Today I went back to the internet in search of a quote that I had read some time ago. I did manage to get the writers name, she is Rachel Vincent and the quote goes like this, “The worst memories stick with us, while the nice ones always seem to slip through our fingers.” Now that is something which is really true. This particular incident takes me a decade or more than that, back to my life. With thanks to my socially active dad, because I owe him for having some of the great people as his friends, I would like to start. This starts with basically a friend of my dad who has his house in a heart warming place. Heart warming, because his house is located in the lap of nature. There is beauty all around in the form of beautiful lush green mountains, a beautiful river which flows nearby, different kinds of giant trees which has grown strong and steady in these years, rubber plantations, Coconut farms etc. To say precisely, anyone would appreciate the beauty of nature being there and even a depressed soul could find happiness and enjoy the place. These were the initial description I got about the place. My family on the whole were on a plan to visit this place to meet my father’s friend who has been inviting us to their place over a long period of time. So acknowledging his invitations, my family had decided to pay a visit to them. As a child I was always excited about getting a chance to dive into any water body like sea, river, Lake Etc. I would always look forward to do that. But living in a city had killed my child dreams and this sounded like a perfect opportunity to do that. Moreover I was really excited about meeting this person, because he was great to me and I too liked him a lot.
So days passed and the plans to visit him had concreted. My family was busy planning the travel and I was busy imagining without any realms. Finally the day arrived after a long boring wait. It was actually close to Christmas. Our schools were closed for good and I was taking out my whole time with friends. I would definitely miss my friends but then I couldn’t wait to go to this place. So after a long train journey, I and My family were there. The train reached past evening and darkness had started to creep. My dad’s friend had showed up in 10-15 minutes and I was happy to see him after quite a while. He received us with a warm smile and after talking for about a couple of minutes, we accompanied him to a cab. It was around 40 mile journey to his place. I was a little disappointed that we reached there at nightfall. Though I could see the gigantic trees and hear the chirping birds, I missed going down and seeing the river. I thought to myself that, I need to wait for another 12 hours.
To mention about my father’s friend and his family, he was in his late 20’s and he had a younger brother and sister. Both his younger brother and sister were just in their early 20’s and the best fact about them was that, they were twins. I considered it really cool to have a twin, it would be amazing to have a person who shares the same emotional level and thinking as you do (I really don’t know if that thinking is stupid, but I still feel it’s cool). Also we met his dad and mom, who happily came to meet us. Unlike in cities where area of house is measured in square feet or inches or whatever, this house of his was huge. I did comment on that and his father smiled and said, this is one advantage of living in a remote area. You don’t need to run measuring the width and height. Supper was served and now I was led to one of the many rooms in that big house or rather mansion. Uncle, as I used to call him, just followed me to make sure I don’t get lost. As he showed me my room, I asked him “How far is the river from your house? You used to tell me there is a river nearby !” trying to be too innocent in my words. He gave me a broad smile back and told me, “ I knew you would ask me this and I was thinking what took you so long”. Further he went on saying, “It’s just a 3-5 minutes’ walk from here”. I smiled and as he left he told me, “We would all go there tomorrow, so now better get some sleep.”
Just as he left, I began exploring that room. I just went to the washroom and refreshed myself up. After changing to night dress, I just walked to the window. It was indeed dark and I could just feel the slightest breeze that came through the woods. Even the breeze there was so special that no words could describe it. As it is Mother Nature had so many specialties that can’t really be mentioned on a piece of paper. No pen or no words can describe nature. It is best to go out and feel it for ourselves. I pounced back on the bed after a while, hoping for a fantastic tomorrow and day after. We had planned to stay there for 2 days and 3 nights, and this being the first night. I was on my bed and my eyes towards the ceiling. Windows left open for the cool breeze to flow in and I could hear a slight sound from the woods.
It was next day and I woke up earlier than usual. The day began with a happy note. Completed my chores and with in no time I was downstairs in the main hall. The main hall was huge and it was some kind of meeting spot of the entire family since the hall could accommodate everyone easily. They used to say their prayers in the same hall towards a corner. Seeing me right in the morning, my dad’s friend smiled as if he knew what was running in my mind. It didn’t matter to me anyway, as I was too excited and the best part is that he and his family made me feel so comfortable that I felt like my home. I went to the kitchen, and I saw his mom making breakfast and his dad helping her out. I asked them if they needed my help with a slight blush. They rather smiled and replied, “There is not even enough work for us, so thank you for asking”. I smiled as I already knew the answer. I just moved out of the house for the first time to get a glimpse of the nature and it was like Oh My God. It was just like I had heard from my family. It was rather exquisite. I could see the mountains which were a little far and I could see the woods nearby. It was filled with lush greenery and there was slight amount of dew on the grasses, which was indeed angelic. I just tried to explore the place and his brother who kind of knew my intentions warned me not to get lost as the place is new. I nodded and just went ahead. I walked through the woods and little far from there I could see rubber plantations. After a slight roam, I had a light breakfast as they said I was too young and I would be feeling hungry. I smiled and said to the uncle that I wanted to go to the river. He replied, “We would go, but it’s going to be too cold now. So how about waiting sometime and then going”. I replied that I didn’t want to attempt anything right now. I just wanted to see the place. Soon that uncle turned to his brother to confirm that he was free, and soon I set off towards the river with his brother. The downhill way was slightly a tough one. I realized that this house was very much on a higher elevation than I thought, or was it my laziness that gave such a thought in my mind. Finally there I was. The river was silent and calm and I could see slight fog at the far end of the river. The river was flowing silently and further from the place where we were standing there were rocks and the flow became much narrow. I walked along with him to that place and he showed me the place where the flow became narrow. Now after a decade or more, when I think about the river I would like mention its flow similar to that of a bride walking down the aisle. The flow was slow, graceful and elegant. I mentioned about the sweet, silent flow of the river to him and he said “The flow is definitely silently but it runs really deep, deeper than you think”. I returned back with him and spent some time with his family. Then with a bang I returned back to her, this time there was a big gang of people which includes whole of my family and his family. I just went onto the banks of the river, stood there wetting my feet. I could see the pebbles below where the water was shallow. I just moved into the river and as my dad and his friend kept yelling at me to stay nearby and be careful. Finally they understood that nothing was bothering me, his brother just got down and came along with me to make sure I was safe. I had a nice hour getting cozy with the silent and calm river. His brother’s swimming skills were commendable. He could just swim across the whole river in the blink of an eye.
Then a little later, towards the early afternoon we left for the city. As I sat in a cab, I was getting to see the beautiful landscape. The city was not much worth mentioning, I actually hail from a larger one but there was some sort of difference there too. Then after I returned to their place, I had now the idea of the way which would take me to the river but I was strictly instructed that I would go to the river with someone in the family. Since they were nice to me, I would take the advantage of calling someone with me. They always did happily come along and sit on the banks of river and talk to me. I did enjoy those two days in the lap of nature exploring, running around, and breathing some quality air. Finally it was time and I had to leave to my place. Happy that I could see my friends and play soccer with them but somewhere in my heart, there was something amiss. Though this place had not a single facility to boast about as compared to the place I lived, I would miss the serenity and the beauty of this calm place. My father’s friend dropped us to the railway station and it was again a long boring journey back. As the train came, I told him that I would miss this place and his family, I would miss bathing in the river too. He smiled and said that I can come back whenever I want. I smiled and then I remember boarding the train and leaving to my place.
Years passed by, it was high school, College and much more. I had moved away from home and college was a different world. As I completed my college, it was job. Life had become mechanical and everything was totally different. I always used to listen to my cousins saying, it was better to be a child. I had by now understood that. But still one thing that remained in me intact was my love to travel to beautiful places and get close to nature. I was happy that it remained in me. Something that I can proudly say I have kept alive. Now the scenario had changed and I need not depend on any one to travel. I loved to do solo trips and my companion was my bike. I could just go on and on. I was also in love with photography and nature, though I had not much knowledge about photography. I could just enjoy good photographs and capture something which I felt nice. I always wanted to go back to the place where I had been long back, just to see everything again. By now, my dad’s friend had moved from middle-east to Australia. He was married to a beautiful woman and had three little angels. It was long that I had met him but social networking sites had kept me posted regarding his whereabouts and activities. His brother was in South Africa and sister in Ireland. This is why I say, this world has become a global village. They were scattered around the globe and they would meet up only once in 2-3 years. Everyone had settled and they were busy facing their problems and life in their own ways. It was recently that I came to know he was coming down to his village for 20 days to meet his parents and his parents still lived in the same old place. That’s when the idea came into my mind of visiting him. I would be happy to see him again in person and more than happy to see the place where I have been a decade and a half before. I just got his dates confirmed and the best part was his entire family would get together, his brother and family and his sister and her family were also coming.
It was nearly summer and he was coming back to his native during the summer time. Since I was in-between jobs, I was very much free. By this time, my dad and mom had given up their city life and they were back in village. I was with them, as I was for namesake, searching a job but more of enjoying my life in the village. So I need not board the boring train and spend long hours waiting for the place to reach. I just got my bike ready for the trip and got their address. They had already arrived but I was waiting for things to be calm down. Alas, that day came when I had to set out on odyssey. I set out early in the morning. The way to his place was more than beautiful. Paddy fields and coconut farms showed up all throughout. I stopped at every good spot I found and clicked a photograph with my digital camera. Then realising that I was getting late, I just preferred to ride the complete way without any stops. A hundred and twenty five miles was the completed distance from my native to his place, which was never a great deal. I reached their main city which was by now totally different. The place had undergone a drastic change and it was much more crowded than what it used to be. I didn’t prefer to waste my time on Navigation systems and Maps, so I just asked a native of that place to guide me. He also wanted to go somewhere around so I offered him help and he was my pillion for the rest of the little part which would account to around 4-5 miles. So on my way I asked him about the village, the changes and all. He told me that it is no more the same old village, the rates of land had gone up steeply. There were proposals for building huge multiplex and townships in the next couple of years. By that time I had reached the place where he intended to go. After dropping him there and waving a good bye I continued to my destination which was nearly half a mile from there.
As I reached there, I could see a bigger house which had underwent some good modifications and touch ups. As I parked my motorbike nearby and stood there watching the place which was imprint in my heart long back, the uncle came out and I could see his kids too with him. It was a pleasant surprise to see him after really long time. He had lost a considerable amount of hair but his smile was intact. It was really very nice to meet him after this long a time. I just went inside to meet every one. His brother had grown a little more mature in his looks and was now in his 30’s. I had a nice time talking to all of them, fooling around with the kids and munching all that his mother had made for them or me, which was a sort of confusion. I didn’t waste any time asking them, but went on filling myself up till it pleased my tummy. Now there was no need to take a permission to watch the river flow or dive into the river. But I asked them,” If we all could go to the banks of the river”. The female members were reluctant but the men were always ready. So as we moved outside the house, I could barely see the river as I moved 100 meters away from the house towards the river. Earlier the trees were so densely packed that I was unable to see the river till I reached 100 meters from the river. There was massive deforestation and nature looked tired and dull. I felt really different and disturbed as I walked down towards the river. The nature looked boring. I asked them “what happened to the trees?” They said some have been cut down and sold, some have been cut down for furniture. On the whole, there was very less greenery and more over the place looked a lot greyer than its earlier green.
The shock that awaited me was much bigger than this. As I reached the river, I was dumbstruck seeing the condition of the river. The first thing I noticed was the graceful flow was no more there. The river had become almost stagnant. Now it had garbage litters in it along the edges and I could see bottles of soft drinks randomly. The quality of water had degraded. I remember that I could see pebbles in the shallow water standing on the banks of this river which was a dream in this present situation. Turning back I asked them why the condition of the river had deteriorated so much. Aren’t the government, local bodies and social organisations doing anything about it? They mused saying, “Everyone is busy with their lives. Who has time for all this? Now days you can see only anti-social groups coming here around the evening and no one else. “ Shocked and pained to hear this, my heart sank deep. We all walked back towards their place and spend some time over tea and I told them my plans of leaving back home. Looking back and waving my hands to the kids and everyone there, I just set of on my bike to complete the odyssey.
As I returned back home, my eager parents asked me about them, the place and especially the river which I was very fond of. They reminded me my years of excitement back to have a dive in the river. I replied back saying, “The trip was nice, and the people were wonderful as always. But I have a feeling that a lot of things changed in and around that place. Just don’t know if it is for the good or bad!”
In the wake of my childhood travel to that place and recent odyssey I realized that the gorgeous bride walking down the aisle has already slipped out of my memory, now all that my mind could think of is the mere helplessness of a dying river and all these encapsulates to prove Rachel Vincent’s beautiful quote !!!
copied from my blog : anooppillaiz.blogspot.ae