Well, we knew that it had to end some day – the fun that Shirke shared with Minok, I mean. Isn’t it strange how fun always has an end point? Minok after all was a guest from the planet, Zeklum, because of the epidemic spread there and was anyway supposed to stay for a few days. He had travelled with his mother, Lekni while his father, Siral had stayed back to fight and destroy the epidemic. Well, Siral and his team had not only successfully contained the spread of the disease but had also managed to identify the cause, isolate it and find the treatment and preventive drugs too. However, the entire process which was supposed to take a fortnight had taken forty five days. Now, the Zeklum government had sounded the all-clear and all the Grajons, who were asked to vacate were now allowed to come back to Zeklum.
Lekni convinced Siral to come over to earth to meet Shirke and his parents, before they could all go home together. She felt that Siral deserved a small break after working so hard. Siral agreed that he would come over and spend a couple of days. They planned it over the weekend so that they could all spend some time together. Shirke’s mother, Mekala thought the it would be nice gesture to go receive Siral when he landed. So, they all set out to the inter-galactic space station. Shirke had travelled across the galaxy a couple of years ago and was not too impressed with the commercial inter-galactic vehicles. He thought that they could have built them better. The playground was tiny, the pool looked tinier and the snacks were healthy. Ugh!
Anyway, they reached the space station and wandered around wondering when Siral’s flight would land. Suddenly, Minok pointed upward and shrieked “Daddy is coming.” They all looked up to see a sleek spacecraft, eating up the miles and coming silently towards them. Both Lekni and Minok had never thought of mentioning that they owned a personal space craft which was custom-made. Now, Siral was landing it smoothly and walking out with a huge smile and a mini truckload of special gifts.
Shirke’s mouth was still open at the sight of the space craft. His mother had to tell him to gently close it. Then, he turned painfully shy and could not speak anything to Siral except return a subdued “Hi!” to a very exuberant hug and greeting. Siral asked him if he wanted to take a quick look inside before they left the space station. That earned him a fan for life.
Siral walked them all inside. He explained that since he had designed and built this craft from scratch. He, then gave a special tour to Shirke, showing him where the controls were, the sensors that detected stray asteroids, satellites and other space stuff, the buttons that activated the protective shields to save it from freezing temperatures or unfriendly aliens or prying human eyes, the various hidden cabinets, the innovative games that could keep anyone entertained for hours at end, the fluid gel-filled relaxing area instead of the mundane swimming pool, the kiosks that could stash all varieties of snacks and the best of them all, a small kitchenette where you could cook some real meals instead of reheating the dehydrated stuff.
Shirke was overwhelmed with the whole experience. When they got home, Siral gave him a ton of other stuff that were common fare in Zeklum – like the speaking wand that helped with interesting news every day, the crystal pyramid that showed channels across a wide range of galaxies, the fancy dresses that changed shapes and colours and cuts with your moods and so on and so forth. They decided to make a short picnic trip to a nearby galaxy in Siral’s space craft the next day. Shirke declared that this day was absolutely the best day of his life and went to bed dreaming about the next day and how it would surely supersede this day. Let us quietly steal away and leave Shirke to his kaleidoscopic dreams and come back to see what he would be doing the next day.