That Morning was very pleasant. She was browsing the news on her iPad. The news that she already knew but wanted to see it again and again and on all available sources. May be not for the world but for her, her son was the celebrity of the day. Once he would have flown the STS XXX to Mars next year, he would be the youngest astronaut to do so till date. Sally K. Ride was the youngest until now. She was 32 when she flew STS -7 in 1983 with other mission specialists and pilots. Sid had called her mom the night before and overwhelmed her with this exciting news. After an year of rigorous training at Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, he had been chosen to be among the five finalists to go on the second mission to Mars. He would just be 29 years old on 24 April, 2022, almost an year from now, when he would be flying on his space vehicle from Key West, Florida.
While browsing through net, she even forgot about her tea. She had read Sid’s name at so many places. Everywhere possible. She didn’t go into the details of the papers that he had published in various Science Journals and other magazines but she definitely admired the byline. These papers and articles came into publication during his engineering years and during his doctorate. By now, she knew the in and out of her son’s work. Ashu brought another cup of tea. They looked at each other and smiled.
A little sip of hot tea on their little patio traversed her twenty-two years back when Sid was just seven. It was his birthday party, when Sheisha asked him, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” And without any ado he answered, “I want to be a Fire Fighter at Santa Clara station number 400.” Both his answer and his strong conviction surprised his mom.
Though she never felt that there was anything wrong in being a firefighter but she had repeatedly heard him say that he wanted to be an astronaut. He had conveyed the choice of this career in many ways so there was never a doubt in her mind that he would change his decision anytime soon in spite of the fact that he was first inspired by a monkey. Curious George, Sid’s all time favorite animated character was the first monkey to go in space in one of the episode in the cartoon series broadcasted on TV.
Sid’s aversion from the mystical world of Astronomy became more evident when his mom came across his “Blue journal.” He had written in there that he doesn’t want be an astronaut anymore because it was boring. Yet another surprise. She smirked. Although she didn’t know much about astronauts but she had a strong feeling that a job of an astronaut can be anything but boring. Whatever be the reason but his mom was not prepared for it. She wanted to talk to Sid about this change but the “liberal mom” within her stopped her from saying anything. The “liberal mom” in her had always felt that kids should be made aware of the choices they have but the final decision has to be made by them only. And then life took it’s course.
A couple of weeks after the journal incident, they happened to be at The Tech Museum, San Jose, CA. The girl behind the information counter kindly welcomed them with a smile. Sid’s Mom liked the positive feeling that she had when she entered the museum. The entrance fee included the price of the movie at the IMAX (dome) theatre. They had to make a choice between the movie title “Forces of Nature” and “Hubble.” Sid made the decision that he wanted to watch the second one. They had two hours before the show, so they went to lower floor and enjoyed other science exhibits.
Two people, a quarter of century apart by age, were jumping from one station to another at The Tech Challenge Gallery. Both of them seemed to be equally excited. Younger one was overwhelmed to learn the scope of science. The older one was happy to discover the avenues of teaching. Sid and his mom were in high spirits. They tried all the hands-on activities that were there. “Green By Design” section was amazing too because it educated about the power of natural resources like wind, water and solar energy. Sid was totally amazed when he saw the glowing rings, from the energy that he produced by letting water flow on the turbine.
While they hopped from one exhibit to another he kept reminding his mom about the time. He was looking forward to the movie Hubble and finally the time to go to theatre came. He hadn’t had the opportunity to be in Dome theatre before. It was the love at first sight when he saw the theatre. Being a weekday it was not crowded. Both mom and son had a tremendous choice for seating. They decided to sit in the topmost section. First, it was dark and then the dome lit up with thousands of stars. The movie started with fireworks. It was bright, it was loud and it seemed that the flares were coming on to us. It was an actual 3-D experience.
IMAX Hubble was an amazing experience. Watching things that are beyond a normal person’s imagination, the galaxies and stars and the colors and the photos clicked by the Hubble telescope was just a majestic experience for both. Sid had the time of his life when the reverse counting started and the space shuttle flew off of the ground. His face brightened on seeing the astronauts (mission specialists) repairing the Hubble through so many challenges. Amidst all the excitement, he reached his mom’s ears and whispered, “Mom, I used to think that Astronaut’s job was boring but not anymore.” She smiled and offered him the cookie ice-cream that astronauts eat when in the shuttle, a gift that she purchased from the Tech Museum Store earlier that day.