Saurabh Mishra, the one, who would soon change the fortune of the nation was born today. He belonged to the family who had always served the nation, be it was on battlefield or defence technologies for the modern arms race.

His grandfather, Ravindra Mishra, had served the Indian Army and was a proud brigadier when he received the PARAM VIR CHAKRA in 1971. This was during the war against Pakistan. Saurabh’s father, Prakash Mishra, was one among the core team of ‘Operation Shakti’, the Pokhran II nuclear test conducted by India under the Scientific Adviser of DRDO, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. 

The family, with their chests and shoulders decorated with the awards and medals for their service to the country, always dreamt of their next generation doing the same and dedicating their lives for the motherland. 

But, Saurabh, was different, he never wanted to carry the lineal tradition, not among the one who will carry the lineage of his family. Since his school days, Saurabh had always dreamed of doing something other than what his family had lined up for him. He was more interested in doing something that requires a creative mind. Saurabh was indeed good with his logical thinking and art. 

Prakash never had agreed with Saurabh to go for engineering after his 12th science results. Prakash himself wanted to be in the army, like his father, Ravindra Mishra. But the childhood accident gave a permanent deformity to Prakash in his right hand and this rendered his father’s dream. 

Saurabh had taken the stream of civil engineering by going against the will of his family. He cleared out his B.E. in civil with flying colours but received no appreciation from his family. That never disheartened him and he pursued his M.E. in Structural Engineering. 

As his dad reached the final stage of life, Saurabh went back home to stay with his Dad. His Dad still could not forgive Saurabh for not serving the country and picking up a shitty, self-centred career. 

Saurabh was in his final semester of Master’s when his Dad gave up his battle against life. It was then that, Saurabh promised Prakash that one day he will make his family and country proud. That was the only time when he had seen a smile on his father’s face before he closed his eyes forever.

After finishing his M.E., Saurabh joined one of the reputed firms in the field of construction. For the next two years, he learned everything that practical life needed to and was not taught in the books of his masters. 

Saurabh, after a short while, left the job and started working as a freelancer. He was very good at his work if not best. He started slow but his pace didn’t matter as every project brought him fame. 

Today, Saurabh has become one of the best structural engineers in the state. But his success, no matter how big, seemed hollow to him. His last words to his Dad always kept reverberating in his head.

“I cannot let my Dad’s last smile fade away.” Saurabh was sitting in the balcony of his penthouse in Delhi. The Jack on ice kept playing with his mind but not today. Saurabh had made up his mind to keep all his projects on halt and to work on what he has always dreamt of. He wanted to create such a design that can withstand the earthquake, no matter what Richter scale it was. He had tried for it before also but had failed miserably.

Now, it was time to succeed in it. Saurabh took a break from his work and kept himself locked in his work studio at his farmhouse on the border of Delhi and Haryana. He stopped receiving calls from his clients and of his office staff too. Jessica, his secretary was also very much worried. She answered all the calls of the client and tried to convince them that Saurabh is not well and is out of the country for the treatment. 

Deep in her heart, Jessica was worried for him. It was not like she had fallen for him but they were kind of two persons with whom they used to confide their dreams and wishes along with secrets within each other. But this time, Saurabh left without saying anything and that made Jess worry more about him. 

It used to happen that Saurabh wasn’t there and she was clueless. He would give her details of where he was and when he would come back except for this time. Jess also knew that Saurabh would definitely be at the farmhouse but she won’t go there till he gives a call. Saurabh kept his cell switched off to avoid any distractions at work.

Jess was sitting alone in the office. Everyone in the staff has already left a couple of hours back. She was sitting in Saurabh’s chamber, fidgeting with the pen in her hand. Her mind was clouded with the thoughts about Saurabh when her cell buzzed. She glanced the screen of her cell and her lips curved into a smile. It was a call from Saurabh.

“Jess, arrange the meeting with the Major General of the Indian army. Tell them, I have something for them regarding the structural design for army barracks and secured building. I am done with what I was working on. I want to give them a virtual demonstration regarding it.” Saurabh spoke excitedly holding his breath.

“I will get the meeting fixed, as soon as possible. I will start with it right now Saurabh.” Jess after breathing a sigh of relief responded.

“Why don’t you come tomorrow morning to see what I was working on?” Saurabh asked leaning back in his chair.

“I was about to ask.” Jess blushed.

“What was it you were working on?” Jess’s voice was soft and concerned.

“I was working on the promise to my Dad.” Saurabh closed his eyes and took a deep breath to calm his nerves. He briefed her about the structural design for the building.

“I’ll see you in the morning at 9.” Jess clicked off and got back to work. She pulled all the strings that Saurabh could use to get the appointment of Major General. Saurabh too had the perks of his family reputation. Jess briefed up the matter and got an appointment for the next evening.

Saurabh still kept working on the minute details of the virtual model. Sleep and rest were far pending for him. Next day, Jess went to see Saurabh. He was looking more awful than she had ever seen him before. Unshaved face and ruffled hairs gave him a look like he had lost the touch of the world since ages. Saurabh has lost a couple of inches on his body and was bit stinky too. It was hardly two months then but he looked 10 years more than his age.

“You really need to take a good, long shower.” Jess said as she walked into the living area of the house on the farm.

“It can wait, Jess, I want this thing to be done first.” Saurabh smiled scratching his unshaved beard and made her walk down in the basement, to his work studio.

Jess took a seat and Saurabh explained to her the model he was working on. It could not only withstand a missile attack but also the massive earthquake. This joy on his face was never seen by Jess.

“This is amazing, it would create history.” Jess clapped as Saurabh finished his explanation. 

“I wish it gets approved.” Saurabh crossed his fingers.

“It will, only if you get somewhat presentable by evening. We have a meeting today as you have asked for. I have briefed the subject details of the meeting and they are looking forward to it.” Jess said excitingly. 

Saurabh went for the shower and Jess got herself busy in packing up the things for the meeting.  

“I’ll pick you at 6 in the evening.” Jess said as she pulled over in the parking of Saurabh’s building.

Saurabh could not slow down his anxiety. He could no more wait for the meeting; he had been working on. Jess came on time and they headed straight to their destination. After going through a series of checks at three stages, they were finally lead to the conference room on the first floor. 

Mayursinh Rana, the Major general of Indian Army, walked in first. Rana was 6 feet tall with an athletic build. Though in his late fifties, Rana still holds the strength to curb down a battalion of the enemy on the battlefield. 

The meeting with Rana got easily lined up because of Saurabh’s grandfather. Rana has always considered Ravindra Mishra as a fighting legend of Indian Army. In the early days of the army, Rana had served as a soldier in the battalion under Ravindra Mishra.

“It was out of blue when I got a call that you want to meet me, son.” Rana firmly shook hand with Saurabh. Rana, lighting his cigar in the conference room, picked up the intercom and asked his assistant to send the remaining members who were to join him in the meeting.

“Your grandfather was a legend.” Rana blew the clouds of smoke and continued.

“Without him, I would have never aspired to reach this high in the army. No matter how many heroes our army had and have, Ravindra Mishra, will always stay as a LEGEND of Indian Army.” The smile on his face was more assuring for Saurabh that things will work out in his favour. 

Soon, the rest of the members joined and after a brief introduction and pleasantries exchanged, Saurabh began with the meeting and demonstration of the model of the building that could be the future of military headquarters on borders and off borders. 

Everyone was very much impressed with the work of Saurabh except Rana, Saurabh was waiting for him to respond. 

“The design and concept are too good but I am sceptical about its feasibility.” Rana took another long drag with absolute no expressions. Saurabh was now sweating. 

“It is Sir. I can assure you that.” 

“I don’t go by words son.” Rana leaned back in his chair. Saurabh sat back on his chair, cracking his knuckles in anxiety. Everyone in the room was quiet, waiting for Rana to speak.

Finally, after taking a deep breath, Rana broke the silence.

“Let’s have the sample building first .” Rana leaned forward, resting his heavy arms on the table.

Saurabh had not anticipated this but it was good for him. They discussed the spot and planned the building of the sample house. Rana left the conference room, leaving other members with Saurabh and Jess to carry on.

“I didn’t expect this.” Jess untied her hair and gave a big smile as they headed to their car. Saurabh leaned back in his seat and let Jess take the wheel. He closed his eyes and started thinking about how to proceed. The drive was quiet but couldn’t pacify Saurabh’s thoughts. 

Next day, he called Jess in his chamber and asked her to appoint someone who can take care of the office under her supervision while he will be busy on the site of his dreams.

Four months of burning the candle on both ends with Saurabh staying on the site to supervise the work personally, the sample building was ready. The top-notch army people with a defence minister and a handful of press people were ready for the next day’s demonstration.

The building will be hit by a series of missiles and massive artificial shock waves to check whether it could really withstand as it was virtually able too. Jess was also waiting to see Saurabh who was at the army staff quarters. She was certainly not allowed on the premises. It was the night before the D-day for Saurabh. 

Everything was perfectly fine. Saurabh had gone through every inch of his project and the calculations for a million times to have no error at all. After dinner, he was sitting on the bed with closed eyes, talking to his father.

“Dad, my words will come true tomorrow.” He smiled with closed eyes. And then, in a flash of light, something struck him. Saurabh’s eyes were wide open. He could not believe what struck his mind. 

He immediately turned on his laptop and went through the various calculation he had done. He could not believe that there was a fatal error and that would make the building fall like walls of cards with the first strike of the missile.

His was shivering and eyes turned moist with the terror of failure. He could not fathom how he could make such a big mistake. The strength calculation of the steel type will not support the beams of the building under the resonating effect of shock waves. 

There was absolutely nothing he could do now. He failed, in his life, in his dreams. He walked to the balcony with tears rolling down his eyes, he lifted his head to look at the sky filled with millions of stars. 

The cool dry breeze filled his lungs and he made up his mind. He was not able to digest this and wrote something on a piece of paper and jumped off from the 8th floor. 

The moment his head hit the hard tarmac of the road leading in the parking, life left his body and he was lying in the pool of blood. The security rushed to the loud thud sound and saw Saurabh, lying dead. 

Jess reached the building the moment she heard that Saurabh met an accident. His body was immediately carried to the military hospital in the compound and the doctor announced him dead before arrival. 

Rana himself rushed to the hospital and could not take the shock. After the formalities were done, Rana announced that there will be no change in plan for the morning. Jess nodded with moist eyes. 

Next day, the D-day came and with a heavy heart, the tests were conducted on the sample building. It all stood well. The building was rock solid with minimal damage. Rana gave a green flag to approve the design. Final authority will go through the proposal before signing it. 

At the staff quarters, Jess was packing up the belongings of Saurabh. Her hands reached the note that Saurabh had kept under his laptop. Jess opened it.

“I am sorry, I have made a fatal error in calculation. The building won’t be able to stand. I could not face this disaster. I am sorry Dad, I failed…”

Tears from Jess’s eyes moisten the paper and she crumpled it and screamed“You have not failed, Saurabh. You have not failed. It’s a victory, you have kept the promise, you are a winner…”

Written by: Hemang
Edited by: Pratishtha Shyam
Sketch: Paranj Sankdecha

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