“Mommy, mommy!” The little bug ran towards her mother.
“I’m not going foraging!” she cried.
“Budku! What have you told Chitkoo now?”
Budku chuckled to himself and flew swiftly away from his mother.
“Mommy! Budku says there are spiders out there! And they chase gnats into their silk traps! Is it true?”
Mommy bug let out a deep sigh. Budku had always been mischievous. But this time, he had been partially right.
“Come here, sweetie… don’t think too much about it… It’s too early to be thinking about foraging.”
Chitkoo hugged her mother and calmed down.
Mommy bug glared at Budku as he peeped from behind the fungus, even as she kept Chitkoo close to her. There were spiders, yes. But Chitkoo was in deeper danger at home than out there. Just yesterday she had spotted a web close to their home. It was Budku’s first day learning to fly, and he’d had quite the adventure.
“Out there, is a wonderland, my dear.” Mommy bug said softly.
“In a few days you’ll be ready to start flying on your own. And it will be fun. There are peels of fruits and vegetables all over the ground. And there are fungi. So many different types than the ones near our home. And there are seeds too. They are much harder to forage, but they are the ones that have the most goodness – the reward is worth the effort.”
“Yeah, and there are fruit flies,” added Budku. Mommy bug’s glare had had its effect. Budku changed his tone.
“They’re just the cutest – brown and round, floating slowly. You’ll really get along very well with them.”
“What about spiders?” Chitkoo asked, without looking around.
Mommy bug sighed. “Yes, dear. There are spiders,” she replied.
“But they are fewer than us gnats and flies. And they can’t fly. No! They crawl and spin webs, but we have wings and we can fly. Budku was chased by one today. And he was so scared. But he flew away. And you will learn to navigate the alleys.”
Mommy bug didn’t dare tell Chitkoo about how close Budku was to being spider-meal. But Chitkoo would have to fend for herself. Spiders weren’t the only threat.
Chitkoo looked up and caught her mother’s glare. She turned around to see her brother sitting next to the fungus. He loved fungus, and was always nibbling at it. But today he just sat there, too scared of his mother to even look at the white goodie.
Above the ground, the other gnats and flies were busy going about their foraging, when the heavens above opened up. “Giant alert! Giant alert!”
Bright light filled the the sky, and it began raining. The gnats and flies flew, as far apart as they could. The spiders ran for their lives. The giants were notorious for squishing the spiders, purely for game, it seemed. They sure didn’t eat the spiders.
It was all over in a few minutes. As it always did. The rains were always heavy, and buried the slower flies and gnats. But once the sky closed back, it was a feast. A fresh pile of food, and the spiders away for some time.
To be continued.
Cover image by Atul. (@chitraakriti)