The Anthill


A short story by Rajeev Dar on the recent economic meltdown that draws a parallel with what happens to normal hardworking folks when such disasters happen.

The anthill was in turmoil. The frenzy was understandable. It was the Saturday evening. Soon the sun would set and the humans would come in one by one and fling seven types of grains at the anthill; mutter something and scurry away.

It was a tricky affair even for the veteran ants. While the veterans held back for a couple of hours allowing for the last of the humans to depart; the young ones could hardly restrain themselves and were almost immediately out to grab the goodies. Every Saturday there were some young causalities. Some were trampled over by the human feet some were hit by the lumps of grain hurled at the anthill.

The ants for the world of them could not figure out; why the humans came once a week and showered their abode with the seven types of grain on Saturday only, and that too after sunset. If only the idiots would do it in the daytime. So much more work could be done in the daylight. And then to have the weekend to themselves to chill out. The humans were anything but considerate. If philanthropy it was; that they had in their mind, the least they could do was to do it during the day. Anyways grain in night is better than no grain at all. The queen ant named “Anty” would always say a quiet prayer before she went to bed on Saturday night.

After a lot of deliberation, it was decided unanimously that all families would stock for seven days. It was a backbreaking work on Sunday and Mondays but well worth the rest till next Saturday. Life for the ants was just about made when disaster struck. Attracted by the surfeit of food the large ants (makodas) moved in. With their aggression and cockiness they just took over the Saturday action. A bit like the Hedge Funds on the BSE. They strutted around with their large fat bottoms eating what they liked and generally being a menace on the otherwise peaceful anthill.

An emergency meeting of the ants was called. Various proposals were put up ranging from migrating to other areas, to confronting the aggressors. Migration entailed logistics problems besides loss of face. Confrontation was just not in the ant blood. After a lot of discussion it was decided to do nothing and adopt a policy of wait and watch. Much like the policy of Government of India faced with global meltdown. Meanwhile ant prudence dictated that days of fun and frolic were over and that rations would have to be conserved. One day fasting was introduced and enforced. Besides after the big ants (makodas) had indulged in their gluttony and slept off;a small group of brave-hearts would go and bring in the leftovers.

This was the last straw for the young dissident ants. Led by the Deputy Queen, they decided to move on and setup a separate colony. They knew it was an arduous journey, full of risk on one hand, but hope on the other. To sit there in the anthill and watch the big bully’s eat everything and survive on their leftovers was just not acceptable to them. There were tense moments when the breakaway group moved. Accusations, counter accusations, broken promises, broken hearts were the order of the day. Things however soon settled down to a drab semi-starving routine .

Time passed. Some of the weaker ants passed away suffering from malnutrition. The remaining had gotten used to the reduced rations. Just when the remaining ants thought they would survive the situation, new danger arrived on the scene. The rains arrived earlier than usual. The storerooms got flooded. Whatever food was stored was washed away. The anthill was not a structure meant to withstand vagaries of heavy rains. The ants unanimously decided to prepone their annual move up the nearby tree. The anthill disintegrated into mud. As if this was not bad enough, suddenly the humans stopped coming.

The ants thought the rains must have kept the humans away and waited sitting in their tree home for the next Saturday. Next Saturday came but no sign of humans. Instead the frogs moved in and feasted on the makodas, who were wandering around aimlessly. There was much rejoicing in the ant camp. An unexpected alley had decimated the enemy. Meanwhile life in the tree was tough. Going up and down was backbreaking even for the ants and more so when carrying ration. Storing rations in the tree was a nuisance. Gravity was constantly pulling at the rations and the termites were always around the corner.

All the old ants were dead. The new generation was quite tired of up and down the tree routine. Another meeting was held and it was decided to move to the ground as soon as the rains were over and build a new anthill – a stronger one. The rain stopped. The ants moved down to the ground and got to work. There was not much to eat but at least there was no climbing up and down nonsense. The anthill construction proceeded side by side. Life once again became a dumb drab routine. The anthill grew as the families grew larger.

Then one late autumn evening a human being appeared from nowhere and showered the anthill with seven types of grain again.

Saturday night again at the ant hill !!

Previous articleTerror on trial
Next articlePTA teachers end agitation

No posts to display


  1. I wonder,like the fatty ants,the creamy layer of human society would ever be in danger.They have hoarded much ,often robbed from the ones who toiled hard and labored but always ended on the loosing side.

Comments are closed.