Wednesday, July 18, 2007

ants

I was watching "I shouldn't be alive" on Nat Geo... a lost and terribly tired trekker drops down exhausted on the African forest floor.. and within minutes, thousands of red ants swarm all over him, threatening to eat him alive.. bit by bit. couldn't help thinking of my own tryst with ants... a few years ago.

Pallavi, my house-mate, was away to the Netherlands on a project. and it was nearing 11pm one summer evening, when I finally hit the sack.. but couldn't sleep. so i left the lights on and lay on my bed talking to Ranbir over the phone, who was then in Noida... a few states away. Still talking, i got up to switch off the lights.. and whoaaaaaaaaaa... what do i see!

the house has been invaded by ants... black ones... hundreds of them... the white tiles on the floor were visible only in chunks..peeping from below the black masses of 'em ants...

my first reflex was to jump on the bed and try to scare 'em ants away.. no use.. i then took a long peep to see where the mad army was arriving from... The inhuman beasts had been invading from the front(door) full force... the whole of the gap below the front door resembled the sluice gates of a dam, letting a steady stream of black devils...

the worst kind of gooseflesh and a nerve-wracking chill down my spine reduced me to a mere spectator to the black inpour... after regaining control of my senses, i intended to find out where this mad army was headed to... so i put on my slippers and walked crunchety-crunch on the black-n-white and crisp-n-alive floor... it's a terribly spooky feeling to walk that way... the drawing-room looked the worst hit.. the kitchen and the bathroom looked not so bad... these guys were mostly interested in occupying the hall and the bedroom and not really wanting to get some place.

fortunately for me, i was still over the phone with R.. and told him what was happening! he suggested giving them a bath.. them ants can't swim a puddle..


relieved after knowing what to do, i got down to business. checked myself first.. no ants climbing over me yet... that was comforting.. next... poured endless mugs of water to block the sluice-gates... sure enough, it worked! there was now a vast body of water dividing the ants outside and the ones inside... filled up some more water and flooded the entire room with it.. drowned a helluva ants in them... mercifully, none of them were interested in scaling the walls...

by the time i got another bucketload of water, the water body at the front door had cleared up a bit and the restless ants had wasted no time in getting through and finding more dry land... they were unstoppable!

the battle was fierce... and re-inforcements arrived in the form of two god-sent souls... i remembered that i had also called up Karthik and Conrad for help, Pallavi's friends, who live not-so-close by... until i heard their bikes outdoors, i hadn't bothered to open the front-door... and now i switched on the lights outside and opened the doors.. and what i saw quite took my breath away.. skipping not just one, but a series of heartbeats...

these blackies had come from the opposite wall that fenced an orchard!!!

karthik and conrad looked dumbfounded too... the three of us couldn't believe what we were seeing... there was absolutely no rhyme or reason for this kinda organised attack in the dead of the night... mine was one of the many row houses.. and all the other houses faced the orchard wall too. so, why was i being singled out? did they know i was living alone? in any case, what were they thinking?

K and C were flabbergasted.. and the small can of insect repellent they were carrying, looked like a joke...

The next bucket-load was emptied on the lone step that raised the house from the ground level... more ants washed away... We fill up bucket after bucketload of water and drown as many living black-masses as was possible... and spray the repellent in the general direction of any black(mass) activity...

The battle died down gradually as we broke down their ranks and waylaid them by pouring huge quantities of water all along the path they had so artistically crafted across the lane...

needless to say the house was uninhabitable... so, we drive to K's office at Ulsoor, quite close by, and spend time sipping coffee at their outdoor cafeteria and marvelling at the incident, 'a mid-night adventure' as they named it... till early morn. when we go back to the house.. the floor's dried in parts and the scene resembles the aftermath of a storm-hit city - death and destruction all around

K and C help me clean up the house and strut off to catch their well-deserved sleep... as for me, it took quite a few weeks to get over the almost-traumatic experience, and be able to laugh it off. and yeah, to be able to switch off the lights at night...

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