Dragonflies lingered about outside my office door. This was the first time I’ve seen dragonflies here in the Maldives so I found it quite strange. The color of their bodies was tangerine, the darker shade different from the green and blue ones I saw during childhood. They flew around me whenever I stepped out of the door, only for a few seconds. I covered my ears every time I walked past them, that’s the last part of my body I wanted them to fly into.
As kids, we often chased and caught them by the tail, tutubing karayom and kalabaw as we called them. Thinking about it, I don’t know what joy I found in catching them. But I had to because all the kids did so. So I thought, I had too. As I remember, we did that every summer holidays, when dragonflies swarmed the small rural town of ours, smothered with the uneven gravelly road, and brushed with some green grass on random areas. Pools of grimy stagnant water on crater-like areas of the huge expanse of land housed algae and tadpoles.
Speaking of tadpoles, I remember seeing kids scoop them out of water. For what? I never knew. And that, I never did.
I suddenly questioned the appearance of these insects here. Online, it says they are mostly near freshwater and as far as I know, all our freshwater here on the island is inside desalination tanks. Everywhere else, salty.
Somewhere online also said that dragonflies are a symbol of courage, strength, and happiness in Japan but seen as sinister in Europe. Somewhere, it was also seen as a symbol of death, or ties to the spiritual world, symbols of deceased loved ones or guardian angel. Or maybe, they are just here to eat all the mosquitoes brought about by the nonstop rain.
I never looked at these small winged species in a different way other than harmless insects that made me fit in with the other kids during those hot summer days.
As a child, I always feared animals, insects, and people bigger than me. Other kids were fearless. But these helpless little dragonflies gave me bits of empowerment over the small world that I knew. That somehow, I can also do at least one thing that most of the other playful kids could do. I was happy. I could play along.
This world is huge, unfriendly, and completely savage. But like dragonflies we are tiny, flying bodies of blue or green or a dark shade of tangerine, harmless and lingering around, giving hope and happiness to one or two. And that is enough.
Just spread your wings. That would be enough.
Featured image by Himanshu