A mound of minute granules of chewed up bits of earth, that's how we see an ant hill. But a house? More elaborate perhaps but the same amount of chewing up goes on in its creation. Let me explain.
Barbara was a shy little girl. She had goofy teeth and knees that knocked together. When they played British bulldog in the school yard – a harsh game for a four-year-old girl – she retired, flushing with fear to the safety of the wall, one leg bent up underneath her and leaning back, rather like a drunk flamingo. The boys' wore scratchy blazers just the same as the girls but they always looked more layered somehow and as they tore backwards and forwards during the game, each component of their uniform took on a life of its own. Barbara's clothes, on the other hand, remained rigid, neatly tucked in and she couldn't bear the tickly feeling she got on her back if her blouse slipped out and her jumper rode roughshod through the open gap. Appearance was everything to her and from her point of observation at the wall, she sensed that it meant nothing to the boys; that whilst she was nurturing perfecting her outer shell, they prized the way their inner warriors burst through their shirt buttons and spilt out onto the playground, completely spent. This uncanny intuition was to save her from many a fall in the playground.
As she looked on at the game, she knew that one day, she would have to let one of these nasty little beasts through her outer shell; that if she wanted wedded bliss like every other little girl, she would have no choice. It was disgusting. She'd read about it. Every night, the same thing happening in bedrooms up and down the country. Yuk. She loved her invisible fairy wings and reached back over her shoulder to stroke their downy hair, almost believing that they were real. She knew that one day, she would leave her parents' nest and the nuptial flight would be her last before her wings were chewed off.
And so it was. But she was prepared and in a big way. During playtime one day, she went upstairs to the school library. From up there in her castle, she could see the other children charging around outside like mad things propelled by the hidden energy to self destruct that she seemed to be lacking. She sat down and surveyed the spines of the books. She half pulled out the odd one here and there until a particular cover caught her attention. It was about The Stupa in Sri Lanka, a huge brick construction that looked like the biggest ant hill she'd ever seen. Occupied by Buddhist monks, apparently. Now you might think that at this point, she decided to become a nun. Not so. At this point, she gazed at the image of The Stupa and vowed instead that she would have the most huge, the most elaborate brick palace built for her by her suitor as compensation for having to take that nuptial flight. So from her seat at the library window she looked down again at the ant-like figures darting around on the playground. She was looking for the fastest, the most aggressive, the one using the cleverest tactics to conquer the enemy. Little did Barbara know that sixty years later, she would just be satisfied with finding one using his own teeth.