Chapter VII - Storm / अंधड़....
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  1. Santosh Vattam for correcting tonnes of grammatical mistakes.
  2. Sudarshan for anchoring the concept into sketchs.
  3. Friends: Punchagan, Ritesh, Nandeep, Kartik, Ashish for comments, feedback, suggestions, support, and encouragement.

Continuing from part 6

Dust storm was approaching the city as Madhu and Mahinder entered the house.

Madhu: "Holy. It already started."

Mahinder: "Quick, we should hurry up and close all the open windows. Cleaning after this would be a nightmare."

For a brief moment as they rushed to pack the house they forgot all about the battery, jeep and everything. They finished up and sat on Sofa. They were hearing voices of strong winds swaying trees and other random things, windows, doors were rattling. Mahinder was reminded of the battery.

Mahinder cried out loudly, "Fook, the battery."

They both rushed to MML's room.

MML was already on it. She was looking at the feed and confirming all functionality was intact.

MML heard Madhu and Mahinder enter the room, "There you are. What took you so long?"

Mahinder, "Maa, it is quite a distance to walk back."

MML, "No worries, now that you are here. See."

She pushed a button and the setup unfolded. "I am just deploying things to make sure we don't miss out on this storm. Both the batteries, Simba and one connected to Solar panel are fully charged right now. Things seems to be stable."

Madhu, "Does the forecast also talk about thunderstorm?"

Mahinder replied, "You never know about these ones. Sometimes they are dry, just dust and winds and sometimes they have thunderstorm addons. Forecast talked about 40% chances."

Madhu, "We need all the chances we can get."

MML, "I will keep this setup deployed for whole duration. Winds are picking up, now they 40kmph. She pointed towards reading from wind sensor. Humidity is still low, 10%, let us see what we get."

All three of them kept staring at the screen. Experimenting with things. Winds were strong but there was no sign of rain or thunder. Before they realized they had spent more than an hour observing.

Madhu noticed the time, "Darn, I am getting later for breakfast. I won't be able to continue this."

Mahinder also added, "Ohh right, I am also late. I have unfinished work too. Maa, would you be alright handling this alone?"

MML, "The storm is also almost over. So far this has not given me any trouble. I will call you if something happens. You go, carry on."

Madhu and Mahinder both went back to their work. They both were a bit happy that MML can handle it and also got more doubtful about the success of the project. There were too many things at play.

They all gathered in MML's room at tea and talked a bit about how did it go, what sucked, what could have been better.

Madhu, "Today was just dust and winds."

MML, "Yeah. there were hardly any clouds."

Mahinder, "I am worried if this dust would screw up the mechanics of the machine."

They kept on drinking their tea in silence.

For next few days, whenever there was a storm, they would try to be together and monitor things. So far their experiment had survived five to six storms, only dust, no clouds or thunder. Solar panel was working perfectly and remaining of the machine too. The location had almost no human movement. There were few foxes or deer who wandered close and MML spooked them real nice with the Holographic projection. By now, they all were confident that even if project doesn't succeed it won't be plundered by the strangers.

In next week the forecast mentioned about clouds, drizzle and even hailstorm. MML was alone when first storm with clouds and rain came. There was not much to do, just remotely open up the structure, start the magnet and keep a watch. She saw some lightning strikes in the camera feed but they were really far from their setup.

Madhu checked in with MML, "Maa, today there were rains."

MML, "Yeah beta, but nothing for us. We stayed high and dry."

Madhu, "One of these days….. fingers crossed."

MML, "lets hope so."

With next few storms, fine dune sand and sporadic rains started knocking out controls of the setup. As mahinder had shared his concern initially, mechanics of opening up of the structures failed. Now it just remained open all the time, battery status sensor and, other controls followed one by one. Eventually, just the camera feed was working. But MML was relentless, she kept her watch.

During one of their tea session they again reviewed their situation.

Madhu spoke softly "Soon Monsoon will start. People will start moving in that region for farming, tourist camp outs and things."

Mahinder agreed, "I think this is it. We tried. Good thing is, setup is intact we should go and bring everything back."

MML tried to encourage both of them, "You did good. Don't sulk about the result. Action counts and matters." She quoted Geeta,

"कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन्। मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते संगोस्त्वकर्मणि।।"

आपको कर्म करने का अधिकार है, परन्तु फल पाने का नहीं।

They decided to get their equipment back over the coming weekend. Despite support from MML, Madhu and Mahinder's morale was really down. They had worked hard on it. Madhu struggled a lot. Some days she had trouble sleeping. One such afternoon she was alone in the bed and having some bad nightmares. She was hearing random voices calling her out. There was a loud bang on the door of their room. She woke up suddenly to realize MML was indeed calling her out.

"Madhuuuuuuuuuuuuuu, Badhuuuuuuuuuuuu."

Madhu was slowly coming to her full senses, "Yes Maa? What happened?"

MML still talking from the door of the room, "Madhu… are you alright? I am calling you from last half an hour."

Madhu, "Yes Maa, I am alright, I was just sleeping and didn't hear you. Do you want something?"

MML slowly turned and started walking back to her room, "Come to my room quickly, your project just got hit by something."

Madhu rushed ahead of MML to see what happened.

MML followed, "I am not sure if it is still happening. But I recorded it. Wait I will show you."

MML navigated to stored recording sections and pulled out a clip. It was from about an hour ago. "This storm started and then I saw a big flash."

Madhu confirmed, "Did the flash hit our structure in the Jeep?"

MML, "I don't know exactly where it hit but here, take a look."

MML started the clip and Madhu saw it too. In between the dust, winds there was a really bright flash and everything shook.

Madhu still didn't believe it, she looked at MML, "Maa, I am not sure what happened there, did it actually work?"

MML replied, "You watch more."

Madhu started fast forwarding the clip, "Did something else also happened?"

she saw atleast five to six more such flashes hit the structure.

Madhu, "Wohhaaa…… we got hit so many times???"

MML, "Seems like it."

Madhu, "Did it work? Did our battery get charged? What does this mean? One strike I can understand but so many?"

MML, "The battery won't charge more?"

Madhu, "I don't know. I didn't know lighting strikes same more than once. This is even more insane."

MML, "Call Mahinder, go and fetch it. Weather has cooled down a bit after the storm."

Madhu called Mahinder, he was at client's place. They decided to go their together. He started from his work and Madhu from house to meet at common point and continue from there.

On their way they kept on speculating what would have happened and what will they find.

Madhu, "I am worried Mehndu, 5-6 are too many daaa, everything would be roasted."

Mahinder, "Comeon Madhu yaar, don't be that negative, Lets not get ahead of ourselves. We will reach there soon."

They reached a nearby dune from where they could see the Jeep. Nothing was roasted, structure stood there. After so many dust storms Jeep was almost buried in sand from one side.

Madhu, "Shit. We will have to dig it out."

Mahinder, "That and all we will figure out. First lets see what happened to battery."

They both started rushing to the Jeep. Jeep was on top of a dune. They were climbing the dune, slowly, treading the sinking ever moving sand, heads down.

Madhu touched Mahinder's hand and pointed towards a buckle of her bag pack, "Mehndu, look…." The metallic buckle was gliding in air, as if something was pulling it.

Mahinder replied, "The magnet. Its powered."

Madhu was excited, "From the battery? Our battery got charged?"

They again started rushing towards the Jeep. This time faster, almost jumping on the sand. Mahinder reached the Jeep first, nearly out of breath he shouted to Madhu, "Madhu….. it is charged!! It worked…. come fast.."

He climbed down the dune a bit to give her a hand.

They both reached the Jeep, dusted the setup checked battery status and it was indeed fully charged.

Madhu, "I can't believe this. How like this means yaar."

Mahinder, "Are you ready to test it out? We should connect the battery to our Jeep and see how it fairs. For the start, lets see if it can dig us out from all this sand."

Madhu nodded. And they both started wrapping up things. Suddenly Madhu remembered MML, "Should we call Maa?"

Mahinder tried to avoid it, while continuing the work he replied, "We will call her when the Jeep starts moving."

Madhu reminded Mahinder, "She can see us in the camera feed."

Mahinder blankly looked at the camera and had the realization. He stuck out his tongue, "Oh yeah, I totally forgot about this". They both waved at camera and showed thumbs up sign.

They both resumed wrapping up things. Mahinder dug out some sand, they connected battery to Jeep and started it. Mahinder neatly maneuvered front and rear wheel drive controls to slowly free up the tyres. Jeep showed no sign of missing out on battery power. Mahinder made the observation, "Madhu yaar, we hit the jackpot, that too 5 times."

Madhu smiled back. She was really happy how this turned out, "I think after first strike this Magnet got decent current flow from battery and that's why we got remaining of strikes."

Mahinder corrected himself, "Yes, correct, one jackpot."

Once they wrapped up everything and tucked them into the Jeep, they drove the Jeep slowly through the dunes, back to the Home. Once they reached home, they connected main line of the house to the battery. Everything kept humming and running. Mahinder nodded to Madhu, "Lets see how much it can carry", and they started turning on their lathe machine, nothing. No glitch. Usually lights flickered and adjusted to lower brightness, this time, they just kept flowing.

Mahinder, "Do we have some dirty laundry?"

Madhu chuckled, "We always do".

They filled up their washing machine, set load to heavy wash, started it, again, no glitch.

Madhu, "This is good…. What else we can try?"

Mahinder, "Lets charge these batteries?"

Madhu, "Yes, good idea."

Mahinder and Madhu connected five to six discharged batteries for charging, one by one and they all started charging, one by one.

"All this and more…. .. Its like having our own oil well in 20th century. We are new Shaikhs.." Madhu made an observation.

Mahinder, "lets share this update with Maa."

They both left their shed and went to MML's room.

MML, "What took you so long? You had all the time to wave and what not but not for a small call?"

Mahinder, "Arey Maa….. stop worrying, please, not now. This is not the right time."

MML, "So now we have a set time when we should worry?"

Madhu, "Maa, we got the battery charged! We were testing things to make sure everything is working fine."

MML, "Ohh. Did it get charged? Was everything okay there?"

Mahinder, "Yes it did. We got it charged big time. We got back everything that we had put there. Did you notice anything with your AC, or TV? Any glitch?"

MML, "I didn't, should I have?"

Mahinder, "Usually with all the tests we just did, our cooling would have died off, but, not now, not today, not tomorrow, not this week, not in this month…"

MML, "You are just pulling my leg. I don't believe you."

Mahinder replied smilingly, "Don't worry Maa, you will believe me when you get habitual of this. Trust me, it is much better and very addictive".

Just at that moment, MML's stomach growled.

Madhu, "Ohh, you seem hungry. Sorry it took us this long."

MML, "No worries beta. Take you time. You have been busy with work and everything else. Just.."

She hesitated.

Madhu, "What happened Maa?"

MML, "Can we have some fresh, hot chapati?"

"For sure!" exclaimed Madhu as both Mahinder and Madhu started walking towards the kitchen.