Short Story By Ms. Madhavi Praveen
“Amma!, where are we going today?” asked Shreya eagerly. She knew her mom and dad took her to a new place once in every few days, during the holidays. The last time it was the botanical garden. She wondered where they were going today. It is not every day that her father takes a leave. “It’s a surprise, my dear girl,” said the mother, “Don’t you know that surprises are meant to be a secret until they are revealed?” she added with a naughty smile.
Shreya was a girl who loved every activity and indulged herself completely in it. Arthi, Shreya’s mom was very proud of her daughter. Be it reading books or studying maps, she would do it fervently and with all the interest. At the age of ten, Shreya surprised her mother every day with the ability to grasp new things easily.
Just before her examination, the teachers at the school had told them about “Mangalyaan” a project by the ISRO to study Mars. This had fired the imagination of Shreya, who always wanted to be an astronaut. Arthi knew how much Shreya loved knowing things about space.
Today, I will give Shreya her best time ever. This surprise is going to make a lasting impression on her mind, thought Arthi.
“Now, eat your lunch fast and be ready. Daddy has taken the day off to take us to the place. You will definitely love it when you reach the place.” she added.
“I am very excited Amma, I can feel it in my nerves, Oh! I am going to have a good time.” giggled Shreya.
“No laughing or talking while you have your food, now finish your lunch quietly” Arthi feigned anger although her suppressed giggle revealed all. In her heart, she was as excited as Shreya.
At about 2:00 PM they set out in the car. Shreya tried hard to get some clues about the place they are taking her; she could not get any information from her father or mother. “It is a surprise dear” was the standard answer. After about half an hour, Shreya stopped asking and started to observe the route. She saw the metro station on the way and concluded it has to be someplace very far. She thought maybe it is a resort, but she had never been to any resort. By the time the journey came to an end, she was praying that the place must have something interesting to engage her.
Shreya read the sign at the entrance, it was the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium. She held her breath. What might the planetarium mean? She tried to recall anything she read about it. Nothing came to her mind. When her father was finding the car parking space, he said, “Oh my! it’s already crowded, we better hurry or there won’t be any tickets left for the 3:00 PM show.”
They hurried out of the car and ran to join the long serpentine queue for paying the entry fee for the planetarium show. Her father said, “If we are unable to buy the tickets for 3:00 PM show, I will wait here in the queue until the counter opens for the 4:00 PM show, you take Shreya around the Science park.”
Fortunately, they got the tickets for the 3:00 PM show and were soon whisked into the sky theatre. Once inside, Shreya could not contain her excitement, the theatre was circular in shape with a dome on top, and she spotted something in the middle of it and she shouted out with joy, “Amma look at that, a projector!”
Arthi was surprised at her knowledge, “Yes dear, it is indeed a projector which projects the image on the dome, but how did you come to know about it?”
“I saw it in Doraemon ma,” was her curt reply.
She was very excited when the show began. Everything went dark in the theatre and the dome vanished all of a sudden. They were now watching the clear sky. A narrator, who introduced himself to be the ghost of Galileo Galilei was seen in the sky. Shreya was soon lost in understanding the information about the constellations. She was positively amazed when the image of the sky projected upwards seemed to move around giving her the feeling of going about in space.
“Waaw Ma!! I am roaming about in space, like an Astronaut, it’s so wonderful” she squealed with laughter. The effervescent shouts of children and adults sitting around the theatre revealed that everyone was enjoying this piece of special effect. It was like a virtual tour of the space around the planets. At regular intervals, Galileo would talk about various theories about the planetary models. Shreya was taking all the information at one go.
When the person talked about Cassini probe which was sent to explore Saturn, Shreya turned to her mother and asked her, “Amma, What is a probe?” then added hurriedly, “Nevermind, will ask you once we are home, otherwise I will miss this.” she pointed her finger at the dome. They were showing the Saturn ring belts and explaining how these were formed. Shreya was amazed to know that the rings of the Saturn are components made from rocks, water and ice which are constantly in motion at very high speeds.
The visit to the Science Park was more amusing as she was surprised at the use of pulleys and whispering dishes and was struck by the sheer size of the PSLV rocket. When it was time to return home she asked her father if they would come back here again some other time to explore the science park at leisure. When he agreed she was overjoyed. That night she told her mother, “Amma, I know what will I become when I grow up, I will definitely become an astronaut. Thank you, Ma, for allowing me the lovely tour in the space.”