Did You Sniff at Him? short story by Chaturvedi Divi at Spillwords.com
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Did You Sniff at Him?

Did You Sniff at Him?

written by: Chaturvedi Divi

 @diviauthor

 

“The sight is unbearable. Our neighbor Raymond has become a headache to me,” Thomson said, looking through the window.

“Why do you say so?” Virginia asked.

“I want to open the window and breathe some fresh morning air, but at this hour, Raymond and his dog move up and down the street in front of our house daily.”

“The dog too needs some fresh air.”

“Of course, but his presence… I know … I swear I’m right. Raymond doesn’t care to bathe him. Have a look at him yourself. I can’t open the window. I’m afraid of bad odor.”

“It’s all your imagination. How do you know that he smells bad? Did you ever sniff at him? You don’t even allow him anywhere near our house. The dog is in the street, and you shouldn’t bother about it.” Virginia got out of the bed.

Thomson frowned and fumed, then he wore his tracksuit and went out jogging on the Friddoedd Road, then turning towards Menai Bridge and Normal Site. While returning he had a disgusting feeling as he saw the dog, probably following a trail left by Raymond.

Raymond spends most of his day with the dog, he thought. Does he spend as much time with his wife? Thomson wondered. What can an ex-army man do? Managing time is a tough job for intellectuals and how to kill time is the worry of people like Raymond with no gainful employment.

When Thomson reached home, he felt annoyed with his daughter Diana and his wife. Diana was digging a patch of land and Virginia was helping her. “What are you doing?”

“Dad, I want to grow a few marigolds.”

“Oh no, you should’ve asked me. I’d like to have white roses here.”

“I’m sorry, Dad. I didn’t know that, but can we grow marigolds and roses by any chance?”

“No, why do you waste your time? Remember I’m sponsoring your education. Did you start working on your thesis yet?” Diana felt upset and left the place.

“Thomson, why do you hurt her? She has come to spend the summer vacation with us,” Virginia said.

“I’m a practical man and I can’t tolerate indiscipline.”

“Practical? May be but not ideal. I have been anxiously waiting for years and years and I can’t find even once, kindness in your eyes and affection in your voice.”

“Oh, I see! We belong to two different planes. Remember that there is a gulf between a scientist and a science lecturer. I must go out. I’ve to attend an interview.” Thomson changed and drove off.

“Mum, why did you fight with Dad over such a simple issue?”

“I’m not bothered about the dimension of the issue. His attitude worries me.”

“He’s a genius, an inventor. Maybe all the intellectuals have a dash of…” Diana laughed.

“You mean arrogance? Success has a negative impact on him. He needs a shock, some failure, some unexpected event.”

“How do you mean?”

“Yes, a day may come that there will be no takers for his inventions; his inventions may turn out to be a poor imitation of some other scientist’s work or he may even be prosecuted for violation of patent rights.”

“I’m surprised,” Diana said.

“Yes, anything may happen.”

“I hope none of these things will happen to Dad, yet he’ll be a changed man.”

“Then, we have to call it a miracle and miracles won’t occur at the drop of a hat.”

By the time Thomson reached his lab, the BBC correspondent was waiting for him in the foyer.

“Dr. Thomson, you won the patent case when everyone thought that you were on the verge of losing it. Your lawyer Russell too said that there was no hope. How did it tilt in your favor?”

“Well, I could prove that my formula is different from the other scientist’s.”

“What is the main difference?”

“Difference?” Thomson shrugged his shoulders. “The work of a mediocre scientist cannot match with that of a genius.” The correspondent laughed. “I’m talking about the technical differences.”

“The saline water treatment device I developed is cost-effective and works on a simpler and hassle-free system whereas the other one has a cumbersome multi-layer process.”

“Can you solve the drinking water scarcity troubling most nations these days with your invention? It is believed that the most important issue for wars between nations and regions in the future will be water.”

“The situation is quite alarming. The device I invented will convert several cusecs of seawater into potable water in a short time, and I am sure that will solve the crisis.”

“Your wife visits your lab regularly and works with you. What is her contribution to your research work?”

“She gathers some background information and now and then she comes out with some ideas but…”

“What’s your next project?”

“I’ve several plans. I’m indecisive right now but one project in my mind is developing vitamin-enriched cigarettes.”

“Vitamin cigarettes! You mean free from tobacco!”

“Yes, people can smoke vitamins instead of swallowing them. Smoking kills, but not the cigarettes I’d develop.”

“What is your advice to young scientists?”

“Ah! Not everyone with a research degree can pursue scientific research, especially invention. It’s the work of an intellectual. Young people should keep this in their minds before venturing into this field.”

“Can I add Welsh sub-titles?”

“Of course, you can.”

“Thank you, Dr. Thomson.”

***

The next morning Thomson went out jogging. From the moment he woke up, he had the feeling that he left something undone in his lab the previous day after the interview with the correspondent. However, he couldn’t fix it.
He spent a few minutes at the Bangor Pier watching the boats, followed his normal route via the Menai Bridge, and went up to Normal Site. That day he didn’t see either Raymond or his dog. This is a good sign, he thought. While returning, it flashed in his mind. He forgot to change the samples in the lab.

I should go home and then drive to the lab, he thought. He tried the shortcut path through the woods that separated the Normal Site Road and the Friddoedd Site. The pathway was narrow, slushy, and steep. When he was halfway up, he missed a step and slipped several feet below. His head hit a stone and he started bleeding. His mobile fell away. He tried to reach it. He noticed that he fractured his leg and couldn’t move. He shouted for help. He looked around and found that it would be difficult for the occasional passer-bye or the motorist to notice him as he was behind bushes. A few minutes later, he lost his consciousness.

Thomson opened his eyes when he felt some tingling sensation on his face. It was Raymond’s dog licking his face. He moved his hand and tried to shoo it away. The dog turned and ran away. Several minutes later, he returned with his master Raymond.

“Oh, my God, it’s you, Dr. Thomson!” He called for the ambulance.

In the Gwynedd Hospital, the doctor said, “You’re lucky. If you were late by half an hour…”

I had a near-death experience, Thomson thought.

“You can move on crutches after a week,” the doctor said.

***

One morning trying the crutches at home, Thomson asked his wife who was still in bed, “Did you post that article to PLOS?”

“No, I didn’t. I thought you would like to read the final draft after you recovered.”

“That’s right. Add your name and post it. You are the first author.”

“Really!”

Looking away avoiding eye contact he said, “Tell Diana that I’ve dropped the idea of growing white roses, and she can plant marigolds.”

Virginia sat on her bed and looked at him with wide-open eyes.

Thomson moved towards the window. “I want to institute an award, a young scientist award.” Thomson paused. “Are you busy today?”

“No.”

“I’d like to call for a media conference and I want you to be there with me and express your views on our research work. I asked the BBC correspondent not to broadcast the other interview.”

Virginia looked stunned. Thomson removed the curtains and opened the window.

“What is the name of that dog?”

“You mean our neighbor Raymond’s dog?”

“Yes.”

“Sand Rat.”

“He is lovely.”

“It’s surprising. I thought you would despise his presence. He smells bad. Doesn’t he?”

“No.”

“How do you know? Did you sniff at him?”

“No, he sniffed at me.”

 

The End

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