Friday, November 16, 2012


                      The bats have several unique and unusual features and habits. Students of basic biology often wonder whether they are birds or terrestrial animals. There is a legend about the peculiar nature of bats.
                      In early days, the land animals and birds lived in peace and harmony  in the forest. A severe summer caused an intense drought in the forest. The trees and plants withered. There was a severe scarcity of food and water. In the struggle for survival, the birds and other animals fought against each other in their attempt to capture the available resources. Many animals and birds perished in the struggle.  
                      Finally the Lion King initiated a mediation between the warring groups. He put forward definite guidelines for feeding by the birds and other animals. The birds were to consume only the resources available on the top of trees. Whatever was found at lower level was reserved for the land animals which could not fly. The arrangement was accepted by the birds and other animals.
                      The bats came to the birds and pretended friendship. They said, " We are flying animals like you. We reside on trees and  have a body structure and wings resembling the birds. Let us join and enjoy the resources on the trees." The birds readily agreed.
                      The bats then secretly approached the land animals and said, "Friends, look at our face. We are just like you. We give birth to young bats and suckle and  nurse our children just like each of  you. We wish to join your group and feed on the resources at lower level." The animals agreed.                 
                      The bats now enjoyed the resources available in every part of the forest. They fed on the flying insects and also the crawling creatures. They fed on the fish, frogs, lizards, small rodents, scorpions and other insects like the animals. They captured and ate the flying mosquitoes, moths, beetles, moths and small birds using their superb skills of flying like the birds. In between they relished on flowers, fruits, pollen and nectar. No one disturbed them. 
                      Later the birds and other animals realized their error. They discovered that the bats were  cheating both the groups and breaking the rules of the agreement on feeding. They were eating every available resource, enjoying their special status of dual citizenship. The bats were dismissed from both the groups. They were prevented from enjoying any resource in the forest. The hungry and abandoned bats were forced to stay away from feeding during day time as most of the birds and other animals were chasing them away. They decided to fast and rest by day and secretly seek their food by night, when other animals and birds are in deep sleep. The animals did not let them rest on the ground and drew them away. The birds did not let them rest on trees as the birds did. So the bats practised to hang upside down from branches of trees  and sleep during daylight.
                      This story reminds us that one cannot be a member of two contradictory groups at the same time. He has to identify himself with one of the opposite groups.  Jesus Christ said to his disciples,  “No one can be a slave of two masters; he will hate one and love the other; he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money”
© By Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India, Prof. Mrs. Rajamma Babu, Former Professor, St. Dominic's College, Kanjirappally and Leo. S. John and Neil John, Maniparambil, Ooriyakunnath, Kunnumbhagom, Kanjirappally, Kottayam-686507, Kerala, India.
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