Tuesday, 21 June 2011


We humans have many flaws. No doubt on that. Equally redeeming enough, there are many strengths - one of which I feel is hope. Fact is though, it is not limited to humans alone.

It is that one factor that leads us to perform everyday acts to miraculous activities. To lose hope is to do oneself the greatest disservice. On the other hand, it is the mere sliver of hope that often keeps us going way beyond what could be considered mortally possible.

Image: Danilo Rizzuti

And this holds true for almost all mammals. Ever so often, I see an act that showcases how amazing nature is in having created a myriad of creatures who conform to this feeling called hope.

There was a winged creature, looked like a cross between a grasshopper and a cockroach, which chanced to come into the house. As is the norm, the first objective was to shoo it away. Success for me. However, for the winged creature, it resulted in the sad loss of its ability to use its hind legs, as it attempted to escape from the demoniacal human creature trying to shoo it away. A rather common occurrence isn't it? However, something else happened that stopped me in my tracks and has led to this post.

The creature now with just its, two front legs and two middle legs, was grounded. It was able to move fast, but not at usual speed. Strangely it did not try to fly off. It was now on the ground outside the house. And lo and behold! An army of ants descended upon the creature.

Image: hinnamsaisuy

Flight or fight is the normal reaction that we all creatures have. However, this one decided that flight is better but the disability of having lost its hind legs meant it could not bring itself to speed to take off, nor could it jump long distances.

And then started the process of moving. Initially it moved pretty fast. But as it moved, the ants didn't let up. More and more of the ant army were converging, as if one of the ants had broadcast a group SMS stating that a nice juicy piece of food was waiting for all of them to come and partake in.

The poor creature tried outrunning the hordes. And in the infinite wisdom of nature, sought refuge in a plant that normally the ants avoided. However, the obstacle was to cross the roots of the plant and get itself on one of the stems so that the clamoring hordes were deprived the chance of taking its life.

And so the battle began. It attempted to cross the tangled roots. But every time it managed to move a bit, the hordes would relentlessly pull it down. The loss of the hind legs meant, it didn't have the normal ability to leap, but it tried. This battle lasted for nearly 15 minutes. Heart wrenching as it was to watch, it showed to me that hope is never lost until you are dead! And oh boy, did the fellow fight till the end.

Of course, the superior numbers of the ant army resulted in the winged creature falling down repeatedly. Yet it persisted in its attempts to get out of the situation. This was nature showcasing how beautiful yet cruel it can be. Not that nature was attempting to be beautiful and cruel. It is just what it is.

After numerous attempts, and the smart ants deciding that attacking the head of the creature will lead to its defeat, launched waves of attempts at doing just that. And succeeded. The ant army ensured that it was fed very well that day. Despite the big fat drops of water that was falling from the heavens. Despite the winds that tugged relentlessly at their tiny bodies. Eventually the horde succeeded in pinning their enemy, now turned into food, down.

Even as I write this, my eyes cloud over. Maybe if I hadn't tried to shoo it out, it may not have been in this precarious and finally deadly position. Maybe it was meant to be. I don't know, really. Maybe it was meant that I would get to silently observe this act of nature and then express it here for anyone out there who cares to read this.

What it did teach me though, is that success is a ephemeral and temporary flight of fancy, in as much as it is hope that is the harbinger of success, even if not always. In this battle, the larger creature lost, but the smaller creatures won the right to live for another day. And this is true life on earth. Everyday, is a battle. We seem oblivious to it. Our comfort zones keep us in an isolated sense of well being, but the earth and nature is never still, never silent, ever so dangerous. If we do not learn to coexist, nature will ensure that it re-balances the very scale which allows us currently to live in a realm of dreams in our minds. There is reality. And then there is the reality. Let hope be a guide, not the destination.

The Chances We Take. Or Not.

Book under review: Ahmed Faiyaz,  Another Chance Grey Oak Publishers, 2010 ISBN: 978-93-81626-02-3 Rs. 195 We all know...