“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lord of the Ants

Observe the ant; many have, and extolled

The discipline, the diligence, almost dogmatic

Decorum that the ant observes.

Stories abound, for children, to learn from the ant

The industrious, purposeful, resourceful insect

Creeping up; nay, marching up and down the walls

The floor, the nooks, the corners and why, even

The maze beneath the keys of this keyboard,

Scavenging on the crumbs of cake I consumed.

Averse to taking life, of any form -

(I apologize profuse, to the cockroaches I squash)

(In the toilet, I converse with the resident spider)

(Geckoes, I admonish for soiling my sofa)

(The mice that casually run up the shelf, nod at me in passing) -

In the case of ants, I will admit

I have a sneaking suspicion that I am scared;

Am awed, sometimes hate and envy them

The ants that march relentless, I imagine,

Even expressionless like the Nazis

Excited, aroused only when

I torch them with flaming old newspapers rolled

When I scatter turmeric, powdered

When I spray kerosene, like we spray Endosulfan

Over the poor compatriots of the North

Those dumb idiots, who like these ants

Which have now slowed down to a crawl,

And some writhe belly up, some struggle and stop

Some ants stumble and fall on legs crooked and then –

As I converge with my lens on the wriggling mass

It seems they are looking up at me –

And would you blame me, if I am reminded

Of the dozens dead in Kasaragod and dying?

Tears well up in my eyes -

As I cut these precious onions.


[Balachandran V, Trivandrum 13.01.2011


  1. good one! i like the feigned indifference in the end ! a good comparison too...

  2. @K: Thanks! You really caught it. Those who are unfamiliar with - Endosulfan and Kasaragod - India is one of the few countries which is yet to ban the pesticide called Endosulfan. The effect of Endosulfan on the community living near Kasaragod where a government farm soaks in the poison have been traumatic, to say the least. Many have died, many others are living dead. Google Endosulfan + Kasargod and you will get the answer.

    The last reference to 'precious' Onions - Indians would know, because of the recent huge price escalation of Onions.

  3. Nice on Mr.B.

    Very expressive and thought provoking..

  4. have seen the pictures of mutated babies...horrifying. tehelka did a feature on it as well i think. or was it frontline that i read the story..

  5. I admire ants always and don't like to pour kerosine on them, instead try to direct them to other places by leaving some eats in a different place where it doesn't trouble me. I did a post on it too.

    Now, Kasargod and earlier Bhopal. I remember my brother-in-law describing me how they ran to a hilly place taking his 2 month old child to escape from the poisonous gas. They had come from Indore for delivery. Thank god, they are OK. But others?

    We inhale paint smell from a nearly narolac paint factory often and it always reminds of Bhopal tragedy.

  6. @Sandhya: A poem is part fact, part fantasy, part truth and part fiction. I don't spray kerosene over ants but where the container with tidbits are hung, I soak a piece of cloth in kerosene so that ants do to approach the area. The macabre cruelty i described was for the purpose of contrasting with the use of Endosulfan.

    Your alternative is a very good suggestion. I will try that.

    Thanks for visiting!

  7. onions, ants and endosulfan , the indifference to the last is crying , the ignorance and brushing away the second is tomfoolery, and the first we can do without still.
    Iiked the allegory in the poem.

  8. For killers it is all the same.They can kill us with the same ease with which they kill ants.That is how they become insensitive to killings.The only solution is for ants to start killing us,like in Indiana Jones

    For a change of tone..
    "If ants are such busy workers, how come they find time to go to all the picnics?" ~ Marie Dressler


Leave a word, please!