‘Another dull and sunny day in Kolkata’, Arunava thought to himself. He was preparing to leave to get vaccinated having finally managed to get an appointment of this oh so life-saving serum. Needles were never in his forte, but this time he didn’t feel necessarily troubled.
On the other side of the world, in Ohio, Roger was just getting home from work. He had been vaccinated the day before. ‘The second day usually hurts the most, that’s what I have been told’ – he thought as he was having his cup of hot chocolate.
They both had stuff to worry about — Arunava being a recent graduate, was looking for a job in the tough market with the country in turmoil. And, Roger, patiently waiting for a promotion after three years at the same position with no appreciation from either his peers or his bosses.
Roger, despite waiting patiently showing no desolation whatsoever, desperately wanted the promotion, for he was wanting to propose to this girl he had been seeing for two years. He knew that he deserved this position more than anyone else, so did his peers. He lived and breathed for data science. It had been his dream since he was a child. He wouldn’t have been chosen in this company to begin with if he wasn’t THAT good at what he did.
The marketing job where Arunava was at, needed him to solve a problem. Indian parents never quite saw marketing as an actual job. To them, anything except engineering and being a med student didn’t exist. He was struggling with the problem. Arunava dreaded not having a job after graduation; to him, higher studies were not an option. All he needed to do was let out that tempt out the anger he had stored in him over the years and show his parents what he can do after finally getting a job. The problem was difficult, a skill-share affiliate marketing company wanted to predict locations with higher demand and better audience to profit and increase their numbers. The historical data with all the people joined last month, and year and, places with the highly educated audience was all there in front of him, somehow, he wasn’t able to figure out where the company’s next destination should be. Maybe it cannot be done by him, he thought.
The vaccination was painless, he hardly felt anything. The nurse asked him to be careful and watch out for symptoms and take paracetamol if needed.
On the other side, Roger was getting ready for bed. Since it was his second day, the whole day was kind of drowsy for him – before going to bed, Roger took out the vial of ibuprofen he was supplied by the nurse yesterday, had one and went to sleep.
It was later that night when the symptoms finally hit Arunava. He felt nauseous, out of breath and dizzy. He wondered to himself if this was supposed to be like this. Sweating continuously, he wanted to give up. He lay having paracetamol. ‘Make this go away’ he squealed to himself. Telling himself work can wait, he slowly drifted to sleep.
Roger had to skip work the next day. Sleep or rest wasn’t the problem. He felt different…He just did. The pain in his hand was almost gone. It felt as if the world revolved around him. Everything felt crisp. Nursing a cup of coffee, he sat in front of his laptop. He opened it to mail to his boss letting him know he can’t come today. Scrolling through the junk mails, one seemed to hit his eye. It was a letter from his boss – he had been promoted! He quickly got dressed and left for work. Thanking his boss, and getting congratulated by everyone else, he started his daily work. He spent the rest of the afternoon working on his tasks – coding literally flowed out of him. A surge of new knowledge had hit him this morning and it hadn’t vanished yet. He never felt this way before.
On the other hand, for Arunava it was late at night. He couldn’t figure out how to solve the problem, the whole day. He didn’t have the fever anymore, he just felt weak. It felt as if, he didn’t even have a clue anymore – as if he was losing all his senses. He even forgot the part he was actually able to decipher. He thought to himself, that it had to have been the vaccine that was causing all this.
Days went by, the interview date was here. Arunava didn’t attend. He was nowhere to be found. He was called by the employee’s tons of times… no answer. He had left his house. He needed a break, he thought to himself and went off on a journey for a month, thinking it would help him.
Roger had been acing everything with flying colours. He had even left his old job and applied for a new government job for a far better position and likeable topics, in which he could actually make a difference. He got a call from his Indian fashion designer friend, asking Roger for help with predicting locations with higher demand for his company. Roger figured out the problem in a mere 15 minutes. This type of work wasn’t even a proper challenge to Roger anymore. In the last month, he had even finished the poetry book he was struggling with. Publishers fought to get the contract signed by him.
Roger was puzzled, it was only the vaccine that made the difference. What was in it? Were there others like him? Will he lose his powers?
Months went by… Arunava lay in a hospital bed, a mental asylum. Since the day of his vaccination, he had slowly started losing it. He tried getting it in control, but sadly couldn’t. He lay on the bed wondering what was in the vaccine? Were there others affected like him? Or, was he alone? The doctors were taking longer than usual to figure out what was going on with Arunava.
Roger never lost his powers. He started his own start-up. His start-up went unicorn. Money and fame were never the problems. He finally was confident enough to propose to that girl. He proposed; they got married.
Back at the vaccine factory in Ohio, an employee stood sheepishly in front of his supervisor.
‘Batch X69tf-12 had contamination. We have sent out contaminated vaccines.’
The supervisor looked worried. If this led to deaths, his job and the company’s reputation will be on the line.
‘What did it get contaminated with?’ He asked a bit scared.
‘Oh, it was the new anti-dementia meds we are prototyping. I don’t think it will do any harm.’
Back, in Kolkata, Arunava’s doctors finally had an answer. One doctor had finally figured out the cause was due to contamination of the vaccine. They had contacted the vaccine factory and found out what it was contaminated with. ‘Benzodiazepines, anti-anxiety meds’ – the vaccine company said. The nurses and doctors rushed to treat Arunava properly this time. But alas, they were too late. Arunava had jumped off from the rear window from his room on the 14th floor.
About The Author
Projato Chakraborty is a student of 2nd year in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics at the Computer Science Department of the highly prestigious Sister Nivedita University (Kolkata) and a resident of Siliguri city in West Bengal. Mr. Projato has a keen interest in photography, listening to a vast array of music, and creative writing once a while in which he dabbles in his leisure.
Grew up idolizing his dear departed brother who had introduced him to the wonderful world of literature, photography and music in which he now find solace. His parents are educationists who allow him enough freedom for thriving as a self-assertive individual.