Butterflies are born free

Last Updated 22 November 2020, 20:56 IST

One summer afternoon, when I was a young girl of eight years, living in New York City, I would go on forays to huge spacious meadows to catch butterflies. The mellowed balmy breeze played havoc with my hair, yet the air had a nip in it, enough to entrance the most lethargic of persons. The weeds scratched our bare legs and the pastel-coloured wildflowers helped in camouflaging the butterflies nearby.

Our spirits were not dampened nor did we find this exciting sport of catching the mischievous butterflies hackneyed. On the other hand, waving our huge butterfly nets we used to feel positively refreshed, for it set our adrenalin pumping. We would swoop down on them with our huge, billowy nets and catch them unawares!

After they were caught, we transferred them to bottles which had holes in the lids so that the butterflies were not suffocated. In childish abandon, we caught these creatures, drew their structures in huge drawing books; and, finally, when they eventually died kept their wings pressed in notebooks for posterity.

The next year, however, when I was nine years old, I happened to read one of Gerald Durrell's famous books on animals, "My Friends and Other Animals", which left a deep and lasting impact on my impressionable brain. It made me think through his humourous weaving of a suspenseful story about the sacredness of animals, which includes our winged beauties.

Indeed, butterflies are the beautiful creations of an omniscient God and like all living creatures, they deserve a life which should not be cut short. Upsetting the balance in the cycle of nature causes a serious imbalance in nature. Was not then the capture of them in glass bottles a restriction of their freedom and independence and weren't their natural rights curtailed by this inhuman bondage?

Yes, it was cruel to harm these wonderful creations who are decorative and functional. Being in the prime of youth, we had been unable to introspect and dwell at the bigger picture of nature and its cycles, which are not necessarily vicious!

As my mind was reverberating with all these thoughts of freedom, my friends came home with the spoils of butterfly catching. In a blinding frenzy, I took the bottles boisterously away, opened the lids and slowly let out the lovely gorgeous butterflies! Oh, how happy they were to be freed from their glassy prisons!

As they flew away joyfully and soared into the distant horizon off set by the glowing embers of the setting sun, tears streamed down my face as I whispered softly, "Butterflies are born free, and should therefore live free...."

(Published 22 November 2020, 20:18 IST)

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