Earth Day – a short story

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The setting is the pristine Palaruvi waterfalls near Trivandrum, South India and the year was 1992.

I decided to set out with my Yezdi motor bike on an adventure trip on one Saturday afternoon to this place. Sunita jumped into the back seat and we were gone in no time out into the road. Those days, we needed very little planning.

We headed to the town of Punalur which is closer to the falls. It was becoming dark and we decided to go into a lodge.

We plied the length and breadth of the town and had some snacks on the way, and eventually roosted by night.

Early morning, we set out again. The road was becoming a winding hilly tract and after about an hour of ride we reached the detour that goes to the waterfalls.

The road from that point was a narrow one. Picnickers in buses will have to get down there and walk. As I rode along, I realized that it was becoming a deep forest. I also realized we were all alone there. Not a single soul to be seen anywhere. That was kind of an eerie feeling.

We soon reached the end of the road, which was a parking lot. Nearby there was an old dilapidated building of the erstwhile Kingly era, which we quickly recognized as the rest room of the former Maharaja. There was nobody in the vicinity. I didn’t let out my antsy feeling and acted brave.

Oh! boy, it was a marvelous sight of the waterfalls in the middle of the forest, a narrow thread of clear water coursing down the rocky face of a hill and splashing all over into a clear pool of water. The only sound to be heard was the gentle and rhythmic splatter and flowing of water. It was heavenly.

We moved into the water and had a little bath there. I even moved to the waterfall and let the water splatter on me and so did Suni. We noticed s torn shirt hanging down from one the low branches of trees nearby where we plunked down. Didn’t give much more of a thought to it than it merited.

On the way back, one guy turned up from nowhere and he was walking fast to approach us. I felt uneasy and got to my motor bike fast and started it. I am not sure what he was trying to do – probably trying to sell something. But I was too terrified to ask. We left in a jiffy.

As I was going back on the narrow road through the forest, I realized again how helpless we were if someone attacked us. Nobody would know for a while!

The return journey was uneventful except for the interesting ride. I remember stopping by in different places and going through the winding roads and overtaking some jeeps and trucks. I believe those days a young couple on motor cycle overtaking trucks must have been a plucky or kinky thing in the minds of the villagers, so much so that some of them jeered at us aloud!

Back home, everything was back to normal until Iheard the following piece of news in the evening radio. Those were the days former Prime Minister Rajiv’s assassins were at large.

“There have been some rumors of sighting Murugan and Nalini, wanted criminals in the Rajiv Gandhi murder case, in the town of Punalur yesterday. Police are investigating.”

Did someone mistake us for the dreaded terrorists?

There was more to come the next day in the news paper. I read a story that there had been an unsolved murder at Palaruvi waterfalls the week before. My goodness! The torn shirt piece I noticed at the water fall was probably torn off the victims body in a scuffle. Now a real eerie feeling set in.

Weren’t we stupid to go into that forest all alone?

On this earth day, I fondly reminisce this story of long past. Palaruvi would be a much safer place today, I am sure. It is a breathtaking scene and a place one can connect with God.

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