I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least – and it is commonly more than that – sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.
– Henry David Thoreau, Walking
|A storm is coming|
What wind brought me here I know not. Was it the scent that it carried, the call of the wild; that indescribable – insatiable – scent of nature, that bellowing – singing – of her children. I ask myself this. And I come to agree that it is this and more. However it was wrought not in my mind although I cherished learning it. It was born in my heart (and it is funny I say this because I’m fully aware my heart is just a muscle, and it is from my brain that these words flow). I haven’t found the answer yet, but I seek it. I am however no seeker of treasure nor tiger. Do I seek solace then, companionship, solitude, a mere fantasy? Do I seek to escape from the iron cold fists of the city? Do I seek to discover myself, is that the ultimate quest?
The kanhar soil runs deep. It is moist, almost wet from the rain that fell three days ago. I am walking a thousand kilometer from home in search of beetles. I had seen one scamper over the ground, face me, finish off the last bit of a leg in its mouth, and fly over into the undergrowth dripping wet from a crying tree.
The people here wonder why this tree cries so much. They don’t bother to find out why. We taste the tear drop. It tastes of water. I look closer and discover that it is the excess water dripping from the spittle bug larva hideout. We drank insect spit. We laugh.
The tiger beetle has two bright yellow spots on each elytron, resembling suns of Tatooine. It is called Cicindela bicolor haemorrhoidalis (Wiedemann, 1823). The Tatooine Tiger Beetle has escaped. I return to my abode. Tiger beetle 1; me 0. Day two. I have captured it. The photograph has come soft and out-of-focus. Tiger beetle 2; me 0. Day three. I stalk on bare feet to no avail. I stop counting.
The thing about being in nature by yourself is really amusing – almost childish. Personally I love being in nature alone. Socially I love company. Sometimes I compel my colleagues to come, but then it’s considered eccentric to walk and fall behind looking at the nests of ants on your knees. I remark that I will come back later and photograph it to avoid the awkward silence. I do it the instance we return from the walk.
I lag a lot. That is why I’m not a good runner. I walk. I stroll. With the wind. Such is life, I suddenly have an epiphany. The runners are rats, I’m told. This is a rat race that, ironically, no one wants to be a part of. So who’s running, and what for? Increments. Everyone’s talking about it in the jungles. In the jungles! Does anyone care about them tiger beetles? I yell. No one listens. My voice echoes in my head, reverberating thrice.
A girl barefooted runs to greet her young brother of barely few months old. Her skin is tanned auburn, her hair unkempt. It sways in the breeze as she dances on nimble feet. Beautiful.
I look at my feet. Somehow I feel ashamed. I love to walk I say, but I don’t really walk. I remove my shoes and walk. It feels different. Eccentric maybe. But beautiful.
I feel it now. If I step on grass, I feel pulse of life. If I step on mud, I feel the breath of earth. All my senses merge. I am more careful about stepping on an unwary ant or an insect under my feet. The senses expand: it is as if nature accepts me as one of her creations; forgives my sins. My ears hear birds, my eyes seek beetles, my nose smells the forests, and my feet feel the texture. But do I feel vulnerable to be so alone. Does a tiger, with tooth and claw; a snake, with venom and fang, feel vulnerable. I know what I feel here that I don’t feel in the city. I feel home. I feel alive.