Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Elephant watching of another kind: Catching Kuzhi aana

They introduced him to me as Kuzhi Aana. Kuzhi aana is Malayalam for ant-lion larvae, Kuzhi means pit and Aana, elephant. The reference to the elephant is probably from its dark hard outer shell. The creature is also known as doodlebug. He was tiny, bigger than an ant, but far far tinier than an elephant.

Ant-lion larvae or THE KUZHI AANA

31 years after I first stood amazed by the diminutive creatures and was seduced by the little guys ambling on top of the soil and digging themselves into pits, I was more than amazed when I got to witness the same yet again, the only difference this time being that the intrigued kid was my 2-year-old son. It was something like ‘history repeating itself’. It drove me back to a vision of myself again, from 31 years ago, sitting on the sand in front our ancestral home in Aroor, watching the many little Kuzhi Aanas digging themselves pits in order to hide and catch prey.

I observed my son watch and dig them out one by one from the many pits along the side of the verandah of our ancestral home. I watched him gather them all together on a large leaf of the jack fruit tree. And just as I was about to stop him from hurting the little creatures, I saw him dig one big pit and drop in the creatures one by one telling each one, ‘you go in’, ‘you too go in’. He dropped them all in the same pit so that, in his own words, ‘they can all be together’ and ‘won’t have to miss each other.’ ‘They can hug-hug now, mamma’ he said. He sat there talking to them for some time and then stood up, brushed the loose sand of his shorts and sandals. With a quick ‘let’s go’ in my direction, he was ready to leave for his next adventure with nature and newer learning experiences.

This will remain a moment I am never going to forget. In my wonderment and lack of readiness to shoot, I never got to videotape it. Next time, I shall stay ready.

This is an entry for Kissan 'Nature's Friends' contest under their 'Welcome to Kissanpur' promotion along with Indiblogger.