Sunday, June 11, 2006
The faithful companion
Ramesh Pillai was the security head at the Sony factory on the outskirts of Chennai. He led a bored existance, spending most of his time at the factory. "There's no one to care for me in this world", he often lamented to himself. An orphan who had come up in life the hard way, Ramesh thanked the day Vijay Ramaswamy, the kind-hearted factory owner gave him a job in the security department. He gave his all for the job, and slowly climbed up the rungs of success to eventually become head-of-security.
Things changed in Ramesh's life ever since his company brought in a made-to-order AIBO
to assist him. He was in awe of the technological wonder. He was thrilled to bits when he was given the task of training the robotic dog. Slowly as the days progressed, he became attached to it. He felt his life wasn't insignificant afterall. There was finally someone who listened to him, cared for him and even threw tantrums in his absence.
The Sony factory was in a notorious neighbourhood, and thieves were known to make off with expensive gadgets. The company was working on a new technology and had assigned the R&D department to this factory to keep things confidential. The engineers were on the threshold of a brilliant breakthrough in the field of Optical Storage Devices. A DVD that had it's storage capacity upped 800 times. Security needed to be at its tightest, and hiring new watchmen was out if question as the atmosphere was thick with serious lack of trust. Ramesh had an idea. He suggested sprucing up the AIBO to do a lot more than it could.
Mr. Ramaswamy forwarded his idea to the Sony headquarters, and was sanctioned almost immediately. Ramesh missed the mechanical marvel for the time it was away. He went back to his silent, routine life till the AIBO returned, leaner, meaner and fitted with every kind of defence mechanism that the engineers could think of.
"... fitted with ultra strong reinforced Titanium, sir! It'd take a bomb to make a dent on him. See these holes near his paws, sir? It's a disguised short range pistol. The gunshot may not be fatal, but will certainly render the target immobile for a while. It can also jump a maximum height of 10 feet, sir. They've fitted it with an ultra-compact trampoline. They weren't kidding when they said the AIBO would now walk with a spring in its step.. ha ha". Ramesh was almost breathless as he extolled the virtues of the new-and-improved guardian pet. Mr.Ramaswamy smiled, amused at Ramesh's enthusiasm. "All the best, Ramesh", he cut him short, "I have a meeting now. Give me a demo sometime. I hope you provide us with the maximum level of security possible." Ramesh stood at attention. "We most certainly will, sir", he said, shooting another loving glance at the dog.
That very night, the robot proved his worth. When Ramesh returned from the toilet, he immediately sensed things were not right. "But I did flush..", he thought to himself and chuckled, but only for a second, when he realised things were seriously amiss. He reached his security post, and noticed a bunch of human bodies tied and gagged at a distance. He trained his binoculars on them, and realised they were his security personnel. It didn't take him long to figure out that a bunch of intruders must have overpowered them, stripped them and might be making off with the research papers at that very moment, in security uniform.
He summoned his pet with a low, long whistle. He removed his shirt and instructed the dog to attack anyone in that uniform. AIBO swung into action almost immediately. It sprinted along the perimeter of the factory before it rushed into the building. Ramesh was surprised at the speed with which the dog returned. He surveyed the scene inside the building in awe, as the AIBO bounded around his legs enthusiatically. He counted twelve robbers, in security clothes, writhing with anguish on the floor, unable to move. He also noticed that two of them had been pinned to the wall by their collars. "You are incredible", he whispered to the dog.
The news of how a Security Guard and a robot thwarted a robbery attempt whipped the media up into a hysteric frenzy. They bombarded Ramesh with questions, and he answered them all patiently. "Does he have a name?", a reporter asked. "Errr.. Yes, he does.. Vinay", Ramesh replied after a minute's hesitation. Mr. Ramaswamy raised his eyebrow. He'd never expected him to be so attached to the dog to give him a name.
Life returned to normal, and Ramesh and Vinay continued to guard the factory for a few more years. One day, tragedy struck. Ramesh met with an accident, and lost his eyesight. "Mannn, this is so filmy!", he thought to himself, "Am I supposed to go to a temple and bang my head on a corner-stone crying to God till He takes pity on me and restores my eyesight?" Luckily for him, the author spared him.
Vijay Ramaswamy visited him in the hospital. "Worry not, Ramesh. You have served the company well all these years. It's our turn to repay you. You will be granted accommodation in one of the company's guest-bungalows. With a car and chauffeur. I have also spoken to the doctor. He says a surgery holds a 25% chance of success, but let's not lose hope."
"Thank you sir, but I am not too interested. Vinay will take care of me. En sondha oorukke pogaraen."
"Err.. Vinay ah?"
"Yes sir. I don't want the bungalow or the car or the company's money. Vinay a mattum kudunga. My entire life revolves around him now."
"Vendaam pa. Sonna kaelu. Andha naaiya thavira vera enna vena kaelu."
"Yaen sir? Naan ivalo solliyuma ungalukku puriyala avan mela uyirae vechurukaen nu?"
"Ssshh, sathama sollaadhe. Vera evanavadhu ketaan na asingama nenaipaan! Hmmm, prechanai aagum pa. Seri, nee ivalo ketathukku aparam kudukaama irukka mudiyadhu. Aana be careful."
"I will, sir. Thank you very much"
After he was discharged from the hospital, he went back to his hometown along with Vinay. Mr. Ramaswamy drove him all the way himself, and wished him luck.
The very next day, Mr. Ramaswamy spurted his morning tea when he read that a blind man was shot in Ramesh's town. He immediately drove over to see if Ramesh was safe. His trepidation rose, as he found neither Ramesh nor Vinay at his place. He made his way to the hospital mentioned in the papers. He saw Ramesh, with his arm heavily bandaged.
"I was fearing this would happen, boy."
"Vijay sir, is that you? Enna sir sollrenga?"
"Hmmm, first tell me this. Where's Vinay?"
"Theriyala sir. He never came to help me when someone shot me. What did I do to anyone? Why would anyone want to shoot me?"
"Naan sollraen. Ellathukkum kaaranam un naai thaan."
Ramesh gasped. "But.. but.. sir, avan ennodu naai. Naanga epadi ellam pazhageerukom. Avan poi epadi..?"
"Avan un naai a irukaradhu thaan pa prechanaiye. Company soththa irundha varaikkum there wouldn't have been any problem. Adhunaala thaan naan anikke vendaam sonnaen."
Ramesh was almost in tears. "Pu.. Puriyala sir.."
Mr. Ramaswamy looked at him sombrely.
"than vinay thannai sudum."
Me extremely rusty. pliss echooch! inume ipadi ellam kodumai paduthaama iruka try pannren :)