Festival overview

Shermaine Si Ying Ying ” The Girl and her Microscope”

This is a story about a little girl. A little girl, a little dream, in a little world.

A very long time ago there was a Girl, who loved exploring the world around her with every little device she could find around the house. When she was six it was her father’s eyeglasses; when she was sixteen it was her own. And when she was twenty – six, it was one of Ireland’s first microscopes.


This Girl had a dream. She wanted to explore the world around her, with all her magnifying glasses and petri dishes, to the smallest electron and furthest planet. So it was not unusual that when her doting father returned home on that gloomy evening with a microscope for her, one step towards her dream of defining everything around her in language familiar only to her.

Wait a minute. It was unusual. It was so unusual in those days for the Irish gentry to provide their daughters with education – and not just education – the means of learning way beyond domesticity. It was so unusual, that even relatives and acquaintances were unable to comprehend the Girl’s passion for science and learning, notwithstanding her parents’ forgivable lack of an heir.


The Girl was, unlike others in her time, an agent of change. People around her were afraid of her, not just because of her evident inclination towards unladylike subjects, but also because she signified something way beyond their time. Her innocent presence symbolised much more than just a zealous student, but also, of those spreading rumours, of female politicians, of female generals in foreign armies [fighting alongside the men, too!] and capable daughters who ruled their families’ establishments with an iron fist.


Now, the Girl was pioneering the footsteps of women in the alpha male realm of learning and discovering the scientific world. Of men.


In an era where women were considered the inferior sex and bowing their heads to men was expected, the Girl was way ahead of her time. Everything else was second place to the miniature model of life’s building blocks dancing around in the petri dish, or lazily dividing into more baby replicas of themselves.


Now, wasn’t that the only goal in life? Kicking off with an aim to delve into the greatest mysteries of all time, only to find out the simplest things around harboured so many thrilling details for the future? The more the Girl studied into the tiresome yet appealing life just beyond her reach, the more its distance, its floating naturally just ahead of her, the stronger yearning she knew she had to obey.


The story has ended.


The Girl’s dream too. At just thirty – seven, after the founding of a certain element in the Periodic Table, and the discovery of certain exhibits of the Atomic Particle Theory, the Girl was found shot, outside her house one evening.


Women in science.


Is it that har



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