Man and nature
K S S Pillai
The other day I got curious about a lone little black ant hurrying across my room on its tiny legs, unaware of the lurking dangers on the way. I wished to follow it to see where it was going, whom it was so eager to meet, or where it would spend the night, but it soon merged with darkness.
There is a general complaint that the city dwellers have lost their contact with nature. With tall buildings all around, they have no idea about the splendour of the rising sun or the colourful magic it weaves in the sky while slowly taking a dip in the western sea.
They are ignorant of how the trees look at different times of the day while the sunlight plays with them. Nor have they observed how the moon grows in size night after night till it finally becomes full, and its reverse journey from the following night culminating in complete darkness with only some bright stars twinkling in the sky. The ranges of mountains, forests, endless fields of standing crops, cows and sheep grazing lazily on hillsides, crisscrossing canals and rivers, or legions of fireflies setting flickering fire to hillsides they have seen only rarely, particularly while travelling.
Nature lovers say the city dwellers’ complaint is only an excuse for leading a selfish life devoid of contact with nature. You lose your relationship with humanity if you have no relationship with nature, philosophers warn. We are so caught up in our network of problems, our desires, our urges of pleasure and pain that we are never in communion with nature.
Even in the bustling cities, one can enjoy the miracle of fresh, dew-filled mornings. There is the whispering breeze that sometimes brings a whiff of the fragrance of unseen flowers from somewhere outside. There are trees in every city. Where there are trees, there must be birds and small animals like squirrels and chameleons on them. One comes across birds flying alone, in pairs or flocks across the sky in cities and villages. Colourful rainbows and dark clouds that suddenly plummet the temperature cannot escape notice by those living everywhere.
We have house lizards creeping out from behind wall clocks and chasing each other in a blatant display of love, unmindful of the audience. As the electric lights are switched on at night, insects start flying around them, offering a feast to the lizard, darting out its tongue to trap and devour them.
Butterflies enter through the windows occasionally, fly across the room, come close to the fast rotating ceiling fans and frantically search for a way out. There are insects of different shapes and colours coming out of the nooks and corners of your room, challenging you to get rid of them.
The attitude of villagers is not much different from their city counterparts. They rarely look at the gifts of nature with a sense of love, tenderness, or compassion but think only of ways to use them. That is our attitude to everything on the earth that gives us food, clothing and satisfies every other need, not caring whether we hurt it in the process. When I watch a cookery show where beautiful women with delicately manicured fingers chop chunks of meat with no more emotion than chopping tomatoes, I suspect they never give a thought that those were parts of a live animal a few hours ago.
There was a time when the survival of a large section of our population depended on imported food. Producing more food grains by adopting modern technologies was the need of the hour. The whole nation rose to the occasion, changing the scene dramatically in a few years. With the problem of pollution affecting millions, a trend is slowly emerging, calling upon farmers to return to natural farming, harming the earth as little as possible.
The importance of maintaining a harmonious relationship between man and nature is realised by all.
(The author is a retired professor of English. A regular contributor to The Kashmir Vision, his articles and short stories have appeared in various national and international publications)