The Paradox

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“Hello Subir…” with heavy eyelids Subir found a very nervous voice of Arman. It is quite an unexpected call at this hour of midnight.
Subir asked worriedly, “What’s up Bro? Is everything okay?”
Arman didn’t bother to assure Subir. Cautiously asked, “Have you read the email?”
“Mail? From whom?” Subir yawned and enquired.
It took a few seconds to recollect the name, Raghu Ramanath. A batchmate in the engineering college and with whom no one had any contact for last three decades. In a disgusted voice Subir whispered, “Are you kidding bro? Is this the right time to crack this nonsense?” As he glanced at sleeping Madhushree.
“I am pretty serious. And I have found your name in the recipient list also. It’s only an hour back, he posted the mail. It’s urgent.”
“An hour back! Look bro, I don’t suffer from insomnia. Neither have I a habit of checking mails at midnight. Are your tranquilisers all exhausted?”
Arman didn’t pay any heed to Subir’s comment. Kept on saying, “Raghu broke the code.”
“Code? What Code?”
“The Grandfather’s paradox.”
“What’s that?”
“Time travel. It is possible for someone to travel back in time, meet and kill one’s grandfather before the birth of his father. Raghu also devised a machine.”
“Look Bro! I have a very important client meeting tomorrow. I need a sound sleep to be fresh in the morning. Please keep all this stuff for the weekend.”
“He has also marked Moloy and Yellappa in the mail. All four of us.”
“Bro, I think it is enough. You know very well that we had left college 33 years back and since then we have no contact with Raghu. Even none of us had any mail id, cell phone at that time. Now, how is it possible for Raghu to collect the mail-ids of all four of us?”
“Check your inbox.” Arman paused for a while and then quietly said, “It’s an intimation. He will take the revenge. I think you are also not suffering from dementia. You have not forgotten our sin.”
“Come on! Give me a break. What Sin?”
“Grandfather’s paradox. Raghu prepared a serious research work on teleportation for the college fest competition.”
Subir faintly recalled there was one such competition to design an engineering model from a complex quantum theory. Nobody took it seriously except Raghu. It was tough. Instead the college fest had many other attractions. The four had bullied Raghu in a different way. They managed to hack Raghu’s PC in the campus network. It was the night before the final submission date. Without going through the paper, they abruptly and randomly changed some equations of the lengthy paper, put some extra lines and curves on Raghu’s sketches and even inserted some absurd comments in between. Raghu was completely unware of such mutilations. Next day he just took a printout and submitted. He was heavily ridiculed by the judging Professors in the open forum.
Arman hurried up, “Time is running out. I have to intimate Moloy and Yellappa.”
“Are you kidding? Yellappa is in Tokyo and Moloy in Chicago.”
“It’s noon at Chicago and early morning at Tokyo.”
Arman put Subir on hold and connected both Moloy and Yellappa on conference call. It’s a reunion of old college friends. But they didn’t get any time to celebrate as Arman briefly explained to them the cause and summoned an urgent discussion.
Moloy recalled, “Only once I got a chance to meet Raghu in Frankfurt airport few years back and learnt that he was doing some serious research with complicated messy theories.”
“Was that quantum teleportation or quantum entanglement?” Arman enquired.
“Come on dude! Though I have an engineering degree like you but for the last 30 years I only sell accounting software. Forget about complex theories, today perhaps I will not be able to write Newton’s third law correctly.”
Arman murmured, “33 years back we committed a sin. Today Raghu will take the revenge. 18 minutes to go.”
Yellapa jokingly laughed, “May be Raghu is in your town with a sharp knife. But myself and Moloy are safe. We are thousand miles apart.”
“Miles apart! How many miles apart? May be myself and Subir are 12 miles apart by a 40 minutes’ drive. Maybe you and me are 8000 miles apart by a 20 hours flight. There is only one important thing in between us, that is space. Time is relative.”
“Are you trying to explain Raghu’s mail?”
“Just take a piece of paper. Plot four dots as our coordinate locations. How many inches are we apart now? Now fold the paper and recheck the distance between the plots. The paper is the space and you have folded the space to make the shortest time passage between the plots. Raghu has devised a machine to travel through such time tunnel and will teleport us to 33 years back without passing through the intervening space to take the revenge.”
“What revenge?”
“While hacking the network we would get caught by Professor Bose and would be expelled. We would never have our engineering certificates.”
“Joke! Joke of the century.”
Arman argued, “Have we checked, if really we have our engineering degrees today? Today Moloy is selling accounting software, Subir is a management faculty, Yellappa owns a medical call centre. Myself a garment exporter. Why we are not perusing mechanical engineering? Where have are our mechanical engineering certificates gone?”
Arman stopped for a while and suddenly yelled, “Time is up.”
There is a flash of light and Subir feels a severe jerking. Subir slowly opened his eyes. With a sweated neck and vacant look found Madhusree jerking his shoulders.
“What’s up darling? A nightmare again? This time you should seriously consult a doctor.”
Madhusree gave Subir a glass of water. He drank half of it, Then quietly got down from the bed and opened the cupboard.
“What are you looking for?”
“My engineering certificates. Are those still there?”
There are only two possibilities: yes or no.

About the Author: 
The author is an engineer working in a power generation utility. He is also a Bengali novelist and short story writer having more than 20 titles in different genres and authored about 100 short stories including sci-fi.