Monday, May 20, 2013

Shades of Green

             “The earth has music for those who listen”,
           I felt like a child in pursuit of a butterfly, while penning down this article. This blog is dedicated to Mr.Rangasamy (my biology teacher) who instilled me the hymns of nature. To the man, who taught us more than science.  

"In the shroud of the blue sky, the smoky clouds were hanging in there trying to embezzle the nature’s beauty. The canopies of trees were the able students to their masters sitting in heaven, brushing aside to nod their heads in acknowledgement. The air was scented with lilies, which could program the performance code in most primitives of this planet. Amidst all, she emerged from the golden ray of the sun, with her head pointing down. She unfolded her wings, which shone and vibrated, to let her muscles warm in the morning light. She loved sex more than her mate and lived in isolation all her life as a queen. The solitary wasp, the queen launched herself beside me, to hunt for its prey. 

The wasp was few inches next to me, having landed on a huge hackberry leaf; it was waiting to pound on the caterpillar that was feeding the leaf. Perhaps, it’s a wonder that, how could a wasp far across could track her prey without radar. To unveil the mystery, the Mother Nature has the most intriguing answers to such thought provoking questions. There are approximately 300,000 plants and 900,000 species of insects, of which most eat plants. In this scenario, most plants would have been chewed up by them, but still we find green foliage encompassing us. Plants have evolved defenses in the name of chemical warfare against such attackers.

Plants need to stand their ground when pests attack and there‘s no turning back. They can’t scream for help, but they produce chemicals (green leafy volatiles) which can easily evaporate and attracts its bodyguards. The process is quite simple and symbiotic; the communication is so effective that the bodyguards hop on the leaves to dine on the plant eaters. A distress signal from one plant aids its neighbors, which can have a drastic impact on agriculture. This defense evolution of plants is significant in understanding their communication with other lives.

Plants took at least a few million years to manifest the several thousand chemicals in trillion ways to produce synergistic results which are quite complex. If the evolution has progressed exponentially, then our agriculture would have hit boom. All plants would have been literally kicking out every possible predator on earth; no pesticides and no crop destruction. Conversely, this never occurred; some plants were vulnerable. To understand this, we need a leaf from Darwin’s book ‘Origin of Species’.

 Darwin emphasizes on the underlying concept, i.e. those individuals that are more responsive to change, can survive by means of evolution. It is a common misnomer that only the ‘strongest’ or ‘fittest’ survive; it is an ecological niche. For a population to survive, it needs both strong and weak to thrive. Stronger ones can’t survive without bullying the weaker ones. Just imagine, if only the strong or fittest survived, we would be rubbing shoulders with a population of Einstein and Muhammad Ali. The evolution doesn’t work like that; we have weaklings like apples which could be easily plucked and a pineapple with prickly thorns.

So, some plants can cry for help by means of loud signals, while others only whisper. Individuals which are termed as ‘fit’ in one particular environment need not be the same in another habitat. Cactus can survive in scorching sun but when you put the same in the poles, the rules of the game change. Survival is not just battling the weather and predators; it’s a ticket that Mother Nature throws to all. Every organism tries to increase its odds in seizing the opportunity. It’s no wonder that plants have evolved so much, leaving mankind far behind the race. If at all the mankind, the so called superior race of this planet have reproduced fitter ones, we wouldn’t be walking to our refrigerators to grab the leftovers and diet coke.

Now you can appreciate the signals sent by hackberry leaves, inviting the Queen (the wasp) to chew out the caterpillar. The chemical signals produced by them are in the order of few parts per billion, but still they exert significant bio activity. Normally when we fall ill, the doctor scribbles antibiotics and few vitamin pills for the next 15 days, so that the pharmacist pays for the doctor’s foreign trip.  The antibiotics that we take, try to control the symptoms without curing. So, most medications are excreted back to the environment chemically unchanged. It’s said that most viruses and bacteria have evolved (except we humans) by gaining resistance to most drugs.

The lives of plants are extraordinary; with so many untold stories and process that are performed in loops remain hidden. What we see is staggering beauty, but we fail to appreciate its taciturn approach to most staggering issues. We act as charlatans with trivial things indoctrinated to awe at nature’s fecundity and aggressiveness. We aren’t alone, but with a superior race to maintain weave the sense of uncertainty and heal us when we fall sick.

OMG!!! Wait a minute; I could feel something moving in my jeans. Is a wasp sneaking in, that’s the last thing I needed. Damn, it was my phone crying, at the signal from my queen (not the wasp, but my female friend!!!).

Queen: Just finished my class, I’ll join u in 15 mins

Me: no worries, I m already in the park waiting for you for the past 30 mins.

Queen: I m so sorry to keep u waiting. What did you do so long?

Me: ahhhh!!! To be precise, I was missing you!! "


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

This isn't mine

Author’ Note:
                What do you reckon when you see this title, “This isn’t mine”? Yup! You've nailed it. This work does not belong to me, in the context of plagiarism, but in a lighter tone, this was greatly inspired from the work of Emma Donoghue’s The Room. I knew at the end of my work, I never did a justice, even in the process of lifting her style of writing. Perhaps it’s not fair (to compare!!!) to discuss such literary works in mine. So, I leave it to my loyal readers to comment on my work. Entire work has two parts (lullaby and requiem), which has contrasting tone (deliberate grammatical errors in lullaby part ) embedded to it and I guess I've finally made a blog that is honest and close to my heart.

                This is how I sit, with my pencil inside the mouth and my tongue tasting the juice of it. The paper in front of me sits just like me, blank without a word, except my name on the top of it, Saranya. I'm Saranya, who often finds trouble in getting her name correct in the papers; so my amma came up with a brilliant idea of having it on my writing pad for exams. That’s how I don’t have a red mark drawn across the name by my miss. Now you can guess how stupid I'm and it will annoy you more if you know that, I'm into my second grade now. Every day my miss asks me a question, knowing that I don’t have an answer for her. She says, “I m good for nothing”. Perhaps, she doesn’t know, what I m good at.

                Now this paper is waiting for me to write down the answer for the question,”Uses of trees”. It took me whole evening to by heart the word ‘education’. The answer for this question has 11 lines (I always write it wrong- leven or elven!!!)  and more words that are longer than ‘education’. So I thought of doing something better than remembering all those lines, so I drew pictures of trees and a sun in orange color with crayons. I like crayons and colors that use water to mix, but my amma screams at me when I get the color in the fingers and on my face. She says, if it goes into my belly, I will fall ill and I need to see doctor uncle.

                 Doctor Uncle and his white place (everything is white there, walls, table, his dress and even his hair) scares me, but he gives me gems, every time I go there.  I always ask for the pink ones, because it makes my tongue pink in color. So my amma got me color pencils, but I always use crayons to color my trees. I showed my picture to my amma, she said trees shouldn’t be in blue color, but in TV they showed blue trees. When I asked her about that, she asked to me to study for the test. I was so sad that I had to take that long answer book again. I asked God to make the answer very small for me, but it was the same and I started to cry.

                I don’t know why my tears taste salty, when I asked my amma; she told me that God made it salty, so that we won’t cry to taste it.  I liked my tears and I was hungry. I went to the kitchen to look for amma and I found her cutting carrots. I put few of them in my mouth when she turned back.

“Don’t eat that without washing them, it has germs”

“I’ll drink some water after eating them, so that water will kill them in my belly. Amma! I m hungry can I have dosa”

“You can’t have dosa daily, kutty! I made upma today”

“I don’t like upma, it sticks to my teeth and not sweet”

“You can have upma in your new Mickey Mouse bowl”

                Today I liked upma because it was in my new bowl which had Mickey and Minnie Mouse stuck on it. Minnie Mouse was coloring its lips with a red crayon. I know my mom has a similar crayon in her table. I went to her room to get my lips colored, but I could not find it, she must have hid it somewhere. Outside it was black with little white stars all over the sky. Every day I tried to count them, I lose my count after 8. I don’t like when the sky goes black, because amma puts me to sleep and when I wake up, I have to go to school again. I m scared about the test tomorrow and my friends who would laugh at me when I don’t know say an answer.

                Amma says everything will be good tomorrow, if I sleep, so I jump in to my bed and pull my covers. I go into them and its dark, like the sky outside and now I remember the monster stories told by my friend. So I hold my covers tightly so that monsters can’t get inside them. Before the monsters came for me, my mom woke me up for the next day’s school. With my eyes opened a little, I brushed, tasting the paste and closed my Duckie’s (Duckie is my teddy bear) eyes when I was wearing my uniform. Amma told me that I had games period after my test, which made me happy and I smelled nice with Johnson baby powder.

                The test paper was still waiting for me to write. I prayed to God to put some words in it, I opened my eyes a little while praying, to see if God was writing in my paper. He never liked me, so he didn’t write. I want to write about my new Mickey Mouse bowl, but I don’t know what to write. So, I drew the trees and the sun. My miss started to get papers from every one, if she sees my paper, then she will show it to everyone. All my friends will laugh and I’ll cry again. This time God heard my prayers by the school bell, we all ran to the ground leaving our papers with her. Now its games period and I m so happy.

                Indeed it was a happy moment for Saranya, because she never realized, that she would experience a monster in reality. On the following day, Saranya was sodomized by her neighbor, in his home. The next morning, Saranya woke up from a nightmare, panting with beads of perspiration. She choked for words, to describe what her neighbor did to her. It was learnt that, the guy let her off, after the poor girl started to vomit.

The poor girl was lured with biscuits by her neighbor. She failed to see the sickness that was staring at her, in the name of cream biscuits. The little girl, who loved to paint, is now getting treated in a hospital, after which she has to undergo counseling sessions to get over her trauma. I’m not sure, if she would love gems again or watch stars in a cloudless night without any atavistic fears blinding her.

The lullaby part was a pure fiction of mine based on Saranya’s interests, as told by her mother. This was penned down out of spite, to showcase the disruption of a childhood. I don’t want to plead on the need for draconian laws, which in no way is going to bring Saranya’s lost dreams. She will never feel safe anywhere, having been destroyed at the hands, which were once considered haven. Now she sleeps in a hospital with her knees close to her small chest, breathing heavily and fear embracing her inside of a teddy bear.