Monday, May 21, 2007

Periyar lake and the morning mist

It was a long walk to the lake. The sun had just risen. The morning had only just begun. The road winded up and around the jungle trees. It was a wide road. Every once in a while, a car went by. The ‘boat landing’ was 4 km away from Kumily town. There were signboards that said “Tiger land, No horn” The bamboo rustled. You knew the breeze was walking too. The cluster of trees parted and a deer stood there. Only for a moment.

That morning, the lake was there with the mist. Maybe, every morning was the same at Periyar. The boats were there. No people. Slowly, people began to arrive. There was a choice of “upper deck” and “lower deck” tickets. The information centre in stone walls was a nice space to be in. Monkeys sat on the trees and in the cafetaria. There were guards. Nobody spoke. People began to wander around and watch the birds.

It was time to climb the boat. We moved into the waters. There were the trees on either shore. Tree trunks, small and large. It was a sculpture park on the waters. Each sculpture bore the same signature. It was an unknown artist. The dam waters had flooded a once forested land. The trees were very silent. The boat moved. People looked. Periyar lake and its sanctuary had become a part of our memory, of our lives.

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