Tuesday, February 9, 2016

This land is mine...

These words were written for the musical, Exodus, but they really apply to the insects and reptiles of Sri Lanka. This land does not belong to the Sinhalese, or the Tamils, or the Muslims, or indeed, any other life forms than insects and reptiles.

I have, over the years, hardened my mild, polite 'eeks' to an utterly robust horror of these creatures who traipse around, going about their business, uncaring that I cower and very occasionally, seek to stalk them with a can of anti-insect spray.

At a thousand times their size and weight, I am afraid of them, and yes, I appreciate that this can be funny.

I know ants, roaches, lizards, etc. are as important--more important--to the ecosystem than I am, but even so, I must confess they gross me out. I think about where they've been as they hover around kitchen counters and I shudder to touch books they have walked over.

The other day, one strolled in through an open kitchen window and looked up with interest as a rice-cooker sent off fragrant steam. I could not scream, and I knew boycotting the rice was not an option, so I said gently, "There is a lizard next to the rice-cooker." "Oh, it must have come through the window." Indeed.

In other places, I am sometimes allowed the conceit that they walk through my space. Not so in Sri Lanka. Vividly recalling evenings in Delhi when I would watch as two lizards wander upside down (my perspective) on the living room ceiling towards the speeding fan and imagine with dread their falling on those blades and the resultant debris, I monitor the movement of each lizard with anxiety here. My very intelligent friend makes some very intelligent observations and I note that there are three identically sized lizards running around on the opposite wall. I am the only one who cares.

As a curmudgeon utterly unenthused by most animal forms, including increasingly the human, the only space left for me is inside a discreetly ventilated but sealed plastic (okay, make it posh: fibre-glass) cube with wifi and pictures of plants on the walls. Food, water and other supplies will be supplied and waste removed by some magical system of osmosis invented by some clever but compassionate dog or lizard lover who wants to lock me up. There, I can indulge in still life photography that expresses my mystical philosophy of love for all life-forms... at a very safe distance. 


Dr. Ruth D'Souza said...

ha ha ha

Dr. Ruth D'Souza said...

super funny and can visualise you scurrying away from these creatures.. maybe they love you so much Swarna that they just cannot stay away :)