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Pruthvi Banwasi

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The water was sparkling clear. In this part of the dense forest left untainted by humanity the pristine purity of nature ruled supreme.

The surface of the still river glistened with the rays of the afternoon sun. Add to this the mischievous ripples created by the playful fish, the kaleidoscopic effect was near ethereal. The birds, soaring majestically in the skies, were the only ones who could possibly savor this magical panorama. Yet the wish to delight in this magnificent view was marginalized by their alert but patient wait for a kill to satiate their hunger. (This magnificent view escaped them as the birds were absorbed by the need to satiate their hunger)

The animals in the jungle were wondering around, trying to get a whiff of the welcome fragrance of the moist mud and the slight humidity in the air surrounding the river, to rush in, quench their thirst, sprawl around in the muddy surroundings and beat the heat. (The creatures of the jungle wondering around in the vicinity were on the quest of a whiff of the welcome fragrance of the moist mud and the slight humidity in the air surrounding the river.)

The abundance of flora on all sides of the river, crowding in on it, made it impossible for the animals to spot it. Unguided by their sense of smell, it would have been an arduous task for the animals to find the river. After having their fill of fresh water, they basked in the shade on the banks of the river.

It was on the moist banks of the western end of the river that a wild dog, panting grimly, neared an opening. As itís paw gained contact with the shallow water, shock waves sent the fish scurrying away from the shallow end.

This being the mating season, the water was brimming with a virginal freshness as enthusiastic fish, hopeful of contributing their might to the preservation of their species, prepared for the grand moment.

The males of this particular species of fish had a unique way of adding glamour to this dull afternoon in the midst of nowhere. A spectacle awaited by the inmates of the river, particularly the females of the same species of fish in search of a suitable mate.

The mere presence of these ornate scales did little to aid them score, though. What gained prominence was the skill displayed by the males in firstly selecting a shallow spot in the river. The more difficult achievement was to ensure that such shallow spot be blessed with a ray of sunlight. Most difficult of all was what was then performed by the male fish. That of tilting itís body to an angle that would catch and reflect this gifted ray of sunlight.

The singular impact created by the awesome threesome, i.e., the inherent silvery dazzles of the scales of the fish which increased by itís sway shining under the spotlight of the sun and the glow magnified blindingly due to the shallowness of the water, sufficed for the female fish decide on its suitor with little or no difficulty. It was more a statement of aesthetics than a display of prowess.

One such male hopeful swimming around the river for a good thirty minutes was in search of a magical place to exhibit his scales. He had thought himself foolish, to have broken away from the shoal just to be different. With every passing minute, this belief was gaining prominence as he was heading nearer the banks of the river in search of shallow water.

The veteran fish knew that the trick was to get a shallow spot in the middle of the river where sunlight was aplenty and thus they did not have to hurry with their performance. Eventually some female fish would come near and start the dance of love.

Near the banks, this fish had cleverly overcome the first predicament, that of finding a shallow spot, but the thick cover of the trees made sunlight a difficult order. He might end up being the laughing stock of his friends later in the evening. Engulfed by these thoughts he wore a tense look, swam straight into a set of sleek shaped females coming towards him, and forgot to exchange pleasantries. To add insult to injury, this absent mindedness made them giggle and then snigger aloud.

Today was just not his day. He resigned himself to his fate and swam on, dejected and directionless. Hold your finsÖ He thought he saw a glimmer of sunlight highlighting the brown sand and swam excitedly towards the glint. It was, thank heavens, a clear patch of shallow water gleaming in the rays of the sun. It was perfect. That tooÖ right in the middle of the tree shaded shallow water! He would run a packed show today, he thought.

He surveyed the surroundings and then swam into the sunspot; the warmth of the sunlight engulfed him here. This made him a little nervous. To prepare himself better for the grand finale he tilted himself and prayed to the water God one last time. Then he began quivering his entire torso, he then tilted his body to an angle that perfectly reflected the sunlight and threw a dazzling kaleidoscope of light inside the water of the river. The cabaret that he began by skillfully quivering his body had the desired effect. The shine of his silvery scales was sparkling all around. He could easily perceive the reflection of the glitter in the waters until far.

Today would positively create history, he thought to himself as he saw the same group of females approach him coyly. They looked dazzled by the beauty of this brilliance. They would be treated to a grand spectacle, he assured himself. He amplified his contortions and took in as much sunlight as possible.

Viewed from above, one spot near the banks of the river, well within the cover of the trees was astoundingly radiant. The ethereal effect was a splendor for the watching eyes, those of the circling birds. The beauty of the whole act escaped the flying birds, the logic did not.

This performer engrossed in the act of attracting the attention of the female, proved to be in the spotlight.

For, a watchful bird, awaiting such an attention seeking display, swooped down skillfully and in one swift move had him in its mouth, still wriggling as he flew away.

The dance of passion had now transmogrified itself to the struggle for self-preservation.


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