At the twilight hour they come in swarms. Hundreds of them emerge from the soil with the vigour and wantonness of children liberated from tedious classrooms and fly. Towards the nearest source of light. The light scorches their wings and the wingless bodies looking more like worms than ants fall and die slow deaths on the ground. Even if the light is gentle enough not to scorch the wings, they will eventually lose the wings, tired of flying round the light, weary of not being able to assimilate the light they are so much in love with, and fall. Ants emerge from nowhere within seconds and carry away the dead bodies.
Alates or flying termites, that’s what they are. I have watched their desperate love affair with the light time and again from the time I settled down in the village a couple of years ago. They acquire wings only to mate and then die. They mate in flight. The fertilised females will also lose their wings and go on to establish new colonies of ants which will eventually acquire wings and die after the ritual mating.
And another generation of alates will be born somewhere in the darkness of the soil. They too will be weary of the darkness. Longing for light, they will acquire wings. They will find the light. And the light will kill them.
They have taught me why men are afraid of the light.