I am young again, very, very young, a child. It’s an open field, and darkness descends. Birds are returning to their nests in the surrounding trees, making a lot of noise, happy noise. They are happy to be back home after the day, safe, without having been eaten by any predator. Safe with their loved ones, with their children in the nests of straw hanging from branches tens of feet above the ground. What if they fall?? Life hangs by such a slender thread. Their happiness, their chirping would be drowned in a sorrowful squeal were this to happen. But as of now, they are happy, fluttering their wings in the crimson sky, which is slowly turning red, and then indigo.
The surrounding foliage, nay forest, talks to me in its own voice. These are the sounds of the wild. The sounds of animals and plants, and birds, and beasts, those that crawl, and run, and slither in the underwood. It’s the sound of the wind, rustling the leaves, those on the ground and those still attached to their parent branches, green, fresh, young……like me.
In the gathering darkness, and the sounds of the jungle, I sit out in the open, breathing the fresh air, with its smells of the earth, the jungle, the dead and dying leaves, the grass, the droppings of the cattle returning to their villages, the tinkling of their bells. I sit in the gathering darkness, alone, but I am not afraid. Why? Why, indeed? Because I know I am protected, I am safe, I am with my people, with my Mamma, my Papa.
The circuit house looms gloomily in the background, aged, with years weighing on its shoulder. A solitary lamp blinks inside, shifts and stutters, its flames flickering, on now, off now. In the huge grounds that surround the government circuit house, are several tents – one L-tent, one kitchen tent, one stores, one for staff, and one more and then some others I don’t know.
Someone has laid the table, literally. The ‘table’ is a steel, folding contraption, with accompanying chairs. They creak, and protest as they are unfolded and put on the hard ground. The ground is gravelly, I love playing with the small pebbles that roll under your feet when you walk, or just sit on the chairs shaking your legs. I am sitting on one such chair now, humming, the wind ruffles my hair, sings in my ear. The table is covered with a cloth with flowers crocheted into it. The cloth flutters in the wind. Someone comes and puts a few plates on the table, to act as weights.
Where is Papa? Where is Mummy? I wonder, as I look at the sky which is continually changing its color, even as humans do, only, I do not know it yet. I will know it soon, and then I will grow up!! A crow caws, the hoot of an owl from the distance, the howl of a dog from the adjoining cluster of huts which stand at some distance….. I listen to the sounds of the forest, as it speaks to me, tries to tell me something. But I am deaf to the wisdom of the forest which it has earned over millennia, we all are. …..
To be continued………………………………….
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