Brahma’s Missile – Part 4

28 Phalguna, 1866, Hindu solar calendar

Abilasha paced the floor in agitation, a newspaper clutched in her hand. She muttered, “Of all the wasteful things to do …”

Padmavati watched her compassionately. “My 83 years of life have shown me that people can be quite wasteful.”

Abilasha stopped her pacing and asked, “What would you do?”

Padmavati stood and adjusted her headscarf with a frail hand. “Talk to them. Bring the League of Nations into it if you have to.” She put a hand on Abilasha’s arm. “You are the Rani now. Draw on the strength of that.” She smiled. “You’ll do fine, dear. I know because I was your teacher.” She stepped away. “Now I must go to the gardens. I have meditating to do and you have a government to run.”

Abilasha smiled wanly, “Thank you, Padme.” She looked at the newspaper and absently started pacing again.

Padmavati opened the door just as Dayaram was reaching to open it. She said, “Careful. She’s quite upset about the news.”

Dayaram bowed. “Thank you for the warning.” He paused at the archway leading to the office to assess Abilasha’s mood for himself. He grimly recognized it was worse than Padmavati had said. He cleared his throat and continued to the desk. “I have the latest reports on the Happy Krishna project.”

Abilasha glared at him. “In a moment. I am more interested in whether you arranged that telephone conversation with Mr. Roosevelt. I will not be party to the mass bombings of civilians.”

Dayaram set down his report and smoothed the cover. “We are working on that, Asha. I also sent the telegram to him.” He hesitated then took a slip of paper out of his pocket. “You won’t like this,” he warned. “It’s a message from General Chaing.”

Abilasha stared at the paper he held out. “Read it to me.” She braced herself.

Dayaram read the short telegram. “America acted alone.” He looked up at her. “That’s it.”

Abilasha shook her head. “I don’t believe him.”

Dayaram put the slip in a drawer. “It doesn’t matter. He will blame the Americans. It is them you must take issue with. They sent the B-29s to bomb Tokyo.”

Abilasha pointed at the newspaper, “Blanket bombing of Tokyo. The death toll is still being calculated.” She dropped the paper on a chair. “Rama, this cannot continue.”

Dayaram drew a deep breath. “Asha …”

She waved him off. “I know. There is nothing to be done until Roosevelt talks to me.” She rubbed her eyes. “You said you had a progress report.”

Dayaram nodded and picked up his papers. “Dr. Ramanna has built a test bomb he’s dubbed Smiling Buddha. They are setting up in the Pokhran Test Range.”

“When?”

“As soon as you approve it.”

She studied the portrait of the original Rani. “I want to be there.”

Dayaram straightened, pulling at the hem of his jacket. “That isn’t wise, Rani.”

Abilasha looked at him sharply; he only used her title in private when he knew she would be angry. “Explain, Peshwar.”

Dayaram straightened and locked eyes with her. “The effects of this bomb are not completely known or understood. It would be dangerous.” He saw the flash in her eyes and he quickly continued, “They will film it from several angles for you. The films will be delivered within hours of their development.”

Abilasha held his gaze, forcing him to look away first. Only then did she answer, “Very well.”

copyright 2011 by Kimberley Long-Ewing, all rights reserved