ears: “Can you keep a secret?”
“Yes!” I whispered back.
“Don`t tell anybody but the United States has hidden a nuclear bomb under the Indian Ocean.”
I weighed my options. I could have stuck to my father`s advice and asked Devarajan what a nuclear bomb was…or what the Indian Ocean was. But I didn`t do that. My inferiority complex got the better of me and I raised my eyebrows and asked, “Are you serious?”
“Yeah. Dead serious. And including you now…only two others know about it – my father & I. So, please don`t share this with anybody.”
I crossed my fingers behind my back and promised Devarajan that I will carry this secret to my grave. Before leaving, Devarajan impressed on me the fact that I was now belonged to an elite group of people, and should feel proud of it.
I didn`t tell my parents. I didn`t tell any of my friends. With each passing day I felt so superior that I stopped asking questions. I told myself…if these guys were so smart, they would have known about the nuclear bomb in the Indian ocean. In a matter of days, I had lost my inferiority complex and like the perennial sufferer, now I suffered from superiority complex.
But secret agents worried me. Matrix as a movie hadn`t yet been released and one didn`t know that secret agents always came in secret, wearing black suits and dark shades.
When I was alone and outside of my house, I would be on the look out for secret agents who were trying to kill me because I knew about the nuclear bomb in Indian Ocean. I would look at the windows of all tall buildings for that sniper who would be aiming for my head. I would not walk near any man hole expecting the secret agents to pull me inside. I hide behind people, trees, cows…whatever or whoever I could find whenever a car passed me on the road.
My parents, who didn`t know that my life was in danger because I knew too much started asking me to accomplish dangerous tasks. Like fetching milk from the nearby Mother Dairy at 6.00 a.m…..when there was nobody in the streets. Since I couldn`t share the secret with them, I had to make my own arrangements. While walking to the Mother Dairy….I would practice karate kicks in the air…so that the secret agents thought that I knew karate…and thus wasn`t an easy target. I also chewed on my gum really hard because that`s what the toughies did in the movies. For that extra effect, I also rolled up my sleeves …because my mother had once said that only rowdies did it…and any secret agent will think twice before attacking a rowdy.
Around the same time, my parents also decided that I was big enough to get a haircut by myself. I couldn`t explain it to them that the secret agents were also trained as barbers…so that they could slash the neck of an unsuspecting opponent when he was seated on a wooden chair having his hair cut from an innocent barber.
That one hour of my time at the barbers started becoming the most torturous. I remember fighting off sleep and holding a Topaz blade under the white sheet that was tied around my neck. The plan was to place one hand on my slashed neck to stop the pouring blood, slash the neck of the secret agent with the Topaz blade that I was holding and run back home.
I lived in fear for a full year. I had now stopped asking questions like Newton. But I still didn`t know what a nuclear bomb and the Indian Ocean was.
That`s when MN Devarajan brought the topic up again.
“Hey, we are going to Kanyakumari again,” he said.
“Kanyakumari? What is that?” I enquired.
“The same place where the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean meet?” He said it aloud.
“Shhhh….do you want to get both of us killed?”
“Why? What happened?” Devarajan asked callously.
“Hellow…have you forgotten about the nuclear bomb in the Indian Ocean?” I whispered in his ears.
“Which nuclear bomb?” He asked.
“The one you said was hidden by United States under the Indian Ocean.” I tried to keep my voice down. How could Devarajan be so callous?
“Ohh that. That`s not an issue now…do you know Mikhail Gorbachev?”
“No…what is that?” I enquired. I no longer was making an attempt to keep my voice down. If Mr MN Devarajan could be loud about a secret, so can Mr Jamshed V Rajan.
“That`s not a what…that`s a who. He has ended USSR’s Cold war with US…so the nuclear bomb is no longer there in Indian Ocean.”
The news swept the ground from below my feet. I no longer felt superior.
As an upset me turned to leave, I heard Devarajan say: “And only four people know that the nuclear bomb has been removed from the Indian Ocean – obviously I know it….and then there is my father and then there is you.”
I stopped in my tracks. Turned. And asked: “And who is the fourth person?”
“Well…wouldn`t that be the guy who removed it?”
Even before Devarajan finished his statement-question, he let out a smile. And I was glad when he left school after two months when his father also got a job on the moon.
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