Forester In-charge of Gomarda calls to say, “The rains have failed. Water sources are dry, even in monsoon!” As a crisis management, he has planned installing solar pumps at two ponds crucial for wildlife. “The process is taking time,” he sounds dejected.
I am disappointed to hear all this. Anyway, I am reaching Gomarda next day. I will see if anything can be done with a follow-up with senior officials.
Next day, early morning I am on rail. Past noon, arrive at Raigarh. At station another forester receives me. His first words are, “Sir, see these clouds,” looking towards the sky, “they built up and fizzle out. No rain in the Sanctuary. It may rain here and there, but nothing in the Sanctuary!”
We take lunch at Raigarh. The cloud built up is massive – all dark grey sky. It starts raining as we leave. Our friend is depressed. “Sir, see, this will rain for a short while here and vanish. Even road side would have no water collected.”
The forester is a worried man. Being a Range Officer, he has a great responsibility. Whole July and August, he has been looking towards sky with hope. Whenever there are clouds, he prayed, “Hey God, pour in my forest. Please fill dry tanks and water ways. My animals would face very difficult time.”
Nature has its own way. There is heavy downpour now, light shower than or no rain, as we transverse 50 odd km distance to the Sanctuary. Whenever, we reach a dry patch, our friend says, “Did not I say?”
We stop at Tendudhar Check-post – entry point for Gomarda. It starts raining. Staff host us black tea. Incidentally, they correctly call it red tea as the colour is not black but actually reddish. As we sit here, sipping tea, the clouds are earth shaking thunderous. It’s lightening now and again. Rain is now real heavy down pour. We wait for the rain to slow down.
Our forester friend now changes his thought. “Maybe it’s you who have brought the rain. Maybe this works today?” We are now ascending in the hills. After an hour or so, the rain has almost stopped but the whole forest is enveloped in thick fog.
My first thought is, “A foggy winter day of January is here live in hot monsoon month of August.” I ask driver to stop. I want to feel this on ground, smell it, taste it… Let the spirits be drenched in the wonder. Entirely, out-of-world stuff.
As we approach a culvert on the narrow hilly forested track, there is huge gurgling sound. It’s water rushing over the rocks hidden in foliage on the hill face and gushing down into forest on the other side. Amazing. Now our friend is excited. He is feeling that it has really rained in the forest. He wants to reassure himself with one more proof. He asks driver to rush to Adhar Pani.
This is a nala, a seasonal stream, and waterfall. It gets active when there is sufficient water in the catchment area. As soon as we reach the spot, our forester friend and the driver jump of the vehicle and dash to the location about 200-300 m away. I am careful on the rocky, sloppy and slippery land. Our friend is a bundle of excitement like a kid. He shouts, “Sir, come quickly, Himanshu, where are you…”
Adhar Pani nala is flowing again – Flowing full blast!! In the deep gorge, the water is gushing down to enrich the valley and spread life and love. The joy on the face of my friend is indescribable. He simple says, “Thank you. You have done it.”
Inside my heart, I am happy to hear these words of credit. Fact is, I have done nothing. Humbly, I say, “It’s the result of your prayers. I just happened to be here on the occasion.”
Now, it is the ‘Mast’ atmosphere – unexpected and unbelievable. As we go down, the nalas are criss-crossing the landscape. They cross the road at about half a dozen places – all these are over flowing with more than a foot of water. We see an anicut – water is flowing over the bund. A temporary bund of sand bags could not bear the pressure and breached. Low-lying areas are all water sheet. Frogs are happy lot – one can feel from the clear and crisp noted emerging from them. Peacocks are dancing. Birds are chirping… Celebration is in the air.
God has not poured pani, it is amrit. Life is flowing through the forest. Joy is written large on every leaf, insect, bird, animal…
P S : Amrit is elixir, nectar and all that.