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Hi, this is somebody who has taken the quieter by-lane to be happy. The hustle and bustle of the big, booming main street was too intimidating. Passing through the quieter by-lane I intend to reach a solitary path, laid out just for me, to reach my destiny, to be happy primarily, and enjoy the fruits of being happy. (www.sandeepdahiya.com)

Friday, December 1, 2023

The adventures of an ant

 It’s an attractive green glucose packet. Its mere sight leaves a cool lemon flavor in your mouth in this heat. It’s put at a safe place high on another container, far in the recesses of the house. But I should not have forgotten that there are adventurous big ants who prefer to follow their dulcet dreams, take risk and walk for ant-miles, cross ant-mountains, wade through ant-rivers, crawl through the household forest, evade the stomping human feet and reach home to hit gold. Just like the gold hunters went ahead on a risky gold trail.

This was a big black carpenter ant. Drunk on the fountain of youth, wasting life on a tree in the crowded nest reeking with its mundane poor world didn’t match the scale of its dreams. So there it set out on a special mission with glorious grit and gumption. It crawled on a new trail, crawled for hours or maybe days, climbed up the shelves and sneaked through the packet’s double doors to land up in the uniquely priceless paradise of white lemon-flavored glucose. The pack is half empty. It thus cannot crawl up the huge slippery walls. It’s very difficult to crawl back after a point.

Drenched with perspiration and scorched with heat, I opened the lid to find the robust thief stranded inside. The thief was retrieved with the help of a spoon and was really happy to get back to the garden. There it went with its tales of lemon-flavored glucose heaven.

There are some who follow the trail. A smaller one, equipped with its teenager’s nonchalance, successfully elbowed its way on the trail. The pioneer must have left some landmarks to notify a fresh new route. I found this little one deep inside its glucose heaven. After that there wasn’t any more on the trail. Maybe the word spread that it’s a death trap. Or maybe the saved ones told horrible stories of the far off place to scare anyone from following the trail. I hope the rest of them would treat these two as toweringly enlightened beings, full of profound profundities, on account of their tales of far off places. Maybe such adventurous escapades give rise to the proverbial fairy and demon tales of the ant world. Or maybe they turn successful travel writers presenting their crooning travelogues to the common audience. 

The lucky slug

 The slug, a kind of shell-less snail found in damp corners in gardens and wet places, has set out on a long journey. It’s a few meters voyage from one flower bed to another. But in slug-world terms it’s equal to miles for a human being. It has a right to set out on a long journey in the evening and reach home by night. Its path but lies across the main walkway in the garden. Walk carefully fella, you have a responsibility to avoid crushing a slug on its path.

There is a thing called luck. The slug hits a jackpot, gets airlifted on a dry guava leaf and is safely placed at the destination. It takes a few seconds. It would have taken almost two hours to do the same at its pace, if it had escaped getting crushed on the way, the chances for it being rather slim. The bed where the slug has arrived has some weeds and I start pulling them out. A tailorbird finds it as violation of its property and sets out on abusive tik-tikking rhetoric, a pitiless pouring of sharp words. It considers the yard as its house; exactly similar to my feeling that it’s my place. Both are almost the same feelings at their own hierarchy of existence.

A peacock looks expectantly from a neighboring roof. I get a chapatti and invite him in the yard for some evening snack. It lands heavily. I throw tiny chapatti pieces in front of him. It’s hungry and eats with caution. It cannot trust me completely. But this much trust is sufficient that he has come to the garden to eat at least. 

A rat that struck gold

 The rat family, in its little hole, had hit gold. With a little bit of more luck they would have become the wealthiest rat family. It was a quirky chain of events that drew the lot in their favor. A woman, in Mumbai, was on her way to mortgage her 100 grams of gold with a bank. She had some food packet also with her. Out of a feeling of charity she thought of feeding some beggars. But by mistake she ended up making a far bigger charity than she ever intended. She gave the jewellery parcel to the beggars instead of the food packet. The beggars would hardly believe their luck and taking it to be cheap fake jewellery and trinkets they threw the packet into the dustbin. That is where the enterprising rat, on its exploring mousy renditions, realizing the throw-away item’s real worth, dragged it into their portion of the gutter. The police but tracked the sequence of events through CCTV footage and the gold packet was retrieved. The rats must have been very sad over losing their windfall so soon. And the beggar who threw away the gold must have felt that his heart is like the hardest of granite to throw away something after which the entire planet is running madly. Well, the ironies of fate, nothing else. The fate has soaring configurations with the throw of its dice. Countless probabilities unfold ranging from colossal ruins to most extravagant gains.

The pregnant sparrow and her friends

 After the fiery spell that baked everything to a hard crust some raindrops fell overnight. All seem very happy with the brief shower in the dark. The birds have a spring in their wings and chirp lovelier songs. A few sparrows after darting around with scurrying spirits now decide to relax on the one-square feet surface provided by the railing column on the terrace. They are not sitting on their paws; rather they are sitting flat on their tummies in complete relaxation. One of them looks majestically serene. I believe it might be a pregnant sparrow because this kind of regal mien is bestowed by motherhood only. She looks as if she is their queen. One of them is perched as a sentry on the railing and is looking around in case some cat—pouncing upon a mere, mute moment to turn it into an opportunity—turns the relaxation platform into her breakfast table.

But it never was a world where all can be happy. The very same rumbling of joy for someone is tragic thunderclap for someone else. It was a very bad night for the babbler and the tailorbird couples who have nests in the parijat tree. A cat seems to have crawled up almost fourteen feet where the babbler couple had built its nest. The glossy blue shells of the eggs are now littered in the flowerbed below. It must have been a very diligent cat in its hunting because it chucked out even the little nest of the tailorbirds. The babblers have been surprisingly stoic about their loss. They haven’t raised too much ruckus. The little tailorbirds on the other hand have gone crazy over losing their little ones. They have been heartfully abusing any cat they see since morning.

Lonely in an angry world

 It’s an angrier world than ever. A sleepy, peaceful town in Himalayan foothills loses its peace. A Muslim man and a Hindu man are caught fleecing a 14-year-old girl. There are people who are eager to get into the circle of power and authority. There are so many self-styled keepers of morality and religion these days. They are always looking for reasons to stroke fire and hate. So, one half of the crime is selectively picked up by the Hindu rightists, and it becomes a case of love jihad. The other half, the Hindu part of the crime, is ignored. There are forty Muslim families in a population of 8,000 in the once peaceful town. With the honor of Hindu women and girls at stake, the mobs go on rampage and the helpless minority families who had honestly worked for decades to setup home and hearth run away fearing dangerous consequences. I’m not passing any comments on this; just presenting the facts as it happened, leaving you guys to think over it. Is breeding a hate culture acceptable in santana dharma? But the keepers of religion of all types have nothing else than hate to ignite the hearts of their followers.

Then there is this powerful politician. He can molest, harass, intimidate and stalk the female wrestlers. And still go unarrested! The investigating agencies did their best to dilute the charges against him. But the evidence was so glaring that even despite using all machinations they couldn’t give him a clean chit. All stand exposed. Now, a very mild, almost harmless, chargesheet has been filed. That would save him from jail for sure. But everyone can see it. All stand exposed. Truth is naked. And people understand and they will make their choice.

Standing among all these negative shades, I sometimes feel so helpless. It seems ‘might is right’ show going around with full force. But then the age-old poet in me puts his frail, assuring hand on my shoulder to convince me that art is the way out of darkness’ sway. ‘The soft butter knife of love will one day cut across the stony boundaries of nationality, religion, caste, class and creed. Hail all the artists and yourself!’ he tries to assuage my wounds and injuries.

Well, I know and feel that even the nudity of a classic sculpture is far better than the most decent of modern attire. That’s aesthetics: a stale and presumably happening heritage, a glorified irrelevance, an antiquated charm to create foggy, forgetful moments; the bridal finery of heart and swan-like gait of emotions. But does that change the things on the surface, at the practical level, where grotesque reality is forged by the powerful and the strong as per their whims and fancies?

Out of the depressive folds of big questions of whats and whys, finally the only relevant little question, the question about my own self seems manageable. What am I? My restless mind asks. And something beyond what I consider myself to be, but still an inalienable part of me, replies, ‘A tiny bubble of air, a breath, a cycle of inhalation and exhalation.’

I die every time I exhale. I merge with the unbounded, free air. I take birth every time I inhale. Little bit of air then fuels this illusion of body and its organisms. I keep dying and getting born in a sequence. The duality stands as long as the illusion of this sequence of birth and death follows and guides our sense perception. But the moment they coexist, dying and taking birth, side by side, dying and getting born simultaneously, in and out, out and in turn the same. Then you feel that you just are a ‘being’ beyond all illusionary ‘becoming’. A pulse, a rhythm, a reverberation, a drop in water, a molecule in air, a speck in dirt, a fragment in ether...something and everything at the same time. And most probably ‘nothing’ at all as the perception in higher dimension seems to indicate.