A paved paradise

He put all his heart and soul into making a green patch in an otherwise bleak landscape.

The horizontal development of Bengaluru fazes me and brings to mind an anecdote.
In a city where the thriving population and greed had resulted in concrete jungles, there was a man who envisaged jungles of a different variety.

He put all his savings into a ground floor apartment of a building that came with a small piece of land. He believed this gave him a chance to maintain an affinity with the natural world. He put all his heart and soul into that portion of his property determined to make a green patch in an otherwise bleak landscape.

His determination and zeal paid off and soon his little garden was a sight that appealed to the eyes of the mind. Momentarily, there were butterflies and, to his utmost fascination, some eggs. He felt he had created a paradise albeit small and tentative. He watched these eggs every day with captivation, waiting for new life to emerge out of the world that he had abetted create.

This garden was his baby and he was determined to make everything fall in place. When he saw a little larva struggling to break the egg shell in vain, he felt his heart break. Why should this little life have to struggle? Wasn’t life difficult enough? He took little tongs and made a tender crack in the egg shell. Surely this would help the little being surface and… voila! It did.

Shortly, the little larva broke out of the egg and the man was immensely pleased by his role in the larger scheme of things. But, happiness is known to be fleeting. The man was disheartened to see that the larva he had helped had died almost as soon as it came into the world. This disillusioned the man who neither understood nor accepted the turn of events.

How was he to know that Mother Nature has a plan? She has given pronounced thought not only to the grander picture but also to the tiniest life force in her design. By pushing its head against the hard shell, the larva actually toughens its head which is essential for it to sustain life outside. In his ignorance, the man had facilitated the death of the larva while thinking he was assisting it.

Man’s ignorance in matters of the natural world has left us in a bleak void that we constantly seek escape from. However, the mighty and mysterious power of nature is undefined. Humans foist their perception on to the natural world where nothing of human perspective and understanding can apply.

Humans are just one of the many spe-cies that belong to nature. By assuming ourselves to be superior, we not only underscore our ignorance but also harm more than we help. This mindless encro-achment and meddling with nature will take man to an inevitable stage when nature will eventually either retaliate and prevail (tsunami, earthquake) or die a premature and futile death like the larva.

Were we listening when Joni Mitchell in her song ‘Big Yellow Taxi warned: “We’ve paved paradise and put up a parking lot”?

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