It’s 11 PM, and it’s a school night. After brushing her teeth, Alice is all ready to go to sleep, except there’s something that’s been making her restless after she’s come back from school. Lying on her bed with lights on, she looks towards the window where she can spot the leaves of the tree in her courtyard. Alice’s dad enters.
Alice: Is mom asleep?
Dad (stands beside the bed): Yes, why aren’t you asleep yet? Don’t you want to get up early for school?
Alice: I do.
Dad: What’s the matter?
Alice: Nothing. I just can’t sleep with all these thoughts.
Dad: What thoughts? Did you apply the bug oil on your arms? Too many bugs in this area. (Locks the window)
Alice: Yes. I did, and this bug oil is the thing that’s been bothering me.
Dad: What about it? It’s smell? It’s supposed to be good. I saw it written on the bottle when I bought it. Show me your hands.
Alice: No, it’s not that.
Dad: Then what?
Alice: Well, today in the environment education class, my teacher told us that animals are supposed to be treated well. Since they have lesser intelligence than us humans, it’s our responsibility to take good care of them. By doing that, we’ll be able to prevent our diverse nature and its beauty.
Dad: Well, she’s right. Animals, birds and everything that’s a living creature on this earth. We should feed them well. Even in the case of tigers, many people have started movements to spread awareness as there are very few of them left.
Alice: But, aren’t tigers harmful to humans? They can Kill a person if he is near any one of them.
Dad: Yes, they are harmful, and that’s why there are protected forests being built at various places where such dangerous animals can live in their habitat away from humans. It’s all been taken care of. But, you said this bug oil’s been bothering you?
Dad: What happened?
Alice: Why are we killing these bugs then? Can’t we make a protected place for them too?
Dad: There are bug houses too at some places, where bugs are provided a good habitat and environment. We are just preventing ourselves so that we don’t get infected by them.
Alice: You knew about these bug houses?
Dad: Yes, it’s quite popular. Now, will you go to sleep? I’ll answer all of your questions tomorrow. I’m sure you’ll come to know how much humans are doing to protect our nature. OK?
Alice: No, wait. I can’t sleep now. Please! 15 more minutes? I swear I’ll straight away go to bed then.
Dad: Alright. What is confusing you? Are you doubting human capabilities to protect our environment?
Alice: No. I’m actually doubting humans to protect our environment.
Dad: What do you mean by that?
Alice (straightens up and sits on the bed): If we are aware of the bug houses, then why are we making such bug oils and bug sprays that can kill them? You are aware of the bug house, still you buy such bug oils and sprays?
(He looks at Alice for a few seconds)
Dad: Ok. Let me put it this way. We all want to protect our environment. This is true. No doubt about that. (Pauses)
But…we are not there yet to have control over each animal below us, which will eventually enable us to protect them.
Alice: By killing them?
Dad: We don’t want to kill them. We are forced to kill some of them until we can shift them to a place where they can’t reach us.
Alice (disturbed): And this is something every human other than me knows about?
Dad: No, but we realize this as we grow up. It’s just a situation. We didn’t choose to be so.
Alice: This is not right then. There has to be a better solution to all of this. We can’t just kill some of these innocent animals now, just to be able to protect the other ones in the future.
Dad: Maybe there is, but to find that out we need to be alive to come to know that, and if you let these bugs infect you, you won’t be well enough to realize the solution, and we don’t want that to happen. Right? We need to survive.
Alice: This means we are not nice people then? We are doing this for ourselves at the end. We don’t care if other animals are alive or not.
Dad: We are nice people. We do care about them. Don’t say that. But sometimes, we have to deal with the situation the harder way.
Alice (slowly says): That means sometimes it’s possible we won’t be nice, if we have to deal with the situation?
Dad (looks at her): We should try to be nice in every situation.
Alice: What if the situation is so that we just can’t be?
Dad: Aren’t you too young to ask these questions?
Alice (restless): Tell me.
Dad: Well, then…
Alice: Then what?
Dad: Then we’ll see what we can do.
Alice: What does that mean?
Dad: This means I’ll know you’ll figure out even if the worst situation comes to you. You’re better than you think. You can make the situation better than if you’re good at heart, and nothing can change you at all.
(Alice doesn’t reply. She realizes her dad hasn’t completed his answer. So she waits)
Dad: You know that, right?
On hearing this question, she looks surprised, and just observes him.
Alice (smiles): Maybe I do.
Dad: Sleep now. Will you?
Alice: Yes. I think I should sleep now.
He switches off the lights, and is just about to close the door..
Alice: Dad, wait.
Dad: What now?
Alice: This is the last question for tonight. I promise.
Alice: Are you a nice person right now, at this moment?
Dad (laughs): You think I’m not?
Alice: Every moment is a situation, right?
Dad (sighs): It is. I think I am. I answered all your questions truthfully. Doesn’t that make me a nice person?
Alice (smiles): It does.
Dad: And we also talked about bugs and animals, so I’m sure I must have provided you some knowledge, didn’t I?
Alice: Yes dad.
Dad: Good night then.
Alice: Good night.
Dad closes door
Alice walks up to the washroom attached to her room, washes the bug oil off her arms. She dries her hands with the towel, and comes back to bed.
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