Forget the Radia tapes, there's so much more to life...
It’s sad to know how corrupt our countrymen and women have become, sad to learn that the sleaze factor exists almost everywhere (it’s hard to find an institution not tainted by it), sad to realise that people you look up to or consider credible are not really above board, and sad to find no way to get out of the morass of corruption and unethical practices that is slowly drawing in even the honourable men and women. However, in the midst of all the gloom, there are still several things to cheer about. And one source that provides a balm or more than adequate recompense for what we have lost is Nature.
I live in an old colony built by the Tamil Nadu Housing Board, built during the Emergency. So, the buildings are made of sterner stuff and have withstood the ravages of time admirably well. Nowadays, of course, there is talk among residents in some blocks of getting builders to demolish the buildings and erect new ones. The attraction is not only a new and larger house, you get money, and also rent for the period you have to vacate and stay elsewhere. Many old buildings in the Mambalam-KK Nagar area have vanished and new apartment blocks have risen in their place. I somehow dread the thought of buildings in my colony being knocked down. That would seem absurd, judging by the returns. Forget about sentiment, what’s wrong with you, is what most people will tell me.
However, the reason is not really sentiment. It’s Nature. Inside the sprawling colony, especially in the rear part, are numerous trees and plants of all shapes and sizes. The mango, neem, gulmohar, banyan, laburnum, tamarind and champak trees (there’s one teak tree as well) not only provide shade and quiet but they are also home to a wholly different world that lives in its branches, stems and leaves. Among birds, there’s a variety – crows, ravens, woodpeckers, pheasants, mynahs and cuckoos. On a sunny day, you see butterflies flitting in and out of plants, red ants, black ants, snails, leeches… There’s even a monkey who made the treetops his abode for a while, but left when a few ‘I-know-it-all’ residents frightened him away.
The squirrels are among the friendliest lot. They scurry around for scraps of food, build nests, chase one another on the ground and on branches, and squeak the loudest. A few stray dogs and cats have also made the colony home. They lead quiet lives and don’t intrude into people’s lives. They are up for adoption; for example, I’ve adopted three dogs, one of whom accompanied me to the medical store yesterday. A few years ago, there were quite a few mongooses and their screeches would drown all other sound and jerk you up to attention. Perhaps there were snakes too then.
If you care to observe their world closely, the animal world that is, you will be surprised to find how they all live in harmony. Not perfect harmony, there are the usual fights and making-ups, there are territories that must be respected or won and lost, there are rules about respect for the elders, even how to welcome guests or orphans… You are not likely to find corruption and unethical practices here. Yes, might is right, and the law of Nature and the jungle, if you like, prevails, but despite that, there is an observance of natural law, there is credibility to occurrences, and there are lessons to be learnt.
Indeed, there’s so much you can learn from Nature. The emotional high you get from it is exceptional; perhaps only love (in its pure, unadulterated, unconditional form) can equal such a thrill. There’s no place for the Radia tapes and rotten politics in the world of Nature. Sometimes, it’s such a relief knowing there’s so much more to life than even newspapers, television and headlines.
The picture shows a squirrel and a crow sharing rice grains, just outside my bedroom window.