I don’t know how to start this, as writing down something was never my cup of tea. But today the situations have made me to do so. My name is Rohan Sharma, and these are the pages from my diary.
Having graduated with Chemistry, I moved to Kolkata from Mumbai after getting the job of assistant to the famous scientist Dr.Ashok Ganguly. After two years of grueling laboratory work, He assigned me directly under Him for a project which I never knew what the end result would be! He used to give me instructions of testing compounds, solvents and I have to elaborately note down their behavior with certain metals. I never got any clue of the actual intension of the project until yesterday evening when He came down to the lab Himself and had a talk with me regarding the project for the first time. I was filing my observations in the computer when I saw Him coming to the lab, hence stood up in His honor. He waved His hand gesturing me to sit down.
“Where do you stay Rohan?”
“Sir, it’s a one room flat in Moore Avenue.”
“Do you have any roommates?”
“It’s almost three years you are staying in Kolkata; you must have grown friends in your locality?”
“Not such, sir.”
“Rohan, I want you to do me a favor. Will you?”
“Off course Sir.”
“When do you leave office for home?”
“Almost around 7:30, sir”
“Ok, today you will leave early, around half an hour from now. I will give you a box which will contain a specific solvent kept in a small tube, tightly closed. Within the box; you will also find a small poly bag containing sand and a bottle of mercury. I will also provide you a titration kit along with a stopwatch.”
He stopped talking a bit and started observing my report that I was filing. I remained silent though the urge to know what-is-this-all-about was boiling inside me.
“You are pretty good; especially the arsenic observation was above your par.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
He started to speak once again - “you will perform a titration test today at your home where you need to make sure that no more than 20ml of mercury drops gets into the solvent in a perfect time period of 30 minutes. Am I clear?”
“Ok then, come to my chamber after 15 minutes, take your belongings of the day and you leave.”
He started walking towards the door, suddenly turned and asked me – “do you have any queries regarding this?”
“Two questions, sir.”
“Sir, what is the use of sand in the titration?”
“Aww, well the desired result of this project will only be achieved if you have the sands on your palm.”
This was the most confusing answer I have ever had! And it showed in my face, most importantly He noticed it.
“After you have completed the titration with mercury, you need to put the solution upon the sand, kept upon your palm, that’s the most important part. But I don’t want you to perform the last part yourself; you just need to concentrate on the titration.”
“Sir, what is this project all about?”
“Well, I believe you surely will know it by today.”
“Sir, why we are not doing the titration in the lab itself?”
He gave me a HOW-DARE-YOU kind of look and said “do you have any problems?”
He gave a little nod of his head and walked away from the lab.
I quickly closed down the observation report I was filing, went to His chamber after 15 odd minutes, took the carry bag He pointed me to take, and without a word left His chamber.
It was around 6:30 that I reached my rented flat in Moore Avenue. Keeping the bag safe upon the sofa, I quickly took a bath, had some food and within another 15 odd minutes was ready to start the titration. I was indeed excited and a bit nervous.
I opened the bag. Inside it was a box upon which a note was glued. The note was from Dr.Ganguly which says:
Keep in mind these three things at any cost-
1. Be perfect about the 20ml and half-an-hour condition.
2. Don’t do the last part yourself.
3. Don’t panic, it’s not going to blow your house.
How is He so sure that nothing explosive is going to happen? Even if nothing happens, there may be some toxic or bad smell coming off after or during the titration. It will be better if I do it in a closed room, but I don’t have one here except the bathroom!
I thought for a moment again and then decided to do the titration in bathroom, not wasting any more time; I started arranging for the titration inside the bathroom. It took me around 20 minutes to be perfectly sure that all the instructions are in order. I started observing the reaction happening, nothing explosive but the color of the solvent was indeed changing with all the colors of a rainbow occurring simultaneously in layers. I haven’t seen such rapid change in colors for a titration ever, and that too within 5 minutes.
Suddenly I heard the door bell ringing!
No one normally comes looking for me, that too at this hour!
I closed the door of the bathroom, and went to open the entrance door of the flat.
A middle-aged man was standing; he wore a black colored suit and had a briefcase in his hand. Two more people were standing behind him with their hands backwards.
“Rohan Sharma.” – said the one standing in front.
“Yes, what do you want?”
“A lot, Rohan”, he tried to get inside my flat, and I tried to resist by blocking his path. But the other two guys standing behind now came in front and forcefully took me aside so that the leader of these two can come inside. I was not able to cope with those two macho bodyguards, hence helplessly I watched him step inside and take a sit in the sofa.
“Rohan, come here and have a sit beside me.”
I went to the sofa and sat there, keeping a somewhat distance from him.
“You must be wandering about my identity.”
I just nodded my head.
“I am Dipankar Chatterjee; I believe you have heard my name.”
Dipankar Chatterjee! Indeed I have heard that name but can’t recall where exactly.
He was staring at me, then laughed hilariously – “oh, please, don’t tell me that while working in Dr.Ganguly’s lab you haven’t heard of me!”
Yes, I remember it now. He is the one who used to work in Dr.Ganguly’s lab some three years ago, and betrayed him by stealing his work on cancer cells and patented it, thus becoming a millionaire within months. But what is he doing here? And that too in the middle of my work, I don’t even know what has happened with the solvent now, though mercury drops will stop automatically after the stipulated 30 minutes. I quickly took a sharp look on my wrist watch, still 15 minutes left.
“Remember, the cunning thief who stole fame and money from the old moron, right?”
“Why are you here, Mr.Chatterjee?”
“I know everything Rohan, where is it?”
“The gold making solvent.”
“Either you are acting over smart or you really don’t know what you are up to?”
“Mr.Chatterjee, I don’t think that I have to answer any of your queries, better you leave.”
He raised his eyebrows the maximum he can!
“Well, you know Rohan; I spend two lakhs every month upon these two healthy guys standing on your door. So that at the right moment, they can use all their muscle power for all of my wishes. They also have the license for keeping revolver, though the use of it has not been required yet. Unless you demand one.”
I am clever enough to understand the tone of threat he pitched and which indeed surrounds me in my own flat!
“It’s up to you, Rohan. Answer my queries and you will not only be unharmed but also be a bit rich by your standards.”
I knew that I have no options but to surrender, hence started following his way – “I really don’t know what you are talking about. Whatever Dr.Ganguly asks me to perform, I do it.”
“You have never asked him about it?”
“He never replied.”
“Ok, so he had learnt a bit from me”, he smiled, “do you want to know about it?”
He started roaming around the room.
“Have you heard of the Alchemist?”
“Yes, they used to make gold, I believe that’s the rumor.”
“Well your boss has found out a way of succeeding in their path, of turning things into gold.”
“That’s not possible; it’s just a rumor like El Dorado. You must have got some wrong information.”
“My information’s are more than reliable. That’s the project you are working upon, the unknown solvent, the thing you have been asked to take to your home today, that is what I precisely require of you. And I will grab it, be sure of it.”
So he knew everything about the titration, and he wants the solvent. And there is no chance I can resist! He will take it from me at any cost.
This whole situation has diverted my mind from the titration going on in the bathroom. I looked at the watch; there are still another 5 minutes before the titration is over. There may be a blast, a sound or a crack, and he will know where it is kept.
“So where is it?”
“I will lose my job, Mr.Chatterjee. I can be even put into jail for treachery. Please try to understand.”
“I am not a kind person, and this pleading of yours is not going to help you out. But if you hand me over the solvent, I will give you enough money to go back and start afresh. And for the treachery part you were speaking, it can’t be proved dear, there are no proofs.”
While he spoke, I noticed a smell coming, it’s like some rotten eggs have been cracked and spread over. The smell is bad enough to get noticed. And he has noticed it. He looked behind where the kitchen is and then towards his bodyguards.
“Rohan, where from this smell could possibly come?”
The smell has increased voluptuously but there are no signs of gas. He started looking around everywhere. Is he going to find out the source in the bathroom? Indeed, he has his eyes upon its door.
I observed him carefully as he walked to the door. I knew that time was running out but suppressed the urge to check my watch. I took a deep breath and started counting in reverse under my breath. “Ten, nine, eight, seven...”
Before even I could count up to ten, I saw him open the door and giving out a loud laugh.
“It’s the most worst imaginable place to have an experiment Rohan, hahahaha….”, no wonder he is laughing at me.
“I have got what I desired Rohan, but why were you doing this in bathroom?”
I told him everything, now that he has got what he wanted.
“So what is next?”
I told him whatever Dr.Ganguly told me.
“Ok so the sand needs the warmth of the palm to turn into gold. Very well, Durjoy, take the whole setup carefully to my car, and don’t spill any drops from it, ok.”
The guy named Durjoy nodded and headed towards the bathroom meanwhile the other guy took the carry bag given to me by Dr.Ganguly. Mr.Chatterjee stood up and smiled towards me – “thank you Rohan, for all of your help. The briefcase here has 10 lakhs, use it well, bye.”
I saw helplessly as he walked towards the door. But he stopped suddenly and turned towards me – “you know what Rohan, after I stole the papers from your boss, he cursed me that one day the hands I have led upon his papers will be of no use. But you see the irony of this! Today, I am going to turn sands into gold by the same hands that the old moron cursed, hahahaha….”, he went off slamming the door loudly.
The next day I went to the lab with a heart full of anxiety and fear. I was almost sure within myself that this is the last day of my job. I can even dream of the moment when I will be arrested by the police. With all these fears I started my usual work in the lab until one of my colleagues told me that Dr.Ganguly have called me in His cabin. I went there with the heart in my mouth. There was only the two of us, and He indicated me to sit down.
“What were your observations Rohan?”
I remained silent. I can’t even dare to make eye contact with Him.
“Rohan, what were your observations?”
Anyhow I steadied myself and looked into the old and wise eyes of Him – “sir, I need to tell you something, something very important.”
“Before that tell me what was your observations?”
“Sir, please..”, I tried to intervene.
“Regarding Dipankar Chatterjee.”
I was speechless hearing that name. Does that mean, but how is that possible?
“You are shocked, right?”
I have no words to utter.
He smiled – “I know everything that happened yesterday, that was what I wanted, and it yielded results.”
He turned the face of the computer towards me. The news headlines can be seen -
“PROF.DIPANKAR CHATTERJEE HAD BEEN ADMITED TO HOSPITAL WITH A DREADFULL INFECTION IN HIS BOTH HANDS, WHICH PROBABLY COULD HAVE BEEN DUE TO SOME CHEMICALS.”
I looked back towards Him.
“This was all pre-planned. I knew he would come for it to you. He has planted his spies here way back. I just used the conditions in my favor.”
“Sir, so you have done all these to take revenge.”
“Practically yes, his hands will never function again.”
“That means the solvent is a toxic compound, that’s why you have told me not to do the last part myself.”
“But how were you so sure that he will perform the act upon his hands?”
“I do know my assistants well, Rohan.”
“Then Sir, the whole concept of turning things into gold was a decoy to lure him? And I was a part of this un-noticed plan from the start.”
He smiled – “thank you for your help, Rohan.”, He took out a black plastic pouch from his drawer and gave me, “this is my token of gratitude towards you.”
I poured the thing within the pouch onto my palm; some shining golden colored minute metals were staring at me. I was shocked again and looked straight into Him. He smiled again, this time - THE GOLDEN SMILE!
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