Lizards and Butterflies

By Krupa Manerkar

I was sitting by my desk at home, trying to figure out how to solve problems relating to gravitation. Physics was never my strong suit and I’d been sent off with a warning from my professor, and I quote, “You better take care of where you are heading, because if I were you, I wouldn’t be so sure about being in my good books.” What is it with professors? They can never be blunt and get it over with. They always have to inject a certain subtlety to their sentences, so that the students are always left with more dread and uncertainty.

Anyway, the more time I spent solving gravitation, the less appealing it looked to me. And I don’t think anyone should spend their time doing things that don’t appeal them. Good thing was, there was a window right where I sat and through it, I could see colossal green mountains in their pristine beauty. They never ceased to appeal to me. This was my window to the world, because when I saw through it, the most brilliant thoughts occurred to me.

Just then, I saw a lizard, or as my biology professor likes to call it — Hemidactylus. The lizard crept stealthily from the corner of the glass pane of the window towards its centre. I looked at its webbed feet sticking to the glass and its exquisitely scaled body. It dawned on me that it was actually circling a butterfly near the upper-end of the window pane. It was one of those classic prey and predator situations that people come across on the National Geographic or Discovery channels.

The lizard seemed ready to pounce on the butterfly any minute, while the butterfly seemed oblivious to the fact that it was about to become someone’s food. Amidst this, I found myself in a dilemma — should I scare away the lizard or just let it be? The poor butterfly was going to be devoured by it if I didn’t come to its rescue. Just as I lifted my hand to tap the window glass and shoo away the lizard, a curious thought crossed my mind. I would surely help save the butterfly’s life by doing this but what about the lizard? I was going to let the lizard starve. What made me decide and judge that amongst the two, the lizard deserved to starve, even though it was justly hunting for its own survival?

A butterfly lives on nectar and fruits but a lizard takes on insects. Obviously, I could not judge the both of them based on that criteria. The reason being that it was neither the butterfly’s fault nor the lizard’s fault that they were designed the way they are in order to thrive. So instead of deciding who to judge I had to ask myself why I shouldn’t be judging who needs to survive and who doesn’t. After all, I was just an observer — it was mere coincidence for me to be present there at that moment. If I wasn’t there, then surely events would have transpired the way they were meant to be. Who said that I needed to save the butterfly or that I needed to let the lizard starve? Or that I should help the lizard to its food?

I realised I was making decisions based on a piece of reality that was constantly fed to me. Everyone felt bad for the prey. But no one empathized with the predator for fighting for its own survival. There were always two sides to a coin. Only if people would be willing to see the other side would they see that everyone does what they do for their survival. People often end up waging wars when they believe too much in their own side and discredit what the other side stands for.

A blurred ‘snap’ resounded and I looked up, interrupted from my chain of thoughts. The lizard intently peered at me as it gulped down what was left of the butterfly.

“You’re welcome...?” I said to it in a half-disgusted and half-confused tone.

You could say biology was one of my strong suits though. The complex interactions of diverse organisms always filled me with fascination. With that pleasant thought, I stared down at what I was doing earlier and it seemed to drain the shred of happiness I thought I’d acquired.  

“If only these problems solved themselves,” I groaned to myself.         

Krupa Manerkar is an emerging new voice in fiction. She is a student of Chowgule college, Margao. She has previously written articles and stories for The Goan in School, and has won several prizes for her essays at school level.