Friday, December 12, 2003

Looking for the Leopard

Last week, I spent a few days on
a peculiar assignment.
Of taking care of a friends
deserted farm, against a leopard.
His caretaker had fled
with the rest of the villagers, scared
of the marauding beast.

Tuesday Night

I had made myself
available for this work,
to get away for
a while from books, booze and blogs.
Even if it meant I had to live in a cage
with the lions, I had felt.

The road to the tiny hamlet was
deserted , dark and scary
at 11 pm as I drove to the farm.
Spent the night fitfully, as I
wound the bed sheet around me
like a mummy to escape the
ravenous mosquitoes.

Wednesday

Morning, I stretched
my legs around the
farm. It was set against a couple of hillocks,
with low bushes and rocky outcroppings.
I scanned the rocks, to see if
I can see the beast sunning itself. But it
proved to be prudent and shy
and was nowhere to be seen.
Felt disappointed.

Walked by a dry rivulet by which I had
once spent a couple of nights in a tent
with my wife, when we had just got married.
The rivulet then used to bubble
with water, and now, like my own
life, had turned arid and dry.
I remember, my wife
had sat and played with her legs in the water.
“It’s so cold,” I recollect her telling me.
“Hey, there is a water snake in there,” I had
lied and she had scrambled, tumbled and fallen,
bruising her elbow.
I had laughed but she hadn’t
found it funny at all.
“You know, you are are a sicko?” she had accused
me, with tears of fear in her eyes.

That was when the rift had begun,
and was never bridged, I realize.

The small tree by which we had pitched the
tent was a huge one now. Nature, left
to itself , flourishes. Man, left to himself,
crumbles.

Afternoon, cooked, ate and slept.
Got up in the evening and felt
sluggish. The first day of
abstaining from any vice, is the
worst to survive. I know,
if I can get through,
I will survive without my crutches.
For a while.

The night is beautiful. The moon is
three quarters full and shimmering.
Memories of the nights I spent here
comes flooding thru me. It seems
just like it was yesterday. But in
reality, eight years ago.

Why did it go wrong? Of all
the people, why, for me?

I realized that I had never thought
so much about my problems,
for such a long time.
I got some answers to some,
and few leads to others.


Slept may be past one.
( I had thrown away my watch,
switched off the mobile,
to make my isolation complete.)
Didn’t hear a meow of the big
cat. Must have been hunting some dog
somewhere, if not me.

Thursday

Spent the morning chopping some
logs near the house. Slept
like a log after that strenuous work.

Evening, got fever because of the
abstinence and over worked muscles.
My entire body ached and shivered.
Had hallucinations that night,
of many wild animals chasing me.
Thought I saw my ex leading the
pack.

Friday

Felt tired and worn out, could hardly
move around.
Thought I won’t make it till
the next day.
Saved by my friend and family
who came to spend the weekend.

“So, you didn’t find the big cat,” they
asked, as we raised toast to the cat.

No, but I did find a lot of other things,
and I raised the toast to myself.

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