This morning, we woke up to ashen grey skies and broken branches in a distance. Leaning onto their fellow companions, trees that once stood tall found themselves displaced and scattered all over; their arms numbly collapsing to the ground. The paling shadow of the storm had strung a melancholic note in the soul of the forest. We could hear faint sounds of chirruping birds from a distance soon fading into silence. The woods bore a sombre look as a halo of white clouds hovered over the hills — an ominous reminder that perhaps there’s more to come. Soon, the sun disappeared as the horizon dissolved into the gloom of the sky.
We made some breakfast and after a hearty meal, we decided to explore the forest. We began walking towards one of the waterfalls. We spotted several leafless trees looking sad and forlorn. We passed by many of these skeletal structures with bare trunks, unnamed and unknown. Wisps of mist curled amidst the trees across the forest as we made our way to the falls.
The crunch of rustling leaves against the sound of gushing water created a beautiful background score as we walked through the forest. Caressed by soaked earth, dried leaves laid a carpet beneath the waterfalls as the winds made them twirl and drop to the ground in synchronous motions. Upon discovering a rock of gigantic proportions, we decided to climb it and sit atop for a while. Driven by childlike curiosity, Seban went first. Soon, everyone followed and before we knew it, we were sitting on the cold surface staring at distant mountains.
Sitting there, it made us wonder about the artist residency project and how we could bring it to fruition in a landscape surrounded by creatures of the forest. Through this residency, we wished to build a safe haven for artists to nurture their craft, explore the depths of their artistic identity and bond with fellow human beings without any pre-conceived notions. This project is driven by our capacity to treat each other with acceptance and unconditional love. There’s likeness and familiarity in the forest as if it knew how to penetrate into the darkest depths of a soul; how to redeem those who were lost. At some point, humankind knew how to do that. Perhaps, we have forgotten the words. And, what better way than art reminding us of what we are capable of achieving.
None of us had much experience with trekking. It was tough for a while. But soon curiosity took over fear. Although, we were on all four limbs climbing mountainous trails, the excitement to reach a destination ever-so-beautiful would keep our spirits alive. We decided to walk a little further to explore some more waterfalls in the area.
We soon reached a breathtaking waterfall that had a massive cave resting on its arms. Huge boulders marked the entrance to the falls and there was a sense of calm around us. Apparently, bisons come to these falls at night to drink water. Chakra and Tarzan climbed up all the way to the top and decided to take a dip in the waters there. We decided to rest below on two huge boulders nestled at the foot of the falls. We sat there for a while dazed and lost in the tranquility of the forests. And, we began to wonder if we were being watched by its true residents – the animals. We wondered if we could spot pairs of eyes peeping through tall bushes wondering who these two-legged creatures were. After a while, the boys climbed down and we decided to head further upwards to another spot that would lead us to the source of the falls.
This particular path was quite strenuous and the boys had to clear unruly lantana plants growing in all directions to find the actual path leading to the falls. Halfway through, we realised couldn’t go any further. We didn’t have any protective gear on and were in shorts and chappals. All of us had deep cuts and bruises all over our hands and legs. We then decided to head back home.
Once we reached the place, we were all starving. After having a quick bite, we relaxed for a while outside the house. Soon, the heavens started pouring and raindrops rattled the roof. We were concerned that it couldn’t withstand another storm. However, the rains soon subsided and we decided to pack up and leave. Seban and Chakra had to head back to Irinjalakuda today.
On the way, we decided to make a quick stop at another waterfall that apparently resembled a lagoon. Surrounded by giant rocks on all four sides, the water was crystal clear and lovely. It started drizzling in a while and soon sandy grey rocks turned into a lovely shade of shoal grey. We sat there for a while before we decided to head towards Bodinayakanur.
As we were wrapping up at the falls, it started pouring again and we drove through beautiful rains to reach Fayez’s dad’s farm to inquire if he had the keys to their house in Bodinayakanur. Fayez and his father barely spoke to each other. His father informed him with indifference that his mother had the keys. It is quite disheartening to see such alienation/distance between parents and children. Rather than treating each other with acceptance, more than often we get entangled in the web of ego and control. We could see sadness and anger on Fayez’s face as he drove in silence for the next half-an-hour.
Once, we reached the town, Seban and Chakra said their goodbyes and left. We would truly miss them and their wicked sense of humour. We rested at home for a while and decided to drive towards Theni town at 6:30 pm. On our way to the town, Fayez took a small detour into a mud road that led us straight to a beautiful lake situated by lush green fields on all sides. We struck a conversation with a farmer who was passing by and asked him how to get back to the main road. He offered to help us and told us the exact route. We thanked him and left.
After driving around for a while, we came back to Bodi and ate some appam and idlis at a roadside thela. We were running low on money and were trying our best to survive with whatever we had and earned through our work. We also discussed how surprisingly expensive this little town is. Fayez told us that apparently most of the farmers end up selling their produce in town to locals. None of them have managed to branch out yet. As a result, everyone is trying to make a quick buck off locals and tourists. That struck us as odd!
We reached home after dinner and discussed in length about the Lantana-livelihood project. We decided that we would head towards the village tomorrow and interact with the tribals. This initiative could provide them with an opportunity of not only cleansing and stabilising the eco-system but also hone their skills at making furniture…
Project ‘Rest of My family‘ is an attempt to connect back, re-discover our relationship with and understand our responsibility towards the larger family that we are a part of — the rest of our human family. Hence, it is titled Rest Of My Family.
Through #RestofMyFamily, we will focus on highlighting the social issues and human interest stories, documenting the triumphs of the ordinary man despite all the hardships they face constantly, and help these stories reach a larger audience and wherever necessary extend support to the individuals and communities that we write about. We hope to make a direct impact to the lives of those people we meet and find suffering due to various social issues; to connect the ones who need help to the ones who can help….
Find more about the campaign here: http://igg.me/at/restofmyfamily/x/539502