Damsels and Dragons

“Bzzzz bzzz bzz!” … “whirr whirrr whir?” … “hmmm hm hmm!!” … the gathering was raucous and the cacophony hung above the pasture like a disagreeable smog. “Silence in the grasslands, please. I now call this meeting to order”, Sylph the Damselfly called out, her piercing voice ringing out into the swarm of some hovering, some settled, dragonflies and damselflies. Slipping into a more palatable tone, Sylph continued, “Listed on the agenda for today is the territorial conflict of two parties here. Though I am aware that such a trivial issue does not call for an emergent meeting of such a magnitude, it is the underlying reason for this dispute that calls for immediate action. I will now put up the issue at hand for deliberation by the ten constituent species of our esteemed Jury of Odonates.” Picking up the cue as the members of the Jury whirred their wings in approval, Sylph commenced her monologue.

“It has been brought to our attention that there has been an intrusion in Sector 72 of the Burbling Brooks. This area was originally delineated for the propagation of Draco and Draxi, the affable Ground Skimmer Dragonflies. However, mid-season, the equally charming pair of Maju and Mari, the Pied Paddy Skimmer Dragonflies left their allotted Sector 91 of Placid Pond to encroach upon the aforementioned zone and laid their eggs there – and now their nymphs have taken over the waters. This congregation is therefore called to deliberate upon this astonishing transgression and the Jury is now requested to examine the admissions by the concerned parties”, Sylph concluded her opening remarks.

Draco and Draxi recounted their tale of woes before the Jury as to how their progeny had been robbed of what was to be their rightful juvenescence waters. And since nymphs spend several years in the water before they grow up into adult dragonflies, the territory was no longer fit for their own brood. Maju and Mari then stepped up to face the Jury. The black patches on Maju’s wings seemed even darker as he struggled with himself to contain the rage within – the whole thing made his family appear to be vile perpetrators, when nothing was farther from the truth. “If only the Jury would survey the said area, there would be no need to malign my family thus. May I point out that over the past season, Placid Pond has not only shrunk, but there has been a steady contamination of the water with undesirable substances from the North side making breeding unviable. Sector 72 of Burbling Brooks being the feeder to Sector 91 of the Placid Pond, we simply moved a few yards upstream – all in the interest of advancement of my species. I do further state that it is not only my species that lies endangered, but several of those allotted areas on Placid Pond face steadily declining breeding grounds. Friends, do I fail in my conclusion?” thundered Maju.

The congregated swarm instantaneously erupted in an uproar in agreement, the racket refusing to die down despite continuous calls from Sylph for order. It was therefore left for the Jury to rise to address the buzzing crowd. Hovering above the gathering the honourable Jury sought and received feedback on the matter at hand. A representative member of the Jury was also sent to survey the area in question and upon his return, and after getting the veracity of facts verified, the Jury addressed the gathering.

“After due deliberation and confirmation of facts, the Jury is unanimous in its opinion that the larger issue here goes well beyond individual inter-species territorial intrusions. Be under no illusion, we are under attack! Our habitat is endangered by the meddlesome human species. They are well known to proliferate and devour natural resources ceaselessly. And now their sights are set upon taking over our water bodies and grasslands. Even as we speak, their abhorrent smoking metal contraptions eat into our homes from the North, cutting off the natural streams and dumping their waste into the slowly stagnating waters of Placid Pond. In view of the emergent situation, we ask you to make a sacrifice in our larger interest. Each one of us wolfs down scores of flies and mosquitoes every single day – these insects which are the worst enemies of humans. From this day we must take a vow not to eat a single fly or mosquito. We have bees, butterflies, moths, gnats, mayflies and the like as alternatives, so we shall survive. But the humans will be devastated by the onslaught of flies and mosquitoes!”

“Odonates of the swamps, unite! This is a battle for our survival – one that we can, and shall, win!” The gathering rose with a tumultuous rumble. Thousands of whirring wings buzzed in determination. The bugle of war had been sounded…

– Narendra Nayak © 2018

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