By Nargis Kachrumathur for KidSpirit's Nature issue.
My relationship with nature has always been an odd one; sometimes I appreciate its beauty and benefits, while sometimes I despise things about it.
Mostly I’m in awe of it, baffled by the many phenomena one can see in it, and constantly wondering why things happen the way they do in the ecosystems of the world. We don’t follow any religious practices or cultural beliefs in my household as such, but the kinds of media, books, and places my parents expose me to have inculcated a natural connection with nature in me. Growing up, I have heard many stories and watched many movies in which nature is a big part and grown to learn that we should handle it with extreme caution and care, as it is the main reason we are alive today.
From the very beginning, I have been surrounded by nature, both at home and in school. I live on a campus that is blooming with a variety of flora and fauna. It is also home to many animals and wildlife that people don’t notice or take the time to appreciate very often. At school, we have different kinds of trees and birds everywhere. Sunlight is always welcome in our classrooms, and everybody enjoys playing out in the open, surrounded by nature. Whenever I go to the beach or take a road trip in the mountains, the fresh air and beautiful views enrapture me and give me a sense of freedom and liberty. From fairytales, princess movies, books and Disney, to real stories about children who live in the rural parts of India, preeminent novels, and documentaries, nature is one thing I always see depicted as peaceful and calming. In many books and movies I watched in my early years, I saw nature depicted as a “friend,” life-giving and serene. Things involving animals mostly spoke about helping, care-giving, and gentleness.
In school, we learned how ecosystems work, and how all the biotic and abiotic factors are interdependent. This kind of harmony and connection made me realise that destroying one thing in an ecosystem will invariably lead to the destruction of other organisms, because they are all reliant on one another. The mindset of having to preserve and protect nature has always stuck with me, as I know the importance of safe-guarding it, and that its conservation is beneficial to humans also.
I’ve grown up to always feel at ease when I’m around nature, be it basking in the warmth of the sun shining in my face, or staring up at twinkling stars on a cool, clear night.
Being outside, near trees and plants, watching squirrels dart after each other, frisking through the short, soft blades of grass in my gardens, always helps soothe me. Even when I’m in a rage or upset, I always go outside to clear my head and calm down. When I was young, I used to help my mother water the plants, or pick tomatoes and lemons. Now, as I’ve become older, even the teenage movies and shows I watch or the coming-of-age books I read are linked to nature in the same way many of the things I watched and read in my childhood did. The characters seek solace in places like the beach, or in the woods, or anywhere outside where they can be alone with just nature.
Many of my friends have much less exposure to nature than I do, mostly because they live in apartments and don’t get out of the house to play or walk very often. Where I live, there aren’t any parks that block out the hubbub of the city or the noise of traffic. The neighborhoods are also polluted, and not very well maintained. Another reason for my peers’ lack of involvement with nature is devices and technology, which are so addictive that everyone has their eyes glued to them.
However, there are a few things I dislike about nature, like how unpredictable it can be at times, or how it forces me to step outside my comfort zone. When I have been on treks or hikes, there have been many situations where I had to adapt to my environment, and that meant doing new things and taking leaps of faith when I didn’t know what was going to happen. The main reason I’m hesitant or anxious in these situations is that nature never fails to surprise me, and there are always new things or dangers that I could encounter. This fear of nature’s unpredictability is something I have yet to overcome but am slowly making progress on.
My parents haven’t ever taught me any of these things, they never told me how to interact with the things around me, but the way they raised me has automatically helped me bond with nature and living organisms, teaching me to treat everything as equal and with kindness.
When she wrote this piece, Nargis Kachrumathur was 13 years old and in grade nine at The Riverside School in Ahmedabad, India. She loves playing basketball, reading, writing, listening to music, and theater.