Monday with Medusaceratops
(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)
the professorís wife said, "there is a dinosaur in the vegetable garden."
She said it very calmly, with not a trace of a tremor in her
voice. Ten years of marriage to the professor had taught her a great deal of
The professor peered at her over his glasses. "Yes, dear,"
he said mildly. Ten years of marriage had taught him the value of those
words as a catch-all response to anything she might say.
"Did you hear what I said?" his wife asked, a slightly
shriller note sneaking into her voice. "There is a dinosaur in the
vegetable garden. And itís eating the cabbage."
"Oh, no, dear," the professor said, returning to his laptop.
"That canít be. You must have been mistaken."
"Look." For the first time in a decade, the professorís
wifeís iron self-control deserted her. She reached out and grabbed a handful of
her husbandís old sweater. "Come to the window and see for yourself."
Another thing the professor had learnt in a decade of
matrimonial bliss was the futility of resistance. He allowed himself to be
towed to the window, already preparing a little speech on how easy it was to be
mistaken about such things. And then he looked through the glass and the words
died on his lips.
There was a dinosaur in the vegetable garden. And it
was just about done eating all the cabbage.
"How extraordinary," the professor said. "You would appear
to be correct, after all."
"Well then," his lady declared triumphantly, "there you are.
Now what are you going to do about it?"
There did not seem to be much anyone could do about it, so
the two of them stood at the window staring at the dinosaur as it demolished
the last of the professorís wifeís cherished cabbages and began on the iceberg
lettuce. The dinosaur took no notice of them at all, so they had plenty of
opportunity to observe it.
It was a very large dinosaur, about as long as the professorís
wifeís oversized SUV and a half again. It stood on four pillar-like legs, its
gigantic head lowered as it ripped lettuce out of the ground with its
parrot-like beak, its huge brow horns thrust out in front of a tremendous
curved frill, which was itself edged with hooked spines. And the colours!
"I thought dinosaurs were supposed to be brown or grey,"
their daughter, who had joined them unnoticed, said to nobody in particular.
The animal was a bluish grey in colour, and splotched and
marked with patches of violet on the shield, in a pattern which looked rather
"What is it?" the daughter, who asked a lot more questions
than, her mother often said, befitted a seven-year-old, queried. "It looks like
the child of a rhino and a chameleon."
"Um, well." The professor was a physicist, not a
palaeontologist, and his knowledge of dinosaurs was not extensive. "Itís
obviously one of the ceratopsians Ė thatís the horned dinosaurs, dear Ė but I
donít think itís a triceratops. It doesnít..." he pointed, "...have a nose
horn." As if hearing, the huge animal raised its head so they both got a good
look at the blunt stub of a protuberance atop its beak. "As to what it is, I
havenít any idea. If I were to consult an online identification guide, perhaps
Iíd be able to find out." He turned towards his laptop.
"Forget the identification for a minute." The ten years of
self-control had deserted the professorís wife completely, and she sounded
high-pitched and shrewish. "That animal there has just eaten all my cabbages
and lettuce, and itís ripping up whatís left of my garden, and what are
you going to do about it?"
"Nothing, I imagine." The professor sounded faintly
astonished that she should ask. "What do you suppose I could do about it Ė shoo
†"Oh no," their daughter said. "Please donít. Itís so cool."
"Cool?" her mother responded, outraged. "The effort I put
into that garden, and that animal ruined it in five minutes, absolutely wrecked
it, and you think itís cool?"
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