Three Separate Lives – One Goal.

August 31, 2012

8 and a half years ago somewhere in Jerusalaem, Israel.

The stranger definitely looked foreign. But he was fluent in Arabic. He spoke with a Lebanese accent. Besides he had crisp one hundred dollar American bills. Kamel scanned the stranger one more time. His wife nudged him. “OK, but it will cost you.” The stranger began to count off the notes with a rasping sound. “Why do you want to go there? There is nothing there except pipelines.” The stranger smiled.

Three hours later they were standing on a rock promontory in Isawiyah, North East of Jerusalem overlooking the no man’s in Mount Scopus. The man traced the faint water pipes that crisscrossed the desert. He took pictures.

“We need to get closer.” He said to this Arab guide. “No. Any closer and they will start shooting. This is a restricted area. We shouldn’t even be here.” The stranger smiled and drew on his cigarette as he begun to cut the wire fence with Leatherman pliers. The Arab had a feeling this was no ordinary tourist.

The following day, the watchman of the Hebrew University opened the front doors of the Department of Agriculture as he had did everyday for the last twenty years – there was nothing unusual except for the peculiar way the key turned on the barrel lock that day. It felt loose. But since it lasted only a split second, the curator thought it had something to do with frosty weather – it was after all winter in Jerusalem. Sometime around mid-day, a high security Chubb filling cabinet housing experimental vane pump designs for jet fighter aircraft designs was found unlocked. Since nothing had been removed and all the blue prints were still in their allotted trays in chronological order – the head of department simply closed the filling cabinet and locked it again.

It had happened before. Researchers were after all a careless and forgetful lot. They have no sense of security. Nothing to worry about. Everything seems to be inorder.

4 year ago somewhere in Geneva.

The 88 year old Swiss machinist. Craftsman as he liked to be called. Had a habit of visiting his dearly departed wife every alternate Sunday in La Coulouvreniere. Parked along a street parallel to the cemetery a dark BMW motorcycle pulled up along Rue de stand. The man was in leathers. He was always in leathers thought the Swiss machinist. “Is it ready?” The stranger asked while removing his riding gloves. “Yes.”

“Good, I will get my bankers to transfer the money as soon as I test it out myself.”

The Swiss machinist ran a free lance machine shop at the edge of the kidney shaped lake in Bois de la Batie. He had moved into this high tech experimental hub that was recently set up by the Swiss ministry of trade and Industry – that evening, the oriental began to assemble the prototype vane pumps on the shop bench. The Swiss machinist liked to watch the oriental at work. There was a precision to this man that he recognized and even admired secretly – his single mindedness. His attention to detail. The studied manner in which he placed all his tools in single file on the table in sequence before starting work. The way he mulled over the blueprints which were scrawled in Hebrew and ticked off each assembly. Attention to detail was something that the Swiss machinist found lacking these days in youths. And for the whole hour as he watched the man assemble the vane pump he seemed comforted by the idea that they was at least still a few men left who truly appreciate the quality and commitment of his work. He even found it so edifying that he offered the oriental a glass of home made Chartreuse. Something that he had never done before. That evening after the Oriental had started the pumps and put them through their paces and downed the aniseed liquor in a single gulp. The machinist knew his client was satisfied. Before the oriental sped off on his motorcycle. He handed him a brown envelop with the words, “make sure nothing exist. I was not here. This conversation never took place.” The Swiss machinist nodded his silent approval. He was after all accustomed to such arrangements. That evening after closing his shop and the machinist walked back towards his two room apartment along Ave de Sainte Clotilde. As he crossed the stone bridge. He looked out at the black mysterious waters of Rhone – and dropped a folder with a paper weight into the ebony dark moonless waters – it swirled momentarily and slipped into the oblivion of darkness.

Present Day somewhere in the Shan state.

Three days drive North East of Naypyidaw. In the Shan state, sits a sleepy village of Ta-Kaw. For the whole of last year a network of subterranean tunnels had been dug along the Iri- Shan usually under the cover of darkness  – from time to time, villagers would catch site of the stranger who seemed to wear dark glasses. He was usually accompanied by the generals.

Last year pipelines were laid all the way to the East stretching all the way to the Laos border in Keng Tung and beyond – it was hard to tell where this pipeline began and ended as they seemed to snake across the jungle, ravines and hills. One day when the man paid his respects to the tribes of the Shan, he was overheard saying to the elders, “with these new water pumps the river will now come to us. We can farm here now even in the mountains…..tell me when was the last time you saw anything grow in the terraces and slopes?” With these words even some of the elders who had seen the passing of more seasons than they cared to remember muttered, “It was so long ago. But I am sure no one remembers when the river ran uphill.” The stranger smiled.

Darkness 2012

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