Just Another Day

Just Another Day

Bandhavgarh is a tiger sanctuary located about 3 hours’ drive away from Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. Kaseru is a village in Pataur core range of the reserved forest area. It is smack in the middle of a dense emerald green forest. Golden fields offer sustainable crops to the villagers. There is a sparkling pond, where water buffaloes wallow lazily. It has charming modest dwellings, composed of pretty mud clustered houses. An elder or two enjoying a cheroot or sharing a hookah comfortably reclined in wooden coir cots.  Women bustle with household chores.  Mooing Cattle are herded off to graze by youths. 

It is a fine, sunny morning. Four or five boys were indulged in rough housing. One of the women shouted at them, “you urchins, don’t hang about here. Go into the forest and bring some firewood!”. One of the girls who was slapping cow dung cakes onto the mud walls for drying said, “while you are at it, bring some flowers too.” They went off singing songs and playing with each other. 

They wandered into the core area of the forest and got busy picking up fallen branches. They made them into a bundle. They also remembered to pick flowers and placed them in the basket given by the girl. They saw a squirrel and chased it. It was too fast for them. Hot and flustered, they fell into a heap on the forest floor. 

The ring leader called out, “Hey guys, let us go to the pond and have fun”. 

They trooped off towards the pond. They placed the firewood bundle and the flower basket against a gnarled, old tree stump. They then frolicked in the water for a while, carefully avoiding the wrath of the buffaloes. After some time, they came ashore and got into a competitive game of throwing stones at the buffaloes. 

All of a sudden, the buffaloes bellowed, the boys shouted, and the birds flew away shrieking from the trees.  The next moment, the boys huddled together, maintaining absolute silence.

A majestic tigress emerged from among the bushes and in measured steps walked towards the cringing boys. It stared at them for a long minute, which seemed like an eternity to the quaking boys. It seemed to grin derisively at them, shook its head, and marched to the pond. 

The water buffaloes saw discretion as the better part of valor and crowded together at the farthest part of the pond.

The tigress nonchalantly gurgled its fill of water, turned back, threw a menacing glance at the boys, and slowly disappeared into the thick of the forest.

The buffaloes resumed their leisurely wallowing.

The smallest of the boys was whimpering. The ring leader, quickly covering the wetness creeping down his trousers with the flower basket, put up a brave face and chortled. “You momma’s baby, you are afraid of a tiger? I ain’t scared of nothing!” 

Thus, ended another day in the jungle!
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