Living by the Word

It has been 8 years with WordPress and am thankful to WP for providing me a great  platform and the best followers to cheer me up!

The chill with the winter is here, the holidays are back
time to go on a shopping spree and what would you like
now that good old Christmas is here, make a choice
would you buy a red robe, collar and cuffs this time
and indulge in presents for many a kid on the street
to whom Santa is a dream that you would like to fulfill?

The Ants and the Snake

Once, there lived scores of  ants in an ant hill. They had built the hill over years of labor from the mud on a slope away from the paths men frequented. It was a desolate place with a lot of shrubs and grass. Not many creatures frequented this way except for one who had lost the way and therefore their location was not known to many.

Their fort was well protected by the myriads of soldiers in the nearby vicinity who were ready to pounce on any intruder or predator including some men who wanted to bring it down whenever they chanced this way. Soldier ants and the regional chiefs co-ordinated every hour and discussed the weather and the wind which were also a risk to their stronghold. From the ground, for tiny them, the hill looked as tall as a mountain which might take an hour to climb, even for the swiftest among them.

The Queen had to be protected at all costs. If there was an invasion and the commander in chief thought they and the fort would not be able to survive the onslaught, there was a small army kept within the palace to transport the queen to a safer destination in minutes. For that a couple of forts at a distance were already prepared and maintained daily. The food and water rations were stored at appropriate locations at various places in and around the hill for the army of ants. Special squads were sent far to detect any smoke or bush fire that might pose a risk to their lodgings.

On one side of the mound, a couple of rats burrowed their holes and decided to stay put there. Since they didn’t mean harm to the inhabitants of the fort, they were not attacked. In a few weeks time, a snake that meandered that way, chanced upon the rats stay. It decided to make an attack on the fortress. It circled the hill, crushing many soldier ants who tried to bite the intruder as he wriggled upon their ramparts and made a run to the many holes dug by the rats. The rats ran into the bushes and disappeared.

The snake thought of pitching his tent in the hill though every day he met some resistance from the soldier ants who were dead against this slimy creature putting the fort at siege. Daily hundreds of ants died or got injured from the snake’s movement who used to go in and out as if he owned the place.

A group of children from nearby homes who had thought of making this place a playground for their vacations, cleared some of the bushes and the grass. At first they met high resistance from the ants but who then retreated to the fort lest they meet with lethal consequences from them or their parents. Every day they started playing games metres away from the ant hill which was well hidden among the bushes.

The snake also was aware of the children playing at a distance but ignored them as they didn’t seem to threaten him. Oblivious to him, he continued dealing deaths and injuries to the ants on his meanderings. The ants sometimes irritated him but for the cool comfort of this mud hill, he could tolerate them till the rains arrived.

This could not go on for long this way. The snake has to be driven out and the children too since they might wreak the hill if they ventured into the bushes, thought the commander in chief. He sought a meeting with the queen and the elders group. I don’t know why the queen persists with this group of elders. They just pamper her, eat and drink and while away their time. And the queen calls them worldly wise. I, in my lifetime haven’t heard any wise words from them except citing issues with the way I operate!

The meetings with the queen and her group of the advisory board was either short or a long drawn out affair. There were times when he was dismissed in minutes and days when he used to sit hours and get audited on his actions. But this time it would be different. He would strike terron in their hearts and ask for more batallion and thereby increase his stature while trying his best against the snake and the children.

The court was already assembled as he stormed in with his bodyguards and took his seat. After the initial customary greetings they came to discuss the safety of the fort. The queen cast a glance on him which was a signal for him to voice his concern. He gave a lengthy speech often trying to embed fear in the group if immediate steps weren’t taken to get rid of the imposter snake and the children.

We will make an attack on the snake with 5000 soldiers and another 10000 would be needed to drive away the children. He made his point and sat down. That is the size of our full army including those who guard our backup forts. One of the elders remarked and continued. We cannot put at risk losing 15000 of our men sending them on a mission where there is a feeble hope of winning. But we can’t stand idle when daily we lose hundreds of our soldiers. This way we would lose either way before the rains, said the commander trying his best.

The queen asked of the eldest ant in the group. Is there no other way, Sir? The eldest closed his eyes as that was his habit while trying to arrive at the solution. After a couple of minutes he opened his eyes and said that there was one. Tomorrow morning nobody will bother the snake.  Let a hundred soldiers march back and forth every day morning until further orders to the eastern fort which is the nearest to the children’s play area. Let the queen be shifted tonight to the western fort deepest in the bushes. Let us abandon this fort tonight and let the remaining thousands assemble at the west until further orders with the queen.

What do you have in mind, asked the Queen. Your majesty, the queen, you must have faith in me but the strategy will be disclosed later. Please arrange to issue necessary orders since we have to act on this immediately.  The Queen made the orders and put the commander and his deputies into the act. They murmured a bit as to what good would come of this but they obeyed the orders to the word for that was how they were brought up.

The next day morning, the snake woke up to see there were no ants to disturb him. He peeped out of the hole. Yes there they are, he was amused but at the same time curious. They are all marching to the smaller ant hill. Why would that be? Maybe the rats are there after running from here. No, they would never come within 100 metres of me. He surveyed the other parts of the fort. Yes the ants have made a transition to their new place. But why?

The question came to him again and again without an answer. Then a fear crept into his mind. The weary ants, did they sense any danger here for them to abandon this well built fortress. The children had come today but only two of them were there. He could dodge their eyes and quietly scramble into the smaller ant hill and see what the ants were upto. He wriggled quickly towards the play area and that is when the children saw him go into the nearby ant hill. When they realised the danger they fled towards their houses raising an alarm. The chain of ants were asked to stop the marching and asked to immediately get back to the western fort as soon as they saw the snake at the eastern fort.

All the ants were at the western fort and asked to bide their time till further orders from the commander. All were looking at the play area and getting bits of information from the few sentries posted  at the gates. There was a lot of commotion when a group of people came running with sticks and a bag. They destroyed the Eastern fort in a minute to unearth the snake who made a run to the central fort but was beaten, caught and secured in a bag. Some of the men came into the bushes and found the towering but now deserted ant hill and destroyed it also and went back. On the way back they were heard rebuking the children for selecting this area for their play.

The same day evening the queen had assembled a quick meeting to discuss future plans and congratulate everyone on the turn of events in their favor. The elderly advice had saved them from daily casualties and impending doom. They put up plans to build a big fort after the rains. Till then the queen and her army would continue their stay at the western fort as per the meeting minutes. If only they had asked for elderly advice earlier, many more lives would have been saved, some soldiers were heard saying to each other. The commander wiser from this experience now understood that Every problem with our enemies may not have a military solution always…

Marching Soldiers

Today when I had started writing a children’s story on ants, I was reminded of this poem that I wrote in 2016. Dear readers, it is always good to have a dose of rhyming poetry before the prose😊

Every day we go in search of dear food
chains of us in queue till we get shooed
crane at our folks going the other way
we always are a army having our say.

Descending in numbers at any place
no stampede as we increase our pace
no one knowing from where we came
wonder it seems we all look the same.

We change our course to get to our food
though near it seems, it has to be good
none bothers as we take it to our stay
we act sober and collective on our way.

Wary of wind or a stream of cold water
pranks of a kid as we try climb a platter
flanks of us leaving behind our dead
there are things in life we seldom dread.

Every time you see us marching along
like a silent long forgotten folk song
Well knit as one doing our own tasks
all the while storing food for wasps.

As you stumble upon our brittle house
refrain please to drench us and douse
slain and lifeless we lie by your clout
We had homes till you wiped us out.

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Nature of Life

The elixir of water is life.
Life swims, lands and takes off from it.
The strength of the wind is life.
Life soars, floats and flies off with it.
The sacred fire is life.
Life dries, burns and takes birth from the ashes.
The rays of the Sun is life.
Life sprouts, energizes and warms with it.
The song of rain is life.
Life gets its sails wet and drinks every moment of it.
Nature as always rations the elements to each of us laced with love.
Be it water, wind, fire, the sun or the rain, all play their parts to perfection in the nature of life.

Think and Grow Rich

While I was a student, once walking across D. N Road in Mumbai Fort area in the late 80’s, I stopped at the street hawkers with their library of second hand books strewn across the foot path. I picked up this book ( Think and Grow Rich) by Napolean Hill, read a few paragraphs and asked for the price. The stall keeper said it would be 20 rupees. I thought it was a bit on the higher side and kept it back, to which he asked me a point blank question. Do you wanna become rich? I replied in the negative and left. If I had said Yes, he would have asked can’t you spend 20 rupees to become rich? Those, dear readers were my thoughts when I walked away…

Wishing you a bright Diwali and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Common Picture Wing

This is a dragonfly that is usually found near marshes, ponds, lakes or paddy fields in South Asia. It is also one dragonfly that I have heard several people mistaking for butterflies. I guess it is owing to their slow or weak flight, unlike the “usual” pattern of other dragonflies. The scientific name for the […]

Common Picture Wing

Diaries of a Hechicera: Life is about dancing with the Flow

*Boatman* Peter was a novice fisherman, who struggled with the paddles, the moment the waters got rough. He felt he would drown any minute and this would make him panic. He lost a lot of business because of this. Hence he decided to approach Confucius, who was a master boatman, who was known for his […]

Diaries of a Hechicera: Life is about dancing with the Flow

A Morning Ritual

There is a small garden where there are a few saplings to be planted. A fertilizer bag remains untouched for more than a month now after its arrival. There is a spade glistening in the early morning sun. You are at your lethargic best, though not to be blamed as the situation is like that. Nobody wants to venture out as everything has become virtual. In fact everyone wants you to be at home. All establishments unlike of old times, do not want you at their door step. So travel has cut down and that can be seen while you measure yourselves at the navel.

Now, let us do this. Imagine the following. Take the spade, dig the ground at multiple places to plant the saplings, put some fertilizer from the bag, put back the mud around the plants. Amble across to the tap, switch it on, take the water pipe and water the plants that are newly planted and the others. Give an occasional spray at the chirping sparrows and other birds who hover around the pools to take a quick drink or a bath as is their custom. Now that you have read this, close your eyes and do the above activity imagining each and every detail.

If you enjoyed doing this virtual activity, either repeat it daily morning, or take it offline by running to the nearby nursery to get a few saplings and plant them in real at your place, and repeat the watering and fertilizer activities daily.