The next morning at the docks, I walked more slowly than usual with my shoulders slumped. As I approached my friends, Omar spoke: "Hey, Razi. What's up?"
"Nothing much. I got a letter yesterday from a physics professor at the University of London who cut the legs off my rhoton theory. He blasted everything about it."
Rashid flipped his cigarette away. "That bastard!"
Word of my failed thesis spread rapidly at the docks that day. Karim came over and asked me what happened, so I started to tell him of my plight.
"Oh, shut the hell up," he said, "and quit your moaning and sniveling." He emphasized the word sniveling, by slapping me on the back of my head. "The trouble with you is you want the world on a platter. Instead of moping around like an asshole, get your act together and do something. So what if he didn't like it. It's powerful that you wrote it at all."
Karim reminded me of the wonderful opportunity I had been given to work at the library, where I could continue to study and read all the books I wanted to. I agreed with him, and life continued on for the next six months. I worked at the docks in the morning, and returned books to the library shelves in the evening.
One evening, when I returned home from working late, my mother handed me a piece of paper on which she had written the name "Chander Sarna" and a telephone number. I surmised that Chander's younger brother Naresh had asked him to get in touch with me. I had gone to high school with ...