I saw her as she ambled her way towards the Nursery chamber, a gleaming glorious beauty on six legs.
She was a minor worker attached to the Nurseries. She was also the centre of my dreams every night. The reason I scramble out of my hollow very early every morning to watch her as she moved with quiet dignity, carrying out her duties with an infectious cheerfulness and admirable devotion.
I usually watched her from a safe distance, knowing that as a drone I was forbidden to crawl the workers chambers. Matter-of-fact, I was only allowed access to the drone chambers. Condemned to only stroll its length and breadth.
Maybe it was the gloomy thought of the fast approaching nuptial flight, or maybe it was the inexplicable wild searing emotions prowling about within my tiny winged wasp-like frame—I don’t know. But this morning I just couldn’t bear to stand afar off anymore. So I crept towards the Nursery.
I could hear her soft soothing voice as she calmed the impatient pupa brood. “Not to worry, very soon, you’ll be all grown up and be free to crawl around.”
Her sonorous tone sent me into bliss. Her voice was simply… magic.
“Zoro.” Zita called, surprised to see me there. “What are you doing here?”
“Looking at you.” I said simply, my eyes fixed on her.
She tsked. “You shouldn’t be here and you know it.” She turned to feed a pupa at her legs.
“And why not?” I asked, ambling closer.
She looked to me in shock. “Why?”
I bounced my head.
“Are you trying to question the order of things, Zoro?” She was looking at me like I was demented.
Maybe I was.
I am an ant. And ants are highly organized and orderly creatures. An ant’s life, from the day the Queen lays the egg to the day it dies, is—simply put—a body of rules, regulations, organisations and order. Ants are meant to follow a long-time mapped-out order of life.
But I was tired of it.
“And If I am?” I asked a little defiantly. “Are we just meant to live and die following a way of life that was invented by… who?”
Zita must have sensed my despair for she looked kindly at me now. “It is not for us to wonder and question, Zoro.” She made a reassuring sound. “You are becoming restless. Not to worry, the season of nuptial flight will soon be here and…”
“And what, Zita?” I interrupted impatiently. “I will fly out, mate and die?” My wings shook in agitation. “Is that the great purpose of my life—mating and dying?”
“And what are you doing here, Zoro?” Doga thundered from behind me.
In my agitation I’d failed to observe her approach.
“Zita, go back to your duties.” Doga ordered in a quiet measured tone.
Doga was a Soldier. A Big-head major worker. She was the overall head of worker ants assigned to the nursery. And she could have me reported for being there.
“I thought a stroll around to see what is going on in a colony I live might be interesting.” I replied nonchalantly as she stared at me.
Doga narrowed her eyes. She crawled forward and pushed her big head towards my face. “Get back to your chamber, drone, and sleep if you have nothing better to do.” Her tone was menacing, aimed to threaten and frighten.
But I wasn’t frightened. I wanted to protest, defy her. But the pleading look in Zita’s eyes stopped me.
So with a flap of my wings, I raised my frame and flew off in the direction of my chamber.
Now that I’ve made my first move, there was no backing down anymore.