“What is your favorite dragon amma?” asked the son as we made our way to see an active volcano. Dragons follow a long line of illustrious characters such as Lightning McQueen, Ninjago – Masters of Spinjitzu. They come and claim his interest and imagination in ways that make me envious at times. How do children play so wholeheartedly?
I mock-sighed and said, “Aaah! Not dragons again! Fine! Nature Dragon is my favorite.”
“Which dragon are you scared of?”
“Volcano Dragon!”, I said. Given that we were going to see an active volcanic region, it seemed like an apt choice. (There is no Snarling Traffic Dragon, I checked.)
He then went on chattering about the shattering power of volcano dragons, and I went back to nodding absently while taking in the physical aspects of the changing landscape around me. (The fellow talks incessantly of dragons and gets cranky if I get the dragons in Dragon Land mixed up with those in Dragon City. I, as you can guess, see no difference between the two.)
By now, we were ambling along up the mountainside looking at the damage wrought by the volcanic activity. Thick crusts of lava had solidified along the trail helpfully laid out for tourists. It was a stark image, an image in which it was possible to imagine ourselves stepping gingerly on the back of a troll or a dragon with a particularly hideous hide, that at any moment could roar and spurt fire at the indignity of seeing mere morsels tread on his or her back. The very thought sent an electric shiver down the spine.
Looking at the barren/dry landscape made me think of an episode I had seen on Cosmos on Venus. In his deep rumbling voice, Neil Grasse Tyson explains how Venus was once a planet with a wonderful landscape like Earth, but intense volcanic activity seems to have made it a desolate angry planet trapped in its own greenhouse effect.
But hope always finds a way of creeping in, in the most unlikely ways and means. A few feet from a still smoking volcano, in which the lava rocks were red hot, around the dense rocks that bore the marks of hardened lava, in that otherwise barren and desolate looking mountainside, grew pink flowers. Tiny pink flowers bravely, cheerfully doing their part in reminding me of the resilience of life and beauty.
“So you like Flora then?” chirped the son.
How did he know? I looked surprised, and then realized that the Nature Dragon in his game was called Flora. Everything felt surreal in this place. Were there really dragons?
We had reached the smoking crater by now, and I gingerly picked up a red hot piece of rock in my hands. Was I in a dream or was I really touching hot lava rocks, and watching icebergs cleave?
Just a couple of days earlier, we felt a similar sense of awe while watching the glaciers float like icy dragons. One huge ice dragon stirred and with a thunderous roar, cleaved in half from underneath. There is something awe-inspiring in the forces of nature, and it behooves us to remember that our biggest and strongest weapons are no use against the vagaries of nature.
I sometimes visualize ourselves looking like idiots standing bewildered in front of the storms that batter us every now and trying to tell the storms, “Ehh….I don’t know whether you realize this or not, but we have nuclear weapons you know? “
Dashed silly it makes us look, when a little extra rain sends us scrambling.
To me, both surreal experiences had only 1 way of bringing me to reality: An urgent need to find a restroom. The elements of our being are all very well if you aren’t sprinting across lava beds and glaciers looking for a restroom with a desperate child clasped to your hand.
I wonder whether Dragon Land has a shortcut to restrooms.