Stopping by the Woods !
Pitch black. This is what awaited me when I broke my alliance with slumber. I, shrugging off my post slumber blues looked around with eyes wide open. The Qualis, on which I was on board was cruising along the NH; its headlights piercing the darkness. My fellow travelers’ alliance with sleep showed no signs of friction despite the numerous hindrances strewn by the road. Bored, I slightly lowered the side window and found mist engulfing the vehicle in a jiffy. So much so that I could barely see the funny facial contortions of the guy sitting beside me.
“Close the window”. My thoughts were disturbed by a commanding voice which emanated from the front seat. The driver, who was deftly negotiating ill lit steep curves vociferously castigated me. My hands, which initially was hesitant to be obsequious, eventually pulled the window glass up. I found a companion in my thoughts and wasted no time in soliloquizing. Wiping off the trails of mist from the window glass, I gazed at the sights which went past me. Blurred and ephemeral images of huts, shops, men draped in sweaters sprouted up off and on. To ease the pain which was climbing its way up my neck, I resorted to stretching. While doing so, my impromptu gaze fell upon the sky. It served as a grim reminder that we often tend to ignore things of immense beauty right in our vicinity and yearn about places which we can only imagine. Sky was luminous. Bejeweled with the moon and the stars glowing unceasingly, I could see them strewn all over the horizon.
Meanwhile I was immersed in thoughts, few of my fellow passengers showed signs of getting back to life ! Inquiries about the quality of slumber, dreams which fleeted past us, and the comforts and discomforts of the vehicle and the NH followed. An unanimous decision to break the monotony of the journey followed since the driver’s senses were revolting against driving and our joints too were displaying signs of protest. The SUV screeched to a stop in front of a tea shop. By this time darkness was bidding adieu to nature languorously. The ornate sky looked depleted after a while.
After making sure that the last member was out of the vehicle, driver pa
rked it into safety. We walked by taking slow strides forward trying to coming to terms with the undulated terrain. Despite the vanishing act of the darkness, mist refused to depart. The ubiquitous mist , which by now had become an interloper, was tenacious and grew thicker by the day. When I caught up with the rest of them, I saw a few gazes directed towards the same direction,with dropped jaws. I too followed suit and turned my head in anticipation.
I took a look at the sight and gradually my eyebrows arched. I was right at the corridor of a lush green Woods. I saw, amidst the mist and the cool breeze, lanky trees swaying in unison with the winds in gay abandon. The rustle of the branches against each other creating a symphony of their own. The ebony mates were punctuated by varieties of flora and fauna which prompted us to step further and explore all of them. Knee high grass spread a verdant carpet till my eyes could trace. Insects small and big, industrious beavers, variegate birds, all stopped and took a look and went about their business. There were the fallen legends too. These trees had stood the test of time and fell prey to the force of nature which translated as thunderstorm. The fallen heroes were now abode for numerous humble forms of life. Acting as a haven for mushrooms to flourish and insects to feed upon the bark, these lifeless forms doesn’t cease to amaze. Just as we were about to freeze these priceless moments for eternity, darkness descended upon us. What was tranquil until then, turned tumultuous.
Clouds gathered in quick succession, the breeze which was caressing us until then turned fierce. As a precaution, the tea shop owner got hold of the rubber sheets which was lying right outside the shop. Mocking the umbrellas and rendering them obsolete, the gale grew stronger minute by minute. Just when we started our run towards the vehicle to keep ourselves dry, HAIL dropped in. It was not RAIN but HAIL. I was amazed by the sheer size of the drops i.e. pellets of ice and heard shouts of boys squirming in pain since some were hit right on the head. Amidst the melee, I picked up a pellet and ran towards the SUV. When everybody were in, the driver started the vehicle and sought asylum in a place where trees could not fall on the vehicle.
Despite getting drenched, we were happy to be part of the myriad moods of nature. And before DARKNESS, GALE and HAIL gatecrashed into our party one of us managed to sneak out the camera and freeze the moment for posterity. Take a look !!
True to Robert Frost’s lines “THE WOODS ARE LOVELY DARK and DEEP”