Brows knitted, he was a picture of concentration. After all, it was an affront to his ego that a problem in organic chemistry could remain unsolved for an hour and a half...
His brand new iPhone came to life, announcing the intention of an unknown number to contact him. Unknown number. Number. Numbers we all are today, he mused... He was brought out of his reverie by another call from the same number. Who on earth could be calling him, of all people, from an unknown landline number?? And that too, when everyone he knew had received categorical instructions not to disturb him in any way from a week before his exam began.
The phone rang yet again. It was more of irritation than anything else. If nothing, he would have to pick it up to stop the unknown nuisance from keeping him off halogenation of polyunsaturates in one step.
"Can I speak to Amit?"
"Speaking, may I know who is this?"
"I am Rekha, from Columbia Asia hospital. May I know if you have are related to Mrs and Mr Suresh Sharma?"
"Yes, I am their son."
"I have called to inform you that your parents have had an accident..."
"Well, a road rage incident, prima facie... Mr Sharma has been stabbed and Mrs Sharma, hit on the head with some heavy object. She was mumbling your name, and in her phone book I found your number so I thought I would let you know..."
"Okay, I'll be there in 15 minutes..."
He put a bookmark before he closed the book, and put on a pair of chinos before he realised he did not have his car with him today. Heading for the telephone directory, he found himself looking for a dial-a-cab number.
The hint of an extra smiling Gandhi on the back of a hundred rupee note ensured that the cab screeched to a stop within the promised 15 minutes.
Walking into the hospital, his subconscious could not resist a cursory search for the sensor above the gate. At the reception, he found both the women manning th desk trying to assure an elderly lady that the meals provided to her daughter in law were pure vegetarian. He waited, and in a minute or so apparently the lady decided she could trust the hospital with the food that was being served. Looking at their name tabs, he located the one who had called her.
"Excuse me, Ms Rekha. I am Amit Sharma. May I know where my parents are?"
"Of course. Your mother is in the trauma care center on the second floor, and your dad is in the ICU. Straight down the coridoor, first right."
"And Mr Amit, I believe you will find Dr Grover right there in the ICU."
"Hello, I am Amit, son of Mr Sharma. What exactly has happened to my parents?"
"Well son, your father has been stabbed. Multiple stabs from a short knife."
"And how serious is it?"
"Well, most of the wounds are not very serious, but I am a bit worried about two. One which just missed the wind pipe by an inch or so, and another one which reached the peritoneum... I mean.."
"I know sir, the membrane lining the abdominal cavity.. Did it penetrate and reach the intestines?"
"Thankfully not. But your father has lost a lot of blood."
"That is not a problem. I too am A negative, and so is my cousin. You can take 300 ml from each of us. Further if you need, I will contact the Rotary blood bank. I am sure they will be able to provide some."
"And what about mom? How is her condition?"
"She is in a better condition. A head injury, apparently from a heavy, blunt object. A mild concussion, nothing much. However she is in a state of shock. If you want you can take her home. However we would prefer to keep her under observation for 24 hours."
"Of course, doc. You know best."
"I think she would like to meet you. You can go talk to her, but do not let her exert herself too much. The trauma care center is on the second floor."
"Ya Rekha, what happened?"
"How is that elderly gentleman who was brought in with stabs?"
"He is stable now. Why?"
"Nothing. Just that his son was... too calm. If you know what I mean..."
"Yes.. I too got a feeling that I was dealing with someone who was as detached from the case as me, if not more..."
Three hours later, Amit was on his way out of the police station. Having given the description of the three guys and the girl, along with that of their car, who had done this because his father was not able to give them a pass for some time, he was thinking of having a nice good strong coffee when he almost stopped mid stride.
YES!!! It was iodine heptaflouride which caused the single step halogenation of polyunsatured hydrocarbins, in the presence of sodium hydroxide as catalyst!!!