Anuj Wankhede

I am dead.
Long dead.
But I still exist. As a ghost.
A ghost who speaks. A Phantom?

My name does not matter. Just call me Reactor?

I was born to Mother India.
My father?

Well, without being rude, I think it was Mr. NPCIL.

I lived on a beach. The coast was lovely and the natural beauty around my home was something well known to the world.

I died sometime after or on my first birthday.

God does not permit me to enter heaven.
Satan says I’m worse than him, so hell is out of bounds for me.

I live a ghost’s life, neither living nor dead.
I was a pampered child. My parents took great care to ensure my birth. Although born in controversy, I was never told about myself.

Had I known, I would have preferred to be stillborn.

I was told about all the good things I will bring about. The happiness to people close to my parents and their relatives. I tried. I gave it my best and delivered electric energy to those wanting it.

Before my birth, Doctor Uncle came to check on me. Uncle Kalam told the gathering that I will be 100% healthy.

Now, I wonder? How was Uncle so sure I couldn’t have a heart attack next week? How could Uncle say something which did not make sense even to an unborn child?

Anyway, I was born amidst fanfare and grew up on the coast.

But I was not happy.

The reason was my mother did not have food to provide me. I lived on uranium and my mother simply did not have it!

For my food, she begged and almost sold herself to other countries. It was shameful to know what compromises she had to make. And others took so much advantage of her!

Father, on the other hand, had his own agenda.
My life gave him a reason to exist! Without me and my continued well being, nobody would know him. He also needed some parts of me to make weapons. There was a very dark side to father!

Anyway, when I was born, whole villages were promised lifetime jobs and all other kinds of joys.
Yes, I did see new roads and buildings.

But I also saw people leaving their homes. Not willingly. Forcibly.

I saw farms slowly turning to waste.

I saw the rivers heating up and drying.

And to my absolute horror, I saw my waste repeatedly thrown into the sea, killing all life there.
That was my first look at death – of others.

The day I died?

Ok. I was pretty normal when suddenly there was a choking sensation. You know the feeling? Tightening of chest, heart races, you sweat and before you realise it, you’ve had a cardiac failure. You collapse into a heap and it’s all over before anyone realises it is over!

It happens with many people. Daily.

Wonder why Uncle never thought I would have one?

It’s some years now and still nobody has found the real reason for my failure. Or, maybe, they don’t want to?

I wish my death would have come and gone quietly.
Alas! It was never destined to be a quiet death. For I was pre-programmed to die destructively.
My whole body system was always designed to work in a violent manner.

I died.
But with me, a whole part of civilization died.
And it did not end there.
For as long as human memory will remain, people will die or be born permanently disabled.

I know. My cousin in Russia died many years ago and those people are still silently dying.

I look around my house. It’s not much now, just a vast open hole on the ground. For miles and miles, there are no signs of life.

Nobody even thought of burying me. My mother abandoned me, preferring to set up commissions to inquire into my untimely death and to somehow fix blame on father. Father, meanwhile, relocated to Russia and may never come back.

But what hurts me is that my birth was not at all required.
Many people had repeatedly warned about the exorbitant costs of having me and if things didn’t work out, the costs would become incalculable.

Looking at the dismal scenario around me, of death, destruction, families shattered and displaced, the suffering caused to the newly born and the uncertain future of those yet born.

I don’t want to see this.
But I am condemned. I’ve wreaked so much havoc that I can neither live in peace or die with grace.
I have committed the gravest of sins.
I have been responsible for crimes against humanity and nature.
I am responsible for GENOCIDE.

My mother, father and I are all responsible for this. This mass murder, the genocide!

We should have been stopped much earlier.
But now, at least, we should be punished for our sins. Punished so that others don’t do this again. Anywhere.

I’m sorry. I’m honestly sorry. And I know it probably makes no difference being sorry now!

But given another opportunity, I will never be born a nuclear reactor again. I promise. I prefer to be stillborn.
Yesterday, I was at the cemetery. A boy and his father were lighting candles, maybe for the mother. The boy began to cry. His father, holding him tightly said, “Son, she was the lucky one. She died. We are the living dead.”

I fled from there in shame. If a part of me could have died, it would have yesterday. But I cannot die, I am a zombie.