Vishnu Acharya was my student. The fair and sturdy lad was the most brilliant child in the class. He was extremely brilliant in mathematics and physics. Until he was fully clear in any topic, he would ask the teachers question after question till he understood everything. This quality in him pleased me a lot.
Vishnu’s family lived close by to me. His father was teaching Physics in a college and his mother Kavita was a good friend of mine. She was very concerned about my safety and comfort since I lived alone. Whenever her husband would go to the market, she would come and check with me if I wanted something from the market. In the evenings she sent Vishnu to study at my house. Outside of school, Vishnu used to call me “Teacher aunty”.
Time flew by. The clever lad finished school and did very well in his 12th board exams. He joined the National Institute of Technology at Rourkela for his engineering course. In the five years that I had known Vishnu, a close bond had developed between us. I fondly remembered how he would always have intelligent and curious questions for his “Teacher aunty”. I missed him a lot.
After completing his graduation, Vishnu was selected to do a Master’s in Technology at IIT Kharagpur. One day Kavita came to my house. She was looking very worried. She blurted out, “This mad son of mine says he is taking of some research to invent something. You see Neelima he is already 25 years in age. When will he take a regular job and get married and get settled? You talk to him. He will listen to you.” I assured her and told her not to be worried. Rather she should be proud of him since he was taking an unconventional route and trying to do something different with his life.
Four years had passed since I had that chat with Kavita. One-night Vishnu called me from Kharagpur, “Namaskar teacher aunty. I have invented something unique. I will go tomorrow and will tell you everything in detail.”
“I was working under Prof. Rangaswamy. On his guidance, I worked to create a device to make a person invisible for 24 hours. The person can see, hear and feel everything, but no one can see the person. The Professor said it would be of high demand at the Defense Ministry. With great interest I worked on my project. We tested the contraption on many inanimate objects first, and gradually progressed to animal testing. When we were confident of there being no glitches, Prof. Rangaswamy fixed an auspicious day for the final experiment with a human subject. Since I was the creator, I wanted to take the plunge first.”
I had goosebumps on my skin when Vishnu said this. He carried on, “Teacher aunty, do you know how a Hologram generator works?”
I nodded in the negative.
Vishnu continued explaining. “It works very much like a Hologram generator, but instead of creating a Hologram of your body, it creates a Hologram of things around you, letting you blend in with the surroundings and hence makes you invisible.” Vishnu was so good at explaining his creation in a way that a common person could understand.
“What happened next”, I asked mesmerized.
“I disappeared! There was stunned silence in the lab, because no one knew what to expect. The Professor called out to check if I was okay and instead of answering his question, I grabbed his hand and shook it vigorously to congratulate him at our success. This made him the first person on earth to shake hands with an invisible person.”, Vishnu finished with a joke.
“What did you do next?”, I asked him.
“The first place I went to, was the canteen of our research center. I was always curious to find out if high-priced organic food I bought was indeed organic. On visiting the kitchen, in my invisible state, I realized that nothing used in the kitchen was organic. The head caterer was busy hiding the raw materials’ packaging lest someone discovered that he used regular ingredients. For some reason, I wasn’t surprised by this – as if I had always expected this. I deflated the caterer’s motorcycle tires on my way out as a sign of non-violent protest.”
I laughed at joy at Vishnu’s silent revenge.
Vishnu continued, “On leaving the research centre campus, I saw children playing cricket in the field outside. It made me very happy to see the kids enjoying their childhood. But in one dark, secluded corner of the field, a few young men were doing drugs. It was a shame to see their youth getting wasted. It was gradually turning dark, and I saw people returning in hordes from their places of employment. I saw people with all kinds of clothing, of all colours and in all shapes – they are the silent heroes that power our economy. The taxes they pay funds the fancy research that I conduct. I folded my hands in respect to them.”
“Vishnu, your invisibility seems to have helped you experience life from a unique perspective. You also dealt with your superpower very maturely. Someone else in your situation might have abused it. The most you did was deflate the dishonest caterer’s motorcycle tyre.”, I said.
“It is very difficult to resist temptation, Teacher Aunty. Power tends to corrupt. When I went home that night, still shrouded in my cloak of invisibility, my parents were browsing girls’ matrimonial profiles. When they went to have dinner, I quietly stepped in and removed all the profiles they had shortlisted. Very quickly, I created a profile of my girlfriend Chitra on the matrimonial site and added it to their shortlist.”
This endearing prank was Vishnu’s way of telling his parents about his love. Vishnu is now happily married to Chitra and works with the Defense Ministry. With great power, Vishnu also showed great responsibility.
Photo By: Luis Vilasmil