During late evenings, colonies of fruit bats fly across pale orange skies in my city. With militant grandeur, they soar. With purpose and showmanship. But I see them so often that I don’t look up in admiration anymore.
The only time I notice bats is when I see one electrocuted – having made fatal contact with some overhead power line. Electric grids are a menace to these creatures. They die from cardiac fibrillation, electrical burns or starvation.
But it makes for a beautiful sight. The resilience with which its cold claws still clutch onto the wire. The fragile grip of its melted rubbery skin on the rotting skeletal frame. As if the two were star-crossed lovers in the middle of their last dance. Or perhaps, the tenderest end to a quarrel. And all they want to do is never let go of each other.
I think about the time I spent with them at the Theosophical Society campus in Chennai. I used to lie down on the ground, with my palms cradling the back of my head and watch them go about their businesses.
Over there, hundreds of fruit bats have made banyan trees their haunting grounds. Amid the shrill squeaks, and the flapping of elastic skin, there is silence. And solace. It’s remarkably different from being in a crowd of people. While the decibel level may be higher when surrounded by flying foxes, the signal is much better. The vibes – more positive.
I thought I was morbidly fascinated by death, and the still photographs it leaves behind. But every living organism on this planet is affected by mortality. It is the great equalizer. And it’s not as though people with sky-high career aspirations are seen as being morbidly obsessed with life.
It may hurt when it happens to you or it takes away someone close to you. It also brings us together by lending itself to beauty and strength, now and then.
devours the wronged,
even those with charmed lives;
it leaves the boldest,
with benevolent urges and
the restless – bored and
(Photographs – Theosophical Society campus in Chennai)