Charlie always wanted to explore the colourful bottles of chemicals that were arranged on the shelves of his mother’s laboratory. It was in the basement of their house. But his mother hardly ever allowed him to enter. Charles knew his mother was doing research on extinct animals. She often told him stories of the saber tooth tiger, the woolly mammoth, the dire wolf and of course dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs were Charlie’s favourite. He had watched all the Jurassic movies time and again. Every time he watched a Jurassic movie, he wished a baby dinosaur would came out of an egg in his mother’s laboratory and say hello to him.
His mother was working in the team responsible for researching the Dodo bird. It was for this project that his mother had to leave town. Before leaving, his mother said to him, “Take care of yourself and be a good boy. And don’t disturb daddy and Ada.” Usually when his mother left, Charlie felt sad but this time he was more happy than sad. He noticed that his mother had not locked the laboratory in a hurry. This was the perfect opportunity. Ever since his mother explained that ‘saur’ in dinosaur means lizard, Charlie was planning to catch a lizard and feed it some of his mother’s chemicals and try to recreate dinosaurs.
“Ada, now we have to catch a lizard.” Ada was their house help and she loved Charlie dearly. She played with Charlie, told him stories and sometimes even covered up for his mistakes
Charlie called her his ‘assistant’. She was his companion in all his adventures and experiments. Charlie and Ada searched the whole house looking for a lizard but could not find one. Suddenly Charlie had an idea, “Ada, our store room is very dirty and I have seen cockroaches there. Maybe we can find a lizard too.” The store room was dirty and there was a strange smell. After moving the boxes and cartons they could finally spot a lizard. Charlie nearly jumped and managed to catch it. Then he put it inside a glass bottle.
Charlie was in Grade 4. Although he knew some difficult terms like DNA and RNA, he knew nothing about the chemicals that were stored in his mother’s laboratory. He chose some colourful chemicals which appealed to his eyes and mixed them in a beaker. Then with the help of Ada, he dipped the lizard into the beaker. “Oh God, what is happening!” The lizard started growing bigger and bigger until the beaker cracked. Then the lizard stood erect. Charlie screamed half in delight and half in terror. “Ada, it is no longer a lizard, it is a dinosaur. Look at its face, look at its body!”
Charlie always wanted to see a dinosaur, but now that he stood before a real dinosaur, he shook in terror and hid behind Ada.
Both Charlie and Ada were shocked when they heard the dino say, “Don’t be afraid, I am only a baby dinosaur.”
“Oh my God, you can speak!” Charlie jumped in excitement.
“Of course I can. Now give me something to eat, I am hungry.”
Charlie brought a bowl of milk and cornflakes. The dino polished off the bowl in a minute and wanted some more. In this way he finished all the milk and cornflakes at home. Now the question was what to do with the dino? Should he hide him or tell mummy everything when she returns. Charlie thought that it was best to confide in dad. He was always cool and never freaked out like Mummy. Just when he was thinking all that, dad appeared. Seeing him, the dino leapt from the table and tried shaking hands with him. Dad was so startled that he almost screamed. Charlie held his dad’s hand and assured him, “Don’t worry dad, he is only a baby dino and he is friendly too.”
“Dino? How could it be a dino? Dinosaurs were extinct long ago.”
“I created him, dad, in mummy’s laboratory.” Charlie narrated the whole story. While they were busy talking, the smart little dino went exploring the house.
After a while they heard a rumbling sound coming from the library. The three of them rushed in to find all the books tumbling down the shelves and the poor little dino was buried in a pile of books, with only his tail sticking out. Charlie darted forward to rescue him. “What are you doing here?” Charlie said in an angry voice.
“I saw my pictures in some of these,” the dino answered, pointing to a few books on dinosaurs. Charlie felt bad. He must be feeling lonely. Charlie gave him a tight hug and said, “I name you Talkasaurus. You are the world’s first talking dinosaur.”
“I also smile,” he said with a big smile.
“Okay, you are Smilosaurus, in short Smiley. We are friends now.”
The next two days passed in a hurry. Smiley got along well with dad and Ada. He had his meals sitting at the dining table and shared the bed with Charlie. Charlie did not go out to play these two days. He made various excuses to his friends.
One day, one of his friends saw Smiley peering through the window. But Charlie easily convinced him saying that it was only a model that he had made. While Charlie was at school, Smiley relaxed on the couch watching TV all day. He finished all the packets of popcorn and munchies they had at home and Ada had to run to the supermarket to refill them.
It was decided that dad would break the news to Mummy. When Mummy returned dad took her inside and shut the door. Charlie and Ada sat in the living room with worried faces. But when Mummy came out she looked cheerful. She hugged Charlie and said, “Now will you come with me and tell me everything in detail?”
“Mom, I don’t remember anything. I just added the colourful liquids that I liked.”
“Oh Charlie, try and remember. It is very important, I hope you understand.” Things turned serious with the return of mummy. She took Smiley’s blood sample to collect his DNA and sat under the microscope for hours. She examined Smiley a thousand times. Charlie did not like all this. He missed all the fun they had in Mummy’s absence.
Charlie had suddenly become a hero. People from the press came to interview him. He was all over the newspapers and news channels. But he did not enjoy this attention. He cried violently when his mother told him that Smiley had to be shifted to a government facility for studies and research.
“Smiley is mine, I will not give him away.”
“But Smiley is lonely. Wouldn’t you like Smiley to have a family?”
“Yes, I do. Why don’t they come to our house and do all the work?”
“My laboratory is too small and it does not have all the instruments that are required,” his mother tried to reason. At last Charlie agreed. He was granted permission to go and visit Smiley whenever he liked. Like Charlie, the whole world is now waiting for the world’s second smiling dinosaur. And Charlie hopes that once the research is over, he will get Smiley back.