My dad was telling me about his violin teacher’s car. Rats managed to get under the hood and chewed off the wires. And this happened so many times that he ended up selling his car. In a tropical country like India, this is a common phenomenon. Our next-door neighbours also have the same problem.

Image of the open ceiling houses

My ancestral village is an old-fashioned house with an open interior – it is open to the sky. As you can imagine, not many people live there anymore. So most of the homes are occupied when we have our village functions, weddings or other special occasions. And in a few families, the kids have settled abroad, and there is nobody to look after the house. The house next to us is in a similar category, and within a year, plants and trees took over. It is difficult to imagine that people ever lived in that house.

Growing up, I did not mind cockroaches, house flies or stray dogs. The two beings that bothered me the most were mosquitoes and wall lizards. When they built the house, my parents put nets all over the windows to keep the lizards away. However, when we sat down for lunch, I saw one between the window and the net. It cannot come into the house (not yet!), but it found a tiny gap on the outside and made its way in. Similarly, when we open the front door around dusk, a swarm of flies rush in, and I have to immediately put on Odomos (mosquito repellent cream). You can call the pesticide guys over as much as you want, but cockroaches will find their way back in.

Looking at all this, it feels like we are desperately trying to keep nature from taking over our space. But the crux of the matter is we are encroaching their space. If human beings were to vanish, then nature would take over within a year and not in vengeance but naturally. When human beings first started taking over nature – it adjusted. For the trees, they have learnt to blow with the wind; it’s the humans who erect walls to keep the wind out.

Universe does not have to be in harmony with human ambition

But there comes a point when the wind gets to be too much. And the willow tree breaks – we are seeing signs of that now. Even nature’s big heart cannot take what this human species has done to it – we only take never give. As a species, we are the only ones who are not in danger of getting extinct, but we are on track to make ourselves more extinct.

If nature was conscious like us and decided to take revenge, just imagine our plight – we will be fighting for our lives against predators. It will be us in the zoos, and they will be roaming freely. That’s what we have done now as well – we all live in our enclosures and feel safe. But now, we have overextended our welcome. The zoos we have created for ourselves are not in harmony with nature. As human beings, we have the ability to choose and look at what we are choosing to do as a whole – destroy ourselves.

How are you using your ability to choose?

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