Bengaluru Jan 11, 2019, (Research Matters):
Sperman helped himself to a short break. He had tirelessly divided and divided for the last couple of days, that he had lost sight of where he was! Feeling thoroughly drained, he looked around hoping to find someone to ask for help. But, no one seemed to be bothered!
“Hmmm, looks like my luck has drained out together with my energy! How am I supposed to reach the great ridge now? Or, am I already there? Or, did I already pass it? Wait, was it the one with the board ‘GUTTIN’ RESEARCH’? Wait, it can’t be. Gut is for the Endoderma folks. So, where is the ridge that I’m supposed to be in?,” he wrung his hands in angst hitting a nearby guy in the lipids.
“Watch out man! I want my lipids to be in their place when I finally reach! Aren’t you supposed to be going somewhere too?,” he asked, looking annoyed at Sperman.
“I’m so sorry, Sir. I didn’t mean to hit you in your lipids. I’m afraid I had lost my way. Could you tell me what exactly this place is? And might I add, if you know anything about a great ridge of sorts?,” Sperman asked, hoping the stranger would help in spite of his sweat trickling down his forehead.
The stranger looked curiously at Sperman, rubbing his temple hard. “Are you by any chance one of the PGCs?”
“If you mean Primordial Germ Cell, yes, sir, I am one of those candidates.”
“Ha! Of course, you are! I’m assuming you are looking for this huge, big…what do they say? Um.. oh yeah, colossal, one giant of a building in the great ridge?”
“Yes, yes,“ replied Sperman, taking in the synonyms one by one, of his supposed destination. “Assuming you are also heading there, mind if I tag along with you, Sir?” he quipped.
“Why, sure, provided you don’t give me any more black eyes! And yes, I’m Sperm-Adler,” the stranger introduced himself, shaking Sperman’s hand, and they both took off 90o to the direction that Sperman was walking in earlier.
Their path was still filled with people bustling along minding their own destinations. Here and there, some stopped and appeared to wait for some signal. After getting the cue, they continued as if in response it. It was like a well-orchestrated theatre. Everyone played their parts according to their respective cues they perceived, but neither was aware of their common goal. No one told them why. No one told them when. The result was a beautifully timed synchrony, both in space and time. All they did was to follow their respective scripts and harmony followed faithfully.
After a couple of hours, both PGCs appeared in front of a building which could be described by all of Spermadler’s previous words and more.
“Wow! Just like I imagined albeit a little big, but nonetheless - grand,” Sperman stood entranced with a dropped jaw.
“Hello, you two out there! What do you want? Another set of PGCs?,” the security guard called out. Both of them nodded.
“Go straight to the front desk. You’ll be allotted respective quarters. And pick up your dropped jaw, young man, you might be in need of it.”
They entered the building into a sprawling campus of various different levels with labelled doors in each. They were shortly joined by many more blank-awestruck faces. A couple of uniformed personnel greeted them with a wide welcoming smile.
“Welcome everyone! I know everyone here has had a long tiring journey and so I’ll try to keep this short. For the next couple of months, you will be housed here to undergo an intense training period. The procedure, per say, is not intense physically. However, it might involve taking some very important decisions thus requiring a healthy mental state to do so. I would advise you all, therefore, to maintain perfect shape till you are matured enough to exit and proceed with your journey.” he paused to checked his watch and ended, “So, that will be it. Further instructions will follow later. You will be escorted to your respective quarters now.”
Sperman and Sperm-Adler said their goodbyes and followed their individual volunteers who guided them up the stairs. Once they reached the topmost floor, they were showed to their individual rooms. Individual, but only partially. Each room had the essential furniture in a corner but with a central narrow strip of space that ran common, through all rooms. It was like a narrow hallway right in the centre connecting them. Sperman crashed into his bed and closed his eyes. But, could not sleep for his stomach grumbled loudly in protest.
“Food! Food! I want food!,” he shouted forgetting that his floormates could hear him too.
“Shut up Sperman! Everyone is hungry! But, haven’t we restricted our grumblings to our stomachs?,” came the reply from the next room.
“Ah, it’s you Adler!,” cried Sperman, as he went to his neighbouring cell to see the occupant.
“Don’t worry pal! They told they will be sending someone called Sertoli-s to see to our needs. Infact, these Sertolis - as they call them - stay close to our rooms to protect and nourish us 24*7!,” Spermadler said with a knowing grin.
There came a knock from Sperman’s door.
“Oooh! That must be them. I better go before I drain out of energy!,” said Sperman and bolted out of Adler’s room. He opened the door to find a tall well-dressed man.
“Well, hello Sir! Welcome to the great ridge! I will be your Sertoli all through your stay here. I’ll be staying near and will be tending to all your needs - right from your safety to your poor empty stomach!,” the man said which seemed strikingly like a recital of his job description.
“Safety? From wha--,” What followed made Sperman forget everything momentarily. Plates and plates of food were being brought in to his room. Every kind of cuisine he could possibly imagine was laid out in front of him. Aroma from the next room told the same saga of cuisinal grandeur.
“I’ll leave you to your satiation sir,”. And the Sertoli disappeared behind the door.
Sperman helped himself to everything that he could get his hands on. A nibble of pizza. A spoon of Biryani. A piece of Roti. A drop of pickle. A bite of the juicy grilled chicken with a hint of mayo.
Sleep came to him as gently as the rise of a cup of dark coffee’s aroma. Unmindful of the still unfinished food, he succumbed finally to a deep and peaceful slumber.
“Mmm… just one more stair of pizza. Here I’m! Fully matured! Ready to take on the wor--”
A loud knock interrupted his dream-self from swimming in a lemonade sea.
“Sir! Excuse me, Sir Sperman! Are you awake? If not, should I knock louder still?”
“No no! Please no. I’m awake. Give me a minute!,” Sperman woke up in a daze.
How long has it been since he had slept? He looked around to find his room all neat. Where are all the plates? Right, connected rooms. Creepy as it was, he was happy someone had come to his room and had taken time to clean up his mess. He helped his sleepy-self into pyjamas and opened the door to find the same Sertoli standing.
“Hey man! What’s up? Other than me, I mean,“ he asked visibly annoyed at being disturbed from his euphoric sleep.
“Sorry sir. But I’ve been assigned to give you the necessary instructions. Are you willing to listen to it now, or should I come later?” the Sertoli asked.
“Well, I’m fully awake, thanks to you. So, shoot ‘em at me,”
“Okay, here you go. You’ll be given a paper with the required protocols to follow separately for each floor that you are going to stay. Every floor has its own name and the one you are staying right now is called A1, while the next is A2 and so on. At the end of your stay in each floor, you will be asked to divide yourself into two as you had done before. I’m assuming you know how to use a protein translator - if not, there is a book telling you how to, “ he pointed to a compact little machine in the corner.
He continued, “Also, at the end of each of your floor-stay, you should make a decision as to which two paths you would be taking. This choice will be given only to initial floor-shifts, later becoming more of a pre-planned translocation,” he paused. The Sertoli closed his eyes and went through the instructions once again to make sure he had delivered them all right.
“That will be it, Sir. Do you have any questions?”
“Um, okay. Tell me if I got this right. So, I’ve to change floors every now and then. And at the end of each floor stay, I should make some sort of decision. But, er, I do get to eat and sleep as always, right?” Sperman arched his eyebrows.
The Sertoli gave a laugh. “Yes sir. Definitely. You can continue with your Kreb’s cycles and the rest just like before. Here is the protocol sheet for A1 floor,” he said and left, leaving Sperman trying to comprehend with the load of information and a thin piece of paper.
He freshened quickly and settled in his bed to take a glance at the ‘protocols’.
“Hmmm… okay. That seems doable.”
“Wait, what should I do, again?”
“Oh, I hope that one is a typo.”
Amid all head nodding and self-appraisal, he reached the end of the sheet. He jumped up from his bed, seeming pleased with himself and rushed to the nearby, Adler’s room.
“My man!,” greeted Adler with a friendly shoulder punch at Sperman and continued, “Heard that you slept through for a couple of days! How are you feeling now?” He noticed the paper in Sperman’s hand. “Oh, you got the information late, huh? Pretty neat, right?”
“Right? And, here I was thinking we have to toil hard through this process. Though, the decision phase is going to be a tough call for me. But still, as things stand, I think the journey is going to be just wonderful,” Sperman declared stifling a big yawn.
“I think my Fanta-sea dreams beckons me. See you around later Adler,” said Sperman and left for the comfort of his bed.
So, Sperman finally found his way to the great genital ridge. Now, he has his own Sertoli to guide him through his stay and help.
But, it's not a vacation and Sperman does follow all his ‘instructions’ to the T! What would he do? Why would he have to follow them? What adventures hold in the future? Would he have to make life-changing decisions? Hold on to your seats till the next #FictionFriday!