“Life cannot get better. I never thought it would be so easy. Our parents are the best. They have been so understanding. I cannot believe the turn of events in the last few days,” said Karthik on the phone with his fiancee, Veda.
Karthik and Veda started working together as colleagues six months ago. They both fell in love after a few months. They have been very successful in their careers. When they approached their parents for the approval, they got immediate nod.
Veda said, “I never thought it’d be so easy. I was so frightened that my Dad would object. But, he has been so understanding. And, your profile also deserves the credit. You have been successful in your career and you are famous for your patents on some wonderful products. My Dad always appreciated people with an innovative bent of mind. He told me that he is very sure you will reach greater heights in the future. He told my mother that he is glad my future is safe in your hands. Your parents have been so sweet, too. I met them the other day and they have been so nice to me. I felt at home already, in your home. I wish you were there.”
Karthik said, “This conference has not been timed so good. I’m almost done with it. And, these people wanted to see the Taj Mahal. I always wanted to visit the Taj Mahal with you. Nevertheless, I’ll go around the place and plan for our next trip together. I’ll reach Bangalore in three days from today. We can, then, freak out and celebrate.”
Veda said, “I cannot wait. I’m all excited and super charged. A celebration will really help at this moment.”
Karthik’s team mates called him and told him that they are going to the next phase of the tour. Karthik was hardly interested to listen to the guide. He wanted to keep talking to Veda on the phone.
Karthik asked his colleagues to move forward. He told them that he would meet them at the end of the day.
Karthik continued talking on the phone, “I know I cannot get you here now. But, at least, I can spend some time with you on the phone and feel as though you are by my side. I know it all sounds so cliched now. But, it has been a blessing – this relationship – and I am ready to be as cliched as possible. I would run around trees with you if I were in Bangalore.”
Veda laughed and said, “All right. Give me a couple of minutes. I will quickly finish an errand here and call you back in ten minutes. We can talk for an hour or two, then.”
Karthik disconnected the call. He kept looking the dome of the monumental building and felt overwhelmed by the architecture and the aesthetics. He kept looking at it. Suddenly, he heard some murmurs in some corner. Since childhood, he had this ability to hear even the softest of whispers from across the room. Doctors said that his sense of hearing has been heightened due to a minor nervous complication. They suggested his parents not to do anything with it as it was minor and only enhanced his hearing abilities.
Karthik heard something uncomfortable.
The murmuring voice said, “I placed it here. It is all set to go off any time now. I will move away from here right now. I will get lost within the tourists so that they cannot identify me.”
The voice was actually talking with someone on the phone. The murmuring voice continued, “Everything went on as planned. I was a bit nervous at the security desk. But, I could breeze through the checks because of our meticulous planning. We are not going to miss it this time. I will go out and wait for it to explode.”
Karthik did not like what he heard. He was not sure if they were really talking about a bomb that has been placed in one of the seven wonders of the world. This seemed to be a terrorist plan, he thought. He immediately rushed to the place from where the voice originated. There was no person there. But, Karthik could see a box that has been left there.
The murmuring voice continued to speak. The voice said, “If everything goes according to our plan, we will be able to deal with our next attack after one week. I like this idea of attacking all important and significant tourist spots in this country one after the other.”
Karthik desperately wanted to find the person and kill him. But, as always, he could not put a face to the voice. There were so many people who were going away. And, Karthik heard many more murmuring voices of wives sulking on husbands and kids throwing tantrums at parents. He heard a couple of people planning their romantic outings.
Instead of trying to catch the terrorist, he wanted to do diffuse the bomb before it exploded. He had no clue about bombs or the technologies involved. He knew that it was not easier to diffuse the bombs unlike the way they show in the movies. Only expert professionals can handle these situations well, he thought. But, he knew he had no time. He heard the voice talking about the bomb exploding in a matter of fifteen minutes.
While he was panicking, he was startled when he got a call from Veda again.
Veda said, “I’m back. Let us talk. How is your trip going on?”
Karthik hesitated to say anything to her. In an anxious tone, he said, “Ev….Everything is fine. I’ll call you back. There is something that needs my attention here.”
Veda hasn’t heard him talk so tensed for a long time. She realized that something must have gone really bad. She said, “Karthik, listen. I can sense your panic. Don’t disconnect the call. Tell me what is happening.”
Karthik realized that Veda understood him so well. He said, “Bomb. Someone placed a bomb here. I don’t know how to diffuse it. I don’t want to run away from here because I want to do my bit to save this historical monument. The patriot in me is forcing me to do something. I want to call the authorities. But, they are not going to believe me, first. Even if they do, we do not have the time. I cannot see any security person in proximity. They have strategically placed the bomb. Every minute is precious. ”
As Karthik expected, Veda started crying. Trying to get her emotions under control, she said, “Describe the bomb. I will try to search about it on the Internet. May be, together, we can figure out a way to diffuse it.”
Karthik dismissed the idea. He said, “We do not have that much time. I don’t think I can do something. Anyway, let me describe it to you.”
Karthik described it to Veda. She listened carefully while jotting down some notes.
It suddenly dawned upon Karthik that the bomb might explode any moment now. He said, “Hey listen. It can go off any moment now. He said that it would go off in fifteen minutes. It’s been more than ten minutes since I came here. So, listen. I love you. I love you more than anything in this world. If something were to happen to me, tell my parents that I love them a lot. Tell them that they are the best parents in the world. If I were to be born again, I would want only them as my parents again. And, you are the love of my life. You filled the last few months of my life with magic and happiness. Remember to move on and get married, if I die. Do not spend the rest of your life in depression. I cannot see you sad. I want you to be happy. Understand that everything happens for a reason. I’ll disconnect the call. I have an idea to minimize the effect of this explosion.”
Karthik disconnected the call. He did not wait her to respond.
Ved cried for a few seconds and started praying to God to make this just a dream or a nightmare. But, she knew that it was all happening and it was happening so fast that she could not do anything about it.
Veda prayed to God to help Karthik.
Though he never believed in the stories they show in movies, he decided to experiment one of the ideas shown in some old movie. He fell flat on the bomb. He thought that the bomb would explode underneath him and the presence of his body might minimize the effect of the bomb to a great extent and minimize the damage on the historical structure.
As he fell to sleep on the bomb, he hear some ticking noise. He felt glad he is giving up his life for the sake of this country. He prayed to God to minimize the effect of the bomb.
Karthik heard the sound of an explosion underneath. But, nothing happened more than that. It was the smallest of the explosion sound he has ever heard. But, for a minute, he felt a strong pain surge in him. He got up to check what happened. All he could see is a shell of the bomb.
Karthik did not understand what happened a few seconds ago. Immediately, he recollected a childhood event. Once, during Diwali, Karthik accidentally let a fire cracker burst in his hand. It was a very big one. His father rushed to stop him, but could not. The cracker exploded in Karthik’s hand. But, nothing happened to Karthik. His parents immediately rushed him to the hospital. The doctors said that he was fine. But, they suggested not to let him near explosive devices anymore.
Karthik understood that he had a superpower. His body absorbed all the kinetic energy released by the bomb. His heartbeat increased manifold. He felt extremely energetic after the explosion. He felt glad he stopped the terrorist activity. He also felt glad that he had superpowers.
Just as Veda was about to slit her wrist, Karthik called her and said, “Hey. I am safe. I have a lot to tell you. Life is getting better by the minute.”