The Slow Fly Paradox

Wed, Dec 8, 2010

Social Issues

In the usual disconnectedness of my flow of thoughts, I was triggered to write this note by a slow and incredibly persistent fly sitting on my cheek while i was trying to catch a bit of late morning shut-eye. As I was trying to shoo it off, I was momentarily stumped at the number of times i could actually give it an unaffectionate swat. Back in Mumbai, flies are so nimble that you could consider the probability of actually swatting one to be less than winning a lottery (or possibly getting an empty queue at the movie hall on a Sunday). This got me thinking: why is this happening? Is it that my senses have become heightened in the unpolluted and idyllic surroundings of Kanpur? (IIT campus is really amazingly green). Or is it that the fly itself is unused to having young students in its own backyard taking idle pleasure in chasing it till death in a macabre and tragi-comic dance?

That got me thinking along the lines that where exactly am I? Am I in the newly built (still being built) hostel of IIT? Or am I actually an encroacher into the erstwhile swamp that was a home to all these flies, mosquitoes and god knows how many species of the insect kingdom? (trust me, biologists or whoever is really interested in insects would probably be very excited with this place) in our endeavor to tame the world, make every corner of it habitable and spread our fist of power on its every inhabitant, had I stumbled upon one of the mini frontiers of such an epic battle? Was I one of the unknown foot soldiers who would, through a lifetime of swatting and killing with good-knight, hit be one of the persons responsible for taming the wilderness and claiming the spoils as my own?

All of a sudden, my swatting seems like a bludgeoning of minorities or a massacre of the indigenous to install ourselves into a new place as its ruler. Should we really do such a thing to just feel more comfortable and secure? Or should we let the odd fly, who ended up taking a short detour on his way back home, go as he pleases? Do we really have the right to take a life just to satisfy ourselves? Doesn’t it seem strange how we dont really think along those lines? Its more common to see people externalizing such considerations and doing whatever suits him best.

History has been witness to many brutal and cruel massacres on human and non-human life, such as the whale killing spree which saw us reddening the seas in search for whale blubber and such for our comfort. But while such large events evoke much sympathy and outrage, how many of us roam around justifying the exterminating of the neighborhood ant-hill or killing off bees who have built a home on a area which was its own in the first place? Unfortunately for the insects, they have such deeply ingrained instincts that they refuse to change their locations and keep charging into their own death despite the proximity alert of barbarous humans. Hope it is food for thought for everyone about where we actually stand and what we actually can pass off in our rationalizing and externalizing minds as humane behavior.

Nabarun Sengupta

Nabarun Sengupta

MBA Batch of 2012,

IIT Kanpur

3 Responses to “The Slow Fly Paradox”

  1. gudakesh Says:

    you should seriously think of turning into a writer post MBA .. amazing rendition of the minutest of details and quite an apt choice of words !

  2. Nabarun Sengupta Says:

    Thanks a lot for your positive feedback and encouragement. I sure hope to contribute in Avant Garde as well as other forums to provoke thoughts and hear others view-points as well. Cheers!!! :)

    - Nabarun

  3. Abhishek Says:

    Very nicely written article indeed. A unique thought manifested into a full blown essay with perfect usage of words. Way to go!

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