The branch protruding from a nearby tree over the narrow path by which I am sitting sways up and down. There is a monkey on it. It’s taken a momentary shelter on it with his long ape-hands, stares at me with his mouth open for a while — trying to scare me away, making a characteristic sound of a machine that has just stopped working. I back away a little, taking care so as to ensure I don’t further enrage it; trying to remind it of our old friendship. But the next moment, he is gone.
I am sitting in between two black rivulets, flowing downstream with the tardiness of tropical summer, creating their own little rasping melodies and emanating their own numbing aromas; thus corroborating the fact that we are living in an industrialized world. There’s a little park I am in; although it is not as little as I have just expressed so casually; instead, if I take all facts into consideration, it is actually one of the biggest parks in the National Capital Region. But even then, I implore you, for the sake of this exercise, consider this park to be a small one.
I wave my hands at the boy I always wave to whenever I am here. He is playing with his little sister. He is a good boy, Vriksh. I like his name a lot. He smiles back at me with a radiant smile. I am happy seeing he is happy and he is happy since I appear happy too.
Once upon a time, an old African ape gave birth to another ape that could stand only on two of his legs. He stood on his legs and capping his eyebrows with his right palm, he squinted around. There were trees there; and squirrels, and animals, and birds… nothing different of any sort to get excited about. But even then he felt the inexplicable pang of a new renaissance, whose reason his brain was still unaware of; he turned his head and rotated it in all the directions. Maybe it didn’t happen in the break of a moment, but he felt there was something different about his surroundings, he felt an urge to move forward, to see what laid beyond. So he moved out; he moved out with his clan of men and women and children who had also been born of the same African ape; destroying everything that came in their way.
I am not very sad, just a little contemplative. A walk over the small bridge erected over one of the black canals takes me inside the park and has rendered me numb in the process. Do you think I am crazy, talking like this?
Yes, I am walking alone in Bandar Park, rightly named after the monkeys, the lords of this park, and I am thinking about Man and Nature.
Australopithecus to Homo erectus to home sapiens: The journey has been long. Wars, epidemics, diseases, natural disasters, and self-made disasters: man has braved them all. He knows this. But is this something to be proud of?
Yes, of course, it is. One of them explained it all too well: “The one, who is the fittest, survives.” Man is, of course, the fittest of them all, living and living and living and killing and killing and killing . Does my point need any further explanation?
I don’t know how the world was before industries came into being. I don’t know whether it was good or bad. I don’t even know whether the concepts of good and bad were the same then. But there is one thing I do know: the world, as it is today, is not fit FOR ME to live in. I have capitalized the words ‘for me’. I am not sure about others. In this huge universe of countless objects, even the different units of Homo Sapiens are different.
Time overlapped on itself like thin slices of cheese… enveloping between them the various feats of human beings, from wheel to splint wood to swords to guns. Nomadic monkeys started understanding that they need not move every time to fend themselves off nature. They developed the art of growing their own food at their doorstep. And it gave them time… time to invent some more ways of exploiting Nature; and making wars upon each other. Yes, the earth divided itself on the very command of Homo Sapiens. It became Germany, it became England and it became the USA; and all of them fought with each other like anything. One. No. One more time. Two. And as if the second one was not enough, man, in his private quest of killing himself, is now on the verge of uprooting the very life from the earth. Corona?
Development — a word they use to present a counter-argument to people like me. Mad, irrational; they call us. But does development mean plundering and reusing and plundering and reusing Nature, over and over again?
Even an overuse of sweets can cause diabetes (by an aspect characteristic of the Homo Sapiens!), similarly, can over-development never be harmful to whom it is being done for? We have air conditioners to tackle heat and heaters to tackle cold. But would they have been necessary if we hadn’t incurred a need for them by our own misdeeds? Digging a hole (figuratively) and then digging another hole (literally) to refill the first one. We are stuck in a vicious circle.
Am I, am I making some sense here? I like strolling in the parks. Just as much as I hate walking in malls. This is my choice. But why am I telling you this? You have your own choices to make. You can decide what you like. How stubborn he is, you say. Perhaps I am.
Yesterday, when I was sleeping in one of the rooms of our house, situated near the Bandar park and its two black canals, surrounded by the countless home-made factories and warehouses, dug-holes, pit-holes, sand heaps, waste heaps, bony dogs, dog-shit, I had a strange dream.
In my dream, a little boy wearing strange clothes pointed his finger at a strange-looking screen in front of me, and said, “Grandpa, what is this, this green, this green THING with something to support it, a brown pole?”
I slapped him. In my dream. My grandson, named Vriksh, whose name literally translates to ‘tree’ in English. No. Not out of anger. But anguish.
Time passed on. Centuries got overlapped among themselves in the process. There was no Sun. You want to speak of the earth? No limbs, just fingers, five hundred Homo Sapiens were ensconced inside the five hundred small fluttering space ships, waiting,for the last star to explode!
Man had finally won the struggle. Or had he lost it?