February 1, 2012

Days in the Forest

Bikkapathi Mund is a small, almost cut off village in one of the hill regions of Southern India. But that by itself does not make it any special than the hundreds of other villages spread across hills of our nation.

The village is surrounded almost completely by thick shola forests that extend to the plains below in the form of moist deciduous and thereafter dry deciduous forests. Everywhere that the eye can see, one can squint in disbelief. forests all around and of all types and hues. Wild or perhaps slightly domesticated buffaloes roam the grasslands, occasionally becoming cattle-feed for the prowling tigers all around. A few Malabar squirrels have made permanent residence at the nearby department guest house. Old and decrepit now but surely holding tales of wildlife of the bygone era.

When I went there for the first time, I made a great friend. Kuttan who knows the world like only the best naturalists would, he showed the various sources of springs and explained how they sustained the surrounding region. I was taken aback by the sudden silence, but moreso by the sudden chill and suddenly found myself drifting off.

A kilometre away and a beautiful bikkimaram was standing majestically across the empty grassland. I walked on, unmindful of the chill and of the fear of the silence all around. It started getting dark and I could see that the mist coming in from the mountain in front. It was as surreal an experience as I ever felt, anywhere in life and I just kept on walking.
Some flowers bloomed bright, some leaves glistened thick, some moments, I found myself siting, sometimes listening to the rustle of the wild boars, or perhaps it was a leopard. 

Several minutes had passed when the jeep came downhill to where I was and said Lets go. I said yes and looked back. At peace.