I woke up this day, and I realised that I wasn’t laying down under my white bedsheet. Everything around was green, and soon I got the feel of where I was. Everything looked similar, but there were no one around. No cars, just empty streets. No sounds, not even the humming of birds. The only sound I could hear was the rustling that red and yellow leaves made when they were loved by wind. I looked around, and noticed that I was in the middle of the Plaza Francia, Recoleta. Across the street, far away toward the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas, I could see the gigantic Flower widely opened up, as the Sun was penetrating her softly. As I remembered, she was the one of the main touristic monuments of Buenos Aires. She glanced at me, as if she was scolding me of my bad education of looking their sexual scene. I didn’t take that mean glance seriously, firstly because it was a public park as I considered, and secondly because I was even trying to understand why I woke up at the Plaza Francia.
– Why aren’t you preparing for the winter yet, Mr. Grasshopper?
I looked back. There was an ant looking up towards me. I was shocked, as he looked so real. So delicate, and so brownish. Never I took a close look to an ant, then only realised that an ant was like a balloon filled with brownish sweat of efforts and hardworking. So fragile, he seemed, but I knew that he had been working so hard and strong to carry food for winter.
– What do you mean?; I asked to him.
– You were all singing and dancing last summer, not preparing for the winter as we did gathering food to survive. When the winter came, you didn’t have anything to eat, then came to us to beg to share food for you. Mr. Grasshopper. Don’t you remember?
I looked down then, observing my body. Now then I realised that I’m an insect, not a human as I assumed to be. I had big legs stretching behind, quite thick, hairy and muscular, apt to jump higher and further. I had wings to fly. I was covered by hard shell which kept me warm and safe. I had antennas. It was a weird but satisfying sensation to be able to move my antennas to any direction. I giggled. Then the ant took it wrong as if I giggled at what he told me.
– I know that we are in a system that exploits us every second; There was another ant telling me.
I looked down again, then I noticed that there were, in total, six ants forming a line. The second ant continued to talk;
– But you should admit that you have been singing and dancing until you could, because you have wings to fly away and strong legs to skyrocket, leaping to the opposite direction from where the winter is coming. Such privilege you enjoy is only granted to the queen in our community, and she is the one assuring our survival throughout the winter. She decided to stay with us to get though the winter while you always leap towards where the warm wind blows.
– I’m sorry, truly; I said then continued; but it’s not because I want to leap away. It’s because that I don’t know what else to do to stay survive, maybe.
The second ant looked at me with his eyes full of pity. Perhaps that’s why others like you; he said. Perhaps that’s why we admire our queen; he finalised his words.
– What should I collect and save then, to survive the winter?; I asked with genuine curiosity. I only see green grasses, I added.
The third ant approached me. He was wandering around my first-left leg as if he smelled something valuable. He lifted my leg to put aside. He dug up the shallow sand and dust. A shiny black seed appeared. It just looked like a sunflower seed. I remembered the sex that the flower and the Sun enjoyed just before. This; he answered. We are collecting these small seeds.
– What is that called?
– We called it the seed of Hope. It’s our wisdom to collect those seeds for our mental and physical survival; he answered. Then the third ant quickly loaded the seed on this shoulder with his unbelievable strength. I was quite astonished and asked him where his strength comes from. Surely I knew from the textbook that an ant can carry almost up to 50 times of his own weight, but witnessing it with my eyes was another kind of knowledge.
– Don’t tell him what to prepare to endure the winter; roared the forth ant to others.
He was upset for seeing me, as if I was bothering their holy work, or at least, their peaceful morning. I didn’t understand at beginning why he was mad at me. So I thought that he maybe has a short temper, which is his own issue not mine. The forth ant continued to talk with his anger and worry;
– He is different from us. We are not a pest, but he is. He can cause billions of dollars in damage to food crops annually. We are the one who save those seeds of Hope. He is the destroyer. Grasshopper pests occasionally damage vegetables, citrus, and ornamental plants. His ideas about the economy can be dangerous.
I became sad after what he told. I am not here to destroy any; I defended myself.
– Even though you destroy none, you are building a social and emotional relationship in the air. Your existence isn’t clear in this community. You build the bridge then leave, which is also a form of destruction of what you have built. Here today, gone tomorrow; said the forth ant. You might insinuate that we are the adventurous hoppers always moving here to there with the goal of gathering Hope of mental and physical survival, while you are already hopping to a different part of the world. You will seek always where the grass seems greener.
I tried to say something to him. If you just save those seeds of Hope for the queen and for your community to survive throughout the winter that comes now, what about those who won’t see the trees grown up from those little hopeful seeds? But I couldn’t say it out, because I myself wasn’t convinced. Perhaps I was the pest as he indicated to me. If I really were, I just wanted to stay so that I wouldn’t pass over the plague around, but this would mean that the winter would knock me dead. Anyway I became relieved that even in that case I’d be serving as a saving food for them to pass through the winter.
– But Mr. Grasshopper, we enjoyed your songs this summer; said the fifth ant. If you don’t pass plague farmers and green grasses, I’d like to see you here next summer so that we can hear your cheering songs again.
The fifth ant was the understanding one. He gazed me deep, as to try to say something without saying, as to try to understand something without asking. I felt relieve that at least I have an admirer in that line of ants.
– Thank you, really; I showed my gratitude to him.
– Only that you were always hopping alone, as if you didn’t want to compete with others. Maybe you sang all summer trying to transmit what to be understood. Maybe You were hopping all around trying to find somewhere seems greener. I also remember the last winter when you came to us to beg your share to survive, but you weren’t miserable out there among the surgical winds that cut your warmth out. We hope that it wouldn’t happen again, but when you need, you should always come to us to knock the door.
– Thank you, again; I replied. I was genuinely touched by what he told me. He would wait for me if I come back. It sort of formed a feeling of home, where one builds nostalgia.
– Then, to where will you head now, Mr. Grasshopper?
I looked around for the direction. I even didn’t know that I should move, but as they told me I had to hop, for I had two strong legs to leap. This moment I realised again that I was the grasshopper, who hops between grasses. My look got fixed to one direction. So I could reply to the fifth ant; I’ll go to the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas. It’s across the street and there’s no car now. I believed that the psychological distance from here, the Plaza Francia to there, the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas, couldn’t be too far.
– Is it because the grass seems greener there?; he asked.
– No, it is because there are giants over there. At least I saw two. The Flower lady is widely opened, which means that there is the Sun. There will be warmth, and I’ll survive throughout the winter there. Furthermore I’ll learn how to leap further and higher, among giants; I talked out and I paused, just because I couldn’t differentiate what I said from the greener grass.
I looked at the sixth ant who didn’t say anything but his face wore a radiant smile. He looked so peaceful, so I became intrigued. I asked what his name was, to remember to find him when I come back next summer to this plaza.
– Oh, Mr. Grasshopper. He never talks. He just always smiles. But just to say, he is the least hardworking one when to collect the seed of Hope; interrupted the forth ant.
I turned to the forth ant. Then he answered my question; His name is Happiness.
I frowned at him, since I thought I didn’t hear him well. I said impatiently; Wait, wait, what are your names?
– From the first one you’ve talked, our names are Dependency, Envy, Integrity, Insecurity and Loneliness.
I woke up gasping for breath. I squeezed my white bedsheet. The air was cold and the heater was still running. I forgot to turn off the bedtable lantern. I relieved knowing that it was just a dream. But this dream made me sit on the bed for a while. Then I got a strange feeling as if I was still dreaming. Was I dreaming of me being a grasshopper? Or Was I now dreaming of me being a human here sitting on the bed?
Either way, the winter is coming. The air is getting cold and the white bedsheet is just too thin to carry me a warmth I need. It was still dark outside, so I turned off the bedtable lantern to go back to sleep. When I turned off the light, in the shade I saw thousands of ants gathering to my room floor. I refuged to my bed, looking down those ants occupying my room in the darkness. I was afraid being in such darkness, but then, I realised that there were only silence in the room. No ant was talking to me. So I recalled that the one doesn’t talk was the Happiness.
I put myself under the bedsheet again, knowing that I’m surrounded by all good wills. Maybe they are planting the seeds of Hope here, since Happiness is the least hardworking one in collecting those seeds for the queen. Then I realised that I even didn’t ask whether the queen had a name or not. Perhaps I didn’t ask because somehow I knew it. Perhaps she was the famous Love, but this moment of hopping alone fighting against the cold, I wouldn’t know how to confirm.