Ant Hill is back to round off the love story of Zoro and Zita. If you have not been following their story, simply click here and enjoy.
Toki chatted animatedly as we marched on towards the Queen’s chamber. As usual he was brimming with excitement. And as usual I was at once baffled and irritated by his incomprehensible exhilaration.
What did he have to be excited about? What was it about our miserable existence that kept him chirpy and eager all the time? Even now when we face summons by the Queen, which can only mean one thing – the announcement of our nuptial flight – he is brimming with enthusiasm like we are about to be served lifetime awards.
“You know why we all have been summoned, don’t you?” He said now.
I didn’t respond. Every drone on the line knew.
“I think it is to announce to us the day and time of our nuptial flight, don’t you think?” He continued keeping step with Kite who was marching beside him.
Because all I felt like was screaming and possibly knocking his head off, I remained silent.
“I feel so excited.” He trilled.
You are always excited, I thought wearily.
“You look depressed.” He observed now twisting his head about to stare at me. “You’ve been looking depressed since Dima brought us the news of the Queen’s summons.”
“Move on, Toki, you are holding up the line.” I said dryly.
“It’s because of that worker you’ve been mooning over, right?” He hastened up to meet up with Kite. “Zita. It’s because of her that you are looking so gloomy and disconsolate.”
“No, it’s not just because of Zita that I am glum and disconsolate.” I said sharply. “It is because of this wretched life that we are condemned to. Tell me, Toki, what are we here for? So we can make a Princess and then drop to our death?”
Toki stopped for a brief second and then went on. “It is how we are designed to live, Zoro.” His voice was quieter. It has lost some of it’s luster and eagerness.
“Who designed it? That Alpha Being none of us has ever seen or the Queen who birthed us?” I demanded, the helpless anger in me overflowing through my voice. “Tell me, Toki, who did?”
“I don’t know, Zoro.” Toki replied. “I don’t question these things as you do. We are ants and as ants we have a defined existence. We all have our own parts to play for the good and continuous existence of our colony. And as drones, that part is to fly out with a Princess, mate her so she can conceive and continue the colony elsewhere. And if that mating unfortunately brings our death, well so be it.”
He sounded more than a little exasperated but I didn’t care. I knew he made sense in as far as an ant’s life is concerned but I have long spurned that sensible existence and wanted no part in it. I am an ant and I have a right to choose for myself where my life should lead me.
“Halt!” Kaza commanded as we reached the entrance into the Queen’s chamber.
Every drone on the line stopped marching.
“Then Queen will speak to you now.” Kaza said, stepping away from the entrance and dipping his big head in a bow as he did so.
She stepped forward and filled out the entrance. Loud gasping sounds of wonder were heard from among the drones. None of us had ever seen the Queen. She was magnificent. She glowed and shone like we have never seen any ant glow and shine before. Her wings were larger than ours and they gleamed so bright, I bet some of the drones were dazzled by them. She looked like a queen – dignified, impressive and majetsic.
“Drones, I welcome you to this all important meeting.”
In spite of her size and her majestic appearance, the sound of her voice was soft. Soft yet distinguished.
“I know that all of you have been waiting for this day. The day when you get to fulfill your mission to the colony.” She continued in same regal tone. “The life of an ant is one of duty and responsibility. The duty of a drone is to his Princess.”
She paused and moved her head from side to side, looking at each drone. Her eyes locked onto mine. I looked back at her boldly, unflinching. It appeared to me like she inclined her head, ever so slightly. But I couldn’t be sure, because she turned away and continued with her speech.
The speech lasted another minute or two and then we were all dismissed.
Back at the our chamber, I counted the minutes until when Dima was finally done and left our chamber to return to hers, then I escaped.
I made my way steadily towards the workers’ chamber, not looking left or right, just focused on my march and on my mission.
“Zita. Zita.” I called urgently when I reached the entrance of their chamber.
I heard the rustling sound even as she hastened forward and came towards me.
“What are you doing here, Zoro?” Zita asked twisting her head from side to side to make sure no soldier was looking.
“It is now or never, Zita.” I said simply, my steady gaze on her.
She stopped turning her head and stared at me. I could see she didn’t need me to explain, she understood me perfectly. But there was hesitation and a little fear in her eyes.
“Zita, I love you. The nuptial flight has been fixed for tomorrow night.”
“I don not want to fly out with a Princess. I want to fly out with you.” I drew closer and touched her antennae gently with mine. “Come with me tonight, Zita, fly out with me.
“She cannot fly.” Kiki said coming forward. “Zita, do not listen to him. This will mean instant death for both of you if you are caught.”
“Death is inevitable, Zita.” I said not taking my eyes of my beloved. “I love you with every beat of my heart. I saw the Queen today. She looked magnificent and majestic. But in my eyes, she was not as beautiful as you are.”
Kiki made a derisive sound. “That is the talk of a mad ant, Zita. Do not listen to his madness. Even if you are not caught, you cannot survive outside the Hill. You cannot survive without the colony.”
“Maybe we cannot survive… for very long… outside this Hill.” I stroked her head with my antennae. “But for the little time we will have, we will be together – free as the air. Free to share and express our love. Free to live as we please. Free to make our own destiny.”
I edged closer and touched my head to hers. She quivered slightly, but did not move away.
“Come with me, Zita. Let us make our own destiny.”
I pushed back and waited. My heartbeat had literally stopped as I stared at her. Kiki was watching her too.
Zita looked deep into the eyes that looked back at her. They were dark pools of love and adoration. They were dark depths of sincerity and trust, of patience and endurance. Of strength and courage. They loved her and they believed in their love.
“Yes.” Zita said ambling forward and linking their antennae. “Let us fly out… tonight.”
“Don’t do it, both of you.” Kiki cried.
But even as she looked at us, I knew she could see that her pleading was all in vain.
“I love you.” I whispered to my beloved.
She looked back at me and I saw her eyes gleam. “I love you, Zoro.” She whispered back.
“You two are fools.” Kiki said with a weary sigh. “Fools who have unfortunately lost their minds, God save our colony of this unfortunate disease.”
We both made trilling sounds of laughter and joy.
We have chosen our own path. Tonight, we will make our own destiny.
**I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. I invite you to join me on Sunday for the final episode of Ant Hill. Thank you**