“My wife and son are visiting my in-laws, I am enjoying my freedom!” Subhadip had updated the timeline in his Facebook status and was about to shut down his notebook when he heard the door bell ringing at his apartment in Andheri West.
He got up immediately and saw his friends D’Souza, Venkat, Khatwani and Das at the door; he had been eagerly waiting for them. It was a late Sunday morning. The day before his wife Sunita had gone to Bangalore with their son Sumeet to stay with his in-laws for about a month. They will be back when schools will reopen at the end of summer vacation.
The day before, on his way back from the airport, after seeing off his wife and son, he bought few bottles of liquor. But he was not surprised when he found that his friends were also carrying few bottles with them. But he was truly surprised when he found that Das had brought some fish fries. “That is very thoughtful of you, Das” he thanked him.
The night before, while he was watching a movie in the television, he fell asleep on the sofa of their living room. While his visitors started settling down in the living room, he threw the pillow into the bedroom, he realized that it had landed somewhere on the floor instead of on the bed. He arranged few chairs around the center table, kept the bottles, ice bucket, empty glasses and fries and chips on it. They were all set to start a long program, probably a whole day program.
Suddenly his eyes fell on the photo frame, kept on the shelf of their living room. Sunita had swapped the joint photo of him and her in the frame taken few days after their marriage with the photo of the mother and the son. She had been doing this for the last few years every single time before she visited her parents, he observed. It seemed that from the photo his son was staring at him. His wife looked all smile. He walked towards the photo frame, kept it lying on the shelf with the faces down.
They were all ready to start. Suddenly he realized that he forgot to shut down his notebook. He again walked towards his computer desk. He realized that after he had updated his status in his Facebook he did not sign out. He found that his friend Subhajit had commented on his status. “Is it not very late for him” he thought. Then he realized that his friend lived in California. They were friends since their high school days, both studied science in high school. Even though both of them were of the same age, Subhajit was dependent on him for almost anything, especially where it needed some kind of decision making. He was more of a practical minded and Subhajit used to live in an imaginary world or some kind of utopian world. He could still remember how both of them were desperately looking for a telescope in the city of Calcutta when they were in high school; Subhajit developed interest in stars and planets and he wanted to watch the heavenly bodies at night.
He recollected one incidence of his friend which made everybody in his family laugh for many months.
One evening Subhajit came into their house, almost running, as if he was in a great hurry. Subhadip was studying in his room. His father, who was a strict disciplinarian, never liked any of his son’s friends to visit his son during the study hours. But for Subhajit it was always an exception. He was always welcome in their house.
“I have made up my mind” Subjajit was so excited that he did not even greet his parents, “I will study physics in college. I will solve this problem of gravitation.”
“What gravitation problem, what are you talking about”, he asked.
“You remember what our sir told in the class today, the distance between the moon and the earth increases by 4 cm every year, which happens during tide, I will solve this problem, I will find out why it happens; this will be the topic of my research. I wish nobody could solve this problem before me.”
“Is this the only unsolved problem in Physics, Mr. Einstein”, he asked.
In the meantime his mother had brought some food for his friend. He started eating with undivided attention and then suddenly he left, exactly the way he had arrived. Probably that was the reason why everybody in his family loved him so dearly, he used to think.
After high school Subhadip bade adieu to science. He studied commerce in college, then studied business management and started working for some multinational company.
Many years later when Subhajit was working at UC Berkley as a faculty and he was working for a multinational company in Bangalore, Subhajit came to visit his family in Bangalore. He asked Subhajit if he had solved his favorite “earth and moon” problem.
“The problem cannot not be solved any time soon”, Subhajajit mentioned, “Gravity is not a fundamental force of nature; it could be the manifestation of some other force, which we still do not understand completely. Our understanding of the physical universe at a fundamental level did not develop much since the beginning of the last Great War. We have three different physics, each good in its own domain, one for very small objects, one for very large objects and the third one for in-between objects; it is the last physics which we have studied in high school. There are plenty of evidences which have made us believe that an observer can influence the outcome of an experiment and this is very disturbing, as this jolts the fundamental premise of physical science. If consciousness could be a major player then how shall we deal with this? ” Subhajit paused for a moment.
“How is your family”, Subhadip tried to change the subject desperately. He could not make out much from what his friend was talking.
Subhadip suddenly came out of his thought and realized that his guests had been waiting for him. He did not want his guests to wait for him any longer with empty glasses. He thought of reading only the first line of his friend’s comment just to make sure that it was not any urgent matter which would need his immediate attention, he thought of reading the rest of the comment later after his guests had left, which could be sometime in the afternoon or evening or could even be at night.
“Ever imagined how it would be if we become ‘free’?” The first line of Subhajit’s comment did send a shock wave through his spine. He scrolled up and read once again what he had written in his own timeline. In an instance the presence of the thirsty visitors in his apartment went into oblivion. He continued reading.
“Spending some time with self is good and probably healthy as well. Probably that is the reason why our wives like to visit their parents once in a while, so that we could be alone and use this time to contemplate.”
“Probably, your wife, while having breakfast with her mother this morning, was telling her how much you liked the potato curry which her mother had cooked today for the breakfast” he continued reading, “probably it would not be wrong to imagine that your wife is still carrying the college identity card of yours having your black and white photo, which your mother had given to her before leaving for heavenly abode. Probably she would be ready to give up all her jewelry but not that photo of yours, which she did not even dare to take to a studio for a wash lest it get spoiled.”…
“Sumit must be sitting in the living room of your in-law’s house surrounded by his grandparents, uncles, aunts and other children narrating to them your heroic tales. To him you are the Arjuna, the Karna, the Beowulf, the Achilles, the Hector all combined into one.”…
“We have become hero in the eyes of our children without doing anything special. We did not fight the Grendel, did not fight any epic war but still we have become hero in their eyes.”…
“As our children would grow younger they would replace their ‘hero dads’ with ‘philosopher dads’ whose examples they would follow at the most important cross roads in their lives when they would not have even a split second to think.”…
“Again we get this honor without doing anything great, only by not acting too stupid”…
“As long as we do not act like a real fool they would never ask ‘Dad what have you done?’ Imagine the mental trauma they had experienced which could lead them to ask the question?”
Author: Mintu Ghoshal
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