|A Story of an Unlikely Friendship|
She was wearing her favourite yellow frock with polka dots, that day. Not just that day, but every other day she wears the same dress. When she always asked her mother for getting dressed in the same frock, she stitched for her two other costumes, with the same garment. She can only be seen wearing this yellow frock with polka dots. She loved them! She wanted everyone else to wear the same as it would make them all look similar because her close companions whom she played with looked indistinguishable always.
With her wide and curious eyes opened up, larger than usual, she stood there watching those tiny brick-red creatures moving around a leftover particle of their breakfast, which her mother carelessly left out while clearing the dining table. Once, she tried to keep track of them by naming them, as her parents named her but never could she retain her tracking order. They all looked similar for her. It was from then; she wanted to be dressed in the same frock the every other day. She also asked her parents to do so. A family that looks identical and feels alike was her dream. But her parents could only see it as a child’s fascination. They cared little about her thought process, being so busy to earn their livelihood.
The small brick-red creatures were pulling it hard, one to the left and the other to the right. Back and forth and to and fro; they tried tirelessly. And from all sides they grabbed it. She was amused to see them succeed. After a long series of struggle, they managed to carry it to their house, finally. The two of them, the strongest of the all gathered, dragged the food remains proudly. Meanwhile, trying to support the two, every other in the line followed them, until they reached their destination.
A little puff of air, a cool breeze, went passing her, making the layers of her polka dotted dress kiss each other. She also saw the ants kissing each other. She felt the warmth of the heart and the intimacy of minds. Though she was feeling shy, in watching them kiss each other, she could experience the passionate love among her playmates. She was growing up to be the elegant lady that the society demands. She never did realise that it was their means to communicate with each other. For her, they were sharing the joy of having collected the day’s food. They were in fact, conveying their rapport and fellowship. They were a perfect team. They developed commitment and trust. They maintained open lines of communication, diverse capabilities and were confident in adapting to changing conditions. The teamwork always became fruitful.
The wind had blown her hair and even messed it up. Her tiny little fingers were not at all bothered to keep her messy hair in order as she was too busy being involved in the art of obsession with observation skills. Her big and bright eyes followed the movement of her new found friends. She noticed a long line of similar creatures; a line not drawn with the ruler as in her geometry class, but a line drawn with free hands, with all its natural perfection, making it more real to life. She also discovered another set of them, moving through the same line but in the opposite direction. The line seemed similar to the queue at the ATM counters during the demonetization period in India. She learned about it from overhearing her father who talked obsessively about the stock market. She never exactly understood what her father was talking all the time and all she understood was that it concerned about money. Moreover, her little ears somehow were attentive while he spoke about the queue at the ATM counters. May be because, her father himself used the comparison at the queue at the cash machine with that to the movement of the ants.
She wondered where they were moving ahead in great haste, without even having tasted the food their fellow mates have gathered. She was indeed confused whether to focus on the first set of her companions who are with the food or the other set that are moving contrarily in the reverse direction. She decided to follow the latter and was astound to find that her mother had not cleaned the table that day as she had to leave quickly on receiving an emergency call. Momma might have forgotten about it after the hoo-ha that the call made in her mind. She exclaimed. For a second, she felt happy about her mother for leaving, without having cleaned the table. She was delighted in discovering that her companions are going to have a feast that day.
Moving slowly, step by step they reached their house. Following the first line, she discovered her long-ignored neighbours. It was a house made of sand, same as the ones she makes on her picnic to the beach. One could easily notice the glee in her eyes, on having a lot of little companions to play with, who builds an abode which looks exactly the same way she makes her sand houses at the beach. She started singing a nursery rhyme, “If you are happy and you/ know it/Clap your hands” she clapped her hands. Shaking her hips and dancing along, she sang again,
“If you are happy and you
Clap your hands
If you are happy and you
Then your face will
surely show it
If you are happy and you
Clap your hands”
She was indeed happy and her face showed it. She ran inside the house to quench her thirst, to drink some water. She was again at the dining table from where she started observing the little ones. One by one, she started counting them in her feeble voice. 0ne…two…three…she counted them with her fingers. She had to use her toes too. She was learning the basics of maths.
When she lost count of them, her little fingers made lines blocking their pathway. After a short mess and confusion, the traffic rejoined. They were too preoccupied with their bounty to feed upon and never bothered to notice her. Next, she had to apply saliva on her fingers and then to apply it on to their pathway. The time they took this time to rejoin, got a little extended. She was finding results to her experiments. She intended to grab their care and attention towards her. They sensed it as well, but were a little scared about the external interference. But for her, saliva was the most effective tool in seeking their attention at least for a few seconds. She had to quit her attempts. She gave up her trials, but just for that day as she was too tired to give another try. She decided to resume her play-time after a nap.
The next day at school she explained to her fellow mates about her new friends. Some of them listened to her stories but many of them made fun of her for playing with ants. She felt sad on hearing their cruel remarks. When the teacher arrived, they started discussing about their public speaking sessions. It was her turn to give the speech. She stood up before the class and talked proudly about her ambition as it was the allotted topic for the elocution. She began.
“Greetings to all. Let me begin…I would like to share with you all that I am extremely fond of playing with ants. I like to watch them move. I like to observe them gather their food. And I am always fascinated by their nature as well as their perseverance in working hard. Therefore, my ambition is to study and investigate about ants. I do not know if there is a profession as such. But I would always like to do something that interests and excites me always.”
When she finished delivering the speech, her teacher who felt so proud of her pupil told her, “Anna, your ambition is to become a myrmecologist. That is what we call a scientist who studies about ants.” Anna was happy to have found her ambition. She realised that her ambition has got a name. Indeed a strange name. “MYR-ME-CO-LO-GIST”. She was hearing it for the first time in her life. She uttered the syllables, repeating it after the teacher. And she said aloud to the class,
“I will be a Myrmecologist when I grow up.”
Everybody applauded to her choice. Her ambition was unique. She is to play with her play-mates throughout her life. A companionship that is to lasts forever. Friendship is the strongest bond but is the hardest to define. Anna and her ants are always going to be together in spirits as true friends because true friendship comes into your life without being chased. They witness everything about you and will stay with you forever. Anna never chased the ants, their presence were always felt in her life. They had their house close to hers and were always close to her life. They coexist and are at times the inmates of her own house.
Nature and it creatures are our friends, whom we fail to recognise. They support us and make us survive. They teach us what to do and what not to. Even when we go away from them, destroying and being destructive, they silently wait for our return to live a life that is peaceful and harmonious. To love nature and to love all its creatures is to save them and to save ourselves. Science may thrive to grow not at the expense of the precious lives but out of love for nature. The love Anna had for her companions.
Acknowledgement: This short story Amigos Ants was written by me, being inspired from the prompt “write a story about an unlikely friendship” at Reedsy.com and has also been approved and published at Reedsy. Click here for the link
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