“Did you put the lunch box in their bags?” I yelled from our room to Vishnu who was preparing children’s lunch box.
“Haa… I did. You come out soon” he yelled back from kitchen.
“Just two more minutes Vishu. Our lunch boxes are on the dining table. Keep them in jeep”I said with a hair pin in between my lips. I was tying my hair in bun.
I made my hair and took my bag and came to kitchen. Adi and Om were speaking with their father. Arjun was sitting on the sofa listening to them as if he can understand.
“Mamma you are late by 3 minutes 17 seconds” Adi started complaining.
“Yes, you told you will come within 2 minute” Om added.
Vishnu smiled my favorite smile as if to convey “ see your children , just like you”
“Mamma is sorry. ” I said them.
“Arjun’s lunch is also in this bag. Big one is his. Eat well for dinner. Don’t give troubles there” I warned them.
We were in jeep. Adi and Om were lost in seeing the beauty of the nature of our proud Western Ghats. They loved the animals of here especially the birds. We have some of the rare birds’ visiting our house regularly. They have become friends with Adi and Om.
“Papa, that blue colored bird I told you about, it came very near today. But when Adi tried going near, it flew away” Om was giving their report on “making- friendship –with- birds” to Vishnu.
“No papa, it went when he shouted at me to stop going near it” Adi complained. Arjun tried to say something that only our children seemed to understand.
Vishnu was driving the jeep. I was sitting near him in front with a file in my hand, looking at the work schedule of today. He listened to them and said-
“Birds are very sensitive and are good observant. Especially the one with the blue feather, blue winged parakeets. Show them you are good boys and that you are good to each other and then see what happens.”
Vishnu is a born charmer. The way he speaks and convinces is unique. I am falling in love with him each day. The view of him from sideways was cute, yes still cute even after all these years. But he is not much fond of me calling him cute. Males prefer to be handsome and I just can’t change it.
“We are married for 5 years, 5 months, and 2 days, 13 hours, 26 minutes and 2 seconds” he told looking at me. I was surprised. I dint know he was still having it in his mind to count even each seconds.
“I know, why are you telling this now?”
“Because you are continuously admiring my beauty and that’s making me feel something. I am just your same old Vishnu, Paavana. What’s new to stare like that?”
“shhh… children are there” I said lowering my voice.
“You know what, they are calling you and you are busy looking at me, they told me to wake you up” he laughed.
I dint know the jeep had stopped and we were in front of the school. Arjun got down with them. “Oh! Bye, will come soon. Stay with babu anna. Don’t go anywhere else after the school.” I told them smiling.
“Arjun, please take care of them” Vishnu said patting Arjun who stood on his back legs with two front hands on jeep to reach Vishnu’s side window.
We dropped our 4 years old children to their school and were heading towards our work site.
“So Mrs Bhakta, we need to walk a long way today”
“I know, with you besides, it will be like a trekking.”
We are now in one of the places of Western Ghats, working as doctors in this place that’s pretty much far from the usual world. And a survey says there are still people out here who are not still exposed to the civilized world of today. And the tribes we are visiting today are one of those and had been found to exist from several centuries in these regions and are recognized by the government a few years back. The government made some new policies that included the welfare of these tribes. And we are on special duty since almost a year due to our immense interest to work here. Living here was one of our childhood dreams for some unknown pull of this beautiful place that hid mysteries in it.
The place we went today is at the peak of a hill. It was somewhere deep in the Ghats. We had risked ourselves for the animal encounters. Even the forest departments rarely moves this far in theses thick forest. It almost took half the day in jeep. There was one point where we had to get out of jeep and carry our bags and walk. We ate the lunch we brought.
We went along with some other officials who joined us at the temporary office shed.
“ Paavana don’t you feel it’s strange” Vishnu said holding my hands as we reached the top of the hill after walking for 4356.3 meters according to the instrument carried by one of the engineer in our team.
Yes they did seem strange with a bigger skull than us. Nature hides so many things in it that we are not even capable of guessing.The people there looked different from other tribes we had visited before. To me they seemed much more evolved than the rest of the world in their thoughts. It was a very different experience to be there with those people up there on one of the highest parts of the Western Ghats.
The head of the tribe, on older man confronted us. They were well informed before about our arrival. They spoke the same language as us with an ancient accent and some words that we failed to make sense. We were astonished by their hospitality, I was really thinking hard if these good people are uncivilized or the people out there in the big cities.
After that we split and took a walk on the area. The houses were small but were built with something different material. They looked old and strong at the same time. I observed the sewage pipe lines connected to the houses, and their brilliant idea of having water to the top against gravity, the small bamboo buildings with something written above it in an odd script I dint recognize, gardens of flowers and vegetables that were different from what we eat. There were water storing tanks out of something natural, they had native animals as their pets. That included two elephants, Nilgiri tahr, dogs, and horses. Among all what fascinated me more was the birds. There were many kinds of birds sitting here and there.
The night fell soon and we were ready for a camp out. The empty houses were not enough for all of us and some of the team members slept out in tents. I and Vishu stayed in a cottage.
“What are you thinking” I asked Vishnu who was sitting on the bed looking out of the window at the dark blue sky.
The inside was warm. The dinner was the tastiest I ever had. We have tasted numerous kinds of food across the world. But this was simply awesome. It was not like we wanted to eat more and more of it. But it was healthy and complete for a once and all.
“I was just reminded by the same picture of the sky, on the day when you ringed me in mid night and told me about the song and couples…” he turned to me.
“Hmm… I still can hear that music.”
“Strangely I do too”
“So whatever your uncle told might be true.”
He shrugged. We haven’t seen the doctor uncle ever since he bid us good bye in the railway station, and walked to me and whispered in my ears “you will have a happy life ahead”. He then hugged me and Vishnu and got into the train. And surprisingly the modern medical which once said I have a complicated brain now said I am perfectly aright. He told he was going to do his studies and researches in Gujarat but none of us heard from him again. Today we both are doctors for he remained our inspiration and taught us to have faith. Faith in the almighty that resides in each one of us.
The life once I blamed is now perfect for both of us. Our parents stay in our native happy and healthy and are still into their profession and passion. Neetu and Abhi are recently married after series of break ups and patch ups. Arjun is here with us. He is now with Adi and Om in babu’s house who is a native of nearby village. This Life is such a pleasant gift.
“Might be… though there is no proof to give, the music says something” he was thinking deep into it.
The natural moon light falling on his face, as he sat looking at the sky… there are no words to describe how beautiful he looked. I wanted to kiss him, cuddle him…
“Stop thinking I am cute” he said without turning his head.
His power of reading my mind has increased after we got a lot of time to spend together. That’s after our marriage. We married when we were still studying. He was in post-graduation and me in second year.
We got to hear so much from our friends for such an early marriage and they literally made us shy each day after our engagement. Neetu and Abhi were the first ones on the list. Though both of them under went many ups and downs from their school life love to college and other stuffs, they never missed a chance to be with us like before.
“What can I do? That is how I feel. You are amazingly cute.” I blushed saying that.
“Paavana, you know why you keep on saying what I should say to you… uncle once told me, in our past life, I was the female and you were male”
“What?” it was a delightful shock.
“Yeah he did tell me. But I dint tell you. I was afraid you see me like you did in past life”
“But that’s how I am seeing now” I replied. I could not hold the good the laugh and that over whelming feeling of joy of knowing something that’s I have been doing ever since a kid. I started laughing. So did he.
Now I know why I always felt he is beautiful, cute or pretty even when he is such a handsome and macho man fellow. Because what heart felt was love and what mind told was logic.
“Then what uncle said about our past life is perfectly true” I said in between the laughs. “This is the perfect proof”
He pulled me towards him form the chair in front of him. That was not expecting and I fell on him reflexively. I stopped laughing. His intense gaze, wanting look raced my heart beats.
I placed my hands on his chest, his heart sounded to beat for me, for us. The air suddenly became light and I felt like floating. Vishnu is much taller than me, I had to lift my head to see his eyes. He smiled like he knew what came in mind. He fell on the bed behind with me on him. Now there was no looking up to see him. we were face to face.
“Now ok?” he thought in his mind.
“Perfect” I said loud involuntarily.
The next morning we collected blood samples of the natives and did some general check-ups. The rest of the team were collecting the names and surveying the area, collecting information from the people. Communication was not tough as the language was same but like an older version.
Vishnu had doubts if the tests on DNA is revealed to the outside world there going to be a big revolution in medical field. Though both of us dint say anything directly we knew we had to do something about it.
The head and old man there told us all a story of how their tribe was founded. According to it, two brothers from the east lands came there. They looked similar to each other. The brothers started a new era in the regions and taught the others living there, the survival skills. They taught them a verbal language from sign language. They taught them to love the animals instead of killing them for food. They taught them to grow the food for a healthy life style. Especially the brother’s relation with the birds were typical. They could summon many thousands of birds at a time in one place. In all together the brothers became the heroes of the people. But all the good things had to end one day.so did theirs. They promised to come back some day before leaving that place.
Some of the team took it as a joke while for some it dint affect at all. And for someone like me it was something that’s left to faith. Like what doctor uncle had told.
We came back from their in the evening and picked up Arjun Adi and Om and got back to home. Adi and Om go to school in the nearby shed which is called as a school by the government to provide education to tribal children. This is their first year in school and they seem to get well along with others. Adi and Om’s school was not a regular one. The teacher appointed comes when he feels like to come. Most of the time it’s a self-declared holiday either by the teacher or by the students.
When we got back home I was tired and children were still enthusiastic over something they had seen during their stay in Babu’s house.
I and Vishnu quickly made some salad of vegetables and fruits. I must say this- he cooks really well. While I was in college, he was the one to cook for us. We were in the same college, in a different city from our native. So our parents dint want to take any chance and go us married soon! He is such a good cook. I can miss any kind of hotel or restaurant parties in front of his food. He says it’s just normal food stuffs. But when love is mixed with it no taste in the world can beat it.
There were still works at that strangely civilized tribal place which we had missed the previous time we went there due to the late communication form the authority at state capital. There is no network here to send any electronics messages. Either we need to drive to the nearby village which is one and half hour from here or use a pigeon to mail the letters. There were no shops, hotels, electric light here. Modern resources are very limited. We had this jeep for no other vehicle that comes in big big advertisement can move here. There are actually no roads, we have to make one. And the fuel has to be brought and stored with the permission of the forest security.
We were working on the blood sample collected in our small lab room of the house when Om and Adi came running.
“Papa, mamma, look here” they said in unison.
I was noting down something from the microscope and slowly lifted my head. Vishnu stood in awe. Both of them held a blue bird in their hands. It looked like a blue parrot.
“Wow…” I was astonished to see them.
“You want to be friends with him?” Adi asked Vishnu.
“Can I touch it?” Vishnu asked slowly moving towards the lab door where children stood.
I was still shocked to see them. They are the birds that are on the extinct species list. And here they are in our house, with my sons!
Vishnu tried to touch it and they fluttered its wings and jumped on Adi’s shoulder.
“Mamma come out, there are lot more of them” Om said.
We followed him to the front yard. And I don’t know what to say, what I saw was really a heaven on earth scene.
There were hundreds of such blue parrot kind birds with what seemed like a red crown at the top. Arjun was playing with them like some old friends. The entire yard was filled with birds.
That moment something struck to my mind. Vishnu looked at me. I smiled with tears in my eyes.
“When are you coming back” my mother –in-law was inquiring on phone.
We went to the border of the forest, in a small village seeking a phone network. Vishnu sat in the nearby hotel with his PC open, sending some important mails to the lab and others officers.
“Ha ma, there are still some work pending. Will come probably in rainy season”
It’s been a week since we talked to our family. I made phone calls to my in-laws, brother, parents and Neetu- Abhi., my ears were heated up with continuous contact of the smart phone. Adi and Om spoke to their grandparents. Vishnu looked busy with the DNA test reports thinking hard on producing a smart report that doesn’t trouble the tribes.
After the calls and mails sessions we were picked up by the forest department officers to the tribal area on the top of the hill.
Arjun sat silently with his tongue out in the van. He hated travelling in closed vehicles.
Adi and Om were the centre of attraction for the rest of the officers who were with us. They made them sing, dance in the van, ask some nonsense riddles. And finally I had to ask my children to sit silently for a while.
The air became cooler and cooler as we climbed the hill. Arjun took the lead. He seemed happy getting down the vehicle. Adi and Om followed him. One of the frost officer told them to slow down. All were impressed by the energetic children who were running in between the bushes. I already started losing my patience looking at my children running, madly in the jungle. I tried to stop them but Vishnu held me.
We were finally on the top. The cold weather of February welcomed us. We saw Adi and Om speaking to the old man. They are the prints of their father. All the anger in me vanished. The same cute faces like my Vishnu, the same attitude, same enthusiasm, same charm in personality. How can I be angry with them for more than a few seconds?
We were given with a kind of liquid as refreshments. Adi and Om asked for still more and more that brought a smile on everyone’s face. In some ways I felt the closeness of us with those people. We took a walk after a little discussion with the heads of the tribes.
I couldn’t find Arjun anywhere since the time we came. I went looking for him. I crossed the cottages. And finally found him.
There he was trying to play with a baby elephant that was tied to a rock. How animals get to know each other so soon. They have no boundaries of jungle or country, caste or religion. Isn’t there so many lessons we have to learn from them? In fact I am so much thankful to Arjun for if it was not for him, I don’t know how I could manage my children for hours together in house and in school while I work.
I felt a soft touch on my waist.
“Look at them” I showed the baby elephant and Arjun to Vishnu.
“Friends of long time” he replied.
A smiled crossed my face. I knew that, wasn’t it why we took Adi, Om and Arjun here…
“Come, you see our children” Vishnu said and took me to the open area near the garden. The trees and plants have blossomed with flowers and scent of them filled the place.
I saw Adi and Om sitting on the foot of the statue of two brothers that the tribes worship to be their leaders, with the birds all around them. Adi held a peacock near him while Om was speaking with a bird that seemed like a hornbill. We saw them with proud. I could not control the happiness. I hugged Vishnu. He hugged me back tightly. He lifted my head and pushed back the hair from face and placed a kiss on my forehead.
“See this” I said Vishnu.
Two girls of Adi and Om’s age, came nearly running to them like deer’s. They looked like little angels in the white dhoti they had around them. My children’s face lit up as they saw the little girls.
“That peacock is mine” one of the girl said to Adi.
“And this one is mine” said the other one to Om.
I saw the spark flicker in my children’s eyes… the same sparks once I had which is now a pure love fire. The twilight formed the colored sky up. The divine music played softly in the air. Sun sent his rays from behind the mountain ranges on the statue of the brothers that stood as the link of past and present…♥♥♥