“Inder, your grandfather has gone mad. You’ve got to talk to him.” My grandma opened the door.
“Stop being so dramatic, Biji. What happened?” I stepped out of the blistering heat into conditioned air.
“Dramatic? Can’t you smell this horrible stench?” She held her the soft chunni to her nose. “All the women in the neigbourhood are calling me the Cow-dung Mafia.”
I polished my white-leather platform shoes with the calves of my bright red bell-bottom pants and put down my own Pan-American airlines bag. “I just flew twelve hours under-care of air-hostesses, Biji. I can’t deal with your squabble with Bauji. I’ve got to get started on my fifth grade project.”
“Why don’t you ask the master project undertaker for help?” She spat out. “He has some crazy ideas in his head.”
“What did he do now?” I put down my new Mattel electronic racing game.
“He says he will make cooking gas from cow-dung. He’s installed the gobar-gas (biogas) plant right in our court-yard.” She slapped her forehead. “The villagers laughed at him so he has promised everyone free cooking gas if they give them cow-dung from all their animals.” She sighed. “I should’ve listened to my mother when she said he was crazy.”
“Biji, whatever he does has a reason–”
“–Reason? He’s a lunatic. That’s the reason. The entire neighbourhood has been dropping off cow-dung in bucket loads all week. Haay haay, you have to stop him.”
Bauji’s pored over some blueprints on his drafting table in his office. His glasses rested at the tip of his nose.
I touched his feet; he put his hand over my head in blessing, never breaking his gaze. “When did you come, Inder? How’s school?”
“Hmm mm” I barely cleared his drafting table. “Biji wants me to talk to you about this cow-dung stench–”
He straightened his 6’4” frame and sucked in deep lungful of air. “This is the sweet smell of progress, Inder.”
“Eeeeew,” I pinched my nose.
“Do you know how much energy is renewable in this world?” He tugged my earlobe.
“Yes, Inder. We have power cuts in India. We have an energy crisis. We pollute our environment when we can re-use the energy available in nature.” He lifted me by my arms and rested me on his hip clasping his muscular arm around my waist. “Look this is how it’s done…” His pencil traced a big drum and pipelines running to and from it on the blue coloured paper for several minutes.
“Bauji, You make is sound very easy Are you sure it will work?”
“Will you believe me if you and me build a miniature prototype, first he playfully tapped my head with his engineers ruler.
I ran back out to the living room. “Yay, I got it. I got it.”
My grandma blocked my path, “Did he agree to give up his hair-brained idea, Inder.”
I flung my arms around her thickening waist. “I’ve got my project idea, Biji. I’ll need your help though. When its show-and-tell day for my project at school, can you ship some fresh cow-dung to my school. Please overnight it, it will have to be fresh.” I smiled.
Grandma repeatedly slapped her fore-head. “One day you’ll grow up to be just as crazy as him.”