The Mission

He looked from side to side, scanning with his eyes for any distant signs of activity as his earstried hard to filter out the distant hum of an engine. He looked at the glowing 4.5 inch screen in front of him, a smile slowly started to break out on his face. He turned around to see if the others were ready...

He took a long, deep breath to calm his nerves. His life almost flashed in front of his eyes. He had never been interested in school, by 13 he had decided to drop out and work to support the family. For the next 3 years he worked a farm hand, earning as much as he could to help the family with expenses. Then one day, he heard that the Amir's residence was looking for a full-time gardener and the pay was excellent. He would now be able to save enough money to marry off his sister in style. He wasted no time in finding out about the job and within a month he was hired. He worked as hard as he could for gardening was still new for him. It would please him to see the Amir or so he was called, take a long soothing walk through the roses every morning. One day, he mustered enough courage to talk to the Amir, he was surprised by how gentle and learned the Amir was. Over the course of many such conversations, he learnt about religion, he learnt of the Amir's exploits in war. He was so fascinated that he read books in which the Amir describes how he led his men to destroy the infidels. Suddenly one day, the Amir had asked him, "Would you be willing to work for your country?". Without a hesitation, he had said "Yes!".

The Amir had introduced these men as his brothers to him. The Amir told him that they would take good care of him and teach him all the things he needed to know to be useful for the country. The men surrounded him, one of them put a blindfold over his eyes and the other tied it in a tight knot at the back. He remembered being shoved in a vehicle of some sort and then he passed out. When he finally came to his senses, they were still travelling and his eyes were still blindfolded. After a few hours, his blindfold was taken off and his eyes adjusted to their new surroundings. He did not know much time had passed since he was shoved into the car. It was evening now, the sun was falling off the horizon and he being led into a dilapidated building, there was no electricity here, only a few hurricane lamps illuminated that the path. They gave him a plate of food and asked him to sleep off his long journey...

He woke up the next morning unsure of his surroundings. An elderly man came up to him and explained that no-one here was to be addressed by names. They were all souls engaged in the work of the lord and none of them would have any names. They shall not speak of their hometown or of where they came from. They shall not mention their family. Their time here shall be spent in taking the name of the Lord Almighty. Once the ground rules were clear, he was taken out to pray. A few days passed, he had been assigned minor duties such as serving food. Then, one day, the elderly man walked up to him again and asked if he was ready for his real training. He was so curious by now, he couldn't wait to say yes. The elderly man introduced him to a couple of well built guys and told him that they would make him mentally and physically ready to stand up for his country.

Over the course of the next 6 months, he went through intense training. He was taught to use the Kalashnikovs, hand grenades, grenade launchers and pistols. He was also taught the basics of bomb-making, some basic naval navigation and a few ethnic accents. During these 6 months, he was subjected to rigorous physical training, every time he complained about being tired, he was punished into working harder. At end of 6 months, he was put through an intense mock interrogation training to ensure that he could withstand intense physical abuse while being interrogated and yet not utter a word. Nine months after the training began, he was declared mission ready. The elderly man was back and talked to him about the importance of the training he had just received. The elderly man also reminded him of the importance of success on his mission. He was told not to question his objectives at any point and that he would know when the time came for him 'to do the job' for his country. They parted with the words "Jai Hind...."

Early the next morning, he was blindfolded again. This time he remembered being driven somewhere, then he was shoved into a seat, he heard a loud noise and felt like his stomach was being churned. He could sense that they were travelling north-west, it was weird that he could figure that out, 9 months ago he wouldn't have been able to. He felt ready to put his training to use. A two and a half hour journey later, he felt the same stomach churning sensation again. Suddenly, it was all silent again, the loud noise that had been pounding his ears over the last couple of hours eased away. He was shoved out of his chair and driven away again to an unknown location. He could feel that they were climbing on a winding road. When his blindfold was removed, he was sitting in a room with 5 strangers, they welcomed him in a language he could understand but he recognized the accent as one in which he had been trained.

The strangers told him that his indoctrination and training was impeccable, he didn't understand but nodded in the affirmative. As they talked, he realized that an attack on the infidels was being planned. He was named commander and was supposed to lead a 6 member team into the heart of the infidel to create havoc. He was shown video cds of the places that were supposed to be targetted. He realized those targets were in India, his motherland.....

Suddenly, he became aware of 'his mission'. He instantly knew what to do, he assembled the 6 member team as they begam their journey to India by sea. He was the naval navigation expert and he took turns with one other member to navigate. Only the two of them knew to use the GPS system. It had been 7 days since they had started sailing, they had constantly been heading south-east, keeping their engines running at low efficiency, so they could avoid being detected by the navy or the coast-guard.

It was pitch-dark in the night, he could see the city-lights in the horizon. He was extremely tense, but he wouldn't let anything show in his manner. He looked from side to side, scanning with his eyes for any distant signs of activity as his ears tried hard to filter out the distant hum of an engine. He looked at the glowing 4.5 inch screen in front of him, a smile slowly started to break out on his face. He turned around to see if the others were ready. He wanted to make sure that no-one would hear what he was about to do. He picked up his Kalashnikov as if he were readying it for the assault that would begin in a few minutes, suddenly he turned around fired exactly 5 rounds hitting every other member in the team right in between their eyes. He picked up the satellite phone and cried "We are being followed by the Indian navy, we are 3 men down, I don't know if we will make it." He ditched the phone in the water along with all their ammunition and supplies. Lowering a rubber dinghy into the water, he thought about what the elderly man had told him at the end of his training......"Jai Hind"

The Train Journey that Changed Destiny - Part 4

Note: Hail the Master Blaster! Congrats to Sachin for cracking the kiwis around the park. He proves the critics wrong again! He may be old, but he is not hanging up his boots, atleast not yet!

The attendant tapped away at the computer for a minute before looking up and saying "Ishant.., I'm sorry, but there are no more seats left in Bio-Technology. Rank 610 just took the last seat. Would you like to take any other branch?" Ishant looked at his mother, he felt miserable. "Thats not right, I shouldn't be feeling this way. I did not even want KIT in the first place anyway!" he thought to himself. His mother broke the silence "Ishant, would you like to take some other branch?". She looked at the attendant and said "Sir, can we have a couple of minutes to decide? I'm sure you understand our situation". The attendant called for the dean and a young, hefty man walked up to the terminal. The attendant explained the situation and the dean said "Ma'm, we usually give only a minute to each student to make a choice. I hope you realize our need to move this quickly, that said, I understand your particular situation and I can give you another 5 minuted to make a choice."

Ishant's mother looked at him, "Ishant, why don't you take up KIT? This doesn't seem like such a bad place anyway." Ishant could only stare at his mother. "Ishant! Stop staring at me! I am being serious, this is definitely not a bad choice, besides remember that you need not necessarily join KIT. Once you find admission in Delhi, you can always take that up and forget all about KIT." "But mom!....Look at this place, It is like being stuck on a desert, I can't possibly live here." replied Ishant. Oblivious to his response, his mother continued "I hope you realize that your studying here, at Kumbakonam, will be far less expensive compared to an equivalent degree in Delhi. I hope you realize that your parents are not affluent. Besides, any money that we save can be used to pay for your masters' applications."

"Hmmmm..." Ishant sighed, "Taking this opportunity up doesn't seem so bad after all. Any choice, at this point, will only be temporary" he thought to himself. With a lot of hesitation, Ishant finally looked at the attendant and said "Sir, I will take Computer Science Engineering." The attendant replied "Here are your admission confirmation papers. I see you are from Delhi, here are the application forms for the hostel...." The dean comes by and pats Ishant on the back while saying "Ishant, I can assure you that you have made an excellent choice. I am sure you will have a lot of fun over the next four years, we look forward to having you here as well."

Ishant walked out of the room holding the admission papers in his hand. He didn't feel a thing. That surprised him. But then, there was one thing he had not told anyone.....

P.S: I had started writing this post up almost a week ago, but I ran into some work during the week which explains the time between the last 2 posts.

The Train Journey that Changed Destiny - Part 3

Note: A moment of loud noise to say "In your face!" to the Pakis. The Jihadis they have been so diligently promoting came back to bite pakistani cricket in the ass. Great going guys! On a more serious note, I am happy all the Sri Lankan players are safe and what happened in Lahore is a despicable, cowardly act. Targeting Cricketers??!! Common guys!

".....Wake up!! Wake up!!...." Ishant woke up with a start. He sat up and looked at his watch, it was 5 A.M. "Ishant! Are you up yet? would you like some coffee?" It was some time before he realized what was happening. He had reached Chennai yesterday morning and spent the day at with his grandparents. There, he had met up with his mother and late that night, they had taken the train to Kumbakonam. "Gosh! Feels like I have been in a train forever!" thought Ishant "Thankfully, it will all be over soon, I can take a look at KIT, reject it outright & hop on the train to Chennai tonight." ".....Are you even listening to me, Ishant", suddenly he realized his mother had been talking to him all this while. "Yes mom, what do you need?"
Mom: "Ishant, we will reach Kumbakonam station anytime now. I asked the T.T.E and he told me that the train was on time. Why don't you climb down and help me with the bags?"
With a sign, Ishant started to climb down from his berth......

A few minutes later, they were off the train and out of the station looking for a hotel where they could freshen up. A couple of fights with the attendant later, Ishant's mom settled on Hotel Thalaiva. A quick shower followed a short nap, Ishant was ready for breakfast. He said "Mom, why don't we have breakfast at Ananda Bhavan, its right across the road." "I saw a temple along the way, lets go and pray there first before we get something to eat" his mother replied.

A quick visit to the temple and a sumptuous breakfast later, they both were at the Kumbakonam Bus Stand waiting for a bus, although KIT was 'in Kumbakonam', the campus was located 40 minutes from the city center. A really crowded bus came by and they hopped on hoping to find a place to sit. Once inside the bus, Ishant handed some money to the conductor and asked for KIT. "KIT? I dont know any KIT, I think you are on the wrong bus." replied the conductor. Ishant explained that KIT was an engineering college, " mean KCE..." said the conductor and handed Ishant a couple of tickets while muttering "everybody wants a fancy name these days...". Ishant looked out of the window and all he could see was arid land interspersed with a few paddy fields. Slowly his eyes started closing....

Ishant woke up with a bone-jolting jerk. Startled, he looked to see if he could catch a glimpse of the conductor, the bus was almost empty by now. Having spotted the conductor, he walked up and found out that KIT was 2 stops later. He looked out of the window only to see arid land all the way in the distance on both sides of the road, "Man! How do students even study in this place, No hangouts, no malls, not even a movie theatre! I'm sure the only people who study here are the country bums." he thought to himself and chuckled. His thoughts drifted to life in Delhi and how he would bunk classes in college and hang out with his friends and roam the city, just like his brother had done." "KCE..." he heard the conductor yell and suddenly to his right, surrouned by acres of arid land was this collection of small buildings with a couple more under construction. "This sure is a desert" he thought to himself....

Ishant and his mother headed inside the KIT campus and entered the first building they could spot. A couple of girls asked to look at Ishant's ranking letter and crossed off his name in the sheet they had. "You are in the 11 A.M to 2 P.M session" one of them said, "It should be starting anytime soon, why don't you go upstairs and take a seat in the large auditorium to your right." Once inside the auditorium Ishant noticed that students were called in batches of 12. He wondered where they were taking those students. Right at the front of the auditorium, he saw a white screen onto which was projected all the branches and the number of seats remaining in each branch. "Wow! no seats left in Electronics and Communication Engineering (ECE) or Electrical and Electronics Engineering (EEE)" he thought. "Who cares about those branches anyway, I'm only here for Bio-Technology." Ishant had talked with his mother at length the previous evening, she had told him how Biotech presented him with much more opportunities than chemical engineering. She had also reminded him that KIT had two other biology related branches, namely Bioengineering and Bioinformatics. His mother's words had struck a chord with Ishant somewhere, "besides, I did do better at biology than at math. I can always take this seat first and reject it later, when i find a seat in Delhi." he had thought to himself. "Rank 600 to 611" He heard someone shout out at the front of the room. Completely unaware of his mother's presence, he got up and started walking up to the man, when he quickly glanced at the screen, there were still 3 seats left in biotechnology. The group of 12 was taken to another room, where they were split into groups of 4, 600 to 603; 604 to 607;608 to 611. Ishant looked at his ranking and saw he was ranked 611. The first set of 4 were directed to a computer terminal each where they selected a branch of their choice. When 600 to 603 finished, Ishant saw that there were still 3 biotech seats left. The second batch of 4 finished and he could see there was still 1 seat left. "This is getting tense" he thought as he was being directed to a computer terminal. As he sat in front of the computer, he involuntarily said " Ishant, rank 611, I want Biotechnology". The attendant tapped away at the computer for a minute before looking up and saying "Ishant....."

The Train Journey that Changed Destiny - Part 2

Note: Thanks for the great response guys. Now I know that at least someone reads the nonsense I write. I finally managed to submit my ethics write-up (A course requirement!) and I can finally get back to my story.

Suddenly, the phone rang, Ishant answered "Hello?, Hello?" He could barely hear anything, "Damn it!" he thought "There is no cell phone reception outside of Delhi" realizing that the train was past the outskirts of the city. Suddenly the phone came to life again, this time he could hear the person at the other end, "Hello Ishant! Are you on the train? Did your ticket get confirmed?" It was a few seconds before he realized who was at the other end "Hello Mom! Yes, I am on the train. My ticket was confirmed and the T.T.E just allotted me a berth."
Mom: "I am on my way to the station myself, I should be in Chennai tomorrow. I hope you remembered to bring our tickets to Kumbakonam"
Ishant: "Yes mom, I did!"
Mom: "So, this is an excellent opportunity for you to find out how the counselling process works. Besides, I am not sure you will be offered a seat, considering you are ranked 600 on the priority list"

Ishant: "Mom, I am not really looking to move out of Delhi. I don't care much for Kumbakonam anyway! So, How is your work coming along, in Mumbai?"

Mom: "That reminds me, I was talking to one of my colleagues today about KIT (Kumbakonam Institute of Technology), he tells me that it is an excellent place to study. Besides, he is a Bio-Technology graduate himself and he tells me there is not much difference between Chemical Engineering and Bio-Technology. What do you think of Biotech for a career option? It seems to be the in thing these days."

Ishant: "Mom! There is no way I am doing my engineering at KIT, the only reason I agreed to even travel to Kumbakonam is so I could spend some time with Grandpa and you sweetened the deal by promising to take me to a couple of temples near Kumbakonam."

Mom: "OK! OK! Nobody is asking you to join KIT yet. Considering your marks, I would probably have to pay them a hefty donation to give you a seat. There are many other options to choose from such as....."

Suddenly, there was silence at the other end. Ishant realized that he had lost reception again. He looked at the time, it was 10:55 P.M. He decided to settle down on his berth for a night of much needed sleep. "Hopefully" he thought, "I will be back to Delhi by the end of this week and I can finalize my college admissions and settle into college life. Travelling all the way to Kumbakonam just to have a look at the counselling process is such a drag". With these thoughts in mind, he slowly drifted off to sleep.

The Train Journey that changed Destiny....

Note: All characters are fictional and any similarity to any persons living or dead is not intended and completely co-incidental ;)

He was waiting at the station when he heard the announcement over the PA system, "Train no.6044, delhi to chennai, Rajdhani express will leave in 5 minutes." "Damn!" he thought, "another 40 hours on a train heading to this little town he had never even heard of".
Ishant had finished his HSC exams a couple of months ago. He had been wondering what to do once his results were declared, his mother had often mentioned that there was a severe lack of chemists in industry and a B.Sc. in chemistry would not be such a bad idea. He wasn't sure chemistry was really his forte, but then what had ever been his forte?
The train had slowly started pulling out of the station and he could see the large swathe of humanity go past him. An hour into the journey, a T.T.E came by and asked to look for his ticket. Digging into his pockets, Ishant found the ticket wrapped around a piece of paper. As he was handing out the ticket to the T.T.E, he slowly straightened out the paper he now held in his hand. He could recognize it anywhere, it was a list he had made while trying to figure out what he wanted to do.
Going over the list again, he decided on a choice, "Chemical Engineering! yes! that would be it, thats the only thing that doesnt scare me". He had applied to a few colleges in and around Delhi and he wasn't sure if he would get an admit at all. This insecurity was the reason he was on this train, an application he had submitted a week ago had come through. He could still remember the day he had sent out this application, it was 2 days before the submission deadline had expired, he had sent out the application by Speed Post hoping India Post wouldn't screw up. He did not know what to expect, would he get a call from this college? would he even be considered? Should he even take it up?
Suddenly, the phone rang, Ishant answered "Hello?, Hello?".....