|Cashew tree in love with my house
Black ants laid siege to my
house. Tiny, almost atomic, creatures. Suddenly they were there wherever I
looked. In endless lines they marched like devoted soldiers conquering an enemy’s
territory. I had no choice but raise jingoistic slogans and pull out some AK-47s.
I drew Lakshman Rekhas all over with Hit chalk. I sprayed Hit Lime Fresh
wherever Maggie permitted me. [She detests the smell of chemicals.] Hoards of black
specks stared at me soon from the floor. Dead ants.
of my cleaning up the entire place, new lines of ants appeared exactly in the
same old places. The same infinite black lines moving like endless trains. Finally
I traced their origins to two sources: my beloved cashew tree in front of the
house and the ivy gourd behind. The ants were descending on to the walls of my
house from these. I chopped off the cashew branches that touched my roof. I cut
off the ivy gourd which had become too old to produce anything except black
came to an end. Well, almost. The ants which were there already inside the
house still keep moving in circles seeking moksha through Hit.
never learn the most essential lesson: that they don’t belong in some places.
programmed to follow each other’s pheromone trails, I learnt soon. Sometimes one
of these atomic creatures will lose the trail and get into a viciously circular
motion. And a whole lot of ants will follow it, moving in an endless circle,
moving on until they succumb to exhaustion and lack of food and die. They are
very devoted to the leader anyway. Very patriotic, should I say?
beings aren’t very different from these ants. Once Dan Ariely, a psychologist
at Duke University, lectured to a group of students on his field of behavioural
economics. He started with a definition that sounded very technical, full of
jargon. Actually the definition made no sense at all. The psychologist had just
cobbled together a series of computer-generated random words and sentences to
produce gibberish about ‘dialectic enigmatic theory’ and ‘neodeconstructive
students listened with rapt attention. Nobody laughed. Nobody raised a hand to
ask a doubt. Nobody frowned.
brings us to the big question,” Ariely said dramatically. “Why has no one asked
me what the @#$% I’m talking about?”
Ariely’s listeners, scholarly students of a university, learnt about pluralistic
Floyd Allport introduced the concept of pluralistic ignorance. It refers to the
feeling that one’s beliefs or attitudes are not shared by others when they
actually are. Each student in Ariely’s lecture knew that he/she didn’t
understand a thing about dialectical enigmatic theory and neodeconstructive
rationalism. But what happens? Each one watches the others with a sidelong
look. Every single student is sitting with rapt attention. Wow! This must be
fantastic stuff. Only I’m a dunce here, I don’t understand it. So let me be
quiet. I pretend that I understand what’ happening. Dialectical enigmatism
suddenly becomes my beloved idea.
can become such a beloved idea. Apathy can. Selfishness can become the noblest
virtue. One ant that missed the trail can lead a whole army of ants in an
endless vicious cycle and travel blissfully to their death.
this, however. The ants are not conscious of their activity. The human beings
in pluralistic ignorance are. But the latter choose to ignore their awareness.
Does that make them any better than the ignorant ants? Is awareness that does
not effect the necessary change in one’s thinking, attitudes, or action of any