Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction (Love to also add that childlike imagination ;-))
Read Part 6: http://shineofdawn.com/?p=157
Before I could respond, our driver interrupts us. “Sir, I will take your leave now. I have to go back a long way,” he says to Shankar. ”Thanks for helping us to reach here,” Shankar says and pays him money. We carry our luggage and follow Arjun towards the valley. “What is the plan? When are we going to the location?” I ask Arjun. “We will start our journey towards the location tomorrow. For today, we will camp near the valley,” says Arjun. We just walk in silence behind him. The surroundings are so beautiful that I just could not take my eyes off. There is a small stream flowing towards our right side with crystal clear water. Far away, standing tall are the snow-capped mountains with large trees at their foot. I can only see greenery all around me. Involuntary my mind travels back to the busy city traffic and I sigh.
“Your friend requested me so much that is the reason I agreed to be your guide otherwise I have stopped going into forest long back,” Arjun says. We are sitting around camp fire and helping Arjun in preparing some medicines. Morning after we arrived, we rested in the tents already set up by him. While we rested, Arjun disappeared for few hours and later came back with lot of different kinds of roots, leaves and some dried tree barks which he said will use to make some medicines which will be useful for us during our journey in the forest.
“Why have you stopped going into forest now,” Shankar asks him while helping him to powder the dried tree barks. Arjun does not answer but continues to mix the powders. “Sorry If I have asked you something wrong,” says Shankar. Arjun hesitates for a moment and says, “Forests hold many secrets and I realized it is better to keep away from them.” Shankar asks “What Kind of secrets?” Arjun gets up from his place as if to indicate end of conversation. “Please get some rest now. From tomorrow you need every ounce of energy. Good night,” he says and walks way towards his tent. “What is he so secretive about?” I say out aloud.
I shiver as the early morning cold wave passes through my spine. The time has come for us to start our journey. I am standing in front of the tents while Shankar and Arjun are packing the stuff. Both of them finish the packing and walk towards me. “Now I have to brief you both the important instructions for our travel. If everything goes according to plan and we face no issues, it takes 10 days for us to reach the place nearest to your location, from there we have to trek a mountain and travel to your location,” says Arjun. “How many days it will take to our exact location?” asks Shankar. Arjun remains thoughtful for a moment and says “Even I am not aware where this exact location is as nobody from my tribe has ever dared to travel so far. But my grandfather used to mention about his expeditions to that far away land but eventually he stopped mentioning.”
“Oh! Then can we ask your grandfather for guidance?” I ask him. “That is not possible as my grandfather is no more. Few years ago we found him dead near the stream. During his last days he lost his mind and always shouted warnings to keep away from forests. We assume on one of his hysterical days, he wandered off to stream where some wild animal killed him,” says Arjun. “I am sorry,” I say. “That’s alright,” says Arjun and continues “If I am not wrong, you are here for a personal reason but not for a research because nobody will risk life for this kind of journey.”
I stare at him with loss of words and he stares back at me as if trying to read my mind. “Is that a problem for you?” asks Shankar breaking the silence. Arjun does not answer him and continues to stare at me for some time. Shankar clears his throat to indicate his presence. “I trust you people,” Says Arjun breaking his stare,” I believe each of us are born to fulfil our destiny and each of us have a role in the game played by the supreme power,” he says looking at far away mountains.
He opens his bag and passes each of us a sling bag made of cloth. I observe mine is green in colour and Shankar’s is red in colour. “These bags contain important things which we need during our journey. Please keep them hung around you all the time. Even if we lose our luggage we should not lose it,” says Arjun. I open my bag and see that it has various small containers packed neatly, a map with directions, a torch light with back up batteries, a gun kind of object but not exactly a gun, few round black colour balls, a small bottle with a transparent liquid, a knife set and some bottles with lotions.
“We have to remain together all the time and stick to each other. In case if any of you is lost or in danger, then fill the shooter with black ball and pull the trigger. This will generate red flames to the sky so that others know where to find the lost person,” says Arjun. “What is this liquid for?” I take the small bottle in hand and ask him. “You should take a sip of this liquid when it is your turn to guard in the night while others take rest. This will enable you to stay awake. The forest is filled with wild animals, poisonous insects and poisoning trees too. The lotions here has to applied to entire body as we go deep into forests to save us from insect bites. All the other containers have medicines which can be used in emergency and I have labelled each of them. I think we are good to go now,” says Arjun.
I take my red shawl, dump it in the cloth bag too and hang it around myself. We all carry our luggage and stand to face the forest entrance. “Hara Hara Maha Deva!” Shouts Arjun. The entire area reverberates with his voice. The tree branches shake violently due to sudden cold wind. We begin our journey to the location, Arjun in our lead.
To be continued….