Gently attached and hanging on the window pane, it spent days (as to how many I do not know) waiting patiently for its imminent transformation into one of nature’s most lovely creatures. I’m talking here of a caterpillar, and an itchy one.
The window where she hanged was adjacent to the small chapel where we spent our meditation during our retreat. The fact that we are seminarians could have given her a sense of security, she could have slept and pass over another night of tedious waiting in serenity and peace. She may have been there for a couple of days then, as one can see she was already firmly attached to the metal brace of the window pane and her back now was starting to arch, though still capable of motion. She’s on the way to being a pupa. The room was dim yet the faint light that hits her velvet body revealed her lovely viridiscent color. However, she also has hairs all around which tells us that she is not the kind of caterpillar we used to play with in our childhood. She’s the kind we use to shun, and crush and kill if we may. And this made the difference of all her nights of patient waiting.
She wiggled as one seminarian touched her with a paper. Somehow telling us that she’s alive, kicking and wiggling. If she could only speak, she would have told that seminarian to stop, it tickled her. Or she would have told him to back off, she’s not tickled, she’s threatened. I bet she mean the latter. Science would tell us that caterpillars wiggle when they feel threatened. If she only has hands, she could have better let out a punch. Humans tend to do that when we are threatened, we find ways to repulse perceived dangers. Yet what could a vulnerable caterpillar do aside from wiggling? Nothing of a kind to protect herself, except maybe for her hairs. And I think she did just that, she’s an itchy caterpillar right. Contact with her hairs would produce a burning and itchy sting on the skin. That’s what one seminarian felt on his skin, and that would decide her fate forever.
Suddenly, she became the object of antagonism. She became a threat, an unlikely occupant of the window pane. She was not that gentle caterpillar anymore, or so they thought; she’s now an aggressive intruder capable of harming anyone that comes her way. Between her and the seminarian, she’s the one that needs to be repulsed. And before our evening of prayerful meditation was over, they decided to end her life.
I don’t know if she understood all the commotion and the noise as they put her fate on deliberation. I don’t know if she knew that we were seminarians. I don’t know if she knew that we were taught to love life and to protect life for as long as that life does not threaten our very lives. I don’t know if she knew that she would die that very night, that all her patient waiting, that all her hope of becoming a butterfly or moth someday will end in a fiery ordeal. If she didn’t know, I hope the seminarians knew.
They said that itchy caterpillars do not transform into a butterfly. They got it wrong. Itchy caterpillars do transform into butterflies and others into moths. They didn’t know it. And so they decided to call her quits.
They lit a candle, the one that’s been previously used for prayer. They held it under her. She wiggled again, now more persistently. She tried to struggle moving from side to side, but every time she let go she falls into the inferno. Then she moved again, but all she could do was wiggle. Her persistent wiggling is countered by the persistent flame. She wiggled persistently until her once greenish body gradually turned black. She was scorched. The wiggling stops. She’s dead.
Silence. Within two to three weeks, she could have become a butterfly.