In Memoriam: The National Museum of Natural History

Every year the Class Teacher would invite articles for the school magazine. For the longest time none of mine were published. Finally, Gingi obliged to write a poem for me. It went like this,

I have a puppy
She is very chubby
Her name is Cutie
She is a real beauty
Playing with her is a pleasure
She is my great treasure.

They found this appropriately cute and publishable for my age.

One of the earlier pre-puppy articles that got rejected, when I was in 2nd standard, was titled ‘My Visit to the National Museum of Natural History’. It was, like you wouldn’t have guessed, about my visit to the National Museum of Natural History in Delhi. The entirety of my wonder, fascination and excitement was put on paper along with excruciating descriptions of the exhibits, especially the giant Ammonite mollusc fossil that had made my jaw drop and hit the ground.

My teacher read it and thought I was too young to be waxing eloquent about Ammonites. The article never saw the light of day again. This was some four years before I took a leaf out of her illusions and outsourced the puppy poem.

natural history museumMy last visit to the Museum was two years ago. The Ammonite was still there. I was a few feet taller and we both, two decades older. ‘Candid’ selfies with taxidermied leopards were clicked. Buttons were pressed and voice-overs were listened to. The Natural History Museum was still fun after all these years.

There are some mornings when you wake up to the news and a part of you withers away. The Museum was destroyed in a massive fire in the wee hours, earlier today. In an age when ‘No Photography’ signage is put up even at the most mundane locations, this beloved museum not only let us click pictures but also had exhibits that invited people to touch them. No, not stranger danger. I wish they were not so liberal about their fire safety measures though. What a loss!

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