Sunday, July 09, 2006

Chasing Butterfly Dreams

Dispel my great anxiety
and allay my untold fears.
Undermine the enormity
of troubled, unshed tears.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us have yet another moment of silence to send up a message to the omnipotent being(s) of our individual beliefs, that the death of yet another mother may not be in vain.

One week ago, I was in a nervous wreck for I had to demonstrate the prototype version of an inventory management system to a group of people who were, to the best of my knowledge, total strangers to me, save for the fact that they know I was their nephew's friends and that I know they are my friend's aunt and uncle. These two people brought along with them an aging lady who introduced herself to me as the primary user of the system.

Though I managed to hold up a facade of jovial personality and expressively colorful attitude, inside I was trembling and nervous, in fear that they might say something along the lines of, "Mr. ____, your prototype is very lovely but I'm afraid it does not meet the purposes and/or designs we have in mind," or the more blunt, "What the #3|| is this $#!+?"

My fears proved to be an exaggeration for the meeting did not prove to be the vivid horrifying ordeal my lively imagination has conjured for me, although there still is the tinge of anxiety a producer feels, held in doubt whether one's customers are satisfied with the product or not. Additional comfort came in the form of the touchy-feelly cheesy-squeezy gestures of the aging woman.

Still, my sorcerous alter-ego did not fail in remarking to me that the female half of the population, in general are so presumptuous. They would put their hands on top of a guy's thigh, wrap an arm about a guy's waist or squeeze a guy's upper arms with a playful hug, assuming such actions are acceptable for the receiving parties. Meanwhile, if we do that to them, we'd either be labelled as perverts or misinterpreted as flirting. If we did that to one another, we'd be called gay, queer, or worse, faggots.

The world really seemed to be unfair. In an online forum, a guy once remarked that when his sister caught him "playing with himself" she screeched "Pervert!" However, when he did catch her, a week later, doing, more or less, the same thing, she was just as quick in covering herself up and screeching, "Pervert!"

Three days ago, I came upon a butterfly that had made the mistake of entering our house. Truth be told, I thought it was a moth because its wings were spread out instead of folded in, like most butterflies do. Its wings were black, spotted with white and it had a singular speck of red at the bottom of each lower wing. Like I often do with water beetles, grasshoppers, mantises, snakes, cats, frogs, toads, other butterflies and most of the other wild creatures that happen to make the mistake of entering our human abode, I gently took it in my hands and let it fly outside.

No, I don't take snakes in my bare hands, I lure them into a jar before setting them free outside. I don't pick up clawing cats, slimy frogs or warty toads either, I gently shoo them out of the house by stomping my feet and making violent motions. I handle only insects, with the exception of rare cockroaches; these creatures make it out of the house in a number of pieces.

See, when dealing with roaches, just stomping on them is not enough, you have to grind your footwear back and forth to tear them up into pieces. Cockroaches' brains are spread throughout their body, like most insects do; decapitated roaches often tend to run around blindly for two weeks before dropping dead from exhaustion or dehydration. Yes, their rich, white, gooey fat can sustain them that long.

In getting insects out of the house, my unknowing human brother would use liberal fumes of insect repellent, like he did with a poor butterfly just five days ago, until I rescued the poor creature and brought it to freedom. My evil sister, on the other hand, would shoo these insects away, with the exception of water beetles; these she would literally kick out of the house, knowing thay have a hard carapace anyway.

Anyway, this butterfly I recently set free did not fly away as I had expected. Instead, it clung on even as I was gently blowing it away. In the end, I had to settle with leaving it on a leaf of an orchid, hoping it would fly away to some better place after it had rested.

The next day, as I was practicing the routine spell of hastening the process of entropy on a pile of garbage, I espied the same butterfly again, in quite a dangerous proximity to the, now burning, pile. I gently took it upon my hands again and, as though recognizing the unique taste of my fingers, my touch, the scent of my hand, or my unique set of fingerprints, it willingly crawled into my palm. To someone like me, it was a moment best described by, "Awww."

I ascended the stairs to our terraces and placed it on a group of flowers by the plantbox. I surmised that the poor creature might be starving and, with the lack of blooming flowers in our backyard, assumed that it had not the strength to fly. By putting it on top of the flowers, I hoped, if it was, indeed, a butterfly, that she would at least manage to feed herself. Later in the cloudy day, I also had the foolish thought that the creature might be solar-powered, not quite unlike some species of lizards, snakes and geckos that bask in the sun.

Yesterday morning, before I departed, I check up on the flowers only to find the butterfly still there. Inspecting much closer, I could see its proboscis but it doesn't seem to be interested in eating. Working on the assumption that the flowers were completely devoid of nectar, no thanks to the minute, ant population thriving in our plantbox, I got a teaspoon of honey from the fridge, warmed it to room temperature and tried drip-feeding the poor creature. There still was no response from it except for the shifting of its crawling limbs; I had noticed it tried its best to remain in an upright position.

Thinking that, perhaps, a gigantic teaspoon is not exactly the best feeding implement for a small creature, I settled for dousing the open flowers with the sweet mixture. I replaced the creature upon this arrangement and left for my engagement, hoping that it would eat, bask in the sun and fly. Heck, I even talked to it, gesturing to other houses in our neighborhood with gardens of blooming yellow flowers; yes, I did feel silly later on, not that it matter much, anyway.

That day, I once again met with the aging woman to receive some sample of forms such as invoices and delivery receipts. Once again, my "good boy" facade earned me the torture of squeezy hugs; even her husband, who was there, seemed amused by his wife's antics.

On my return, that afternoon, I found it dead. The butterfly was a female, if sex does exist in these flying arthropods. It was pregnant and numerous yellowish eggs were bursting out of its lower body. It was at that moment that I realized that this mother has given her life for her children. Not wishing this sacrifice be in vain, I lifted the corpse, carrying the eggs stuck to it, and placed it near some weeds. Even to the dead, flowers of consolation are of no use, but the lush foliage of the weeds would be invaluable to the progeny awaiting life's awakening touch.

It was probably a butterfly and it probably had not enough strength to keep its wings up. Due to gravity, the weight of her wings pulled them down into a spread-out position.

Later, that night, I came across the thought that the reason behind that aging woman's presumptuos gestures was a child she never had. Maybe her baby was stillborn, or died some time later. Maybe her children didn't grow up to be the respectable citizen my facade supposedly represented. I shrugged, turned over and continued to sleep. She, too, may have been a child of the beloved Earth Mother but she is human; in my opinion, there are too much of our species inhabiting this planet.

The only thing I can hope for now is that my treatment did not hasten the poor butterfly's death.

For the orphans she had left behind, I beseech thee, dear reader, once more to lift your hands in prayer to the gods of your respective beliefs.

Though your light will not be mine
nor your warmth be my shelter,
just tell me everything is fine.
Just tell me I am stronger.

No comments: