“Are you sure you want to go through with this Mr. Seth?” Dr. Vaswani asked.
“My mind is made up doctor” boomed the middle aged industrialist.
They sat in the doctor’s office one floor above his extensive medical laboratory. A laboratory funded in large part through the contributions of Roshan Seth and his industrial group.
Dr. Vaswani ploughed on “I know sir, but I feel I need to remind you that this procedure has never been tried for human beings. We don’t know what the consequences would be.”
“You told me you only needed a blood sample and some skin. What is the problem with that?” Seth barked.
“No, I didn’t mean there was any danger to you. But we must also consider the fate of your clone.”
“What about it?” Seth stared at him with incomprehension.
Dr. Vaswani explained. “Clones are notoriously short lived Mr.Seth. Most die of natural causes within months if not weeks due to premature aging. Added to that the still experimental growth procedure needed to bring him to maturity including growing your memories, the chances of failure are not very high.”
“So what, you will need more blood?” asked Seth.
“No no. Just one sample will be enough, we should be able to replicate as much as we need for many clone generations. But . . .” Dr. Vaswani faltered.
“But what?” snarled a visibly impatient Seth.
Vaswani felt uncomfortable, “We have to consider about the well being of your clone. He may not live long.”
“If he dies can you make another?”
“Yes, yes but that -” stammered Vaswani.
“Then what is the problem dammit?” Seth slammed his palm on the table. “I told you I needed a clone and you will make one for me.”
“But really sir, if you just need someone to run your business for you could -”
“I could what? What are you suggesting that you know how to run my business better than me?”
“No, I-” Vaswani stopped himself. Seth had never hidden his contempt for his only son. Everyone agreed, the only person Roshan Seth trusted with his business was Roshan Seth. The effect of this was becoming visible. Approaching middle age had covered his once powerful frame in fat and his steady dark eyes were ringed with circles almost as dark.
“Dr. Vaswani I’ll worry about my business and you worry about yours. If one clone fails, then you can make another one.” Abruptly his manner changed. He put on his famous smile, the one he wore when had recruited Vaswani. “You must excuse me if I sound a little sharp doctor, but in my line, I usually have to deal with fools. That is the curse of greatness. You know, that is why I wanted to work with you. Because when I met you I sensed greatness. No don’t deny it, I know greatness when I see it.”
Vaswani was embarrassed and rose up. He was about to protest, but Seth raised his palm and continued. “But doctor, you know the difference between us? You still have to realize your greatness. You still have to do the thing that will make you famous and this is that thing. You cannot let it escape.”
Seth gently patted Vaswani on his shoulder. “Believe me, I understand your concern doctor. I know how hard you and your team have been working. Of course you are nervous taking such a step. I was nervous too when I was starting my first business. But remember I have every confidence in you.”
Seth rose, walked out without glancing back. Vanwani sat at the table with his shoulders hunched and his head in his hands. The weight of the world seeming on his shoulders.
In the end, there was no option. Dr. Vaswani took the blood sample as well as detailed memory map of his illustrious patient. Two weeks later, unannounced, Seth walked into Dr. Vaswani’s lab.
“Well, you told me you could make my clone in a week, now where is it?” Seth demanded.
Vaswani tried to guide him to his office, but Seth would not listen. “Stop trying to push me doctor. Answer my question, did you or did you not make my clone?”
Vaswani ordered his researchers to take an early and extended lunch break and replied. “There is a clone, but he is still unconscious. We haven’t tried to get him up.”
“You remember I warned you about premature aging, well this time I fear there might be a danger of heart trouble. We didn’t want to take a risk by waking him” Vaswani explained.
“If it is asleep, it is useless. A waste of money. If it dies early, at least I’ll be able to get some work out of it before then.”
Vaswani was struck speechless.
Seth finished “I had it made, it belongs to me, it will do what I tell it to do. I say, wake it.”
Vaswani led them to a recovery ward where a figure lay reclined, being fed through an IV drip. The features were unmistakably Seth’s. Vaswani administered an injection and presently the man began to stir.
“Leave us now doctor.” Seth commanded.
“Mr. Seth, sir, I need to be on hand, there is no saying how he will respond when he awakens.”
“It will respond as I want it to respond. Now leave, I have work to do.”
Vaswani moved out. He strolled around the lab, waiting. A loud crash sounded from within the recovery ward. Vaswani ran in to find Roshan Seth collapsed on the floor. His skull had been smashed with a pole holding an IV drip. Next to him lay the clone who had evidently succumbed to a heart attack due to the effort. He had responded as Seth would have.