A Short Story
I like the walk through the woods, especially the morning walks. The sound of dead leaves ruffling against my feet and when the drops from the morning dew make my shoes shine, I like that. Its so quite and yet so noisy as the birds wake up to start a new day.
I have always wondered. It does seem nice to live in a forest but for these birds and animal its their home where they struggle everyday to find their next meal. Its the question of survival where they do not know if they will see a new day. I doubt if I could enjoy the way I do if this was my permanent home.
But nevertheless, setting aside all the logical conclusions, I still enjoy walking through the thick green forest when the sun light seeps through the green leaves. I have been doing these for many years. I guess since that incident that changed my life and I still love it.
I don’t see anybody so early when the sun is just rising. I have heard rumors of ghost and witches, a part of every jungle’s legend. I do see some hikers and picnickers during the day but the forest is so dense and then the fear of wild animals. Everybody is afraid of them but to tell the truth, the animals are as afraid of the humans as humans are afraid of them.
Today was a beautiful day. A dense fog hung over the forest. It feels great to walk through the fog. A little eerie but still a great feeling. In times like this, I feel like whistling. I joined my lips to whistle when I hear the ruffling of feet. I stop and try to listen. Was I dreaming or was there somebody in the forest today? Must be some animal!
I am not afraid but surprised. All these years, I haven’t met anybody so early in the woods. I guess somebody else likes to walk so early. I am near the lake, my last stop for the walk. The lake is quite big and it serves as a watering hole for all the animals and if you are lucky, you can see quite a sight here.
The ruffling sound has stopped. I walk toward the lake toward my favorite sitting place near the lake, where a big rock separated the water and the land. I could sit on the rock and still remain dry. I liked watching the serene water.
There she was, sitting on the rock, dressed in a white saree, with flowing untied hairs. I shivered in the cold morning. I had seen that image, in countless Hindi ghost movies and every time the woman would be in this white saree with long flowing hairs. Watch any Hindi horror, “Woh kaun thi?”,”Bees Saal Baad”, it was always someone like her. I looked at her, when she suddenly turned.
I could see fear in her eyes, her beautiful eyes. I did not want to frighten her.
“Sorry! Did not mean to scare you. Actually I don’t see people so early in the woods” I was hoping that she didn’t scream and run like an alien had attacked her.
“Oh! I am new here. I like the forest” She smiled. She had a beautiful smile
I walk up to her. I normally don’t talk to people who visit the forest. I like my solitude and I like the forest. Both these reasons keep me away from people. But she was different. She smiled and talked. I would have to make some small conversation before I left her alone.
“Aren’t you afraid?” I start my small talk
“Of? Animals? Animals don’t attack without provocation” She asks without changing her gaze from the lake
I like her. She had sense instead of believing everything others said. But then it was an end to the conversation
“You never know!” I said “Isn’t hunger a good enough provocation?”
She was white and her face was pale as if there was no blood. I tried to look up her feet. I don’t know how much of it was true but in times like these, you remember everything that you had heard though your life and feet, they said was the identification but the feet were hidden in her long flowing white saree. A mild fog engulfed the forest as I stood next to her watching her every move. I was still not comfortable with her.
“The forest has enough food for everyone and I don’t see why they should be attacking me. I don’t look that dangerous. do I?” She asked with a mischievous smile
“No!” I smiled back “But its a forest after all and you have to expect the unexpected. Like the lake here, calm and undisturbed”
She nodded as she looked back at the calm waters of the lake.
“It is calm, very calm” She responded
“Yes! But do you know that crocodiles live here” I warned her “At least that’s what I have heard.”
She looked at the calm water in disbelief. She did not trust me that crocodiles really lived there.
“You don’t believe me? Do you?” I asked her
She shook her head in disagreement
“I would advise you to stay away from the water” I warned her again “I wouldn’t take a risk. What if the rumors were true?”
“But these are just rumors?” She was adamant “Again there are rumors of ghost in the forest. Do I believe everything I hear?”
“Shhhhhh” I looked around dramatically “Not so loud. They might hear you”
“Ahhhh” She started laughing. I liked her laughter, that free uncaring laughter
“I should be going now” She finally said and got up from the stone
I looked at her feet still hidden under her white saree. The purple flowers dotted the total clean white cloth.
“Are you coming?” She asked
“No!” I looked at the calm water “I am not finished with the forest yet”
“Ok” she looked quite confused “Take care and keep a watch for those crocodiles”
She walked away laughing to herself. I looked at her walking away, her beautiful body wrapped around in the sheer white saree. She walked away in elegance as if floating on air.
I heaved a sign of relief. I was quite on the edge with her although I did not show it. Humans! They can be quite dangerous and with the rumors of the ghost all around the villages surrounding the forest. If more humans start coming to this lake, I doubt if I can complete continue like this. More humans mean more noise and disturbance which mean less and less animals near the lake which really does not serve my purpose. I need to find it.
I looked around in the lake. A strong ripple in the middle of the lake indicated the presence of a moving animal. The water calmed down again. I guess if the animal can stay underwater, it must be the crocodile, the same crocodile that dragged me underwater few years back. I did not see it then and I haven’t seen it since then.
I sit on the rock and start my watch on the lake. I will find it. I will find the crocodile that eat me many years back!
Note: I was just going through my travel experiences when I remembered my walk through the Black forest. The forest hides lots of secrets or does it?