May 08, 2020

The one that got away

Ant(I)social did not want to be a slave for the rest of his life. He believed he was meant for bigger things...better pursuits, if only he could break from this hegemony and explore his true potential.
However, the social hierarchy prevented him from breaking this chain. The rigid rigmarole of daily life demanded that he slaved, while the upper echelons got served.
Every time he tried to struggle his way up in the colony, he got pushed down, shoved aside brutally by those above him.
And then one day, his eyes fell upon her, Gyne...
He knew immediately he was in love. But how could a slave dream of a beloved of royal lineage? Gyne was the queen ant and hardly mingled with the worker ants of his class. Although carefully camouflaged as an eusocial species, the social division in a colony of ants was as bigoted as that in man.

This being his first time in love, Ant(i)social tried to seek his superior’s help in the matter. However, when they paid a deaf ear to his concern, he decided to address the matter by speaking straight with his lady love.

Always believing in black and white and never treading on grey, Ant(i)social now faced the worst dilemmas of adult life. He knew he had the courage to profess his love to the queen. But those belonging to the lower echelons were not allowed to venture close.
“The only way I can speak to her is by getting promoted and making myself worthy of her notice,” he thought.

Day by day, Ant(I)social started putting in extra hours of work. Even when his comrades were asleep, he would continue to work with utmost earnest and diligence.
A month passed. The ants of the upper echelons who initially ignored him now started taking notice. Looking at Ant(i)social toil night and day, their curiosity piqued.

“Hey, you, yes you, worker no 127,” the chief hollered. “I see you slogging incessantly without even as much as a work break. What is the matter with you, I say!?”

“Yes Sire, I know no other way to reach Gyne, my queen.”

The chief was shocked.
“And pray why do you want to reach her?” he scoffed.

Ant(i)social blushed. “ love with her. And want to make...myself..w..worthy...”

Hearing this, the chief and his colleagues guffawed. Their laughter resonated all around.
“Stop dreaming, slave,” the chief ant bellowed. There is social hierarchy for a reason. The duties are assigned as per where you lie in the work pyramid. You may have the courage of a lion, but that will not make you a soldier. Remember, you are a mere worker, and no amount of slogging will get you the queen’s attention, leave alone her love.”

Broken hearted, Ant(i)social wondered about the unfairness of this social system, of how it did not allow even the most diligent to step up outside his designated level. Why wasn’t anybody revolting against the injustice? Complacency or subjugation...could he provoke the other workers to join him in a rebellion?

That night, Ant(I)social gathered all his worker class fellow mates and told them about his plan. At first, there was silence. Then one by one, the excuses started pouring in.

“But what if we cannot manage on our own?”

“This division of labour has been going on since ages. What makes you think we can bring about change now?”

“I am a family man. I join you and my family starves to death.”

They nodded in unison, not seeing sense in rebelling against an age old hierarchy that they had finally learned to become comfortable with. Nobody dared to usurp the order that had already been laid out. Why bring about unnecessary anarchy, when chaos is all it will cause, they thought.
A couple of worker ants could not make up their minds but they were soon convinced by the majority.

After the gathered congregation retreated to their respective sand-dunes, Ant(I)social sat awake looking at the starry night sky. The wise old maxim came to mind, “When ignorance is bliss,it is folly to be wise.”

At the crack of dawn, with a heart full of courage and fortitude, Ant(i)social set out all alone into the wilderness. As he bid a silent adieu to a sleeping Gyne, his queen ant, he cast a envious glance at the undeserving troop of soldiers that lay half asleep in the sand barracks protecting her.

Nobody had been convinced he would make it out alive. But in his heart, he knew this was not the life he had wanted to lead...the life of a slave. If he stayed on, he knew he would be just one among the many.
Going out into the unknown would mean meeting with adventure, seeing a different world, encountering different experiences, or perhaps getting trampled in the process. He’d have to be the captain of his ship and weather every storm life lay his way. There’d be no security blanket but there would be no one to serve as well. He would have to forage for his own food but that also included the risk of going hungry. It was a tough call to make but Ant(I)social knew he had to take his chances.

Before the ants were up, he was gone...

One worker less, the colony barely noticed his absence. The hierarchy continued as usual with the workers slaving, and the soldiers protecting. But ever so often, he was remembered fondly by Gyne, as the slave who had chosen to become the master of his soul.

(Gyne* - the queen ant in an ant colony is also called Gyne. Have played with the nomenclature a little.
A typical ant colony is divided neatly into worker ants, fertile drones, soldier ants, and Gynes.
And sometimes, just sometimes, an Ant(i)social 😊 )

1 comment:

Young Twains said...

loved the write up :)