Today, we decided to go back to the forests. We wanted to meet Thangappan’s family. When we crossed Kurangini Village, we met a tribal man who was on his way to lower Muthuvakodi. He decided to hitch a ride with us. As we drove through the hills, the familiar sight of the canopied forests welcomed us. And, once more we found ourselves in the ever-silent spaces of nature where boundaries and notions ceased to exist. Here, we came across sights we couldn’t explain, sounds we couldn’t contain and felt emotions we couldn’t express…
The tribal man told us that they had found Fayez’s jack in the morning. It was thrown into the thick bushes by the road. Apparently, the workers who loaded illegally logged timber were miffed with the jeep parked on the side. It prevented them from leaving the forests at night. So, they threw away the jack in anger.
We reached the village and met Thangappan shortly. He told us that he was walking through the forest when he stumbled upon a big red box. “It was probably one of the heaviest boxes I’d ever come across. I was really scared to open it. I feared there would be a severed head in it. Eventually, I decided to take a look inside. I didn’t know what it was. I thought may be it is a really heavy toy. Later, someone told me that it was meant for cars. And, that’s when I thought it could be yours,” said Thangappan as he burst out laughing.
A few men joined us as we sat outside his home discussing the Lantana initiative. They seemed curious and were willing to give it a try. Thangappan explained to them how the project could make a difference to the tribal community apart from preserving their natural ecosystem.
In conversation, Thangappan mentioned that they still maintain their tribal roots and haven’t forgotten their ancestral identity. “I have all the attires my grandfather wore to numerous occasions. We still celebrate our ancient festivals and follow a few rituals. People are slowly losing a sense of who we are but there are a handful of us who are trying to keep our culture alive, ” explained the fifty-year-old.
His wife Amravati offered us some tea. She was very shy and spoke with great humility. We asked her if we could take some pictures with her. To that she smiled and said, “I am not dressed properly. Maybe we should do this some other day.” We told her she looked lovely the way she was. And, reluctantly she let us take a few photographs. After talking for a while, Thangappan decided to fetch the red box that contained the jack. He’d left it in the bushes. We accompanied him and found it thrown away in the tall grass. We thanked him and left.
On our way back, we decided to stop at a waterfall to soak in the view and relax for a while. Mist shrouded hills and the cascading falls made for a captivating sight. But, we weren’t alone. Amidst the bushes and perched on tall trees, were a group of monkeys who had climbed the highest rock to catch a glimpse of the sunset. We sat there together in silence observing the heavens as a lonely star shone in the evening sky…
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 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