Mr Anura

He didn’t have anywhere he had to go – his own place was all he needed. So Mr Anura kept to his home by the water and lived each day in relative peace. He didn’t swim as much as he once had … in his younger days. His body wasn’t the same as it was then but it worked well enough and there was a place not too far away that was perfect for a regular dip. So he headed for the nearby pool as often as he felt the need and was invigorated for it.

He knew the best spots for good quality food – enough to provide variety and none so popular that he couldn’t eat his fill in relatively quiet surrounds.

But summer brought its problems. People would suddenly take it upon themselves to infest the whole area with their outings and their picnics and their agonising hours wading in the river and shouting to each other about this and that. And Mr Anura couldn’t abide those summer people. They behaved as if the whole place was theirs to do whatever they chose. As if there was not a soul who sat through winters and meandered through autumns and thawed through springs in that place. They didn’t give a thought to those that lived there. Those that required some space and some peace, no matter what the season.

He had never liked loud noises even when he had been younger. Or the raucous summer visitors. But there had been others to play with then – a whole gang of them finding their way as they grew and changed. In those days, swimming was all they did and they revelled in being together in a lively group. Then, of course, the time had come that they had moved from their own little area and headed to the best spots to mingle. And, although those places were so infused with the music and boisterousness of youngsters on the prowl, Mr Anura had joined the crowd. For he knew that he was really no different from the rest. He had desires. He felt as compelled to connect and pair off as all the others. So in amongst it all, his voice had joined the chorus seeking to impress the opposite sex and that brief period of exuberance had had the desired result. Amidst the clamour, she had appeared. And from that moment, he had known that she was the one for him.

Everything from then seemed to have gone according to plan. Before long there were little ones around. And Mr Anura had been a diligent parent. He had wanted his offspring to blossom and grow as he had – so he had done what was required to keep them safe and healthy. And they had thrived. So much so, that in no time, it seemed, they had grown and gone.

And Mr Anura had found himself alone.

And that was how he had remained.

But that was the way it was. The sun rose and set and there was life and death and change and challenge. But there was a still a kind of pattern that wound its way through the days. And Mr Anura was content with that. Apart from the occasional triggering of his memory by a sound, a scent, the way the light played on the water, he rarely dwelt on his past but lived each day with practical concerns and routine at the forefront. Even the summers had their conventions – the influx of people that restricted his ventures, the availability of fresh seasonal food, the glaring sunlight and cooling shade … Mr Anura knew it all.

Until the day.

The day that they couldn’t leave him to himself.

He had waited until the noise had died down on that summer afternoon and reluctantly made his way out to get some food. The rowdy families must have retreated to their own peace and quiet after a morning in the sun so Mr Anura felt that he might successfully undertake a quick foray to appease his appetite for something tasty.

And so he began to make his way to one of the places that he knew, an out-of-the-way spot where he could dine without the throng of people hovering around.

It was quiet. And the path was relatively empty. The heat of the day hovered just above the ground.

Mr Anura stopped.

He wondered if he had heard some footsteps on the path behind him. But as he listened, there was only the soft rustle of the wind through some nearby trees and the odd chirrup of a cricket somewhere in the distance. So he moved on.

But he had hardly made any progress before everything changed. And he was powerless to do anything.

They were too big. And well prepared. They grabbed him with their huge hands and put something over his mouth.

And then there was nothing.

It wasn’t black because he wasn’t even there.

Until he found himself somewhere else. Somewhere that was worse than black and worse than nothing.

He was on his back. There was seering pain. Pain that came from everywhere. And then new fresh agony. And just when he thought he couldn’t tolerate it any longer , again there was nothing.

And when he woke again, although the pain was sickening, he remained awake. And wished to everything that he knew that he wasn’t.

He saw the sharp steel through his shoulders, pinning him down, and he could feel the same anchors piercing his limbs in many places.

And then he saw the blade that must have sliced through the skin that had covered his abdomen and was now peeled back and languishing beside him as if it were no longer part of him.

And the blade was inching its way towards him. Towards where the skin had been. Towards whatever remained of him.

This was horror.

It was beyond anything he knew or could have known. It was torturous. Exceptional brutality. But it was happening. And yet it couldn’t be. It was inconceivable.

From nowhere, Mr Anura felt the roaring energy of desperation. And he took action. He wrenched and wrestled in a futile attempt to be free. He felt the metal tear through the tissue of his leg. But he didn’t stop. Wounds were nothing. Limbs were nothing. He knew that the blade was his worst enemy. That it must be escaped no matter what the damage.

He heard shouts through the white hot torment but he didn’t stop. He couldn’t.

There were more voices. Faces gathering around. And then one solitary pair of large calm hands subdued him. And when that softness approached his mouth, something inside welcomed the tangy odour that enveloped him again.

And this time, the nothing was forever.

*

Anura is the order classification given to frogs. These amphibious animals that progress through the larval tadpole stage to adult through metamorphosis can live for many years in the wild. However, they have commonly been used for dissections in high school and university anatomy classes. Vivisection (to cut into a live being) still occurs in some parts of the world. Students cut open their ‘specimen’ and observe its pulsing heart on display. Sometimes, animals have woken from their unconsciousness during these experiments and attempted to escape. Many educators, however, have begun to realise that modern technology can be as effective – or more so – as a learning tool and that there is an additional lesson taught in the refusal to use real animals – respect for living beings and the appreciation of the role of animals in nature.

THESE are fundamental aspects of biology, the study of life.

* * * *


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