It was a quiet morning in Kodaikanal.
The forest was still and its citizens – cuddling in the mist. The trees looked like silhouettes of ballerinas. And out came the sun with a mild splash to wash the darkness away. It held hostage our dreams in small proportions and our love for infinite space.
Patches of shola forests lounged, like extinguished emerald flambeaus, on gentle valleys. Pine cones rattled, mimicking cicadas in heat as wildflowers blushed under August’s incandescent spell. A river ran through them, virgin and free. At the heart of it – lurked darkness, silently.
Then, as the skies played hide-and-seek with distant storms, a Black Eagle took flight. The wind turned her into a dancer as she disappeared behind precipitating clouds.
The howling began. And then a drizzle. The mouth of a nearby waterfall frothed in joy. An Indian rock python yawned, as it stirred from under a rocky ridge. There hills were, by now, alive with the ecstasy of monsoon.
There was music in the air too; a soundtrack featuring arboreal songbirds assembling their crews to seek shelter from the rain.
But the sun reemerged, with enamel paintbrushes and crushed stained-glass windows in tow. This time she wore a skirt that was bluer than the brightest turquoise. Ghostly bundles of mist lorded over picturesque towns with potato fields for gardens and cabbage farms for backyards.
Soon the tourists appeared, with plastic bags and selfie sticks. They discussed how it might have been a beautiful day if it wasn’t so run-of-the-mill. The local shopkeepers started displaying their wares. They seemed as eager about their late mornings as they were concerned of the economics of landing a sale.
And suddenly the hills weren’t so serene anymore.
But a sleepy parrot was taking it easy on a naked branch. Clearly, nothing could ever wake her up. Not even her friends noisily going after breakfast buffets.
I wonder if she would have been okay with the kind of love affair I had with her skies that day.
(Photographs: Ajaveedu, Adukkam, Vattakanal & Poompharai – Kodaikanal)