The forest stood thick for centuries, untouched and unobtrusive. The branches of the trees reached for the heavens and its roots stretched into the netherworld. It forged a thick outer shell allowing sunlight to barely reach the ground. It was home to multiple species of animals which roamed in its shadows, safe and free. It allowed the flourishing of flora which men were yet to name.
When the men humans came into the forest, they were reverential. Their Gods existed in these forests, they believed. They were respectful to the majestic green that composed the environment. They would kneel before the forests. They had needs, they would say. They were dutiful as they cut any branches, picked any flowers, hunted any animals for their survival. The forests never did mind.
They were curious the next time they ventured deep into the forest. They studied the forest, gave them names and found magic in its flowers and trees. They healed themselves, ate healthy, and made houses from their mass. People lived around it and they built places of worship. But, never did they kill the forest. They learned to co-exist with the forest. Humans were a part of a greater ecosystem.
However, when the humans entered the forest again, they were indifferent, filled with greed and lacked any foresight. Their Gods were different; their needs were different. It was not about survival, it was all about prosperity – at the cost of anything and everything that allowed them to evolve. They found a new ideology which didn’t require them to be jut a part of nature – they believed that nature existed for humans. They bred in an unprecedented way. They killed left and right – they exploited the very nature that had let them be and forced it into submission.
The trees were cut – for they needed to farm to feed their ever-increasing numbers. Animals were displaced as they needed that space for themselves.
The trees which were cut down, however, found themselves turned into a watery soup which humans called ‘pulp’. The displaced animals ran away into unfamiliar zones, trying to find places to hide themselves and survive. The pulp from the trees was sprayed into mats, run over by heat-rollers until they formed a continuous roll of paper. The animals adapted themselves too – to live in fear and danger.
One of the displaced creatures – a fruit bat – found haven in a jackfruit tree.
Two weeks later, the tree, now existing as a paper, went through a series of automated machines. It had these words printed on it as it came out at other end.
“Deadly virus claims 15 lives. Fear of a pandemic spreads.
First identified in 1998 in Malaysia among persons who had contact with sick pigs, a fairly unknown contagious disease wrecked havoc in my home state of Kerala early this month – with around 15 casualties and many infected patients.
Though little is known about it, two things are perfectly clear – it is lethal and presently incurable.
Nipah virus outbreaks have been recognised nearly every year in Bangladesh since 2001 and occasionally in India.
Health officials say the virus thrives in solutions which are high in sugar content – and hence, they think that the saliva of fruit bats may be one such carrier. They can be transferred to humans via the fruits these bats might have bitten. Once it’s infected a human, they can adapt as per the host and can be transmitted to others via air.
However, the known virus strains of Nipah aren’t that easily transmittable, according to virologists. As observed in Bangladesh, only a small percentage of infected patients transmitted the disease to another. So, an Ebola-like epidemic is unlikely. Besides, the state government has responded swiftly and deftly to contain further damage.
Bats have been around for millions of years and are a crucial part of the ecosystem. They are important pollinators. But, they have also been carrying infectious diseases for as long as they have been around. “Nipah could have co-existed with the bats in Kozhikode,” says a health official in Calicut. They might have co-evolved for years. But, when they were subjected to stress because of the loss of habitat or due to the lack of sufficient food, they might have expelled these viruses.”