The black ants
by, Arshi Yaseen
While I was a child, I had developed many fanciful notions. I kept peacock feathers in my books. I believed every feather would double itself. That never happened, but I still keep them in my books.
I played hide and seek with the moon. At times I’d hide and it’d look for me. At times it’d hide and I’d find it hidden behind the trees.
Wherever I went it accompanied me. I liked its company especially when clouds drew images of cats and dogs on it. Sometimes they formed image of a sleeping child, but it happened rarely. The moon still accompanies me and the clouds still leave it forming shapes.
But now I don’t even notice them. As I have withdrawn myself from many of the fancies, my childhood espoused. One of those fancies was the fascination for ants, ___ small, black and agile ants. I often saw them crawling in long lines alongside the walls of our kitchen, and sometimes on them.
They all moved very fast. I sat down by them and tried to disturb their trails. They remained unconcerned. I pondered whether they were going somewhere or returning.
Then I began to assume, as they were in a great hurry, they must be going somewhere, ___ and to celebrate something. Today morning, I saw them again in the porch. They were moving as usual.
They were in the same hurry. I looked at them with narrowed, probing eyes. This time a different vision emerged. They all looked half-asleep, half-awake. Their faces reflected a discontent and hardness besides urgency. They were walking with heavy steps.
It seemed they were carrying massive weight on their backs, as if it were invisible mountains. Imagine a mountain on the back of an ant. How! Though it’s quite difficult. Even then they managed to keep their backs straight. Some were running to catch the morning train. Some were to reach a point to be picked up by someone. Some of them were getting late. Their spirits were too low to fight the battle of life. Some of them seemed near to finish, as it was getting difficult to manage the weights put on their backs.
They all were already fated to be crushed by them. And he’d respond giving the same indifferent shrug, as for him it’s a formality.
Why I’d show any concern. As we all learn this, ___ respond indifference with the same indifference. I picked up the morning newspaper and walked to the breakfast table.
I see myself from your perspective. You call me your primal version.
You base this idea on a scientific theory, which proves on biological grounds, that I am your ancestor. Some of you find in me, ___ a child, as my nature resonates with a child’s nature, that’s proved too by another scientific theory, a theory of behavioral sciences. It proves we both share the same nature.
We both retain primal energy and vitality that you elders have lost. We both like playfulness that you elders have lost. Your faces remain gloomy. It seems as if some strange spirit haunted them. It might be Thanatos.
But your kids rush to my cage with a different spirit. When they call my name from the distance, I feel liveliness reverberates around. As they reach near, they wave their hands to me. It’s a gesture of saying hello that I must respond.
I take few rounds across my cage hastily. Then I scamper to the tree planted in my home for long. I climb it and begin to sway with one of its dried branches.
Seeing you all getting fascinated, I become more heroic. I hang myself upside down, rolling my tail tightly around the branch. It appeals to your inner child too, but you suppress it.
You ask your child, “It is funny, isn’t it?” The child nods positively. How innocent!
Then you kid him commenting, “That monkey looks like you.” You still believe that I resemble only with a child. I climb off the tree and rush to metallic bars of the cage. In seconds I reach the top and hug the bars but immediately I climb down and start scanning through all the space. Then again I run to the bars and repeat the same act. It leaves you baffled. You feel as some power pushes me. I am not Sisyphus.
Though you can call it absurdity. I embrace it open heartedly. I have got used to it by now.
I yet again prepare myself to climb the tree. You seem to have lost interest in my world. Your mind is somewhere else, but your eyes on me. You see me playing with the ropes tied to the metal ceiling of the cage. Then you say to your kids, “same thing again, let’s move ahead.” As you are sick of monotony. How tragic!
But more tragic is this, you can never escape from it.