Money Plant

Money Plant (c) The Hindu 2014The Great Indian Horned Owl turns poet and pens down thoughts on man’s greed.

Hello Aristotle,

I read with great interest letters from the spider, bee and the cow. Obviously, I do agree with what they say that man is a mean meddler. Interestingly, he destroys not just us but fellow human beings too. If you ask me, a wise owl, as to why he does this, I would say that it is because of his greed.

A page from India’s colourful past

A chapter on greed that makes one aghast.

It is the kaliyuga, says the cow

That doesn’t justify evils then and now.

British East India Company came to trade

And in India, flourished for many a decade.

Opium was a drug many Chinese were addicted to

But then Company officials had an addiction too.

Money and profits consumed them

The depth of their avarice hard to fathom.

The Company grew opium poppy on land

Made fertile and rich by Ganges alluvial sand.

Where previously grew sugar-cane, wheat, maize and rice

Now grew red poppy that fetched a phenomenally high price.

Unripe fruits of this plant, processed by these vile bandits

Were sold to eager Chinese addicts.

This made Chinese rulers exceedingly angry

And the Indian farmers poor and hungry.

In 1739, China’s emperor made the drug illegal

But smugglers still made it easily available.

One thing junkies will tell you for sure

With use, one will want more.

For over a century, the rogues plundered and exploited

Yet their lust for money remained unchanged.

In early 1800s they waged wars on the Oriental nation

To legalise this drug and thus encourage addiction.

Though China lifted the ban

Things didn’t go according to plan.

Corrupt officials lost their powers

When Chinese farmers grew their own poppy flowers.

Take it from me, a Great Indian Horned Owl

There are many ways to enrich, but most are foul.

Great Indian Horned Owl

Reply from Aristotle

Did you know that animals too get intoxicated by eating fermented fruits? Marula trees of southern Africa bear a pulpy, nutritious fruit that everyone in the animal kingdom loves. Elephants walk miles in search of the female tree that gives the fruit. When they feed on fallen, fermented fruits, they sway and stagger around!

If moose (or elk, if you like) in Sweden feed on apples fallen to the ground, they become highly aggressive. When fruit flies or honey bees feed on fermented fruit or plant sap, they get too dizzy to fly.

Published as part of a series titled ‘Aristotle’s Mailbag’ in Young World, The Hindu, dt. February 25, 2014


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