Does the humble little crab have an important relationship advice?

Sometimes it is best to dig in your heels and wait for the rough tide to sweep over

Raksha Bharadia | Posted on 16 Jan 2016
Does the humble little crab have an important relationship advice?

I was walking on the beach. The sun was about to set and the setting was picture perfect. The rapidly changing hues of the sky as it turned melancholic by the minute, bidding its lover, the sun adieu. The cool breeze carrying with it the refreshing scent of the flora around it, the engulfing sound of the waves against the shore, the rush of the soft sand and sun-soaked water soothing our feet with its warmth, and the endless spread of the ocean. Indeed, the scene couldn’t be more picturesque. There is something overwhelming about an evening on the beach, it simply does not allow you to wallow in self, be it in pity or complaints, be it in narcissism or future planning or strategizing. It simply consumes and all one can feel is the sense of being one with the elements, even if for a few fleeting moments. Yes, a walk on the beach has always made me aware of the paradox that defines, confines and releases us all at the same time. That the universe is too large and I, too insignificant, but then I am an essential part of the large and hence in that sense I am eternal too. It was during one such walk that I saw yet another gem.  

The tide was rising, the waves crashing in copiously. I could feel the force of the water growing with literally every wave. Since I was wearing a knee length dress, I became more watchful of the incoming waves so as to avoid getting the hem of my dress wet. It was then that I saw them, tens and hundreds of them. They were tiny, seemed extremely light on their feet, and a tad off-whitish against the vast beige which made them perhaps more conspicuous against the otherwise neutral spread. They were the tiny crabs, hundreds of them on the smooth-sand beach of South Goa.

I saw them being carried in with the force, their tiny legs flagging frantically against the overwhelming current. ‘Poor things,' I thought, ‘they don’t know what they are up against. They don’t stand a chance.' And just then I saw it, the first one dig all of its six, light but determined feet in the ground and in the next instant, dipping the head underneath and disappearing. The mighty ocean receded empty-handed, of that one crab at least. I walked on and saw them, hundreds of them, each doing the same. Getting washed in, finding that moment to ground, dig in leg first, body and head last, and triumphing against the much mightier force! Who would have thought it to be possible?

I wondered, if it is something we can learn from? What to do in a time of crisis? What is needed then? To hold ground and stand firm? To sink within self and draw strength and energy from there? Block the world outside? Sages, wise laureates, artists, all speak of the same. To find strength by going within, finding one’s ground…

And I was thinking of this going within self vis-à-vis couple relationships? Can a third person possibly understand the dynamics, sensitivities, the give-and-take of a couple which has been in a long-term bond? From the interviews that I have conducted, personal and with professionals, and from my own personal understanding of the relationships I have seen from close range, I can say that the moment a third person is brought in a couple's relationship as an arbitrator or a peace-maker, the two in context start talking to the third person rather than for each other. And in the process they may perhaps compromise, at least to some degree, their authentic self that they bring into the relationship. The negatives get exaggerated, the positives minimized, like we do in a movie or a play to grab the attention of the audience, to get the writer’s particular point of view. Therapists do help, I agree, but the ones who are brilliant at their work, and when they give the partners thoughts to ponder on and come at their own understanding rather than playing a judge or God that we want to manipulate towards our side.

What if the couple grounds in, just the two of them and take stock? What if they cut off the world outside and become the judge, jury and executioner to each other…what if they dig their 12 feet in together and then their heads and hold to their ground…



Raksha Bharadia

Raksha Bharadia is a writer and editor. She has authored three books published by Rupa & Co. She has put together 13 titles in the Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul series for Westland. She has also worked as a scriptwriter with Star Plus. She has been a columnist for Femina, Ahmedabad Mirror, and DNA, Ahmedabad. Raksha has taught creative writing for a Master’s Program at CEPT, Ahmedabad. is Raksha’s first significant foray in the digital space.

Comments : 6

Shruti Mathur: I personally feel that no third person must ever be brought in order to solve a couple's issues.

Team Bonobology: your spouse or partner has communicated to you that they are not happy, that things aren't changing, go to counseling. Even if they haven't communicated any of these, it's a good idea to go for a relationship tune up. Your spouse will probably be elated that you offered or agreed to go which will help relieve some of the pressure.

Sucheta Chaturvedi: It is so true... we, as humans, can learn so much from various animals - crabs, fish, penguins, monkeys...

Team Bonobology: A professional can often times offer a perspective or practical tips that you haven't considered. Most people are willing to see a medical doctor for their sicknesses, but why not a relationship counseling for their relationships?

modernromeo: I think time allows you perspective, you start thinking out of your own fixed pov. Any conflict must be allowed time...and that is when the couples should sit and discuss. After thinking...


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