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Descending Discovery

You are sure to go back with one of the most important lessons of life, when you finish this simple yet truly meaningful tale of 'descending discovery'!
Buvana's head was reeling. She looked through the microscope. Again. And again.

Then she looked through the other microscope. Again. And again

Then she wiped her eyes with her sleeves, to make sure she was seeing clearly, and looked through each microscope in turn, again and again.
Descending Discovery
Then she went to the ladies' room and threw up.

"Damn it, Buvana, you're a scientist," she told herself sternly. "You cannot puke when you make a discovery, even if you've discovered that ... " her thoughts were interrupted by another upchuck. It was lucky she always carried mouthwash.

"Buvana? Buvana?"

"Yeah?" She tried to make her voice sound as normal as possible.

"What happened? Are you unwell? I heard ..."

"You heard me puke." It was obvious that Asha had heard her, lying would make things worse.

"Was it something you ate?"

Buvana sighed. This was a big discovery. Horrible, but big. She had to be careful, follow protocol, tell her seniors before she blurted things out to a junior lab assistant like Asha. Washington would have to be told, and the UN, and ... on the other hand, Asha was a good friend who could be trusted to keep a secret, and if she didn't tell someone now, she would burst.

"It wasn't something I ate. It was a discovery I made."

"A ... a ..."

"Listen, can you keep a secret? I mean, really, really, keep a secret?"


"Then come and see."

Buvana led Asha to the microscopes. She made Asha look through each one, twice. Then she pointed at the labels of the specimen bottles.

Asha's jaw dropped. Buvana expected her to run to the loo, like she herself had, but Asha was apparently made of sterner stuff.

"Buvana, this can't mean - but - it - "

"You saw it with your own eyes."

"But then - but -"

"Listen, Asha, you can't tell anyone, okay."

"You have to tell someone, Buvana. I mean, they'll have to contact Washington, and then announce it to the UN ..."

"That's just what I was thinking. So whom should we tell first?"

"Tell? You two playing school-girl-with-secret-won't-tell-you? Grow up, already!" Neither of them had noticed Leela walk into the lab, so intent had they been on the discovery.

Buvana looked at Asha, eyebrows raised. Asha raised her eyebrows back. Leela was the seniormost member of their team. She had the habit of making a sarcastic remark now and then, like she just had, but she was a good boss, on the whole. And she was the best scientist they had. If anyone deserved to be in on it early, Leela did. Perhaps it was providence, that she had walked in when the two of them were alone with the discovery.

"Leela?" Buvana said, tentatively.

"What?" Leela was perceptive and had, even while uttering sarcasm, sensed the mood of her favourite scientist and promising assistant. It was obvious these two were on to something huge. 

"Leela?" Buvana repeated. 

"What, already? Don't keep saying my name. Get on with it."

But Buvana was, for once, at a loss for words.

Asha, indeed the stronger of the two at the moment, spoke. "Buvana threw up," she remarked.

"That's what this is about? Buvana's digestion, or lack thereof?"

"Uh - " Buvana was finding her tongue. "That's not quite how I would've put it to you, but I made this discovery, Leela ... " Buvana gestured.

Leela strode over to the microscopes. Wordlessly, she peered into each one. Silently, she read the labels on the specimen bottles. "Who else knows about this?" she snapped, and, when they indicated just the two of them, she became efficient. "Right. There should be no leaks. I'm glad I had everyone sign a confidentiality agreement. It was a formality at the time, but now - I'll hold you to it."

"We didn't intend to tell anyone."

"You'll be credited with the discovery, of course. I'll see to that." Swiftly, Leela walked out of the room, leaving behind a heavy silence.

It was some minutes before Asha broke the silence. "If it were me, I am not sure I'd like to be credited with a discovery like that. I mean, it is big scientifically, but ..."

Buvana sank on to one of the lab stools and closed her eyes. "But ..." she repeated. 

But she was credited with the discovery. The next few days were a blur. She didn't have time to eat or sleep or anything, it was one meeting after the other, one interview after the other - suddenly, she had bodyguards all round her 24/7, she went around in a secure limousine, she was tossed from public glare to closed-door meetings back to the public glare in bewildering succession, she received piles of fan letters and larger piles of hate mail, actual and online, and worst of all - Asha had to work overtime at the lab to confirm the discovery, and couldn't be with her through it all.

In the lab, Asha and the other assistants watched the news on multiple TV screens, specially rigged up to catch every channel.

"And here's the interview with Ms. Buvana MacLean, rumoured to be in the running for this year's Nobel Prize for her breakthrough discovery ... "Tell us, Ms. Buvana, the evidence that led you to make this search, and talk us through the moment that you finally knew it was true ...

"How does it feel, Ms. Buvana, to tell the world that man did not, in fact, descend from the apes, as is widely believed, but actually descended from the cockroach?"

Moral: All creatures are indeed equal.

We think we are superior to all other creatures, and we look down on some creatures particularly some insects. But, just imagine if the cockroach was actually our ancestor ...? Would we look at it more respectfully then? Do you agree?

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 23rd January 2017.
Sonali Bhatia
Sonali Bhatia is a freelance writer

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