Despite the ongoing battles with the wildlife, or perhaps indeed, because of, in my mind it is an irrefutable fact that to live here is to be swept up in the energy of a universal life force, to reconnect to something. A connection which I think was missing from my life back in the UK.
No matter how great we think we are, we are only ever part of a bigger system. Out here there is no room for a man or a woman to be an island.
On any given day I must encounter at least a hundred life forms different from my own. A walk will inevitably mean being enveloped in a spider’s web at some point along the way. A toilet trip means checking the hut for snakes first.
If I inadvertently stand in the middle of a harried ant column, they will bite and sting my feet, but they won’t go round.
Sleep comes gradually not suddenly, waiting for a lull in the vole shrieking and bat squeaking, nodding off to a chorus of crickets and frogs.
A barefoot move to another part of the house often results in a squashed insect on my sole.
The beauty of sitting outside under a starry sky must be weighed up against the nipping of mosquitoes.
But what joy to witness a flower which against all odds has pushed its way up through some concrete, to sit still enough for jewelled butterflies to land on me, to have my day brightened by the sight of some magnificently coloured bird. To delight in multi-hued dragonflies dancing round my head. How far removed from anything other than myself was I in a sanitized house in a polluted town back home. Other life? I can’t even remember the last time I saw a bluebottle there.
I think with this detachment and isolation in the West often comes an arrogance that we are top of the heap, King Creature, invincible. I think about this sometimes as I sweep away the piles of dust in my living room, a result of the termites munching their way through the rafters.
I think about it as I look at the sky, wondering if enough rain will fall to let the crops grow. I think our lives are lesser without the presence of other creatures. I could spend my days trying to kill the ants, the bats, the termites, but haven’t they all got their part to play? Perhaps the termites hold the key to a malaria prevention, maybe the bats hold the cure for cancer. And yet most of us cannot even live together with humans who are different from us, never mind animals.
We would do well to remember that it is not all about us, and that harmony is more productive than destruction.