This was almost a decade ago. Sid was just 7 and his dinosaur mania was driving us crazy. For one, we all had dinosaur names, and two, he always walked with his two hands stretched like a T-Rex claw. As over-indulgent parents of this century, we decided to take him to a dinosaur fossil park in India. After some crazy planning, we found ourselves on an aeroplane to Ahmedabad in Gujarat.
Dinosaurs, I have understood over the years, are not cute or pretty. They are either massive with tiny heads or menacingly scary. Why lil Sid took to these creatures still baffles me. It all started with a green plastic dinosaur and unwittingly I had ushered in an era of a bygone time. He pretended to be a dinosaur or a palaeontologist, or worse, he would make me run around the house and insist that I hiss and snort because he imagined that is how dinosaurs would react.
On his seventh birthday we dutifully followed Sid’s dinosaur trail. We went to the largest fossil site in India and lingered around, absorbing the Jurassic elements. There were bones embedded in rocks, crusts of rounded stones that we were told were eggs, fossils of every imaginable sort scattered around the barren land. Lil Sid picked stones from the site, wondering if he had just picked up a fossil. He pretended to be a palaeontologist, hoping he would stumble upon a giant rock — previously unseen and undiscovered. Once we finished the tour of the fossil site the lady who showed us around let Sid hold a 65-million-year-old fossilised dinosaur egg. The rest of the day, Sid lived in a dream world — imagining travelling back in time with the egg, waiting for the egg to hatch and bringing back the dinosaur to the present time. Sid smiled every time he told us his idea. Soon more crazy things followed.
Fossils and rocks became part of our lives. When Sid was 12 he enrolled in a palaeontology course. He learnt about fossils, marine dinos and even those that soared in the skies. By 13 he had mastered three courses about the giant reptiles which also increased my vocabulary by leaps and bounds. That moment, I almost wondered if he would follow this into his adult world. For his 14 birthday we surprised Sid with a gift of his dreams. A tiny box with shark teeth dated at least 180 million years old. Sid squealed in excitement. That was probably the last I heard about fossils.
Sid no longer wants to pursue palaeontology. His interests have drifted to new frontiers. He talks about Star Wars and pesters us to watch the movies called Episode 1. He still loves Jurassic Park but he doesn’t mind flipping over to the next channel on TV. He has forgotten all the dinosaur names he gave us and he doesn’t bother to straighten the dinosaur skeleton toy that sometimes topples over on his desk. As I go through the list of things that Sid liked, dinosaurs always topped the list and strangely I also discover that there are some dinosaurs that look cute.
Yesterday, Sid walked in wearing an old T-shirt that has a T-Rex playing a guitar, which reads, “Rockstar”. “I never understood the pun on this T-shirt till date,” he laughed. I laughed with him.
“Mom,” he said looking a bit lost, “please don’t give this T-shirt away even when I grow out of it.” Something inside me softened. I rejoiced in the knowledge that dinos still lurked somewhere inside.
“Of course,” I told Sid with a knowing smile. Sid walked up to me and gave me a warm hug.
At 15, there are probably many other things that rule his heart but dinos I suddenly realised are pretty cute like my teenage son!
Sudha Subramanian is an author and freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @sudhasubraman.