As I previously stated, there was a gap between me and nature, and I’m not sure when or how that occurred. But Srishti brought me back to this connection, reacquainting me with nature and reminding me that I am a part of it. This entire aspect was levelled up in my classroom this week, when Nandini showed us a video of tribute to India’s natural heritage and asked us to identify the correct name of the species. I was literally able to name only five of the species. This was a point of realization, a point where I decided to change, a point where I was able to measure how disconnected I am from nature, how unaware I am. Being personally interested in India’s heritage and history, I’ve always been attracted by cultural and built heritage, but I’ve never had the opportunity to focus on natural heritage. Or perhaps I was afraid of the subject because my alienation from nature made it hard for me to think upon it. But this cycle, I’ve decided to make a difference and re-establish a connection with nature. I’d like to incorporate this new information into my existing heritage knowledge.
When I speak of the natural world and the human-wildlife relationship, I recall having an encounter with a cobra snake when I was approximately 12 years old. Because of my past encounter with a snake, I am fond of snakes and am not afraid of them. I was on vacation at my uncle’s village and was returning home after an evening play session with my friends there; it was nearly nighttime, and on the way back, I noticed this dark knotted rope at one of the corners near the gate. I reached out to pick it up because I wanted to play with it, and the snake reacted. Furthermore, I remained in place for a few moments, not moving at all, and after a while the snake relaxed and climbed up my legs and went out from between my legs. It was a traumatic event, but there was a lot that happened in this interaction, including the fact that I realized the snake might have realized my reaction to it was a mistake and therefore just left without biting. It’s possible that the snake didn’t injure me back because I was frozen at the moment and didn’t want to hurt it. Not only that, but it also took away my fear of snakes. That is why, whenever I hear of a cobra near Shristi’s N4 campus, I want to go visit them, examine them more closely, and reconnect with them. I believe, I have a connection with snakes since they frequently appear in my dreams, as if they are trying to communicate with me. This reminds me of Nandini’s activity, in which we had to determine the values associated with wildlife from little snippets of stories. My personal storey and real-life experiences have also shaped my personal value towards snakes.
Apart from that, Bindu made me aware of the art of listening this week when she told us to bring our favourite poetry, and then we listened to each other. My colleagues had brought a wide range of poems, and all we did was sit and listen to them. I wasn’t even attempting to derive my own personal meaning from it, much less analysing and commenting on it. This is when I realized how important it was for me to just listen, to listen and absorb what was said, to adapt it to myself, but to just listen. I believe the words Bindu spoke to us, “We must be apprentices of listening, not masters of discourse,” will stick with me for the rest of my life.