Author: Bittu Sahgal
Photo: Nayan Khanolkar.
There is something eternal and alive about beaches, where you live the heartbeat of the planet with the rise and fall of every wave. Looking outward to the sea horizon, a comforting solitude envelopes you within a system that no creature questions and all creatures trust to deliver the next breath.
Dawn and dusk are when the planet transitions; like a magical timeshare working to the accompaniment of an orchestra of squeaks, whistles, tweets and roars – either heralding the night or welcoming the day. When darkness descends a multitude of night-adapted life forms including this ghost crab, stir and tumble out of burrows, caves, and hollows, to feed on the rich buffet laid out by nature’s Horn of Cornucopia.
Like commuters crossing from opposite directions, the day shift of insects, birds, bees and crustaceans retreat, often into the very cubby-holes vacated by the night-shifters.
This cycle of life has trundled on for billions of years, founded on the reliability of a system that provides sustenance for every living plant and animal, without exception. Nature brooks no waste and forgives no transgressions. This is the artless, non-negotiable contract that the planet proffers before us as we try and come to terms with the extraordinary powers that Homo sapiens has been granted by a system we do not fully comprehend, and insufficiently respect.
Such are the thoughts rattling around in my mind today, as over a billion Indians entrust their future to a new set of commanders who we can only hope will be more visionary, less arrogant and more contemplative than the misguided ones who led us all much closer to the thermal threshold that Spaceship Earth was designed to handle.
Fortunately, as surely as day follows night and wave follows wave, this crab can scuttle speedily along its beaches, relying blindly on nature’s food delivery mechanisms, which kept its ancestors and progenitors alive for the human equivalent of forever.
First appeared in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXIV No. 3, June 2014.