It could be a crumb from the bread I was told not to eat in my bedroom last night. Or it could be the crumb from my bread that the stealthy but not-so-diligent mouse left. Anyhow, it was now a crumb that the black ant found on the unswept floor.
“Will you really be able to carry that?” I wondered, as if posing a challenge. I wasn’t doubting the ant’s ability to carry a thing twice its size. I read somewhere that ants can do that — an insect Atlas carrying the world on its shoulders. I was looking forward more to having that knowledge validated. And I got that.
What if humans can have that strength, too, but without the catch? Samson without the hair? Or Achilles with metal boots to cover his heels? Imagine the things we could do!
The ant marched away (I was imagining it as a young scavenger, all smiles and heart full of pride, as he brought his best find to his colony). As it did so, it seemed to be tracing its footsteps. Yet another “super ability” of the ant, the “pheromone trail.”
If my poor memory serves me right, the pheromone trail is a chemical path that an ant leaves along its path as a means of navigation, so it could go back to where it came from. This is also the same trail that other ants follow when working together, thus creating that long dotted line that we bored and cruel humans are so fond of breaking apart just for the heck of it.
Ants are small yet strong and brilliant. I can barely carry a pail full of water for five minutes without having to catch my breath.
“At least I can read,” I thought as I snickered at the ant that was turning into a dot as it moved farther and farther away. “And think.”
I don’t think they can do that — think and reflect on how their day went, about school or work or life. I doubt the possibility of them praying, much more having a religion to follow and a faith to hold on to. I doubt they stay up late at night tormented about the lack of a date on the 14th day of February.
“Huh! Not so perfect now, are you?” I thought, looking at the missing ant. “You may be strong, but we are smarter.”
To prove my point, I looked for the broom and swept the floor, finishing off what the-not-so-diligent mouse had left.
That night, I promised never to eat in my bedroom again.
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Kevin Amante, 24, is taking up Master of Arts in Communication Arts at the University of the Philippines Los Baños.