Raj Gupta was at his desk on that dreadful morning punching away numbers on his computer. It had been quite an uneventful morning, the very usual he thought. He worked as a transponder in an investment banker company Marsh inc. owned by a wealthy New Yorker James Marsh. Raj Gupta never liked his job. The job required him to sit there at his desk, to look at his computer all day long, process the numbers flashing on the screen and to ensure everything was in order. And he had been doing this week in week out for 2 years now. He wanted a change now; he wanted to break free from the pattern. He missed being with his family. He had a lovely son and a caring wife. He would have loved to spend time with them. He closed his eyes and could see his son smiling at him with his wife behind him with her eyes wet longing for love. His heart swelled up with tears rolling down his cheeks. With this thought in mind he looked away from the computer screen and looked out of the window overlooking the skyline of the Manhattan area. He could see the cars making their way through the meandering traffic of Manhattan. He could barely make out the people walking on the streets down below. To him it looked like a swarm of senseless ants heading nowhere. His office was located on the 101st floor of the north tower of the world trade centre. The office was just like you would find in an investment bank. It looked pretty grim and had an abandoned feeling to it. It was not lavish; it had a desk bought from one of those huge hardware stores which all of a sudden had taken over the nation you can find these stores everywhere now. The computer was very ordinary, the one that could meet your business needs only. Every desk had the same computer bore the same makers name some Japanese firm which had taken the world by surprise from being virtually non- existent for many years. Even the papers had been on this for quite some time now. Raj Gupta sighed away and looked out of the window again. He saw a peck in the sky. He would not have cared less but there was something different about that peck. It was getting bigger and bigger by the second. He knew it, something was not right. The peck which had by now assumed a circular shape was coming towards him at an enormous speed. The last thing he remembered was him getting under the table and a loud deafening sound of an engine roaring, before it struck.
It was 8:46:30 am. 11th September 2001.
The world would never be the same again.
The boy had been running for a few minutes now and the now helpless father had become quite tired of chasing his son. What started as a game to which the child and the father had resorted to from riding the see-saw had become quite strenuous for the father, trying to keep up to his son. The son was rather enjoying this and that smile on his face made the father's heart swell up. For a moment there he forgot that he was completely exhausted, straining every inch of his muscle, but to see that joyous expression on his son's face, he wanted to run even harder even longer until he dropped dead. But the son proved to be relentless, ran harder, the father gave up realizing the fate of the futile chase. He stopped panting, gasping for breath. The son too soon realized that the father has finally given up, he was content and pleased. This unprofitable run had made the son love his father more than he ever did and he wanted to run up to him and squeeze him as hard as he could. He glanced up at his father and started running flashing the brightest beam of smile he could produce and then just as he was about to throw his hands around him there was a loud noise of a jet engine and the figure before him exploded into shreds of pieces.
Rahul Gupta opened his eyes. He was sweating really hard and was a bit dazed though. He looked over the alarm clock it was 6:00am in the morning, he put the alarm off. Not another nightmare he thought to himself. Ever since that dreaded day when two Boeing jets crashed into the twin towers and his father was lost forever he had been getting these nightmares. He tried to consult the psychiatrist but to no avail, her mother too was worried but he had learnt to live on with them, if you would ask him he would reply I guess I loved my father too much. Five years had passed on, it was the year 2006 and a lot had changed. Who would have ever thought that one Tuesday a lunatic’s plan would materialize and the whole world would be gripped by a sudden wave of terror and would indicate the order of things to come in the future. The U.S army invaded Afghanistan and wrecked havoc the whole country was in shambles in a few weeks time the Taliban regime had finally come to an end. But the perpetrator was still at large. He was still out there somewhere forging a new terror attack that would put the world onto his mercy all over again.
But nothing changes; he would never see his father again. He would never feel his warmth again; he would never feel his love again nobody could change that nobody could bring his father back to life. Dismissing these thoughts he got up to get on with daily commotions. Went up to basin and looked himself at the mirror. Rahul was just like any other 18 year old. He was tall and lanky; had ruffled hair. Washed his face and glanced at himself again in the mirror I need to get a haircut he said to himself. He was very particular about the way he looked and dressed up just like his father. For once, the men in the house used to take up more time in dressing up than the woman in the house.
It was 7:30 am when he sat at the breakfast table. Her mother had prepared toasts for them.
Mrs. Gupta was a very hardworking lady and had taken over everything once her husband had died. She had adjusted quite well to everything and was now working almost 2 jobs to make sure they lead a balanced life both the mother and the son. She loved her son a lot and even more so after Raj had died, because he was the only one she could hang on to now call somebody her own. She couldn’t let him go she would have died if it wasn’t for him. But they had moved on now. Mrs. Gupta was working as a teacher in a school just a block away from where they lived. She used to teach 6th grade students. The children too loved her for she was a very
affectionate and caring lady; was a gandhian, believed in non-violence. Rahul too had just given 12th grade exams and was looking forward to joining Hindu college from this year to complete his graduation majoring in physics. It would be like whole new world to him would be fun though he said to himself.
“He is back again with a new tape, the news channels are going bonkers he is been on for like two hours now.” Said Mrs. Gupta glancing at rahul and then towards the television set.
“Who is back??” asked rahul throwing a bewildering look at his mother. He couldn’t think of anything.
“Osama bin laden, he sent a new tape, just a reminder as he puts it that he is still alive and kicking.” she had a smile on her face when she finished her sentence though not well received by her son. He had developed intense hatred towards the man, if it wasn’t for him his father would have been at that table and having breakfast with them.
“What does he have to say this time? I mean which building is he going to blow up next?”
Said rahul. His mood has suddenly taken a wrong turn. The mention of that heartless man had angered him.
“See for yourself.” She took the remote and switched on the television set which was kept at one corner of the room. As soon as it was switched on his daunting figure had appeared. He looked quite frail but still possessed that endearing voice. Had the same old banter working for him.
”……Do not be deluded by your power and modern weapons. Although they win some battles, they lose the war. Patience and steadfastness are better than them. What is important is the outcome. We have been tolerant for 10 years in fighting the Soviet Union with our few weapons and we managed to drain their economy. They became history, with God's help. You should learn lessons from that. We will remain patient in fighting you, God willing, until the one whose time has come dies first. We will not escape the fight as long as we hold our weapons in our hands. I swear not to die but a free man even if I taste the bitterness of death. I fear to be humiliated or betrayed. Peace be upon those who follow guidance. “
“He’ll never change. He’ll always be the same heartless and ruthless man that he is.” With this remark he went to his room and started work on his project which, one day, he felt would bring this man to his knees.
As Rahul had locked himself in his room trying to figure out how he’ll get Osama, Ankit was practicing his Shahrukh Khan look in the mirror.
“Yes, you wait Mr. Khan I’ll be bigger than you one day. You got to have the looks boy, you don’t even have the body to match my own and don’t get me started on the acting part, you don’t know how to act because I do. I’ll have yash chopra begging me to act in his film, I’ll rule this world.”
“Ankit, Ankit get down here, the breakfast is served. I won’t say it again Ankit, your parantha is getting cold.” Shrieked his mother.
Now even a parantha is getting in my way, why don’t they just leave me alone I’m a star in the making they will never realize my dreams.
“I’ll be right there.” Shouted Ankit from the top of his lungs.
He walked over to his bed which was in a disheveled state with piles of clothes and loads of junk placed somewhat neatly over it. The walls of the rooms were lined with hundreds of posters of bollywood actors who he grew up watching the screen who he had been idolizing all his life worshipping quite literally. One day people would worship me they’ll have my posters on their walls. He got hold of the shirt he had been looking for sometime now. As he was leaving the room he had one last glance at the posters still a long way to go he thought to himself.
His whole family was seated around the dining table except his mother who busy in the kitchen.
There was his father who had a pretty stern face that morning he wondered as to what could be the reason, there was his kid sister who was pretty young and was ready to go to school, there was his grandmother who was quite old and looked pretty frail. He could sense tension around the table. His father spoke first as he seated himself next to his sister.
“So did you manage to clear all the examination?” asked his father with a mocking tone.
“Yes. I did and as a matter of fact I did quite well, should be enough to get me a decent college and the course –“he was cut in short as he was about to complete what he was trying to say.
“Are you trying to suggest that you want to pursue higher education? Young man you should be grateful enough that you managed to get through high school. We have a whole family business to look after and lately I’ve been very busy and could use a hand with all this. “Said his father. His voice was firm and assertive.
“But –“. He tried to speak but again was cut in short.
“Son when my father died I had left everything and felt that it was my responsibility to look after everything and I think I’ve managed that quite well. I hope you follow in my steps and start being more responsible in life. What do you want to do with your life anyways?” Asked his father with a certain concern in his voice.
"I would like to pursue a course in acting or dramatics-“. He stopped when his he saw his father jeering and laughing. His father called out to his wife now who had been in the kitchen all this while preparing paranthas.
“Rama come here your son has gone mad. He wants to act in films. He wants to become a bollywood hero. “Shouted his father and his mother came running out with a flushed look. She did not know what to do whose side to take.
“Didn’t I tell you to take those posters off his wall; he wants to act now to become the next big thing. But you never bothered to listen to me, now do you see huh?” he was now flustered and was infuriating.
“Look here son nobody in my family has ever put his foot on a stage before and I expect you to do the same. I’m giving you one month just one month. Do whatever you want to do- join some college or get drunk and wasted for all I care. After this month ends you are going to the shop with me.” Yelled his father. He got up his face was red and he was blistering with anger. He collected his lunch box which his wife had prepared and was off to work.
Ankit did not even try to persuade him. He had been anticipating this conversation for some time now. He was irritated and stormed back to his room leaving the food on his plate. His mother could not say anything. The grandmother and his sister were nonchalant; did not care much for what just happened then.
Ankit spent most of that day in his room bickering over what had happened over the breakfast today. He was quite flustered and was assured that his family would not let him have his way. He felt helpless seeing his dream vanishing before his eyes. He had always dreamt of becoming an actor; he had always wanted to feel what it’s like to be in spotlight, to be known, to be famous and there he was lying on the bed dreaming again dreaming that he too would be the king of tinsel town one day.
The evening had set in; there was certain stillness in the air and it was hot outside. Ankit did not fancy the idea of going outside, he had tried to forget what had happened that morning but he was quite unsuccessful. He could hear his father’s words in his head I’m giving you one month just one month. He was now feeling quite exasperated and the thought that he had just one month to realize his dream. He was sitting in living room when a bell rang and he saw Aman entering the main door. Aman was ankit’s neighbor and he had been ankit’s friend since the day he had moved to this neighborhood. That was 10 years ago and to this day they had been great friends. It was aman who spoke first.
"Hey, what’s up??” asked Aman.
“Nothing, had a fight with dad this morning; did not go as I had intended it to go.” replied Ankit with a tenor of disappointment. He then spent the next fifteen minutes explaining what had happened. Aman felt concerned too for his friend only he truly knew what that meant for ankit.
“Don’t lose heart Ankit, you still have a month I bet you’ll get what you want before this month ends. You never know where life would take you. Just don’t think about it now, we’ll cross the bridge when we come to it. Hey and by the way did you see, Osama is back with a new tape!!”
Said aman in an excited voice.
“Why should I care if he is back or not; he is a lunatic, I’m least concerned as long as he is not planning to crash airplanes down my house. Let’s go outside, I need to get fresh air” replied ankit with a very casual tone but obviously he did not know that he would have to care; he would be concerned and that his life was about to change forever.
It had been three hours now and raghav was still bent over the computer screen trying to figure out the code. It was his favorite past time and he loved it. He was a programming freak and was totally fascinated by the cyber world. Where boys of his age would have pop stars’ posters on their bedroom walls his bedroom walls were swathed with posters of Bill Gates. Every corner of his room had something to do with computers. Yes he was like your “everyday-geek”. He would spend most of his day reading computer magazines and surfing the internet searching for his “stuff” that obviously would be something related to computers. No surprises there and he did not care what others used to think about him for he was happy in his own little world which was a 15” inch computer screen. He had his dreams like every other boy would have at his age. He worshipped Bill Gates and dreamt of being bigger than him one day. He wanted to build himself an empire just like the man he idolized did for himself.
Raghav had been an excellent student throughout his life. He had the brains but he could never pursue his dreams. For him family’s dreams came first. He wanted to fly, soar high in life but his father had always wanted him to join the civil services and serve the country like he did all his life. But Raghav had other plans; he knew he would make a terrible babu. He had realized that his future lied somewhere else not in an office moving files and papers from one table to the other.
He finally finished the work and moved across the table towards the bed where his brother was resting. He was the only person Raghav could count on. The only person he could talk to anytime about anything. They’ve had their share of good times and bad times but there was an inseparable bond between them. Raghav used to discuss his idea with his brother and he was kind and patient enough to hear them out. His brother was two years older than him. He was just like his younger brother, very bright and intelligent student but he was never a dreamer he was quite satisfied and comfortable with the idea of becoming ababu. He had been doing engineering from a well known Delhi college and was quite a charmer and very popular with the girls.
Raghav spoke first.
“Do you think it will happen for me someday?”
“Yea sure, I mean all you have to do is find a girl and it’ll happen” replied his brother.
“How is finding a girl going to help me with setting up a software company…huh!! Are you drunk again??” said Raghav with a puzzled look.
“Oh like that, I was thinking about something else.” He said with a sort of an embarrassed look. He continued.
“Yea sure brother it’ll happen for you someday. I’m sure you are going to be the bigger than bill gates someday.”
“But how do I do it? Where do I start from? I’ve done some thinking. All I need to do is hire some garage and set up some workstations there. Just like the Google guys did. What do you say?” Asked raghav with a snooping tone.
“Whoa, take it easy. Looks like you’ve got it all figured out. Things don’t happen just like that. You don’t even know what you are doing. You are still a kid. I mean reading some computer magazines doesn’t make you a professional. There is a lot to be learnt yet plus you are going to need hell lot of money to actually make this happen. Where are you going to get the funding from huh? Champ” said his brother.
“I’ll ask dad-“
“Yea like that’s going to work. He’ll kick you out of the house if he finds out about this. It would be best if you forget about it right now and start concentrating on your studies-” He was cut short.
“But I know I can do it-“raghav said with a raised voice.
“Look Raghav these things require a lot of planning and you need money, shit load of money. I’m sure you can do it but wait for when the time is right or when you do have actually figured it all out. When is your college starting anyways?” Asked his brother.
“In a week’s time. Maybe you are right. Maybe I need to think things over but I’m going to do it someday. “Said raghav.
“And you did the best thing when you opted for computer science honors at college. That’s the right step forward for you. You’ll be big someday bigger than me, bigger than dad, bigger than everybody.” Said his brother with a sense of pride in a very compassionate voice.
“Thank you, Bhai.” Replied raghav with wet eyes.
They both didn’t know that Raghav would soon get his ‘shit load of money’ and that he would soon be ‘bigger than everybody.’