A Piece of Green Wax!
He watched with tears in his eyes and a heart as heavy as an elephant, as his best pal ascended into the sky defying gravity! There was no sadness in his tears but ecstasy. He felt like BRAHMA( Indian God of creation)!
Jack is now 12 years old. Having enjoyed enough of wilderness he moved to a growing concrete jungle; a small town where generally one's grandfather used to be a farmer; which will be his neighbourhood for five years. he was already in his 4th school studying 7th standard.
Jack was a bright child. He was interested especially in life sciences, may be due to his early bonding with nature. Also he was becoming fond of another subject "Physics". He was very fascinated when he learned about the metamorphosis of butterfly. From an ugly looking worm to a beautiful splendid creature of natural flight! He felt a sense of unexplainable irrational joy and enthusiasm, just by thinking about butterflies and their life cycle.
His school was located in the banks of a famous river of the state. There were lots of vegetation around the school campus. Especially a poisonous plant named erukalam. And butterflies have this funny habit of laying their eggs in the leaves of such poisonous plants so that the larvae which hatch from the eggs,namely caterpillars,feed on the leaves and become poisonous themselves thus providing natural protection against predators.
Jack had seen black and white pictures of the butterfly life cycle in textbooks and it didn't take him long to figure out that the funny-coloured worm living in the erukalam plant around his school was indeed the caterpillar form of a future butterfly.
He made up his mind to rear a caterpillar till it becomes a butterfly; to travel along with it in its journey of life! But mom can be a problem. He decided not to tell mom. He caught several caterpillars and put them inside his geometry box. This time he was careful enough to punch some extra holes in the box for circulation! the "rabbit in the box" incident may have been behind this precaution ;). He also regularly put fresh leaves for them to feed on.
He then chose one caterpillar which showed more growth than others, he released others in their natural habitat. It is really amazing to observe how the tiny thing munches away the leaves like some machine and how it gets bigger by the hour. It used to defecate at the same rate of eating. So jack had to clean his box often. He learnt that having a pet comes with attached responsibilities. But he was happy to do it.
He eagerly waited for the next stage of its life cycle-The PUPA. And one evening it finally happened. Mr.Caterpillar climbed to the roof of jack's geometry box and hung himself upside down like a bat. He then started to shrink and have jerks as if he was having hiccups. Then slowly his striped coloured skin started to peel off showing a wet light green inner body. Jack was amazed and nervous at the same time.
He did not know whether what was happening was right. He knew how a pupa looks like but he had imagined that the caterpillar will build a cocoon around itself like a spider building a web. But this was a surprise. But after an hour he was satisfied that everything was fine as the form attained the familiar pupa shape. Now his pet looked like a solidified droplet of green wax and even felt like shiny wax.
He then waited days and days for the transformation to complete. It was amazing to see how such an active big life form has become so small; so plastic and so lifeless. Jack wondered what was happening inside. He wondered how this small blob can be considered a living thing. He wondered how the pupa is sustaining its life. Its not breathing or eating. It is sealed in an airtight shell. Without his knowledge Jack had stepped into the realm of philosophical thinking.
Slowly the colour of the pupa began to change. There were shades of black and orange visible. Everyday jack used to have a look at the pupa at least ten times. He could clearly see the shape of a butterfly now. Once there was an ant trying to break into the shell. Jack was lucky to notice it early and defend his helpless immobile pet! He was so scared that the pupa might have been damaged. He was not sure whether to call it damage or injury. The transformation did not stop. He was glad.
Then one fine afternoon when jack was in his school, the pupa started to crack. There was a vertical split near the proboscis(the straw like mouth of the butterfly) area. Jack couldn't watch closely after that as the class started. When he finally took a peak into the box the "MONARCH BUTTERFLY" was out of his self designed womb flapping his wet crippled wings. For the next hour jack watched in ecstasy as the wing straightened and dried. Finally his pet was in its beautiful form. Jack held the butterfly in his hands as it was flapping its not-yet-ready wings without realizing that once the wings are fully dry and flat, he had to say goodbye to his longest kept pet!