A Boulder Known As Despair



I was never a very serious kid. I was a bit of an introvert, but with enough poking, I would engage in conversations with people, whether friends or elders. As a kid who was passionate about science and technology, space used to fascinate me. I remember I went to Gangtok with my parents, I was about 8. It was the month of August and so, torrential rain was an hourly issue. As rainfall affects mountainous regions quite adversely, we got stuck in our hotel because of a major landslide, that had blocked all roads. I was secretly relieved. My terrible motion sickness had made me too tired to sight see the beautiful hill station that day, so I though to myself, “Tomorrow, for sure!” It was dark before 5 p.m. The ambience was calm, except intermittent chirping of crickets. A few minutes past six, the lights went out; apparently the rain had caused the power cut, so, there we were, sitting in the silence, my mum flailing her hands over the sofa to find her bag which contained a torch. My dad was in the reception, I presume he went to enquire after the situation. Mum lit the torch and we locked our room, went downstairs cautiously, since we were wary of injuring ourselves in the dim light. I asked dad what happened; he answered, with his usual calm demeanour, that a transformer was damaged by a lightning strike and so, it will take some time for the power to come back on. Mum told her husband that she was going outside with me to sit on the benches on the lawn. I gleefully followed. I sat on the bench, and while my mum was conversing with a lady, I happened to look up at the night sky. I was awestruck, so much so that I couldn’t say anything. The view that was above me, couldn’t be described in any human language, it was out of this world, literally so! As a city dweller, I never bothered to look up at the night sky, as there was nothing to see, except the three brightest objects, Sun, Moon and Venus. I was wrong! Looking up, it felt like someone had removed a curtain and revealed an important secret to me! Never in my tiny 8 year old life, had I seen so many brilliant and glowing celestial bodies in the night sky! I thought what they showed us in the planetarium was just an animation, I never knew it was possible to see such a phenomenon in reality! And there was a wisp of white glowing dust scattered around the stars, stardust maybe? What was it? I suddenly broke off from the trance due to some random noise; then I shook my mum’s hand vigorously and exclaimed,”Look up, look up!!” She commented that it was beautiful, and went back to her conversation.

I was so enthralled by the majestic view that I had just witnessed, that it was difficult to get my mind off of it. That was the catalyst to my already curious brain. I returned home with mum and dad the day after, and I delved into whatever science books I had in my possession, to learn more about that wisp of stardust. I flipped through pages of the encyclopaedia, too impatient, and I came across a word in big bold letters- SPACE AND SPACE EXPLORATION. It had a picture of planet earth in the middle of the page, and a man was floating on top of the planet, wearing a giant white suit. I scanned the contents and came across a chapter called “The Night Sky”. I couldn’t wait to read it, but I did have some problems with understanding big words as you know, I was 8. I started to read, and there it was! Our planet was in a galaxy! And it was called the Milky Way, and that’s what I’d seen! Ah, Milky Way, it sounded like a delicious brand of chocolate. I was quite satisfied with my discovery. I knew I loved science, very much.