Written by SACHI MIYACHI
I am touching the wall in the dark room looking for a light switch.
It is sure to get closer to the switch. But I'm blocked by a mountain which is made from piles of notes, photos and drawings that I keep, for no reason but for pleasure.
The mountain falls down.
I am paralyzed in my room by the piles on my feet.
I wait for a while until my eyes get used to the darkness.
I start seeing the piles. I manage to walk through them by putting papers aside. I stumble upon a note. That is about giant anteater.
(scientific name: Myrmeco phaga tridactyla)
This is one of my favorite mammalians.
I met one of them in the zoo where is in the south part of Tokyo.
He was walking in his cage.
He walked by some fake rocks, stood in front of a pond, shook his head, and then looked into the water to see his reflection.
After that, he turned right; he continued walking in a unique rhythm.
His movements were precise.
At times he showed sensitive gestures with his long tongue and big tail.
He was repeating all these same movements over and over.
It was like a never ending dance routine but at the same time it had a sad quality of sleepwalking.
It seemed as if he walked and danced to accept his fate.
He would no longer have a need to search for and destroy any anthills with his sharp nails in the vast fields.
His special features such as nails, tongue and tail, that had been made for surviving in his environment, now they were merely to add some more expressions to entertain the visitors in the zoo.
It made sense inside of the concrete cage. He kept on walking gracefully with pleasure and pain of life.
I was attracted to him. I couldn’t leave him.
I make some space to sit down amidst the piles of papers.
I already know where the switch is, but I leave it off.
I am getting intoxicated in the dark room.
Once in a while, car lights cross the ceiling.
There are enormous amounts of ants living in the savannah.
Ants make houses for their families with sand glued with their secretion. As the families grow bigger, the size of the houses can be as big as a hill. The houses get hard as concrete in the end and become two meters high after years and years of building. Inside of the hill, there are many rooms, corridors, and natural air conditioning systems in order to maintain several millions of ants´ life. Although it is like a labyrinth, they do not get lost with their miraculous sense of direction.
Maybe my life in this room will be much easier and more lucid if I learn their civilized world.
The giant anteater lives across south Honduras to the north Argentina in the
American continent. He started walking in the savannah and forest before the
He usually lives alone, searching for the anthills everyday. His nails are too big to walk smoothly. Because of the nails, his ankles develop to have flexibility that makes him walk in a funny way. He is short enough to disappear in the grass when walking, but his white, gray or black hair colors don’t easily allow him to do so. What is more, if you let him stand, he is taller than an average Dutch person.
He finds anthills with his amazing nose that is ten times better than humans. He tries to destroy them with his sharp nails but he can only succeed in making a small hole on the hard wall. When ants notice the hole, they come together around the hole to fix it. That is when Giant anteater puts his 60 centimeters long tongue, which is very thin like earthworm, with his special saliva into the hole and picks one or two ants and mouths them. He repeats the movements very quickly. About 3 times every 2 seconds. He eats 150 ants in one minute. One minute is the time he spends for one anthill. After one minute, he goes on looking for another anthill. He eats 30,000 ants a day by making a little hole in 200 anthills. Ants usually fix the hole in one hour. And every minute, a baby ant is born.
W hat do I eat instead of 30,000 ants a day?
I have been walking around this city since the spring of 2004. I live in an apartment with a roommate, and search for a kind of 'ant hill' everyday. My passion for it is too strong to walk smoothly. It became stronger and stronger that it takes my attention and I happened to lose my way often. When I walk, I am little enough to disappear in the crowd. I find 'the hill' with my eyes in the changing scenery that is in front of me. I try to destroy it but it is too hard to make it. I can only make a small hole. I take out my thin 0.3 cm pen from one pocket which is thinner than earthworm. I take out note from the other pocket. And I look inside of the hole, I catch one or two of words or lines and I draw them in the notebook. I repeat the movements very quickly hoping that I am catching 150 words or lines in one minute. I would like to eat them as much as I can, but one minute is the time I can concentrate for it in the crowd. After that I search for another 'hill'. The hole in the scenery is fixed. Every minute, new meanings are born. If I would make a hole in such a hill, what kind of hill would be in front of me?
The first 'hill' would be about changing scenery.
The second one would be about memories in my mind.
The third one should be about forefathers’ wisdom.
The forth one would be about knowledge of my friends.
The fifth one would be about every day happening.
The sixth one is……
How many kinds of 'hills' are there in front of me?
If I write 30,000 words and lines in the notebook, how many hidden meanings are there in them?
But the result is seen as such a pile of photos, notes and pictures left in my room. It is not easy to digest them. They are like sand in the desert. I am buried half by them. If I have special secretion, can I make 'the hill' by myself like ants do?
Giant anteater doesn’t have any teeth.
He mashes ants with his stomach muscles.
I wonder how I can mash mine.
I make a little bit more space to lay down.
Giant anteater likes to swim and climb up trees.
He also likes to stay in the waterside.
Jaguar likes him. He hates jaguar. When Jaguar chases him, he can easily get caught. Giant anteater stands up and hugs Jaguar with all his strength and with his sharp nails. That is his way to fight against danger.
I have no courage to give a hug to danger like him.
Giant anteater doesn’t have any fixed house. He is a wanderer for entire his life. He finds a sleeping place in the bush. He curls his body and put his big tail over himself like a blanket. How he sleeps reminds a large fruit with bristle.
When a female giant anteater gets pregnant, 190 days later, she gives birth. The baby grows on the mother’s back and is fed with the mother’s milk for several months. While the child stays with the mother, he learns how to survive in nature in the savannah from her. After one year, a new breeding season comes to the mother, the child emancipates.
Usually they walk alone, and search for anthills everyday.
He may still be in his cage of the zoo, walking through some fake rocks and repeating the dance routine without making any mistakes. If ever he meets his mother again, what will he do? Will he be able to remember the feeling on the back of his mother?
If I learn his graceful walk and let my nails grow, I might be able to give a hug to all the difficulties in front of me.
If I grow my hear long enough to cover myself, I might be able to sleep wherever I want.
Once in a while, car lights cross the ceiling.
I would stand up and turn on the light to eat something.