A Bee is dead

Oh… I say looking at my morning watsapp messages.

So he found a dead bee on the terrace of his house, a tiny rented place in the city’s outskirts. 

Located in a small-time colony built on another one of this city’s many clogged arteries, the rents are relatively cheaper.

Photo: Thomas Augusti, Sparcs Studio

A couple of decades ago this was one of those watersheds and wetlands that were grabbed, filled with the debris of excavator – decimated hills and sold. 

 Like many others, my beloved friend is an immigrant here on work in this city; The sole breadwinner of a large family.

He sent me this picture …

A bee, looking even smaller than it perhaps really is in its stillness , as it lies on the gentle largeness of his calm warm open palm.

‘Seen from above’
Wislawa Szymborska

So what?

A bee died.

Only a bee, after all …

Whatever for?

Now, who on earth would miss something so small?

All the little things are dying or… they are just quietly disappearing.

Yet that single tone lonesome guitar twangs it’s blue note in my heart.

It’s just that unlike us they do it, as Wislawa Szymborska observes in her jewel-like lines in ‘Seen from above’, with dignity… without any drama.

So we rarely see them as they go ,even though without them actually, the fact is we cannot live on at all.

Because they are so small and are dying in silence, we cannot hear the soft footfall of Time inching towards us. towards our children; Towards all that we love…

So many refugees everywhere. 
Right now here, I refrain and restrict myself only to the non-human ones.

Photo: Thomas Augusti, Sparcs Studio

We do not like to accept that it’s we, our race, that has created them with our extremely short-sighted and monstrously selfish interventions in Nature’s organization.

So we not only like to shut our eyes, but we also cup our palms firmly over our ears.

We do not want to know.
We do not want to see.
We do not want to hear.

Have you seen how the white cranes have recently become beggars at our railway stations?

They actually try to run on their long ungainly legs designed for the mud of wet fields to peck at a piece of idly that someone tosses out of the train window.

The crows, the traditional avian scavengers, stare at them incredulously as if muttering to themselves:

“Freaks…! “

Once I actually saw a crane trying to balance itself with its wings outstretched on the roof of a train compartment when it began to move.

That very moment perhaps a gene was mutating within its gametes that codes these new skill sets into its survival strategies. 

How quickly, is the question… Do we have the time?

I also recall reading this post on FB from somewhere a bit closer to the Arctic zones, where two small penguins were recently ‘apprehended’ on the charge of ‘repeatedly raiding a local sushi store’. 
The post shows the duo waddling effortfully across smooth human-made floors towards the food shelves with their ill-adapted flipper feet.

The tone, portraying the penguins as two cute little non-human burglars, belies the painful tragedy to which it points.

But that’s what our stories do most of the time … So for greater accuracy and the catharsis that mirroring affords, I  turn to my poets, be they of the Word, Paint, Film, Performance.
 Or whatever.

Life gets Complicated | Oil on canvas | 113″x57″ | Year: 2008
Gayatri Gamuz

The inconsolable sadness of that massive weary amazing polar bear my artist friend Gayatri Gamuz painted a decade ago comes back to me. He had padded his way softly into my heart the moment I had set my eyes on him…
The enormity of denatured loneliness.

I recall the more literal painted ode to the orangutans orphaned by the exponential decimating spread of oil palm plantations into the Amazon basin recently by Sajith Puthukalavattom.

Sketch , 2019 | Water color and dry pastel on paper | Size : A3
Sajith Puthukalavattam

I sense the homelessness of the white crane sitting in silence against a drily austere background that delicately alludes to the inimical shifts in climate and loss of habitat in Shaji Appukuttan’s recent work created in a Kerala Lalithakala Akademi camp last month.

“Refugees” | Acrylic on canvas | Size: 4’ x 3’ | Year 2019
Shaji Appukuttan

Let’s return to the bee.

Look carefully at the face of the child gazing at the bee lying dead in his father’s outstretched palm.

Feel the soft vulnerability of his shirtless little body that still gives off the feel of fuzzy baby-down.

Look once more into the sad grave solemnity of those long-lashed eyes as he takes in the black and yellow perfection of a now lifeless bee-body.

These are our young; From whom, the wise Amerindians say, we have borrowed this Earth- Home on loan.

Oh … How are we ever going to repay them?

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4 Comments

  1. The bee himself seems to be immersed in prayer, saluting, its forehead pressed on the ‘ground’ which bore his weight. Maybe that is how bees lie down to die, unlike us who thrash about and do our best not to leave.

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