Monday, December 04, 2006

Red versus black.

My mother, a god-fearing and simple person, used to tell me never to harm the black ants. I used to watch them fascinated as they marched in a disciplined and civilized queue to collect and carry away the stray crystals that had dropped on the kitchen floor as she measured out the sugar for the tea she had put to boil. As for the red ants, she had no such reservations. They would devour anything: sugar, fish and meat bones… you name it. They would also bite you if you displeased or disturbed them in some way. In my mother’s book, the black ants were Brahmins while the red ants belonged to a much lower social order. They were the scavengers, useful but villainous. These days, it has come to my attention that the rules of yore do not apply to the ant universe. No more do the black denizens stick to the white-collar chores and the red to the other sort. The difference has blurred, nay disappeared. I’m aware that the ant world I’d witnessed in the good ol’ days was on the third floor of 233 Khetwadi Main Road, figuratively and literally another world, I guess, for all practical purposes. I sometimes wonder if there are several parallel ant universes (or, alternative realities) like what sci-fi writers write and quantum cosmologists theorise about. Stuff like: “There is no one reality. Each of us lives in a separate universe. That's not speaking metaphorically. This is the hypothesis of the stark nature of reality suggested by recent developments in quantum physics. Reality in a dynamic universe is non-objective. Consciousness is the only reality.” Sounds trĂ©s Advaita, no? Enough already. Coming back to the ants of this world here and now, being a very fair-minded guy, I decided to give the black ants another chance. This morning, I left a strip of rind from a slice of ham on a piece of a paper on the kitchen platform. Lo and behold! A few minutes later, the truth of my earlier observation was reiterated by a long line of very agitated black – yes, black and not red – ants. What is the world coming to, boys and girls?

LATEST FLASH! Recently, Ujwal forgot to take her daily Revital Ginseng-Vitamin-Mineral capsule and her Calcium tablet. They remained open overnight in a plastic receptacle on a lowtable in the living room. The next morning, I found them infested by a horde of miniscule black ants. Either the medicine was sugar-coated or the ants belonged (shudder! shudder!!) to a Mutant Ninja specie. Will they take over the earth? Who knows?

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