Our story begins two billion years ago…
The story of You & Me!
Or the story of Me in You…
Or the story of You coming into existence ‘cos of Me!
I were a free living Prokaryote & You were a nucleated Eukaryote!
I invaded you or probably there was a casual interaction.
The result was a loving, long-lasting & symbiotic relationship!
And this is what made complex life on Earth possible!
A similar invasion in plants produced chloroplasts!
The invasion was random but benefited us both; me more than you though!
You couldn’t stay for more than 2 minutes if not for me
And you eat more or less to feed me!
I’m tinier than you can imagine, but more resilient than you can conceive.
In to the space of a grain, you can probably pack a billion of me!
If not for my capability of manipulating oxygen,
Life on Earth today would be nothing more than a muck of microbes!
While I’m hailed as the powerhouse of your cells,
I can also degenerate you & your body as per my wish!
While I’m in charge of your cells’ respiration,
I’m also quietly responsible for cell deaths and ageing!
ATP is my contribution that keeps you alive,
But don’t be fooled by my selfless nature –
I might just be the death of you!
Reactive Oxygen Species are my weapon to kill your cells & eventually you!
You have no option but to have blind faith on my capabilities,
But I for sure have all my options in tact!
Your cells are a good home for me,
But I still do not maintain any communication with them!
I maintain my own DNA & that encoding I shall never share with you,
I even have a different language for communication than what your cell can understand!
I harbour a double-edged sword in a world where everything is a trade-off,
I give life in one breath & take it away in another!
I am you but you are not me!
You exist for me but I live on my own terms.
Even after some billion years, I am still sceptical that things might go wrong between us!
And over the years, I know it for a fact that the world still belongs to the very small.
Prokaryote: (Pre-nucleated): A microscopic single-celled organism which has neither a distinct nucleus with a membrane nor other special organelles, including the bacteria & cyanobacteria. (Oxford Dictionary, 2015)
Eukaryote: (Truly nucleated): An organism consisting of a cell or cells in which the genetic material is DNA in the form of chromosomes contained within a distinct nucleus. Eukaryotes include all living organisms other than the eubacteria and archaea. (Oxford Dictionary, 2015)
ATP: (Adenosine triphosphate): ATP transports chemical energy within cells for physiological processes such as muscular contraction. (Oxford Dictionary, 2015)
Reactive Oxygen Species: (ROS or Free-Radicals): Molecules and ions of oxygen that have an unpaired electron, thus rendering them extremely reactive. Many cellular structures are susceptible to attack by ROS contributing to cancer, heart disease and cerebrovascular disease. (Medical Dictionary, 2015)
(i) You talkin’ to me? (Taxi Driver, 1976) or
(ii) A stranger in your house, but one who has been there for a billion years (Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything, 2003)