Monday, 19 October 2015

Windows to the Natural World

-Brian Mendonça

When we speak of nature or imagine it we are prone to wax eloquent on the beauty of a sunrise, the gaiety of a wild flower or the blessing of a rainbow. There are, however, more denizens of the natural world this autumn which merit our attention.

When I opened the windows at first light the other day, as I was rolling up the mosquito net, I froze. In between the mesh and the windows -- which we keep closed to discourage the rats from entering the house – was a stick of green, which was not supposed to be there. As it moved in its ever so stately way I shrank back.

Upon closer inspection the reed-like entity about 5 inches, seemed to be a praying mantis. So called because the insect seems to be in the aspect of prayer, this one was in no hurry to move out. I hurriedly put the mesh down. After a few furtive jabs through the mesh the mantis was ejected from the sill of our second floor flat to the dense shrubbery below which is also home to a tribe of bandicoots.

As I opened the second window opposite, I noticed a lizard scurry behind the window pane. No doubt it was biding its time before I moved away, to invade the house with all the time at its disposal. Two of the lizards’ constant ‘homes’ are behind the wall clock in the hall and behind the frame of Jesus and Mary at the altar. Their droppings jostle for space among candle stands and objects of veneration. With each passing day they grow bolder (and larger), and woe betide the one who switches on the kitchen light at dawn!

The third window in our bedroom revealed what looked like a moth. It was brown, its two wings in perfect symmetry with an exquisite pattern of red on them. It perhaps was a butterfly emerging out of a chrysalis. As I opened the door to the balcony, it fluttered and lingered on the parapet, as if reluctant to begin the day or say goodbye.

Seated in the hall I towards dusk, my attention was drawn by my son to a whirring sound near the tube light. Looming over a battlefield of tiny insects attracted by the light, was a majestic dragonfly pleading, rather unsuccessfully, with the tube light to come out to dinner.

I don’t see why people get bored sitting at home. Every room has a different quality of light, a different visitor – if you look hard enough. Down in the garage, the termites are having a field day running zigzag patterns eating their way through the wood work.

At times there is a white pigeon which struts in occasionally through the window. My son fled in terror the first time but has now got used to her. We are only scared that she may injure herself with the wings of the overhead fan.
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Published in the weekly feature 'On My Mind' in Gomantak Times Weekender St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 18 October 2015. Pix of bee on wildflower at applejade(dot)wordpress.com

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