Tender Of An Apology To A Malabar Pit Viper !
Life here swings as sword of Damocles. Every one appears to be at daggers drawn, as one has his axes to grind. Death looms writ large on every face in pursuit of a struggle for zeal, to live a prodigious life, in its richness, in this charismatic woods of Castle Rocks. This write up is a â€œdiary of memoirsâ€ of a wild lifer, where an owl reminds him that thought of spring are no substitute for caution. Trail of horrors paves the way for fascinating Castle Rocks where Malabar Green Pit viper admonishes him, telling that prosecution for the trespass shall have no stamp of approvalâ€¦.A K. Singh
A profound husky turbulent stirring echoing from rimrock to castle rock, rolls down the mountain, and diminishes into far darkness of the night. It was an outpouring of wild defiant burden of beasts, and of scornful disregard for all the hardships of the world. Every trumpet of atypical elephants fading into stupor of dusk, every roar of venturing black panther,-waning with each twilight, every howl of a royal tiger,-paying heed to that call of echo which pervades every now and then in the dark deep woods of castle rock. To the
deer,-it is the notice of the way of all flesh and blood, to the Malabar tamarind,-a prediction of dusky battle of skirmishes, and also of blood upon the turf of
cymbopogans, to leopard cats,-an assurance of gleanings to come, to the shepherd,-a threat of red ink at the edge of the stream, to the hunter,-a court-martial of brute against the cartridge. My first break with castle rock was no less than a rigmarole of horror.
Yet behind these discernible and instantaneous prospects there lies a greater
allusion, known only to the castle rocks itself. Only the castle rocks have lived long enough to respond to the resonance of the howl of the jackals, to retort to the low of wild gaurs, to answer to the bellow of deers, to counter to the screeching of bonnet macaques, to react to the squeal of wild boars and
hissing of the Malabar green pit vipers. Those who never visited the deep and dark woods of castle rocks will be unable to decrypt the stifled-consequence of the way of life of the local folk-salsa of wild brutes, for it is felt in all black panther country, and distinguishes that hinterland from all other wild lands sprawling amid north western country of Karnataka.
It tingles in the spine of all who hear yelping of grey jackals in the night, barking hound of wild dogs in the evenings, squeak of kingfisher amid darkening of twilights, and shrieking hoots of owls in the night immersed in the darkness of seaside island beaches of the Arabian sea. Amid croaking of frogs, creaking of Brahminy kites, cooing of green pigeons with outbreak of night,
shadow of black panther emerges loitering from behind the bushy shrubs of Randia and woody climbers under the impermeable canopy of buttressed Hopea and Flacourtia hall of pyramid. Only the occasional visitor can fail to notice the incidence or privation of Malabar civet and jungle cats amidst high
rising pillared leafy giants woods, or the fact that Sahayadri mountains have secret opinion about them.
My own conviction on this score hardened, when I knocked-down Castle Rock wild life range last year with my wife and daughter, at the advent of spring, I
encountered Doodhsagar high rise stream, three of us, one by one, cliff hanging on the precipice, at the origin of water course, were doomed to witness the harrowing tales, in our day-to-day hectic routine, not to be forgotten, once and far all. After eating breakfast at forest guest-house high on the rocks, at the foot of which a turbulent rivulet jostled its way, then we chose to reach a deeper inaccessible point eight miles away where jeepable road terminates at the
edge of unfaltering springs of a giant world renowned waterfall. An abandoned beaten track destined to negotiate the origin of Doodhsagar springs, at the top of the mountain, became the trail of our on-foot-adventure with new tidings of secret of the forests, at every mile, as we weaved all the tiny streams stitching together one by one deep in our conscience.
We saw what we thought were few fresh droppings of sloth bear, a common beaten track for them traversing the deluge of torrents. Gush of meandering crystal clear water spins and twirls around the round stones, wrapping them in green jacket of slimy, mucous glistening mosses. Each stone, on setting a foot, rolls apart, as we trundle upon them, step by step, with our hands split apart to measure the balance of both the sides of semi evergreen moist forests under the crown of heavily buttressed giant trees. Here the water doesnâ€™t take the permission to ooze out from crevices, to gush through rolling stones, to ramble across fissures and clefts. Upstream spectacle of the hall of forests belittle our countenance at the sight of Calophyllum and Tetrameles trees reinforcing the tuft of forest, founded at a high stage, standing at ease, propping up from the hard surface, upholding the virgin chastity of the pristine splendor. Downstream side of the panorama is ruptured by sinking water course downhill in pursuit of harbor, with a sound of tinkling, while dropping from above, paving the way for the formation of valley and giving rise to the formation of a river. Garcinia and Artocarpus trees punctuating across the rolling waters, aligned and affiliated in conglomeration, with a discipline of a way of nature were insisting upon a network of flow of vitality and dynamism.
Small circular resplendent face of blazing sun every time chases as you start sneaking from behind dazzling broad green leaves of the glittering top canopy. Amid the crevices of the emerald blanket of roof, a beam of sunshine, split apart the theater of conceited darkness. Here we realize that our prejudices are indeed a sensitive index to our affections, our tastes, our loyalties, our
generosities, our manner of treating the mother earth. Here we recognize our biases are undeniably fragile, irrefutably contrived and undoubtedly far wrangled. From our living on the planet whole life, why do we give few moments of our stay in such a disciplined and well ordered wilderness ? Do we not belong to this charismatic, charming luster of natural splendor ? A glimmer of hope and confidence ?
Strolling from under thickets and bushes of wild boarâ€™s passage, a trail of the beast on to which we were so far striding, tapers at the edge of open rock of high stature, from where emerge the springs of multitude of currents from under the gaps and cracks of the huge undulant and rippling stony bedrock of Doodhsagar. Our swift admission into the massive sway of origin of a waterfall brought us to the open sky from the passage of wild hog chase, where the earth in all its defiance appeared in a mood of twirling under the strong solar torchlight splashing over the huge green carpet of lush green forests in pursuit of its search of truth, seeking to appeal that larger part of the womb of mother earth in far off other places has gone sterile, barren and seedless.
There-is-enough-on-earth-illusion gets faded away at the momentary glimpse of aurora-of-greens wherever the line-of-sight of an eye measures the crests and valleys of the mountains, penetrating over abysmally profound specter of glints amid phantom of creatures, wild in nature, overwhelmingly dwindling with each passing day. Water dripping out of rock beds, bundled in the splurge, prodding in line, wobbling in variety of spools is carried away towards the edge from where it droops down unremittingly in a volley of huge torrent. Drenched in moisture, majority of boulders, at their brink, interlink drift of water, drop by drop, jingling for ages, unnoticed and unheeded. After the advent of monsoon each year, there comes a sweep of mudslide when tinkling of dripping water is heard in the land. It brings creepy spurs of zeal, not only to creatures napping for the night, but also to some who have been asleep for the autumn. The hibernating snail build his couch, curls up as a hermit in his shell for a year, uncurls himself and ventures forth to prowl the wet world, dragging his belly in the flurry of sludge.
The pelicans that proclaim the seasons to this water spring are aware of many things including the railway bridge. Lake-bound flocks pass over us high and honored, with scarcely a honk of recognition for their favorite sandbanks and quagmire of swamps. Each time goods wagons pass, blowing iron rails, blustering the conduit, in a serial order, buzzing the valley of waterfall, in a
humming reverberations, befuddle the Malabar giant squirrel dangling with her bushy tail from the tree forks, baffle the chevrotain in his bamboo thickets, bemuse the pangolin in his lair.
With every quivering of passing by train, Malabar hornbill leaves his perch in an order to land on a better roost, serpent eagle flusters his wings to settle again on tree top nestle, and cluster of wood-swallows start hovering high over the sky in a tandem congregation again and again. Geese know that spring armistice is in effect. They knit foggy mists together low over the swamps
and pastures, greeting each newly fashioned puddle and pool. Railway bridge is the scaffold of their halter in routine life, a noose stripped on their vicissitudes and gallows of their endeavor to earn a daily living. Most of the time bridge remains silent, etching a line of fortune, on the adventurous page of onlookers. Zigzagging the castle rocks on goods wagon weaves the darker woods in a conquering locomotion of treasured memories, where moving trees, rotating valleys, spinning crests and frequently revolving â€œline-of-trainâ€ wreathes
the dramatic panorama into a long lasting vista of deep admiration.
After interplay with torrential waters, hard rocks and bushy shrubs, we set foot back by same passage. As we walked in line, one by one, on the narrow bridle path, for almost one kilometer, it was a bolt of lightning that put an end to our exhilaration. We were all awakened, in a moment, by the silent but thunderous bite of a Malabar pit viper on Abdul, our driver boy, stepping in the middle of the line of our pace. While I took him on stride, both the forest guards fell in line, quickly administering first aid sucking the blood from his bitten and now swollen hand.
Fangs were virulent but not so venomous. Upset by the shock, driven after trauma and loathed with pain, I was fused in dilemma, welded to a life time quandary and reviled in hauntingly exceptional predicament. Had it bitten me, or my daughter, my wife ? How the world would have looked to me ? More
horrific, ghastly horrendous or atrociously terrible ? We hurriedly driven to castle rock community health center in an hour and got anti-venom inoculation. Abdulâ€™s full arm was inflated and the doze made him rolled into deep slumber. I made arrangement for his carriage to Dharwad hospital where next morning he recovered. I spent a sleepless night at Castle Rock. Why I felt so grieved, saddened and distressed ? Was it a nightmare ? Perhaps no ! The Malabar pit viper is a sober citizen. The track we beaten is likely to display an indifference to mundane affairs uncommon at other places, in other seasons. Quite often, we disobey the nature, we defy its natural order of the things, we contravene the discipline of the ecosystem, we infringe upon the territory of
innocent creatures, we are susceptible to the prosecution of trespass by the kingdom of nature.
The months of the year, from January to June, are geometric progression in the abundance of distractions. Dangling over the twigs of the tree is the nature of pit viper. Being sober, gentle and tender, pit vipers never attack on their own until they anticipate danger to their life. They have every right to live at home, as they desire. They are nocturnal and usually inactive in the day, sometimes seen basking on rocks, on the trees near streams. Malabar pit vipers donâ€™t feed on humans. Frogs, lizards, rodents and smaller snake become their prey quite often when they shows interest in food and no concern over the rompings or
retribution of their neighbors.
Visit to the castle rock was not an error of destiny, not an onslaught on faith.
Embraced with passion, flushed with anger my daughter uttered a cry of joy. Now I am decently content for my encounters with vagaries of nature, choked with indignation and fear. Soaked in glittering mist, my wife, quite often breaks into perspiration of grief, panegyrics and lamentation. Her fears were allayed when she compromised, living with nature, content in mundane affairs as usual. I tender my apology to the Malabar Pit Viper for my willful intrusion, outraging the chastity of his world, meddling in his affairs.
A K Singh is the member of Indian Forest Service in the government of Karnataka. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org 9481180956