Stay still, it sits like happiness


I sit on the veranda of my cottage in the ayurvedshram in Palghat and watch the butterflies. At first, before my eyes get used to them, they seem to fly away so quickly.

Now they are there, now they aren’t, fluttering up and down in dizzying spirals before disappearing into the multihued bed of cosmos, till I cannot distinguish between them and the flowers.

Now that my eyes have adjusted to their presence, I am aware of so much more. They arrive in host of colours-- pale green and pink, wraithlike white, black and white spotted, purple and red, blue and yellow, one streaked green, black and amber, patterned with an aplomb which would have done designer saris proud.

I see a black one fluttering amidst the elongated emerald green leaves of a lime shrub in the foreground. I glimpse at it playing hide and seek before it flies away in giddy abandon, almost as if drunk, veering to the right and the left as if it had lost its way, before suddenly surging away in a totally different direction.

Its aerodynamics would create envy in an aviator as it dips into the flowers, settles on a leaf or flower, then courses through the air in a series of daredevil manoeuvres.

It is truly a charismatic insect. Its whole life is a model for life, emerging from its chrysalis after hibernation as a beautiful insect which is the embodiment of freedom and happiness.

The transformation from an ugly duckling into the graceful swan, is nature’s therapeutic way of reminding us that there is beauty and divinity in everyone of us, just waiting to emerge.

It is elusive, like happiness and requires patient waiting to catch it and yet, if you sit still, it may come and alight on your hand, just like happiness.

The Monarch butterfly, just like salmon, flies from eastern US and Canada in hordes of millions, across remote inhospitable acres of land to forests 10,000 ft up in the southern flank of Mexico to reproduce. What impels them to fly up there? One of Nature’s inexplicable wonders. 

It symbolises evanescence, transience, and in some cultures, like Indonesian, a giddy woman of maybe questionable morals.

As usual in language, the connotation takes over in interpretation after a while, quite eclipsing the beauty, however fleeting, and the happiness the insect evokes in the mind as it flutters, feeding on the pollen and doing its duty of pollinating and propagating species far and wide.

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