I was looking at Ashim, my best pal in the university. He was going towards a van, a police van. I was remembering the days few years back when I and Ashim both were enrolled in research program in the same institution. I went for theoretical physics and Ashim was doing a work which he considered to be more practical and fruitful than that of mine. His research work was engineering based making a specific lubricant for use in heavy industries. I and Ashim shared the same room in the hostel for three long years and scuffling over our research work.
In the first year we were enthusiastic students newly intoxicated with the feeling of great scientists of the future. I would bury my head in big books and many times tear of my hairs in doing huge calculations and Ashims’s sarcastic remark of me becoming Einstein would irritate me.
Ashim would laugh peeping from behind on my notebook that was full of calculations. I often tell him in irritation not to make such remarks and making lubricant for machines is not the only research.Then he would laugh at me leaving the room.
He would often ask me about about creation and annihilation of particles and how i can exemplify the process and explain to a lay man like him and would look at me with a victorious grin. His victory was my inability to answer his query. Really I could never answer him. I would make futile efforts to prove him by calculation as I did before my mentor. I would fail and Ashim would celebrate his victory by mocking me. I got irritated and would leave the room. In a couple of moments Ashim came to me with a cigarette and poetry. Ashim’s poetic and artistic mind was really splendid. He even used to make out magnificent objects from used rubber bands and paper cuttings.
We reached the second year and the reality of the field started to manifest itself. The demon of exploitation was unveiling its face. Ashim would come late at night. Frustrated, broken, beaten. He would sit clutching his head in both hands and narrates how his mentor always insults him and says all his proposals are bullshit and it will not work and go to the dumping ground.
“Ashim you are overreacting,this is the scenario everywhere” I would try to convince him.
“Overreacting! he threw my work because the results were new and publication would be a difficult job” Ashim would often say in anguish .
“The process is going on” I would answer. Gradually we were facing the harsher realities of this dark sphere.
“Every day you start a mess after returning from lab. Every one of us is facing the same thing, everyone is struggling. Its better you concentrate on your research rather than complaining about these issues” I often used to scold him like this but from inside I felt weak.
Third year of research life witnessed a more horrible situation. Ashim had left poetry and paper art. He never even sang which was his specialty. Rather Ashim was getting more sunk in depression. The multiple rejections of his manuscripts and insults by his mentor had enraged him. Still we were deprived of our long pending fellowship. Ashim would gather students to raise voice against many acts which in his view and truly in everyone’s view was injustice. He received a meager support from fellow students at the time of action. I would often try to convince him but my efforts were futile. Ashim’s actions were adding rage to his mentor and his life was getting more miserable.
The fourth year brought the worst misery on his life when he lost his mother. Ashim’s father had lost his job a long before. He was in acute need of a job. He urged his mentor to get his thesis submitted as working without fellowship was getting more difficult for him and he was eligible for submission. The mentor did the worst. He went abroad for three months. I was on the verge of submission like many others of our batch. We convinced Ashim to go to the authorities so that he could submit his work before the expiry of his registration. Ashim went to the higher authorities but got nothing other than sermons and preaching on struggle and the lessons of obedience for the mentor.
It was the fifth year when Ashim’s patience was on the verge of getting shattered. The mentor returned from abroad but delayed his process of submission giving in genuine reasons. Ashim would blame us all as he thought that our acts of buttering the mentor are responsible for his problems. Ashim could not flatter. He lost all the opportunities of applying for a job that year.
Sixth year brought the disaster with it. After many harassments and grievances Ashim was ready with his thesis. He went to get it signed by his mentor. Ashim met the bull like man in the corridor of the department. We looked at the man and felt a high degree of hatred for him. Ashim went with his mentor. We were waiting expecting that Ashim will return with a smile of relief on his face. On the contrary we heard a scuffle in the department. I ran with others. My heart was pounding. What I witnessed was unforgettable. Ashim was standing bewildered. There were pieces of paper everywhere and on the chair was lying his mentor barely breathing his face covered with blood.”He tore my thesis saying it was not what he wanted” Ashim said with a trembling voice. “He tore it with a paper knife. He tore six long years of my life. He tore my mother’s dreams and my father’s hope” Ashim said as if he was in a trance. His eyes were wide open. The paper knife that was smeared with blood was held in his hands.
Today the judgment was given. Ashim was sent to jail for three years since the man did not die. Ashim’s action was not intentional it was an outburst of impulse. He ruined his life and his family too. All doors will be closed for him, he was a bright boy” a comment came from behind. Something smacked in my “WAS”. What does it mean “WAS” Ashim is not dead.
I was left as the police van got out of my sight. I lighted a cigarette suddenly I found an answer to the question Ashim often irritated me with in the first year to give an example of particle creation and annihilation. Yes it happened today. A jovial artistic and lively young man was annihilated and a criminal was created. I was overwhelmed as I found the answer of Ashim’s irritating question but my eyes filled with tears when I realized that my bossom friend himself exemplified it. Yes the word WAS is correct. My dear lively friend Ashim is dead now, he is annihilated. But a new character is born out of him. The new character is CREATED, case no 17/2015 attempt to murder accused Ashim dasgupta. Soon he will be laballed by a number
I was wondering in the institute campus my eyes wet. I felt an urge to shout to the top of my lungs. I felt the impulse to destroy to ANNHILATE everything around me. I was having a tendency of throwing up. Suddenly some random voices came to my ear “Hey see the mentors are now quiet serious about their research students. They have to be after Ashim’s case. See most of the students are submitting within three years”.
I again found my eyes wet. Ashim’s annihilation and a criminals creation is the genesis a new system may be transient. This is the process of creation and annihilation.A law of nature.