Ode to a Tortoise | Flash Post 451
You mean Dopey?
You can’t call him that, Button?
Because those are sad eyes. They are fearful eyes. Let’s give her another name, shall we? What about Miracle?
Nice name. But why are we writing a post on a tortoise?
We have written hundreds of posts from toothpaste tubes, to the ubiquitous sari, eggs, rainbows, nail clippers, spoons, fallen leaves…you name them, so why not one on Miracle? She was gifted to Dost by artist P S Ladi some 35 years back. As the centrepiece in the office, there was not a soul who did not notice her when they dropped by and speak about what a magnificient piece of art it was. And then she moved to the house where we’ve still not found the perfect spot for her because she’s so huge! And also because we want her to occupy pride of place.
I’ve heard you talk about her eyes often. Is there something I’m missing! My second question is how do you know that Miracle is a tortoise and not a turtle?
You’ve got me there! Do you?
The answer to your first query is that Miracle sits opposite the couch on which I sit in the living area and no matter which angle I look at her from—and I am not kidding you—those doleful eyes keep staring at me pleadingly as if she wants to say something. I think Miracle is a tortoise because she has a rounded and domed shell. Turtle shells are narrow and more streamlined to aid in swimming. And, yes, I did look it up on the internet.
I too see a lot of sadness in those eyes. Who are those humans? And why are they riding her? What do you make of this piece of art?
My tongue-n-cheek interpretation was that those humans have captured Miracle to fly them to the moon after the success of Chandrayan. Another interpretation was that those humans are out for a drive and want to use Miracle as their unique mode of transport. They could also be kind humans who found Miracle on a forsaken island a long way away from her natural habitat and are trying to guide her back to the sea.
Does it have something to do with the environment and how shabbily we are treating other living species and snatching away their right to live freely?
Dost came up with something similar at tea time today. He said that the four humans are trying to control the tortoise to show their power over her which is so typical of humans. Notice the tight grasp of their hands on the leash. Whether it’s nature or the mighty seas and oceans, the skies, other humans, it’s a human thing to capture, control and enslave everything.
Why do humans see themselves as superior? Whoever told them that?
They themselves. Another good example of this manic control is evident in the coastal road that’s being constructed to ease traffic within the city. Seas have their own boundaries. They ebb. They flow. To mess with that is bound to give rise to flooding, tidal waves, tsunamis. At no point do we realise that most natural disasters are caused by our insensitivity towards nature and our greed to capture everything on this planet and tame them to suit our whims and fancies. Tortoises are sensitive creatures and live quiet lives, never coming in the way of anything, leave alone humans. What sense does it make to penetrate their world and make their waters murky?
Does this mean that Ladi, the artist, worked on this piece of sculpture some 35 years back to tell the story of other lives similar to that of the tortoise who are in danger of extinction like many other species? Those doleful eyes tell a sad story.