Ants with giant butts
Funny how as you grow up, mid-autumn festival is about burning ants, and tasting too-sweet mooncakes. I never have a thing for mooncakes – maybe it’s because those I’ve tried are always overbearingly sweet, even the famed Raffles Hotel ones. Yam mooncakes are different though, in another league altogether!
There was one year we ended up at Mount Faber (one of the many little hilltops in Singapore) and stumbled onto troops and troops of red ants along the railing. We swear there’s at least 10,000 ants camping there.
The little wicked idea came and very soon, we were burning them with our lighted candles (what else would one do when he has candles & infinite supply of ants?) and my golly, have you ever burnt an ant before? If you haven’t, you shouldn’t be reading this blog because you’re probably too serious for your own good you should try! The slight crackling sound they produce when the bright crimson flame touches their big butts — these were the giant red ants we’re talking about here.
It may sound cruel to some, but well at that moment, we weren’t thinking of much except to get more flames and to see how many each of us could burn and how many more there were left for us to burn! We didn’t have to worry – there were plenty of ants, it’s as if we burnt a small camp of ants and the next second, another camp pops out. It’s not something we do every day or something we deliberately set out to do, but it’s good fun! Besides, red ants sting like hell when they bite!
We’d imagine some of the ants must be secretly happy we’re burning their counterparts – we wouldn’t imagine they were happy with the overcrowding issue either if the ants behind keep knocking into their butts and they keep stepping onto the legs of the ants in front!
Tonight, we were having a little picnic with the folks, lighting up lanterns and creating pomelo lanterns, sipping tea, playing charadium – alas, there were no ants and it was pretty boring especially when you think of the fun night we had years ago. On our way out, we discovered a toad at the sandpit – but still zero ant in sight.
Until one of us stopped in our tracks and saw on the ground, a black sea of little black dots.
Ants!!! Ants attacking a dead “something” to be exact. Ants distracted by the dead “something” can only mean one thing!
We got to work quickly and began lighting candles furiously. We dropped a lighted candle right at the heart of that dead “something” and very soon, the ants were scattering away. We dropped another candle, and this time round, the ants decided to outsmart us and sent in their SWAT teams to snuff out the light with their bodies. Many were sacrificed but you know how it’s like to be an ant, they would give up their lives for the king/queen ants anytime. We saw the same heroic actions from the Mount Faber citizens years ago as well; they would risk their lives and carry the Queen Ants across the flames.
Very soon, they were all away from the dead “something” and busy escaping from the candles. We started throwing dried leaves, and his aunt who’d told us off for wanting to burn ants, came in with a roll of newspaper all lit up! We were shocked but only too happy with the reinforcement because candles were fast running out after the ants’ repeated attempts to snuff out our candles. Talk about higher moral grounds!
We didn’t finish burning all of them – exhaustion and low candle supply got the better of us and we eventually left the burning newspaper and stack of dried leaves there to burn out on its own.
It was a priceless night and I think the big man up there must have planned for this. Without you, our night would have been really uneventful – thank you!