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Lessons from an Ant

They're at it again. And I couldn't tolerate their nefarious activity any longer. For days, they've been raiding our lean cupboard. In the beginning only one brave creature ventured to steal our scarce sugar supply. This noon, a whole gang came for the sweet granules. Why, some of them even unashamedly made a side trip to my daughter's cookie jar nearby.

Yet, even as my blood boiled against those pesky ants, I couldn't bear to think of murdering them en masse like what Hitler did to the Jews.

So I picked up one of the ants - the biggest in the group, the one I thought was the leader of the marauding band. Gingerly I placed it onto the tiled floor of the kitchen sink. Before it could run away, I drew a circle of toxic chalk around the animal.

Some ideas on how to penalize the ant appeared in my mind. I could remove its head and abandon it heedlessly wretched. Or simply take off its hind legs one after another. Or slowly drown him in a deadly pool of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol. The idea was to make him writhe in torment for as long as possible. The longer the dying process, the more excruciating would be the pain. And the spectacle would be more exciting to watch. Through the suffering of one, I thought I could teach the other creepers a lesson. They'd all feel - more than vicariously - the fury of a patient man.

As I turned to get Green Cross rubbing alcohol, the trapped ant said, “Why do you want to poison me, torture me, kill me?”

My legs got entangled with each other and I almost tripped over myself. Regaining my balance, I looked around to see who spoke.

“Why are you so harsh with me,” the ant continued. “Like you, I'm also created by God. We have the same roots.”

“Shut up, ants don't talk!”

“Oh yah? And we don't have feelings either? We don't love our children and family that depend on us, on our hard and honest work?” If I were you, I'd lobby your government to do more research on us so you would understand us better. But I wouldn't fault you for your ignorance. Typical of humans, I think.”

“Did you say honest work? You just stole my sugar!”

“We weren't stealing it, pal. Didn't you see we just took the scattered ones? You were wasting it. We're just putting it to good, profitable use.”

“You should manufacture your own. You're kind of lazy, aren't you?”

“Look who's talking. Have you read reports from your labor and social welfare departments about the millions of unemployed people in your metropolis alone?”

“Well, that's because there's not enough jobs for them,” I retorted.

“Not all of them are unemployed because of lack of jobs,” the ant replied.

I gave the ant a quizzical look.

“Does that piece of information shock you? Well, many of those people are just downright lazy. You know Lazy John? He was the same lazy person who waited for the guava to fall so he could eat it, right?”

“So?”

“Well, there are countless like him out there in your world.”

“Say that again.”

“Well, I see lots of idlers around. Would there be better proof than that?”

I was silent.

“If I were you,” the ant continued, “I'd warn them to make hay while the sun shines, if you know what that idiom means.”

“By and large, we prepare for the rainy days ahead.”

“You prepare for the rainy days? You sure of that? Goodness gracious! That would be an incredible feat.”

“You don't believe that?”

“No one in his right mind would. Just look at your department of public works and highways. Look at your phone companies. They usually start their diggings during rainy days. During summers, when it should have been a good time to do it, you'd rather attend fiestas and drink, eat, and dance the whole day.”

“You're a killjoy.”

“You're happy-go-lucky loafers.”

“Dare you say that again to our smart species.”

“So you think you're the only species that matters, huh?”

“Shut up,” I said, and in disgust, I picked up the talkative ant and placed it on my palm. “Listen, Smart-alecky Ant. I'm getting nauseated of you. I'd better smash you to smithereens. You can't deny you stole sugar from me.” “I told you we didn't steal your sugar.”

“You did.”

“We didn't. Those sugar granules were uselessly lying around. We had to put them into good use. What we did was all part of the job. And unlike many of your species who bet on lotto, among other gambling activities, hoping to get rich quick, we work our butts out. We also just don't sit around waiting for donation from some charitable institution.” I shook my head.

“The wisest member of your species, King Solomon, was right when he advised the rest of you sluggards to go to the ants and consider our ways and be wise.”

Arts | Fiction | Short Stories


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