The Guiding Lantern...!
The Guiding Lantern...!18 mins 166 18 mins 166
The guiding lantern...!
It was a mid morning in the month of June. In the middle of the sea just two nautical miles offshore, a small village called poompuhar in Tamil Nadu, on the deck of a motorized moderately sized fishing boat, the archeologist Dr K.V. Soundararaman was enjoying the picturesque environment that was around and mesmerizing him. The wind was perfect. There is no prospect of any unexpected rain that would ruin his work. The sun started scorching a little. It's powerful rays glistened over the sparkling undulations of the blue coloured water that was stretched beyond the horizon. The reflected rays blinded the skipper who was standing at the bow and struggling to steer the boat. He smiled at the archeologist and yelled,
"Is this the right place? How long we have to go?"
His yell was subdued by the roar of the amazing ocean around them.
"One more nautical mile" the archeologist shouted back, "how long it will take?"
"Another ten minutes sir"
The sea has a rhythmic pulse to it unmatched by any other part of nature. It's throbbing heartbeat, its glorious vastness, its dreamy surface and its metronomic wave music, oh my God, the sea was buzzing with its dormant strength. The waves were moving smoothly towards the boat and crawling past to douse the shore. At the stern, the deep sea diver, Kannan fully clad in his diving gear was ready for the archeologist's signal to jump into the water.
The archeologist turned towards his assistant cum student Vinodh,
"Do you know the famous business hubub of the world during the early era of chozha dynasty and which is also the capital city during the regime of the emperor Karikarchola called kaveripoompattinam is straightly about thee hundred feet under water"
"Sir, can you tell me the plan of the city?"
"sure, The town was built on the north banks of the river kaveri. The town had two distinct parts,
maruvurpakkam near the sea and pattinapakkam to its west" he continued,
" These two villages were separated by a stretch of gardens and orchards where daily markets were held under the shades of the trees. The market place was known as nallangadi during the day and as allangadi by night. The shops were opened throughout the whole day and night. The city was a very busy business hubub!" The archeologist checked his location in the google map by its longitude and latitude and squealed at the skipper,
"You can stop the boat here"
"Ok sir" he shrieked back.
The skipper steered the boat to spot a little distant upwind to a spot where the archeologist wanted to anchor, because once the anchor is settled, the boat will drift downwind towards the spot they wanted.He readied the rode in a fashion that will allow the anchor to release smoothly to the bottom and ensured that no one's feet or equipment are entangled in the rope. Then he attached the line to a bow cleat and slowly lowered the anchor from the bow, rather than the stern, to avoid capsizing because of additional weight. Once the anchor had hit bottom and sufficient rode was given out, he gave a solid pull to set the anchor. He then secured and adjusted the line.
The skipper turned towards the archeologist, smiled and gave a thumbs up sign.
Screeching gulls flew overhead catching fish from the briny deep, as the archeologist gave instructions to the diver.
"You just put into the box all the objects that are unrelated to the sea and seemingly very old. Don't take any plastic things"
A box was tied to a rope and the rope was tied around the diver's waist. After making sure all the diving arrangements, the diver gave a thumbs up sign and jumped into the water.
Exactly after forty five minutes, the diver's head emerged above the water surface. He came aboard with the salty water dripping from his whole body. The box was released from the rope and the archeologist eagerly opened and peeked into it. Inside, he saw only one metal container and nothing else. He tried to open the container. With little effort, he finally succeeded. There he saw a palm leaf manuscript. He saw something was written in ancient Tamil. He couldn't understand that. That manuscript was sent to the curator of the museum at Chennai and was safely kept inside a secured locker.
Vinothini decided to call Rahul. She had no idea if he was in his room since the lockdown was relaxed a little bit, but she figured it was worth a try. He answered on the second ring, and he sounded pleased and happy to hear her. She could hear the familiar strength and congeniality in his voice.
“What a nice surprise. Where are you? In your room?”
“No,” she said simply, with a quiet smile. “I’m at Sangeethas. I came over here to have dinner, will you join me?"
"It's a pleasure. Will be there within ten minutes"
“You look terrific,” he said, entering that restaurant after ten minutes, spotting her at a corner table and smiling at her. She was wearing a violet coloured saree with a perfectly matching blouse, high heels, with her black hair pulled back in a bun. Her magnetic attractive eyes looked huge and full.
It was always so comfortable for her with him. They were so familiar with each other, knew each other so perfectly. She had known and loved him since from the first year of their PG program.
"How can i win your heart by ordering something from this menu card?" He said it with his boyish, slightly lopsided smile that immediately won her heart. For her, he had an immense amount of charm. He appeared so healthy and vital. He was full of energy, and his penetrating eyes danced when he laughed.
"A plain dosa is enough for me" Her musical voice never failed to mesmerize Rahul. There
was a noticeably gentle softness about her. She was soft-spoken and nurturing and kind. She looked stunningly gorgeous. Her hair was silky black and was kept in a beautiful bun. She had a round face with a pointed chin. Her eyes were almond shaped and a pair of arched eyebrows looked down on sweeping, velvety, dark eye lashes. Her sculpted nose was a little turned up at the end adding an already attractive pinkish lips, some more attraction. Her skin was golden-brown with a subtle rosy glow around her cheeks. Her dangling ear rings at her beautifully carved ear lobes would always make Rahul's heart dangle frequently.
She had a quiet voice and spoke in a very level tone. Her speech was slow and deliberate, and she always took a moment to think about what she wanted to say before talking. Rahul couldn't imagine a life without her.
"This is fusion,” he whispered softly. "Where two people become one. ”She looked at him with an inquisitive expression, startled by the word and asked him what he meant.
“Sometimes when people fall in true compassionate love,” he explained, “they are so intimate and so well suited to each other, that they blend together, and you can’t tell where one person starts and the other ends. They merge, and can’t live without each other after that.”
It sounded a little frightening to her, and not what she had in mind.
“I don’t think I agree with you,” she said quietly. “I think you can be just as much in love as separate people, standing beside each other, each one whole and adding to the other, or complementing each other, without ‘fusing’ and becoming one. That sounds unhealthy to me,” she said honestly.
“That’s not really what I want,” she said firmly. “I want to be a whole, individual person, and I love the whole person you are, Rahul. We don’t need to be one. Then each of us would lose an important part of ourselves that makes us who we are as people"
“Maybe you don’t love me as much as I love you,” he said, looking worried and hurt.
“I’m in love with you,” she said, looking up at him with her deep alluring eyes. “There’s a lot we need to learn and explore. I want to savor that. You’re a very special person,” she said gently.
“So are you. So are we,” he insisted. “Our two parts make one bigger, better whole.”
“That’s possible,” she conceded, “but I don’t want either of us to lose who we are in the process. If we lose either of us, who we are in the process, one will surely be a burden to the other in the long run"
"You are talking like a psychiatrist, but I accept your point of view. Still, i feel we are one"
"Then don't eat now because I have eaten for you also" she said sarcastically. "We are separate humans loving each other and supporting, helping and standing beside each other in every situation we face. That's the principle of the real couples" Vinothini firmly voiced her opinion. Rahul also started to understand that she was right about the relationships of each and every couple.
"Ok, let's go" Vinothini enunciated. Rahul bowed at her mockingly and said, "yes, madam" Vinothini chuckled and punched him lightly over his right deltoid.
They finished their dinner, paid the bill, gave a nice tip to the waiter and came out.
"How did you come here?"
"By my Yamaha"
"Shall we visit our microbiology professor and then go to our rooms?"
"Oh sure, with pleasure"
Rahul started the bike and Vinothini jumped over the pillion. As the bike was moving fast, he sensed her softness at his back. An ecstatic tremer went over his whole body. Somehow, he managed to ride steadily.
"What's the reason for this visit Vinu?" Rahul shrieked against the opposite wind.
"Don't you know the number of covid19 cases are increasing?" Vinothini continued." I'm going to request the professor for more microbivores injections"
They reached the professor's house within twenty minutes.
Even before they could touch the calling bell switch, the door was opened and the charming professor of microbiology was standing there, looking at them pleasantly.
"Welcome, welcome, what a pleasant surprise, you often give to this old man"
He guided them to the living room and made them sit on a comfortable sofa.
"What do you like to have, coffee or milk?"
Without expecting an answer from them, he ordered the maid to bring coffee for two.
"Ok, cute girl, what's up?" He came straight to the point.
"Sir, you know the cases are increasing day by day. Will you please give us some more injections of microbivores solution"
"I can give you one or two vials. But, these are very costly to manufacture them. That's why I am trying a very very cheaper method"
"Will you please inform us about the newer method, sir?"
"Have you heard about virophagy?"
"Virophages are small, double-stranded DNA viral phages that require the co-infection of another virus. The co-infecting viruses are typically giant viruses,"
Rahul stared blankly at both of them. He was totally unaware of what is virophagy. How the hell she knew it?
"Virophages rely on the viral replication factory of the co-infecting giant virus for their own replication"
"Yes, you are absolutely right", the professor admired her, "And one of the characteristics of the virophages is that they have a parasitic relationship with the co-infecting virus. Their dependence upon the giant virus for replication often results in the deactivation of the giant viruses. The virophage may improve the recovery and survival of the host organism"
The professor was talking with such a passion.
A mouse gawked at Rahul for a couple of seconds and scurried aimlessly within a cage nearby. Rahul let out a short shiver. He wondered how on earth the professor is living amidst these creatures!
"Can you give me an example, Vinothini?"
Vinothini didn't even hesitate for a moment.
"Acanthameba polyphaga mimi viruses which infect the amoebae are giant viruses, sir"
"Then what are the virophages using the giant viruses?"
"Mimi virus dependant Sputnik virus is a virophage that reproduces in amoebae cells that are already infected by the mimi virus; Sputnik uses the mimi virus's machinery for reproduction and inhibits replication of them",Vinothini completed her long discourse.
The professor seemed extremely pleased at Vinothini's extraordinary intellect.
"You are perfectly right. Usually in bacteriophagy or virophagy, the smaller organisms enter into the larger organisms and destroy the larger organisms" the professor enthusiastically continued,
"But,in my technique i call it as a reverse virophagy technique, the smaller viruses are lured to invade the larger bacterial cell and inside the bacterial cell, the viruses are killed. I call the bacteria, a reverse virophage!"
"Did you find that bacteria sir?" Vinothini asked the professor with a tremendous curiosity.
" That's the problem. I didn't find a suitable bacteria for this process. I tried E.coli, but the corona viruses destroyed them. I tried lactobacillus, a bacteria that naturally provide some protection against HIV. But, no use. I am searching a suitable bacteria for this important work. But, let's hope, soon we will find that"
The time was half past ten. The professor asked to stay for dinner, but, both said that they had already finished their dinner. They bade good night to the professor and left his house.
The day dawned crisp and clear. The light of dawn seeped into the room. Rahul rubbed his bleary eyes and walked to the window. There was a pearly glow in the sky. The first rays of sunlight lit up the city streets, bringing with it a flurry of early-morning activities.
Sundays have very quickly become Rahul's favourite day of the week. They’re the one day where it feels totally and utterly acceptable to do, well, absolutely nothing. Nothing, but in the best way… the kind that leaves you feeling refreshed and ready for Monday morning to come around whilst having some time to switch off, re-energise and watch all the Netflix.
But, today Vinothini reminded him to take her to the museum where her uncle was working as a guide and supervisor. His uncle had to maintain the museum during the lockdown period. The government had planned to open the museum within a fortnight. So, he had to be in the museum today and because of that, Rahul had to drive Vinothini there to help her uncle.
Rahul padded barefoot to the bathroom, brushed, shaved, showered and put on his blue jeans and a white T-shirt. By the time he was going to open the door, Vinothini was already there like a fresh pristine morning rose in her beautiful rose colored saree. Rahul stared at her for few seconds with unrestrained awe. Only after a painless pinch from Vinothini, he came to his senses.
Vinothini directly went to Rahul's car, keeping herself comfortable behind the steering wheel. Rahul sat in the left front seat. They had their breakfast at saravanabhavan and exactly they were at the museum at nine thirty.
Vinothini's uncle welcomed them and guided them to his office.
"I have some trouble with these computers. Will you help me Vinothini?", Her uncle requested.
"No problem uncle. You tell me the work. It's done!"
"You have to check the items in the room and verify if their images are uploaded in the system"
"Ok, I will finish within an hour"
"Thank you", with that his uncle left to attend his some other work.
"Rahul, come we have to go to that Hall number three"
Vinothini walked fast to that hall and Rahul trailed behind her.
The hall was filled with ancient items dating back upto 90BC. Rahul leisurely strolled around the hall. Vinothini meticulously examined each item and searched whether they were uploaded in the computer.
She found one palm-leaf manuscript and searched in the computer. But, it was not there.
She searched for his uncle, found him in his office and said," Uncle, i can't sea the image of this manuscript in the computer. This was the only one not uploaded, other items are already in the system"
"Oh, that manuscript, give me that" he examined it thoroughly. "This was the one retrieved from under the sea near poompuhar"
"What was written in that uncle?"
"This manuscript was written by the revered Vedic sage Agastya", he handed over the manuscript to her,"you, yourself read it"
Vinothini silently read it. Rahul was also looking at the manuscript.
It read like this.. இரண்டும் சுழியும் இருமுறை இணையும்
வரந்தரும் தெய்வம் வழங்கிய ஆண்டில் நுண்நஞ் சொன்று
நெஞ்சில் நுழையும் கண்ணும் வழியாம் காற்றும் வழியாம்
மூக்கும் தொண்டையும் முகரும் கணக்கால் ஊக்கம் குறையும்
உயிரும் குறையும் கடலில் கிடைத்த கடிதம் இதன்படி
கடலில் கிடைக்கும் நுண்ணே மருந்தாம்!
"Rahul, do you understand this" Rahul seemed confused.
"Do you at least know what it tells about"
Rahul awkwardly scratched his head for an answer.
"Mhmm, nothing comes to my mind"
"Oh, my dear fanatic lover, the manuscript tells about the corona pandemic and where we can get the cure"
"Wwwhat do you mean", he asked incredulously.
"See the first line! இரண்டும் சுழியும் இருமுறை இணையும் வரந்தரும் தெய்வம் வழங்கிய ஆண்டில்... That means the year of 2020! The second line said நுண்நஞ்சொன்று நெஞ்சில் நுழையும்... that means a microorganism will affect the lungs! The next line said கண்ணும் வழியாம் காற்றும் வழியாம்... that means it will spread by droplets and may enter through the eyes", Vinothini stopped a little to take a breath and for a sip of water.
"See the other line...மூக்கும் தொண்டையும் முகரும் கணக்கால் ஊக்கம் குறையும் உயிரும் குறையும்... that means the effects of the disease are directly proportional to the viral load through the nose and throat! The last line is very important. It will guide us to the source of cure. கடலில் கிடைக்கும் கடிதம் இதன்படி கடலில் கிடைக்கும் நுண்ணே மருந்தாம்! I think you know the answer for this"
Rahul was finally able to crack the last line. He said,"according to the manuscript retrieved from the sea, a marine microorganism will be the cure to covid19! Am I right?"
"Yes, you are hundred percent right. Ok, we have to meet the professor now"
Vinothini informed her uncle and they both left to the professor's house.
It was eleven thirty in the morning. The professor was already in his lab working on another bacteria. He was not satisfied with that bacteria also. All the bacterial cells are destroyed by these damned corona viruses. He heard the calling bell's chime. He went to the door and opened it. Vinothini and Rahul were standing there with mixed expressions of anxiety and curiosity dancing over their faces. The professor let them inside with a surprise. Once, they settled on a sofa in the living room, Vinothini enumerated the whole story.
The professor heard it with an incredulous wonderment!
"Oh, my goodness! How the hell I missed it!" He even didn't believe himself.
"Do you know the organisms mentioned in the manuscript, sir?"Vinothini asked eagerly.
"Of course i realized only after you came up with the details in the manuscript"
"What's it sir?" The professor sensed an enormous enthusiasm in her voice.
"It is marine cynobacterium!"
Vinothini was also now aware of the bacteria.
She read about some research going on to find out antiviral properties of the bacteria.
Her thought was intervened by the professor.
" The genus Microcystis
revealed a remarkable antiviral activity against influenza A", the professor continued,"I was searching the organisms which are having a good antiviral properties and this will be it" the professor seemed pleased and happy now.
"Give me a weak. You come here on next Sunday. I will give you at least hundred ampoules of a potentially curable drug against these damned corona viruses!"
The day, the professor mentioned, came. All the three were at the professor's lab. The professor was showing a picture on the screen of a computer.
"I have isolated and deleted the genes coding for toxins production which are harmful to the humans", the professor was showing a tail like structure.
"This area of the bacterial gene is coding for antiviral protein synthesis. Let's call the antiviral protein, the viral lysing factor-VLF", the professor showed another dot like structure near to the tail. "This area is coding for a protein that inhibits the VLF. Let's name it VLFIF. That is viral lysing factor inhibiting factor. I removed that part of the gene. So, the VLF production will be uninhibited!", The professor straightened a little, took a long breath and continued."I also removed the genes coding for viral replicating machinery inside the cell. So, once the viruses entered into the cell, they can't multiply and will be lysed by the VLF"
"Sir, how the viruses will attach to the bacterial cell wall?"
The professor showed another picture. "This picture was taken inside the already covid19 infected mouse's capillary after injecting this bacterial solution. I used a nanorobot with its nano circuitry and nano transistors to supervise the movement of the bacteria. See the additional layer around the bacterial cell wall and multiple small dots embedded in it. These are the receptors attached to the biocompatible protein layer. So, there will be no immune reactions to the bacteria"
"Sir, when the bacteria dissolved after some time, they had to, because you deleted the gene coding the replicating machinery, will there be an immune reaction, if the cellular materials are released into the circulation?"
The professor was very much impressed about the question.
"That was a fantastic question, Vinothini! I found a solution for that too",
The professor switched over to the previous picture," can you see a small grayish square shaped structure in the center of the bacterial gene. That's the gene coding for nucleases. After twenty four hours, that gene will start producing nucleases and bacteria will be lysed into harmless amino acids. No, there will be no immune reaction even after that!"
Vinothini knew everything was possible in this recombinant DNA technology era. After all, we made the E.coli to produce us the insulin.
"You see this picture. What are the small dots with multiple spikes?"
"These are the corona viruses", Rahul answered suddenly. "Yes, you are right. See one of the spikes is attached to the dots embedded in the outer layer"
Vinothini saw viruses attaching themselves to bacteria and entering into the cell expecting active multiplication, but, Alas! They are destroyed easily inside the cell because of the high concentration of VLF there.
"I tested the bacteria with the mice. No problem. And I tested them with the human cell culture. I found no untoward reactions", the professor concluded narrating his story.
"Marvelous sir!", whispered Vinothini.
The professor was pleased at Vinothini's comment.
"I can give you now about hundred ampoules free of cost. One single dose is enough for one patient. Is it okay for you"
Vinothini was overwhelmed with her mixed emotions of joy and gratitude.
" Sir, we cannot thank you enough for your help! You are nothing less than a blessing from God! Your tremendous effort will be an immense help to the whole world, sir"
"Ok, you are welcome. You first go and meet your medicine professor with these new drugs", he continued,"he should know about this"
They thanked him once again and left his house.
On the way back their hostel, Vinothini noticed Rahul lost in his own thoughts.
"Hey, where you've gone?"
She pinched him on the thigh.
"I am thinking about our ancestors! How they predicted the things about two thousand years before!"
"It's really wonderful", she conceded,"they were the people with extraordinary powers!"
She sped the car to the hospital. After reaching there, they directly went to the professor of medicine Dr Fernandez's room.
"Ah, you both, the always working fellows", he laughed on seeing them.
"We learned it from you only, sir", Vinothini said with a smile.
"Ok, anything important?"
"Sir, there are about seventeen cases in the covid19 ICU under cytokine storm and they are deteriorating"
Vinothini told everything about meeting the professor of microbiology and about the new drugs they are having with them.
Dr Fernandez thought calmly for a few minutes and said,"use it discreetly without anyone's knowledge. If they are successful,i will use my connections in the ICMR to get the approval for mass production"
Vinothini and Rahul left the professor's room and straightly went to the ICU. They gave the injections to all the seventeen patients without anyone seeing them. All the patients were off the ventilators within hours and all were covid negative on the next day. There were no untoward immune reactions. All were discharged! Do you believe this?