Gyan saved Vidya, a depressed engineering student who had decided to commit suicide. He made her realise that she was not a lone failure. That at the peak of her success, she had ignored gyan himself becoming victim of the world’s expectations. Vidya also feels guilty that Gyan lost an year because of her. Now read what happens next . . .
Note: Vidyaan is a story series composed to portray need of Gyan (Experience) besides Vidya (Knowledge) in our education system.
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Vidyaan – 2.2
Pragati: The Patriot.
Vidya is flying amidst big books with fluttering pages. This is her world. The world that helps her revise her Knowledge. It all started on the day she became a student of the year.
The feeling makes her sad reminding her of Gyan. She tries to brush aside the feeling. Trying to concentrate.
‘I have to work harder to pass next time.’
Right when the IAS officer was about to give her the prize. There was a lightning that lasted a few moments. In the flashes, Vidya had seen the IAS officer transform into a sadhu with kamandal. Before she could talk to him, he had disappeared.
After that, Vidya found that she could control her dreams. After the initial shock, she slowly got used to her ability. Over time, she built a world of her own. She chose to visit this world to concentrate on studies.
Today, she is finding it difficult to concentrate. ‘Is it water or dust in my eyes?’
She rubs her eyes. But it doesn’t help. She feels her grip on her world loosening. ‘No no no. It took 4 years to build.’
A wind starts making the papers flutter rapidly. Within moments, the papers are flying free. She finds papers covering every inch of her vision. She can’t do anything except hovering helplessly.
She feels some hustle at the back. Something huge & spherical is moving towards her. Vidya is dumbstruck as she watches it emerge from the flying pages. It’s a face.
First she watches a clean shaved head with a bunch of knotted hair dangling from its back. As it tilts, a set of closed eyes appear to form thin curves on both sides of a handsome nose.
‘I have seen this face somewhere.’
She’s like a tiny speck in front of the huge face. Its lips widen into a strange smile. She feels as if the face is staring at her even with the eye’s closed.
Vidya’s heart picks up pace.
‘It’s happening again.’
She is stuck between bracing herself for the impending surprise or trying to recognise the face. Then it hits her.
And then it happens.
A vertical crack appears on the forehead. Before she can think anything, the crack opens up like an eyelid, revealing a single vertical eye staring angrily at her.
Vidya wakes up with a jerk dropping a plate from her table. She dozed off in canteen.
A cat comes running towards the fallen plate. It picks up the piece of bread in it & dashes towards the door.
“Still can’t concentrate on studies?” Gyan says casually. He’s sitting opposite her.
Vidya finds her caught completely off guard. ‘How long has he been sitting here?’.
“When did you come?” Vidya manages to say finally.
“When you were struggling to stay awake on dynamics of machines.” answers Gyan pointing a the textbook.
“Rrraaap”, the sound of flesh impacting flesh reverberates throughout the room.
“Raju! nimmaeee, sandas can’t you clean le. Now, go bring cold drinks & 4 cigarettes.” Chatur yells at the attender.
Gyan stands up in a flash. His fists are gripped tight. Vidya realises his rage rising. Raju stares at Gyan & silently nods to him. For the 1st time Vidya finds Gyan helpless.
‘What is stopping him?’
Raju moves towards him, places the glass of lassi on the table. Then he pleadingly pushes Gyan by shoulders to sit.
“How did you end up with him?” asks Vidya pointing at Chatur. There’s no reaction.
Gyan sits down staring into distance. “Are you ok?” asks Vidya.
“I am fine.” he mutters gruffly, fists tensed on the table.
Moments pass in silence. Vidya gets busy putting together her notes.
“Nimmma . . .” he starts cursing Raju but at that instant finds Gyan sitting right on next table. He covers his cheeks with both hands by instinct.
Then realising his friends gazing at him he straightens up. He manages a quick smile & raises his coke in a friendly gesture.
Gyan seems to relax a bit. Having got his presence communicated to Chatur. ‘I have my eyes on you.’
“How do you bear him?” Vidya asks him.
“Guruji bears him,” gyan replies without breaking his stare. “I owe Guruji my life.”
“Who is this guruji? Every time i hear about him i feel strange. I feel as if we are . . .”
“. . . connected” finishes Gyan. “You think you are the only one who experiences that way? He’s been like that. A deep force attracts everyone to him.”
The cat is back by now. It starts purring to grab Gyan’s attention. He bends down to scratch its back with care.
“I feel creepy whenever I hear his name. I feel uneasy. I don’t believe in black magic but I feel like he’s keeping a watch. Like a sorceruhhu uhkhu uhhkhhoooo.” Vidya starts coughing mid sentence.
Gyan looks up & finds her surrounded by a mist of smoke. The caughs don’t seem to stop as if having their own force.
“Anyone not talk bad about the guruji.” Chatur’s voice mocks from behind.
“Chatur.” shouts Gyan at chatur. For a moment he trembles. But then manages to calmly lift his glass to drink.
Gyan strides towards Chatur & spits into his glass moments before it reaches his lips.
“Ne avvvaa, why you spit in my cool drink ra?”
“Because you are smoking in my fresh air ra!” replies Gyan in same tone.
“How dare you . . .” one of Chatur’s friends starts rising. Chatur motions him to sit down.
“Our anna, this is. Gyan anna.” he says with a smile. “To anna, We don’t hurt. Don’t we?”
All the while Gyan continues to stare. Chatur meets his stare with one of his own. Then looks down with a smile.
“Gyan Anna!” he says mocking the word anna. “Our deal you don’t forget.”
“You worry about your side of it.” snaps Gyan.
“A minute also if it is late, our deal I will forget. I will not give a broken kaudi also.”
Chatur sneers at him and leaves the canteen fuming. His friends follow him out.
“Stupid!” Gyan says watching Chatur & his gang leave.
Raju comes to Gyan. He seems about to break down. Gyan keeps a hand on his shoulders.
“I will give him what he wants. Nothing will happen to your dream.” says Gyan. After a moment, he hands him the cool drink glass saying, “Here, take this & pour it in the toilets.”
“Ramchandra!.” exclaims Vidya with vomiting expression. “1st you spit on food, then want it spilled down the drain?”
Gyan stamps the glass on her table spilling some of the liquid. He’s staring at her. Vidya finds bubbles rise up on the drink which fell on table.
‘What is he doing?’
Gyan takes the cloth from Raju’s shoulders & wipes the table clean. Where there was rust initially, gleaming metal shines now.
“This is not food. It’s just a toilet cleaner.” he says not breaking his stare.
Vidya is speechless for a moment.
“But we drink it nonetheless. We must respect our food.” she argues.
“Food?” mocks Gyan. He puts his hands in Raju’s shirt pocket & pulls out a stack of yellow papers.
‘Litmus Papers? Where did Raju get them?’ she thinks.
He takes a piece from it & dips it in the drink. It turns dark blue. Vidyas eyes widen as she realises what just happened.
“Acid!” she gasps. She snatches the litmus stack & checks it. ‘Blue – acid, Red – Base.’
“Yes, acid. See what those western scoundrels selling us as food.”
“But why would actors support such nonsense?” she tries to argue.
“For money! What else?” Gyan says. “They are ready to dance naked & do whatever it takes to get the drinks selling. They don’t care what happens to us. Why they even get a lifetime of these drinks to habituate their guests with.”
“If these are really that bad . . .” starts Vidya.
“Yes they are bad! You want to know why nobody is dying with it? A famous actor had to replace his intestines spending crores. They had burnt up because he kept drinking it. Bad karma found its way to him. He was digging a hole for others, he fell in it himself.”
“Who are you taking about? It must have been in news.” argues vidya.
“Oh right. You think the company is foolish. They get the contract signed in which it is clear that the endorser will not do bad publicity for the brand. If done, he’d have to pay back ten times the amount he received.”
“Why is it still being endorsed?”
“The pay is good. Old endorsers can’t say a word against it openly. Further, the endorser doesn’t have to drink it. The companies always hire someone else who cares more about money than his/her countrymen.” Gyan’s eyes start getting red.
Just then someone starts the TV. ‘Happy Independance Day.’ is displayed in big letters.
“The British left us free just in name. They continue to plunder our culture with their own. They fool us in bright daylight selling us goods we don’t need. In the name of value adding, they increase the costs. In the name of high standards, they create a competition. Everyone is in a race. For better marks, then better salary, then buying those useless products. Poisoning ourselves. Nobody cares if this same money goes to people who kill thousands for their personal gains.”
With every word, his anger seems to be rising. The nerves in his eyes were transforming the white parts to red slowly.
“Kills thousands?” Vidya repeats skeptically. “What are you talking about?”
Gyan pulls her to the wall of canteen. There are some news paper cuttings on it.
‘They were here all these years’ she thinks.
First headline reads “Gas leak at Union Carbide kills over 1200. Leave tens of thousands critical.”
Another reads “Union Carbide chief arrested & released. No apologies! He pleads not guilty.”
And another “Bhopal tragedy lingers. The newborn babies affected by weakness”.
There are many more. But Gyan points at the last one which reads. “30 years of indifference. Will Bhopal ever get its due justice?”
Then he pulls out his mobile, types something into it & hands it over to her. It’s a wikipedia page:
The Bhopal disaster, also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident in India, considered the world’s worst industrial disaster.
Dates: 2 Dec 1984 – 3 Dec 1984
Cause: Methyl Isocyanate leak from Union Carbide India Limited storage tank
Deaths: At least 3,787; over 16,000 claimed
Non-fatal injuries: At least 558,125
Location: Madhya Pradesh
“I have read about it. It was an accident.” says Vidya shaken by what she reads. But still making her stand.
“Accident? The pipes used to transfer gases had holes due to rusting. The rusting type was found to be due to pitting.” The red nerves in his eyes had now reached the black circles.
“Pitting rust takes months to spread.” recalls Vidya.
“Yes! Why wasn’t it taken care of? They were even bribing to avoid proper inspection. At any cost!”, The nerves in his eyes throbbing as if they could burst any moment now.
“The scoundrels were actually testing the effect of methyl isocyanate as a bioweapon. They used us as rats.” Gyan moves his face away. Vidya gets a feeling he is trying to hide his tears.
“Bhau lost his Ajji & ajoba in that incident. His amma & baba are still affected by its after effects.” Vidya turns to find Raju speaking with tears in eyes. Vidya feels her own eyes burn.
‘What did I think of Gyan & what is he turning out to be?’
She wonders how many levels of losses does his serious stare hide underneath. Suddenly, he starts banging on the wall losing all control.
“Bastards. BASTARDS. B A S T A R D S ! “, he bangs the walls with more intensity each time. Everyone in the canteen turns to stare at him.
“I’ll kill you, you western scums. For what you have done. For what you are doing. I’ll take the revenge. Even if you manage to kill me. I’ll come back. I’ll haunt you till my thirst for your blood is satiated. I will burn each one of you in the worst hells of your imaginations.”
Gyan continues hitting the wall. It starts getting red. It takes a moment for Vidya to understand.
She keeps her trembling hand on Gyan’s shoulders. He turns back & raises his fist instinctively. His eyes are a pool of blood red with dark circles floating in them.
There’s a deathly silence for a few moments. Then tears start flowing on his cheeks. He cups his eyes with both his hands & sits down sobbing. Years of stored emotions are fighting their way out.
None knows how to console him.
Just then, the cat jumps into his laps meowing. It looks to Gyan & all around as though asking who dared give pain to its caretaker.
Gyan gets relaxed slowly as he moves his fingers through the cat’s furs. Seconds turn to minutes as he sits with the cat.
After a while, the cat jumps off his lap & meows looking at him.
Raju throws a piece of bread at it. The cat takes it & starts running away.
Gyan looks at Raju who silently gives a smile & a nod. There’s surprise on Gyan’s face. “Really?”, he asks.
“Yes!”, replies Raju.
Gyan runs behind it picking the plate on the way. Raju lifts the glass of soft drink & starts towards the bathroom.
Vidya takes a moment collecting her bag & runs behind Gyan. It takes a while before she finds Gyan. He is almost finished feeding the bread crumblings to young kittens & the cat.
‘So this is why the cat was picking things. For its new born kittens.’ she understands.
Gyan completely appears a different person than moments ago. No sadness. No grief. Only his red eyes giving away the truth.
“You are taking this conspiracy theory very seriously.” adds Vidya.
“Conspiracy theories are made up by people sitting in closets. Not by scientists doing inspection.” says Gyan.
He reminded Vidya of narsimha, the half beast half human demigod who had slain the tormenting rakshasa & father of his bhakta Prahlad. She had read that lord Narasimha was so engulfed by his rage the whole creation itself reached a point of getting wiped away.
But, the moment he saw his bhakta – Prahlad. He took Prahlad into his lap & started licking him.
Vidya sees Gyan invert the plate containing last few bread pieces. The kittens lick his hands. ‘The prabhu & bhakta exchanged their places’, she chuckles.
“Have you seen the proof yourself?” asks Vidya curious.
“I wouldn’t believe otherwise.” he replies. “I knew the IAS officer who was in charge of the inspection. He was a friend, philosopher & guide to me. Someone I looked up to. He had great plans for India. We were looking for a right time & person to disclose the truth.”
“Then what happened?”
“Something happened the night when he awarded you with student of the year.”
Vidya’s heart skipped a beat. The night. The awards. The flash of lightning in the dark. The handsome man appearing as a sage in that light. The thunder. All recap before her eyes.
She had a million questions to ask him. This was her chance to meet him. “You know him?”
“Huh”, there was irony in his sound. “I thought I knew him. That night, though I realised I didn’t. All those documents were missing. . .”
“What happened to the officer?” Vidya asks earnestly. All these years of wait.
‘It ends now.’ she thinks.
For a moment Gyan is surprised by her eagerness. Then he exhales with a deep sigh as though preparing to end the discussion. He said, “He disappeared . . . FOREVER.”
☘✍🏻 To be continued . . . ✍🏻☘
Where did the IAS officer disappear?
What’s the deal between Gyan & Chatur?
What will Gyan do next?
Can he channel his energy for good cause?