Sunday, 12 April 2015

Beauty And The Beast


                                        
March saw me plucking little flower bunches off of the grapefruit tree in my neighbor's yard and putting it in a jar filled with water in my kitchen. Such a beautiful and fragrant setting! Excited, I tried putting the jar in various possible places but could not decide where it looked most beautiful. The next morning as I walked in into the kitchen, it was so fragrant that I had to ask my husband if he had sprayed air freshener. But frankly, no room freshener can be so fresh and so beautifully fragrant like citrus flowers that have the perfect combination of freshness and limey fragrance.
I came across these lovely flowers during an evening walk. This time of the year is the best when one does enjoy a peaceful and long evening walk, especially people like me who find it extremely difficult to rise early in the morning and go for a walk. This season is the best because of the right temperature and humidity and presence of the right kind of flora and fauna. And a right combination of all these factors is very important to pull this lazy woman out of her reverie and set her on her feet to do the needful i.e. take a walk. But along with all this beauty, we have our share of beasts in the area too.

This is the road to my home. My house is so well hidden behind a row of bungalows and trees that people have difficulty finding my house. It has that haunted forest look about it that forbids faint  of heart from walking alone on this road at dusk. It is situated at an extreme end of this residential area, on the edge of a forest which is separated from our house by a deep gorge, and considering the presence of wild animals in this area, this little separating factor is a boon. 
I had once mentioned how a leopard was once spotted at the edge of my lawn (Read Here). Appearance of leopards and wild boars is not uncommon in this area and thus we always finish our walks before the fall of darkness. During these walks or while I am sitting in the lawn, I keep my eyes and ears open and stare at the side bushes as if something will jump out of it instantly. Falling leaves and small birds and squirrels make me jump, however I consider myself brave once I am inside my home. My maid finishes her work and leaves before dark and when my husband, who has set up a study room in the outhouse, goes there to study late at night, I always insist that he should carry at least a hockey stick, which he sometimes does, if only to keep me quiet.
Coco is not allowed to play alone outside, even during the day and presence of an adult is mandatory. These are a few rules that we try to follow in order to stay safe. Even after repeated requests, warnings and even threats, my husband does not always close the screen door behind him when he leaves while I am resting, and I grind my teeth when I see it wide open to the world. What if someday, the leopard invites itself to my kitchen for an afternoon snack, the main ingredient of the snack being me? After all, it regularly keeps appearing in backyards and side alleys and lawns. 

                              
Then one day in mid-March, started the spell of terror with the above news from a neighboring colony, in which a leopard dragged a teenager to nearby fields when she went out of her house after dusk, and left her dying after local people rushed to the site. The girl died later, and her death triggered a little public upheaval to the forest authorities, who then roped in a team of hunters, and the leopard was killed a few days later. 
The incident left us all terrorized and shaken and so much more alert. Earlier we used to talk jokingly about the leopard, or gossiped about its appearance in thrilled voices. Now, when it seemed to cloud our lives with the threat of getting hurt or even dying, and we narrowly dodged the encounter with fear, the jokes and the thrill turned into contemplative questions of life and death. Biggest of them all is: who killed whom? Man or leopard?