“Sunny, hurry up! Papa is waiting for you.” 

“Yes…..just coming.” murmured Sunny.

Sunny, a brilliant till matriculation, had to opt for Mathematics reluctantly in 12th. Post-12th, his father Satpal, a Govt-contractor wanted him to pursue Engineering and therefore he managed a seat in Avadi bound Peter’s Engineering College in ECE through quota.  He was annoyed with his decision but had no alternative except to follow his dictum.

He stepped out of his house with a bag in his hand. 

“Are you ready?

“Yes” replied groaning Sunny.

They left for Chennai with all the luggage. Third day, they reached the campus. After documentation, he was allotted hostel with three others of the same stream. 

After arranging the essential stuff, Satpal returned. The class was to commence from the forthcoming week. 

Throughout his life, Satpal lived up with the notion that non-science students are not the serious-one. It was one of the reasons as to why he didn’t pay heed to Sunny’s preference.   

The class started for freshers. The ecstatic students got introduced. With his charm, he became all’s favourite. Thomas & Titarmare were roommates and therefore, the closest.  

Thomas, a bright student hailed from Kerala. His aspiration to become communication scientist was well supported by his teacher father. On the other hand, Titarmare, an orphan from Kandivali, got admitted with the scholarship from NGO. Getting admission in ‘Peters’ itself was a success for him. 

Initially, lecture was insignificant. Inconsistency in studies acted as a catalyst in jelling. Unhindered, they developed habit of roaming around the city. Amrit, the next-door guy, was also used to accompany them.

Amrit was the only son of Nagapattinam-based businessman Rasiklal Agarwal. Hence, getting seat in ‘Peters’, was cake-walk for him.

Hence, troika of Sunny, Thomas & Titarmare were combination of money, aspiration & solitude respectively. With Sunny & Amrit, the partiers had no financial difficulties.

They were enthralled to witness the enticing beauty of Chennai & its landscapes adorned with beautiful beaches. Now, it was a routine affair to visit multiplexes & pubs.

The years passed by, so were the curriculums. The first two-three semesters went by smoothly. But the alarm bell rang in the 4th. Thomas & Amrit passed with average marks whereas Sunny & Titarmare hardly sailed through. 

However it didn’t deter them. They had now become both party thrower & bar hopper. 

Meanwhile, Satpal suffered a jolt in his business and his earnings plummeted. It compelled him to restrict fund-flow to Sunny.

Left with little, the Quartet decided to raise money. First, they zeroed on admission process. By coaxing the newcomers from the North, they accumulated certain amount. But very soon, they were out of money & luck. Option-less, they planned to do mischievous act by playing abduction drama. 

Ploy was designed in such a way that Amrit would be held captive and Titarmare’s task was to act at ransom-caller whereas Sunny will do remaining task.  

As planned, he dialled & threatened Rasiklal to pay ransom of 10 lakhs rupees.

“Mr. Rasiklal, your son is in my custody, if you fail to pay by tomorrow, you won’t find him again.” threatened Titarmare. 

Hello…hello…who are you? Where from, you are calling? Stunned Rasiklal pleaded but to no avail. 

Titarmare disconnected the phone. 

After consultation, Titarmare dialled again to confirm place where ransom would be collected. 

Meanwhile, Rasiklal called Pandian, his business associates-cum-councillor from Chennai. Shell-shocked on hearing, he consoled Rasiklal and sought abductors’ call details. He suggested him to linger on call if abductor dials again and intimate the police simultaneously.  

As anticipated, mobile rang again. It was shot in the arm for Rasiklal. Alerting others, he received it. He tried to linger on call until local Police is informed.    

Amateur, Titarmare continued for a few minutes foolishly and disconnected. But, by then, police had enough clues.

Immediately afterwards, Sunny saw Policemen. He panicked and asked others to decide future course. They huddled. Disturbed, Titarmare hurriedly mixed sleeping-pills in juice & offered it to Amrit to take. 

Meanwhile, Thomas recalled new research about invisibility in science-journal. He asked Sunny to bring ‘Metamaterials’ from the Laboratory. He rushed to the laboratory. Scared, he entered and took two meters of ‘Metamaterials’ and subsequently handed over to Thomas. 

They rushed to the adjacent room where Amrit was comatose. Thomas covered Amrit’s body with ‘Metamaterials’. The very next moment, Amrit disappeared. 

“Thomas, what you did? What happened to Amrit? Where is he? Sunny lambasted. Unfazed, Thomas left hurriedly.

By then, Police had all sufficient cellular data to interrogate Titarmare. He opened the door. Police entered inside and queried Titarmare but he didn’t utter any word portraying obliviousness.  

Police looked throughout the hostel & vicinity but couldn’t find Amrit. Next morning, failed in their endeavour, police sought technical assistance again. To their utter surprise, the result was the same.

For sleuths, ultimate goal was to find Amrit unscathed. 

Meanwhile, Amrit got awakened and sought water. But to his surprise, nobody responded. He got up and went to adjacent room where other friends were busy facing Police. Semi-conscious Amrit got frightened & returned to the room where he was incarcerated.  

Eventually, based on electromagnetic sensor’s data, police entered the room with Sunny & Titarmare but Amrit was nowhere to be seen. 

They were also finding it very difficult believing the electromagnetic data. Finally machine was brought into the room and operationalised. Much to their surprise, one human-replica was seen lying. Radiologist understood the ploy and went straight to place. He removed the sheet by laser only to find Amrit gasping for air. 

Armed with evidence, Police had already put the three under preventive detention. Eventually abduction drama unfolded. During interrogation, Sunny & Co. divulged everything. Sunny, in particular, was very vocal & blamed his father for such a nose-diving character build-up. 

The next morning, newspapers were loaded with headlines “Parents Dictum Compelled Students To Take Infamous-route …”Unhappy Ending Of An Engineer Son”….’Sleuths Cracked The Quartet’s Fantasy’… etc.

As soon as the news broke out, people thronged to the university hostel to see as to how the ‘Metamaterials’ made the person invisible. 

Glossary:

ECE: Electronics & Communication Engineering.

Metamaterial: It directs and controls the propagation and transmission of specified parts of the light spectrum and demonstrates the potential to render an object seemingly invisible. Objects in the defined location are still present, but incident waves are guided around them without being affected by the object itself.

Peters’: It means Peters Engineering College, Avadi, Chennai

Quota: Management Quota 

NGO: Non-Governmental Organisation. 

***

Photo By: Matheus Ferraro

When was the last time you read some modern sea stories—stories of ships and the seafarers who man them? Tales of adventure, love, romance, piracy, intrigue... and human nature? Well, look no further.

These are twelve stories of the sea, but not necessarily for seafarers alone. They are for anybody and everybody who likes to read fiction. And a ripping good yarn, as sailors used to say once upon a time.

Written by a sea captain who has spent his entire adult life at sea, more than forty years on the waves and still counting, these are stories set in the 70s, 80s up till the present day.

Will you come aboard now? The voyage is about to begin.

Link to buy this book: https://www.amazon.in/Driftwood-Beetashok-Chatterjee/dp/9385854771 and also at selected bookstores all over India.


Author:Beetashok Chatterjee, ex-Claws Club member at ArtoonsInn.

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The story you've read is an entry for UniK-5, #Invisible, a room8 Writing event by ArtoonsInn.
Check the event guidelines here: https://artoonsinn.com/unik-5-writing-event-artoonsinn/

 

Thanks for reading.

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