A few weeks ago, I went to our apartment garden, and happened to catch this conversation. A group of young girls, aged between 8 and 12, were excitedly calling to the mother of one of them, who was walking past.
"Aunty, aunty!" they said. "Come quick, and look at this!"
"Look at what?" asked the lady.
"An insect!" said the girls.
The lady stood, feet apart, and put her hands on her hips. "Insect?" she said, making a face. "An INSECT? You have nothing better to show me than - an insect?" And she walked off.
The poor girls - their faces fell.
Honestly, I hadn't given insects much thought or attention (except for grabbing a broom whenever I spotted a cockroach) - before Puttachi came into the picture.
Since little ones are so close to the ground, they see insects and other creepy-crawlies all the time, and when you see it through their eyes, you realize how fascinating they really are. Sure, some of them make my skin crawl, but I try not to show it openly, especially when Puttachi is so excited about it.
Puttachi spends hours sprinkling sugar near ant nests and watching them carry the sugar crystals away. Once she came and told me how a fly and sugar had a fight over a sugar bit, and naturally that led to her own story!
A week ago, we spotted a slug lying on the path in our apartment complex. It was alive, but ants were swarming around it. Puttachi was disturbed. She insisted that she had to move the slug away into the grass. So she took a long stick and tried to prod it gently. But she started worrying that she was going to hurt it, and she handed the stick to me. The slime of the slug makes me want to gag, and the last thing I wanted to do was touch it, even with a stick.
But I didn't want to make faces and go ack-thoo and make a big deal out of it. Puttachi saw me hesitating, and she asked me, "What happened, are you scared?" So I said, "I'm not scared, but I'm feeling a little disgusted because of the slime. But that's okay. Let's see what we can do."
I pushed it, and it turned over on its back and exposed its underside to me, and didn't do anything to make me feel better. But Puttachi was watching it so intently that I didn't have the heart to throw the stick away and run, which is what I wanted to do. So I turned it over again, and pushed it slowly into the grass. She was satisfied. Then she told me, "Amma, thanks for helping it even though you were disgusted. I was so worried about it."
Now for all my effort, she'd better not become like one of those annoying look-at-creepy-crawly-and-scream girls!
Btw, this is an insect we saw near Rishikesh. It reminds me of Edward Munch's painting, The Scream.