By: Syeda Hafsah Bokhari, Class: X
An ecosystem is a community of living organisms in conjunction with the non-living components of their environment (things like air, water and mineral soil), interacting as a system. These biotic and abiotic components are regarded as linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. As ecosystems are defined by the network of interactions among organisms, and between organisms and their environment, they can be of any size but usually encompass specific, limited spaces (although some scientists say that the entire planet is an ecosystem).
At the word of ecosystem, I look up with a jerk. Ms. Nudrat, our biology teacher is standing in front of the teacher's desk, explaining the chapter we have recently started. I am very weak in the subject, because for me, it's too boring! And in almost every class I doze off to my own world.
I do like knowing about nature and living things, but not in detail, which is why I'll be mostly found staring blankly at the walls, in the class. Fortunately for me, I've never got caught . . . yet.
Anyway, in this practical period our teacher takes us to the ground of our school to study the ecosystem, as we were promised. We are given the task of making three food chains and two food webs out of the species we would be seeing down there.
Wearing lab coats, a pad and a pen in our hands, we climb down the stairs quietly so as not to disturb the other classes.
Although our teacher had made groups that were to work together, but being an anti-social person I decide to do it on my own. I know that nobody will bother me either as I'm perfectly aware of the fact that very few people (except for my best friend who happens to be absent today) enjoy the company of a nerd like me.
It's a simple ground, with a very few grass patches in some corners. In those specific places there are a number of plants and trees growing too. The trees are fairly abundant covering most of the space along the walls of our school. It also has a cemented stage on one end. It’s neither very big, nor very small.
I move around randomly, examining the nature around me and trying to accomplish the task I was told to do by my teacher. I start from the corner close to the exterior gate of the school, where a bougainvillea plant has some very small yellow flowers on it. I raise my hand to write 'plant' on my pad, to begin with my food chain, when I notice a slight movement from a leaf. I bend down so as to see clearly and lo! A tiny caterpillar is crawling on the leaf most probably having his breakfast. I keep looking at it, examining its movements, for a second or two and then smile. I remember what Allah has said in the Quran. I straighten myself up and walk forward, my neck turned in the direction of the plants, observing everything, as far as my eyes can see, as tiny objects as my eyes can distinguish between and as magnificent a body as my eyes can praise, I explore. I look up and see huge leaves of the tree above me swishing and fluttering with each gust of the wind, I look down and see the tiny leaves of tiny plants bent down as if . . . as if in sajdah. "And the green plants and trees prostrate." I hear someone reciting Surah Rehman, very far away . . . in the midst of my mind, perhaps. I run and turn a corner. I see termites and bark beetles over a piece of log kept behind the trees, and ants climbing up a tree. "And the Earth he has laid for the creatures." I see small, green, and unripe bananas hanging from a tree. "Therein are fruits and palm trees with sheaths." And I see alluring pink flowers growing on different plants. "And grain with husk and fray, rant flowers. Which then, of the favours of your Lord will O jinn and men, you twain, will deny?"
I move forward and notice a squirrel scampering down the branches of a tree; I look down and see an insect digging itself deep into the sand. "There is no creature on Earth but that upon Allah is its provision and He knows its place of storage."
I take a few steps, stop and lookup smiling broadly. There, up in another tree are my favourite fruits - though still unripe - small green mangoes. "And he has created the Earth for you. Therein are fruits and date palms, and husked grain and scented herbs. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny?"
Suddenly I hear a ring of a distant bell and see the girls around me huddle together to form a line to head back to class. I want to ignore them, to let them go. I want to stay here and praise Allah's nature as much as I can. But I have to, I have to go, have to do what I am supposed to do not what I want. Because this is life, sadly.
I sigh and am about to turn to join the line looking up at the sky when I suddenly stop. I let my head fall backwards as much as I can and stare at the blue sky above me. I close my eyes, waves of wind hitting my face and recall another verse of Quran. "And the sky, Allah has elevated it and set the balance. And keep up the weight with justice, and shorten the weight."
"Dua!" I hear someone calling my name. I turn around and see the class prefect waving at me. I nod and move forward, realizing that that was probably the first biology class I have ever enjoyed and at the same time ignoring the fact that soon I will have to face the silly questions and bare stupid giggles of my fellow classmates about being such a Luna Love good.
And remember readers: Your body isn't just a body. It's an ecosystem. A whole world within itself with so many processes and complexities we can barely imagine.