In the Quest of Light #4: Radhe Radhe Govinda, Govinda Radhe!

Srikanta | Nagendra/Sarma/Indra/Wicky – The Author | Sravan

. . . . Cntd of #3

Chapter 16:

“It is for my wife ji,” I told him when he was eyeing me with suspicion. I just got on the car and took the seat beside the driver. It is a symbolism that it is the journey of mine and I wanna look towards where we were going.

“Your wife?” he said. May be the elderly man didn’t understand what kind of a husband would take drugs from Kodiakanal to a wife.

I chuckled, but there was a sad glint in my eyes, “Yes,” I said, looking away from him, looking for Srikanta and Sravan anna – who would be the HERO of this final episode.

“Why?” he asked, after a brief thought.

I didn’t know what to explain that elderly man. Then I thought, there is nothing to hide, it is very clear and on the screen. I took a short breath and then said it as slowly as I can pronounce: “She is suffering with, ah,” I didn’t know howto put it, but the elderly man nodded, like he understood and no need to explain that – or, he thought personal, may be. I smiled and went on. “So, these medicines might not work ji, so these herbs. . .”

“Yes,” he said excited. “They say these herbs have medicinal properties,”

I nodded with a beaming smile. “Yes,” I said. “That is why.”

“But then,” he was thinking how to keep it politely before me. “It is very dangerous.” I pursed my lips and nodded my head in acceptance of the risk. “I told you right,” he said and I was alert all of a sudden. “Six children died right before us because of taking these in the wrong dosage.”

“Yes, those words are still in my head.”

“Be careful son,” he said, and I saw Srikanta and Sravan coming towards the car, looking at the mobile screen and discussing deeply – about our destination and how to reach there, may be.

“Thank you, ji,” I told and with admiration added, “we will take doctors suggestions before using it ji.”

“That is good,” he said and followed my gaze to see Sravan and Srikanta. He started the car and revved the engine. “So you came here and taking this risk for your wife,” he said with a smile.

“For whom else would I do it, ji,” I was almost laughing with good men-mirth when I was saying it. “She is the only one I got.”

“I have a second wife,” he said and I was surprised. I laughed out along with him. And just before Sravan and Srikanta were getting in the car, “And these people are here for you?”

I nodded my head with a beaming smile.

“Good people,” he said, opening the internal lock for these wonderful friends of mine to get in.

Chapter 17:

The moment we got down the bus and found out a cheap possible hotel with the help of this tourist guide cum taxi driver, we told the driver that we didn’t yet decide on what we really wanna visit. We told him that we would contact him at need and took his number. We checked into our rooms and then Sravan talked the plan out, leading us over the bizarre expedition.

“So, this is what we are going to do,” he said while I was attentive listening and Srikanta engrossed in chatting with the new Insta-Woman. She replied actually and that went really great. I simply asked Sravan to not bother Srikanta with these plans and all and we started discussing.

“So, Wicky,” he started. “We, from here should go to the village of Mavvananur and there we gotta find the herbs we are looking for,” he said, searching in the google maps. But the problem is this, he said, turning phone towards me.

I looked at it, but didn’t understand what he wants me to see. “What?” I asked, genuinely confused.

“This,” he pointed three places and I was surprised.

“Means?”

“Yes,” he said, taking phone to himself. “There are three Mannavanur’s around Kodaikanal,”

“My god!” Srikanta screamed and before we could look at him, he hurdled over the bed with his knees and reached both of us. “She said this bro!” he said, excited and that got me burning somewhere. “What shall I reply?”

Sravan let out a hearty smile – which is a character trait of his, and said, “Do you at least have any idea why what we are here for?” he was chuckling. “I think you forgot why we are here!”

Srikanta didn’t care. I was his prime love guru. He looked at me with a pleasing face, like an innocent kid asking for a biscuit packed. “Please,” he said.

“What?” I asked, wanting to get finished with that quickly.

“This,” he showed the phone and I don’t remember what that was, but I gave him an idea how to solve the problem and how to prolong the conversation for the next few hours. He didn’t even ask what we were doing; he got the answer and he fell on bed happily, thanking us, replying to the Insta-Woman.

“You tell me,” I asked Sravan immediately. “What should be done?”

Out of nowhere, Srikanta added: “Array, we shall do re, don’t worry!” he said.

I was fuming, “What are you talking about?” I asked.

“Anything! We will all do!” he said and he was doing his work.

“My god!” I let out a sigh, imagining how to cope up with this love-struck idiot for the remaining trip.

Sravan with his smile, simply said, “Rey Wicky, do not bother him. He is in his world, let’s come to this see. This is what we are going to do. . .”

So, according to the sources of Sravan, the herbs we are searching for will be available in the village of Mannavannur while there was a Mannavannur lake and a Mannavanur forest. I was glad it is not the lake, for I am not an A-class swimmer to swim and find the herbs at the same time and we were all glad it was the not forest.

“At least that not a forest,” someone of us said. “In the village, we can simply go and ask, right?”

Sravan was the one to answer, “That is the reason why we didn’t take room for two days.” He said taking his towel and other freshening accessories out of his bag. We don’t know, we might stay in the village this night and tomorrow morning. We should be ready.

“Where would we stay in a village?” I asked, just anxious.

“I don’t know,” he said. “We will ask someone. If people are living there, they should have space for new people who float.”

“And, new people are beautiful,” Srikanata added.

“What?” I said as Sravan slipped into washroom. “What are you even doing?”

“I am floating mayya,” he said, his long teeth all outside.

“In air?”

“Yes!”

But he was clearly sleeping on the bed. “Great,” I said and sat beside him, trying to what to do next.

Suddenly he stood upon his knees and hugged me from the behind. “Thank you mayya,” he said. That wouldn’t be the last time he thanks me.

I was genuinely glad. It was a good feeling to look at him being excited about something other than Marvel, PubG and Game of Thrones. “Cool; man,” I said with a serene smile. “Handle it carefully though!”

“What are you talking?” he left me turning me towards him. “:What are you talking bro! I will not leave this, no way!” he was chuckling is tongue. “No, no, no. . .” I was already laughing. “I will get this girl anyhow,” he said, and the explosion fell down into a soft whisper as he leant over me again. “I love her mayya,” he said, in a dreamy voice. Again, he became explosive the next moment, before I could say anything. “Mayya, see,” he said’ his voice determined. “When we beget our children, I will name them after you,” he said.

“What!” Being shocked was my turn. “My name?”

“YES!” he said.

“But you can’t take Sharma, can you?”

“Nagendra!” he said, as if teaching my name to a class; imagining how it would be to call his son by that name.

“What if a girl?”

Sravan walked out of the washroom, listening to all this said with a smile, “What else, Nagendrini!”

“No, no, no. . .” Srikanta protested. “Not that,” he thought for a moment. “Sharmila?”

“Come one, that is one gross name,” I screamed. “Think better,”

“Nagini,” Sravan said, a real stupid.

Then I got the most beautiful idea. “Go with this,” I said, and both of them were attentive. “If it is a boy go with my name, Nagendra or Indra, as you people like, but if it is a girl,” I gave a pause. “Go with Sravan’s name!”

Sravan hit me with his towel and didn’t pay much interest, but Srikanta was high, “Mean? Means?”

“Array, female version of Sravan re!”

It stuck their heads, “Sravani!”

“Exactly!”

“Wow,” Srikanta was excited. “Nagendra, Sravani. Super!”

Chapter 18:

The trip that was thought to the most miserable of all has turned out to be a trip full of smiles, but nah, underneath, the tension was high, very, very high. No journey ought to be a grievance and that’s what was running us forward. Sometimes Sravan would simply look at me, come stand beside me and hold me at shoulders. “Fine,” he would say. “Fine.”

Fine it was. I don’t know if it was not fine or not, but fine, it ought to be. But with Srikanta being in the background smiles were here and there, without leaving us. He would ask something or the other question how to talk with a girl in ‘this’ kind of a situation or ‘that’ kind of a situation and Sravan would smack a joke and he, like a kid would come to me and complain that Sravan is talking negatively about his relationship and I would laugh first and then console him.

Sometimes it goes much funnier. When he comes to complain, I would repeat the same joke, taking Sravan’s cue. Srikanta would be furious. He walks ahead of us and screams turning at us. “Okay ra,” he would scream at the middle of the strange streets. “You don’t care, right? Okay,” he would walk farther not listening to our excuses. “No need,” he would say. “No need. You don’t care, I understand that,” and he starts mumbling, “I know, I will only do this,” I or Sravan would run and console him with stupid stuff. Haha. That works.

I need to mention, for I might not get find a better situation than this to note this remark: Keeping the hours we’ve slept – which were hardly fifteen or sixteen including all the three days – not a single hour passed without us talking that Usha Kiran should have been there.

All the while when we were in the room, Srikanta went o making remarks about his newly found love or something. But about my woman, I did only one.

“Sravan anna,” I called. I was specifically saying it to him. He was wearing his shirt or something.

“Yeah, say it,” he said, simply.

“When everything settles down and when everything is so good, I will come to this place with my woman,” I said.

“That’s great. You should,” he said, generally. “Kodai is al good place for couples,” he remarked.

“Not that bey. To this place. I mean this room.”

“Why is that for?”

“I don’t know man,” I said, looking around the room. “This room is making me feel good. May beI want to hug her sleep for a nigt.”

All of a sudden he stopped buttoning his shirt and was angrily staring at me.

“What?” I asked, with a wicked smile.

“You know what!”

“What I know what?” I was laughing already.

“I am twenty-seven and I am starving without a woman and do YOU this it is DECENT to give me your romabtric detail?”

“Come one, I just wanted you to know what I have in your heart!”

“Array no need babu,” he joined his hands in a prayer before me while my laugh was endless. “You romance with your woman please. Please spare me.”

“Okay, okay,” from the bed I moved towards him to have a little guy-hug. “Wear the shirt. It is not a good sight,” I was saying and Srikanta came out of the washroom.

“Array, I will also come to the same room ra,” He said with his excited smile.

“Save me god!” Sravan held his head while I was enjoying the moment!

Chapter 19:

That morning, after Sravan, one after the other, we all got read. I completed my daily duty, once talked with The Woman and then ready to go. All of a sudden, because of Srikanta, the ‘let-us-take-pictures’ euphoria came up. He wanted to have maximum number of pictures to keep in Instagram (you all know why) all of a sudden. Sometimes it went off the limit irritating us, but that was a healthy sport most of the time.

“So, what do we do now?” I asked Sravan as we were getting down the steps of our hotel. The taxi driver was at the hotel gate, probably anticipating our arrival.

“We can’t get in the taxi,” he said. We were out of the financial range. We were already broken – always broken! “Nearby there is a bus-stop kind of a thing, I think we should go there and find a bus.”

When we were crossing the gate, the taxy driver excitedly came towards us. We simply said we aren’t planning anything that day and moved on. The disappointment in the driver’s face was clear. But we couldn’t help. We don’t have money and we should still return. Srikanta only booked tickets till Chennai from Dindugul and from Chennai NO ONE has any idea how we would reach back. But yeah; in the following course, we would make mistakes and miss that train too at the end!

We walked the upside of a mountain through narrow streets to reach the place which Sravan has spotted in his phone. That was surely a place for all the wagons to stop. But there, we couldn’t find any public transport. Sravan talked with many drivers asking them to drop them at village Mannavannur, but no one were even going that way.

While Sravan was trying hard, Srikanta called me and showed me a chocolate store. “What?” I asked.

“He will look for the travel thing, once you come,” he said and took me towards the chocolate store. “This is special here,” he said. “They MAKE chocolate here.”

“Like home-made?”

“Yes,” he said, and asked how much one box costs: A hundred rupees.

“Maybe I should take this to her as a token of love from here, man,” I said eyeing the chocolates.

“You are going to get the herbs re. Anything a bigger token of love than that? Really?”

“Come one, man. That is all serious stuff. These chocolates would make her really happy.”

I thought to take those while returning. But I wouldn’t as we would be broken down to the last of our pieces that we would get stuck in buses, sit beside bathrooms and sleep on the streets at the end. I wish I got them for her.

Sravan, after asking many drivers, came back with a disappointed expression. Before I could ask, he told me. No one were going there.

“Now what shall we do?” Srikanta asked.

“Taxi,” I proposed. There was no other way. Then, we began walking back.

On the way walking back was a beautiful incident:

“Array, the topic is coming to an end re,” Srikanta said, anxiously talking with that woman. “Give me some idea or a cue how to get this forward. She might lose interest in the conversation.”

“Man, simply ask what her hobbies are and what her interests are and then, contradict one of those. Give her a chance to support herself and act like you are convinced with it, and say she is a great intellect. Come on, man! Easy!” I said, in my confident tone, with an air of proficiency.

That amazed Srikanta and he was excited. “Great, great,” he said walked before us talking with his Insta-Woman.

Then Sravan, from the behind held my shoulder-bones hardly. When I screamed, he said. “You idiot. You called us to help your woman and now you are setting up woman for this idiot, eh? What about me re?”

Escaping the severe pain, I said, “Come on, you have your fiancé Manjeera na, idiot. You need other woman now?”

“Not that. I need no woman. It’s been a while. I think I should try it again.”

Don’t ask what that is, I understood it immediately. With a beaming smile, I said, “Let this thing be done: Granted!”

(And yeah people, ask him who Majeera is! Hehehahahaa!)

Actually, I don’t know why, I have this urge to do these dialogues in Telugu, as they carry all the essence of our friendship.

The action is the same, just the dialogues:

Sravan: నీయబ్బ, నీ గుంట కోసం అని తీసుకొచ్చి ఇప్పుడు వీడికి వాడికి గుంటల్ని సెట్ చేస్తున్నావా? మరి నా పరిస్థితి ఏంట్రా?

Indra: నాకొడక రేయ్. నీకు ఆల్రెడీ కాబోయే వైఫ్ ఉంది కదా బే. మంజీరా. ఇంకేం కావాలి రా?

Sravan: ఛా. అది కాదు. నాకు అమ్మాయి అవ్వరు అక్కర్లేదు కానీ, చాలా రోజులు అయ్యింది రా. ఒక సారి ట్రై చెయ్యాలి.

Indra: నా పని పూర్తి అవ్వగానే: తథాస్తు!

Haha. I know. It might sound a bit disgusting to read the cuss words in Telugu, but that’s what we are. We are a group of happy friends and when we don’t have limits, that’s how the words naturally would flow. And what Sravan has done and would do or is doing; if someone simply tries to judge the man, I would stand in between. Even that is my woman. I would stand in between. The things the man has went through are tremendous. Maybe it wouldn’t be polite to discuss his past here, but, one of the hardest lives I have touched in the journey of my life and he is next to none is trying to repair his life whenever it goes wrong. So, when Sravan said something, it was all clear to me and it was all fine.

Chapter 20:

By the time we returned back the taxi was ready. We went to him and told that we need to go to village Mannavanur for the herb. He warned us once more and we gave a fitting reply to make him understand that we are not ready for any kind of a moral-heeding. And finally he said, “2000rs.”

“For village Mannavanur and coming back?” Someone of us asked.

“No,” the driver said.

“Then?”

“That herb is possible to find outside only in a rainy season,” the man explained his wisdom. “But you came the quite opposite of it,” we all looked at each other as the man went on. “In a rainy season you can find it in the village, it is okay. But,” and I don’t know if it really was there originally or I am imagining it now; there was a eerie tone in his voice, “You need to find wet barks under which the herb is to be grown!”

“Means?”

“We gotta get into the forest?” Sravan more of said that than asked.

“Yes,” the man agreed. “You can find it only in the forests!” And that was what was running in my head: Forest?

“Nagendra!” Srikanta didn’t like the idea obviously. “We came at the wrong time re. Your woman knows that you came this far for her. She would understand if you don’t find them na. It is a positive reason. It is a summer and they are found only in rainy days!” I was shaking my head. I took them with me, or, I let them come along with me because I thought they would be my strength; not because they would drag me back. Their fears, I didn’t want to bear.

“What do you say?” I asked Sravan.

Sravan took a moment. He twisted his lips, lifted the bag and kept it back, looked at the sky, played with his legs, nodded for a while, and at last he simply said, “Your wish mama,” and I was glad. But I had a little doubt that even Sravan was reluctant and was saying it for my sake.

“If you don’t want to come,” I was about to say. My sentence would be that if he too doesn’t wanna come, I would go alone. But then, he cut me in the middle.

“No, I didn’t mean that,” he said. “I am just thinking about the rain, but yes, we shall go,” he said.

“You sure?” I want them to do it on their own will.

“Yes, I am positive,” he said confidently. Actually, more confident than me. He mustered it up. “Wicky,” he said, with a deep bass tone of his. “We came till here, why would we go back? We will not. We will go after finding the herb. If this idiot says he won’t come,” he pointed at Srikanta, “We will carry him into the middle of the forest and throw him away,” there wwere chuckles then. “We shall go!”

“But Sravan, if we come at the right season, we can find them easily man!”

“But that’s not what I want,” I snapped immediately. “It is not the herb I need,” my voice was almost pleading. “I want to prove my woman that this herb is a possibility so that she would sustain her breath for a moment long!” they understand, but I couldn’t stop. “I can’t say her some or the other reasons positive or negative. I can’t make it up. She believes me, man. If I simply sit at Rajahmundry and say that I came here, she will believe it like an innocent kid. If I say these would be found only in rainy season, she would believe me. She would take me near for my trail and she’ say that she loves me, but no. That is not what I want.”

“Nagi mayya,” Sravan said, cajoling me; trying to get me down.

“Nah man, I want you people to understand it.”

“And yes maya, we understand how much you love her.”

“No you don’t,” I said, a bit rude and they didn’t reply. “See. I want to do something. That is beyond our limits. Beyond our financial limits, beyond our physical and emotional limits and yes, we are here. We are the ta final test. Now too, I want to do something beyond limits for my woman. I want to do something that is beyond all excuses, all these rubbish explanations and logics.”

“Yes, we would go,” Srikanta said; not obliged, but a bit inspired. “But you have to give me tips how to work out with my girl!”

We both held our heads, “Array babu, let this be done. We will get you married and secure the door of your first-night room!”

Then we got in the car. Determined to get them somehow. “How much time would it take?” someone of us asked the driver. He said the journey would take more than two and half hours. That should be a long journey. Srikanta and Sravan were sitting in the backseat while I was sitting beside the driver. That was a good placement; while Srikanta and Sravan indulged in little conversations about different things, they didn’t force me to join in it. I got my own length of time to think, discuss and debate over my own things within myself. The driver has offered to play songs of our own. He thought we were of North India. He tried to speak with us in Hindi. I didn’t want to prove that he is wrong. Why to make the poor elderly man think he is wrong?

I played all favourite songs of mine. Srikanta was new to Bollywood music. A few songs caught his never. While I played the tragedies of Bollywood which would depict the waiting, separation and pain in love, Srikanta was caught by the exotic voices of these singers. Playing song after song, I simply stared outside the window. The car was moving through the mountains and that was the journey of my life. Not with my love of course, but for mine.

The mist is the most beautiful natural asset; if I have to name it. The mist is what brought the heavenly whitish hue all around us. It brought the contrasts of the colours sharp and it wet the grass and trees around us and even the mountain rocks were wet and were in their original colour without being tainted by any dust over them. When we were smoothly taking curves around the mountains on these smooth, plain, dark black roads, I wondered how this is all possible. We, in a bus came up onto a mountain that morning, but it didn’t look like one. It didn’t feel like we were on a mountain: the roads were great, there are bus stops, huge restaurants, hotels, motels, and what not, it is more sophisticated than Kakinada or Rajahmundry, I didn’t understand how. Everything over the top of a mountain, my god. And in this two and half hour’s journey of ours, we were crossing mountains after maintains, which are conquered by human beings and these dense forests turned into beautiful tea-plantations. It was domestic; a domestic place like I have seen never before.

“Sometimes animals come onto these roads,” The driver said with a smile.

“What do you do then?” I asked, genuinely curious. “Like, I mean, what do people of this place do?”

“What can we do?” he smiled, carefully wheeling over a huge curve. “We know we occupied their place. So, we give respect and wait till they gave back into the forests.”

“Wow,” I said, instinctively. “That’s so nice.” And I continued. “And they go back like that? Without coming into the town?”

“Oh no, sometimes they get confused and chase themselves into the town. But generally, they understand that we have already conquered their land, and so silently pay respect to us and leave inside.”

I smiled out. “So, you respect each other a lot.”

“That is how we should co-exist with nature, isn’t it?”

I smiled with gratitude. What could I do when a man of experience is talking? What I am? A simple fool breaded well in schools.

“You should try these,” he said, picking car to a side. Those were some fruits that looked like apples, but a bit small and tasted like strawberries. “They are special here. You won’t find them elsewhere.”

Sravan was attentive. Anyhow we didn’t eat anything proper since the morning and we didn’t know when we would be back, and so, Sravan said we would take a bag of those berries.

“Try carrots too,” the driver added. Along with the berries there were many types of fruits and vegetables at the lady who was selling them. “They are small, but they taste sweet.”

“Do you want to eat?” Sravan offered carrots to Srikanta but he was not interested. “What about you?” he asked me. I motioned one finger of mine before his face and he took one. That was sweet, but not the kind of sweet we eat every day. That was something very different.

“Really nice,” I told the driver with a smile.

“I know,” he said, starting the car again, talking something or the other on the way.

Srikanta would try to take pictures from the window. And, Srikanta has this awkward habit of screaming loudly when he gets excited. The scream would be something like, “Ayyyyaaaaaaa!” People who watched movies or played Pub-G with Srikanta would know that. So, when the car goes at a real speed, he would see a mountain or a valley or a village at the far end and he cries, “Ayyyyaaaa!” for anyone new, they would think Sravan stabbed Srikanta in the thigh or something; but no. It is not Srikanta’s expression of pain, but of excitement. But how would the driver know it? After stopping for three to four time in the anxiety of Srikanta’s screams, the driver at last said that there are really beautiful spots on our way and he would stop there. I didn’t want to entertain delay, but was needed. In the curvy roads of those mountains, it seemed like a hectic task for us to travel without stops. Pit-stops in journey are good, I thought.

Sravan is the photographer. He might not know the technical stuff, but in the face of setting a frame and understanding colour of a picture he is a better photographer than Srikanta. I can’t judge myself in photography – not that I am good, but that I really don’t know what I am. Whenever the driver stopped the car at the side of these ghat-roads, there lied a breathless view over there. Srikanta is a photo maniac. I used to have one photo, Sravan two and he used to have twenty, and when I was going to take a photo, he used to scream that no one takes a picture of his and he used to walk away or try to destroy our photos or simply make hostile comments over us.

“Array babu, you’re handsome enough,” is one. “You already have a girl, why dying for photos now?” is another, “Okay alright, you don’t care about me, okay I know,’ is the biggest of all. He had photos ion a thousand poses and believe me when I say that he has a photo in which he is turned back and pissing on a wall. What else can I say here? The worst part goes when he destroys our photos and make us take pictures for him and he asks us in return which pose would be really good to impress this new Insta-Woman. It got us into fumes, but you have to look at the ecstasy of his: simply wonderful!

While the mountain travel had its luxuries, it had its cons too and it first reflected in the stomach of Sravan. Strong and resistant as a man he is, and as a guy who got experience of travelling all over South India extensively, we wouldn’t expect this with him, rather than we would expect this with Srikanta; a lousy idiot who doesn’t wake up even at 10:30 in the morning on a holiday and when he wakes up, he sleeps back at 11 again! In a very careful tone, Sravan said that he was not feeling well in the stomach. For a moment it seemed like a major threat. If he falls ill there, I swear, we didn’t even have money to get things done. I was worried, about the trip and obviously about him.

“What should we do?” I asked the driver.

“What happened?” he asked. He didn’t understand what Sravan said. When I explained the driver that Sravan is feeling sick at stomach, the driver smiled. To all our amusement he said, “We have Maggie and soup!”

Sravan and I were like, “What?!”

Don’t wonder what Srikanta said. He didn’t say anything. HE didn’t know what was happening. He was engrossed with his phone!

The soup was a magic. I am pretty sure of one thing: when Sravan reads this, he would be snapping his fingers and shaking his head saying, ‘yes, that is true, that is really true. The soup is magic’ he loved the soup so much that he took the picture of the old lady who was making it on the road side and also of the hut under which it was there. The soup was really a magic. Till the Srikanta didn’t get down the car as there was a little drizzle. But when we both tasted the soup; we were like no one on this planet should miss this and we both dragged him out of the car. The driver was already having a cigarette happily, and we showed Srikanta a place where he could stand without being wet. He had the soup and yes, was as excited as we were.

We had a few pictures there, as Sravan insisted it was one of the most memorable pieces of the journey and then. I and Srikant even had a picture with the car driver. After that, for one hour the journey was non-stop. After one hour, the driver stopped on a cliff and showed us a very distinct lake.

“You see it?” he asked. That was the greatest sight of the whole trip. Limitless mountains before us. Huge and humongous. “The lake, far away,” he said, and we nodded our heads. “Beyond that, do you see, the mountains are inviting forests,” we nodded our heads again. “That is the Mavannanur forest, and that is where you wanna go.”

“That is the backside of The Great Western Ghats,” someone said. “The longest mountain chain in the country.”

“One of the densest forests too,” the driver added and our journey began!

Chapter 21:

That night . . .

“Where is it?” Sravan asked, his voice almost irritated.

“It is right here,” Srikanta said, checking his phone again. “Yes, it is showing right here!”

“But then, there is nothing here. This not even is a restaurant!”

“May be once upon a time there was one here!” was my best effort to soothe Sravan. “Maybe we should find some other place.”

Srikanta was already searching, “Check this,” he said, but I wasn’t interested to look at his phone. Maps on a digital screen are very confusing; they move all the time. “There is one near us,” he said and checked the route. “Hey, just nearby our hotel!”

“Let’s go boys,” Sravan started his determined march. That very evening after all the risks we took (which I would describe after this chapter), Sravan was jumping, screaming and singing all over. Haha. I was happy too, but I was this type of a happy that I sat down in the chair and there were almost tears in my eyes and I was not able to speak and this guy is this type of happy that he was breaking hell loose all over the place. He was literally jumping at the same place again and again, holding my shoulder and shaking me up like I would vomit. Yeah, Srikanta was happy too; on our way back to took good pictures of his! UFF!

We walked slowly; talking and reflecting upon the things which have happened that day, most of it being the wonder of us coming this far and getting this done based on a mere intuition.

“This way,” Srikanta said, showing us an ally, which was right before our hotel.

“This?” we asked.

“Yes, sure,” he said and we walked inside it. I was all dark.

“You sure it is this?” because it was a dead street. There is nothing in it.

“Positive,” he said and opened his phone again. “Wait,” he said and he was calculating. “I think we are in the wrong street.”

“Great!”

“But it is somewhere around!”

“It is somewhere around, right,” Sravan said, “Stop that phone thing; we shall ask someone and that would be better and easy.”

So, we walked out of the ally and Sravan saw someone who might know the address, but, when was about to walk, the smell knocked my nose, “Anna,” I called him out and when he turned back, crossing the traffic, “I think it is this way.”

“How do you know?”

“I don’t know, the smell. It is very strong!”

He complimented with excitement and we walked into the other street and at the street end we found it.

“It is a government store,” Sravan said, almost disappointed. But when he walked in and found out that there isn’t any quantity remained.

That night, even with a tremendous achievement was a disappointing one. “We would find it tomorrow,” I said when we were on our way to the room. We still have tomorrow night.

“But if I try it tomorrow night, we can’t wake up early enough to catch the train in Dindugul,” Sravan said. “But, Sravan had a little idea that he was prophesizing what’s yet to happen!”

The next morning, which was lazy, satisfying and late, we woke up when the sun was already burning up above. The previous night, with the same energy while Srikanta continued his quest towards the woman, we all slept together hugging each other. That was one wonderful night with all sins discussed at once!

After waking up there was a debate between Sravan and I. I say it is a must he should try it before we leave and there is no turning back. Sravan says we might miss the early morning bus and so the train and so the whole trip. I say it is okay, we are not kids and we will not leave unless he does what he wanted to. I compel Sravan at last. But till the evening we stayed in the room for we don’t have a penny to spare for a tour around. Ion the evening we walked out and walked for long distances; into the heart of the town. It was full of tourist attractions; parks, lakes, these boat rides, a lot of eateries and all, numerous tourists walking around. But we didn’t know where to find this Sravan’s thing. We asked many but no one seems to know.

At last, while eating a mango stuffed with spice, I saw a bunch of guys walking along the footpath through the crowd holding bottles (covered) in their hands. I screamed at Sravan to check them out. It took him a moment to understand what I was saying, but by the time he understood, they were very far away. I crossed the road and immediately we both were running leaving Srikanta behind. There was no time to explain. We ran for some five to seven minutes and when they were near, I probed Sravan to ask them where they bought the bottles. He went towards them and before they were about to get into the car, Sravan called the. They turned back.

“Where did you get these?” he asked.

“No, there is no alcohol content in these,” those boys thought we were police! “They are just juice content.”

“No, don’t panic. I just want to know where you found these!”

“Old bazaar,” he said.

“Where is that?”

“The other side of the lake!”

Sravan walked towards me and told me the same. “Let us go,” was my answer.

“Nah re, it will be nearly five to six kilometres from here, we should walk.”

“Let us walk then. Don’t act like a sloth. Let us go!” Under any circumstance I wanted that to happen.

The three of us, from the tourist spot walked towards the real town of Kodai and that was so wonderful. It was like any other old towns. Crammed bazaar streets, old temples, old masjids, everything was the same. In the bazar, after walking for a very long while we found the place. That was last of our money. Sravan went in, and came out after a couple of minutes with what he wants. On our way back I got a phone call from my woman. Her parents want to shift her to another place to have better outcomes of the treatment that’s happening. That didn’t fell like asking an advice but as a proclaimed decision and that has disturbed me all of a sudden. From then, I stopped responding properly to the fun that was around me. My mind was blank. When I was so far away and was so tired, I didn’t understand how to respond to such a hasty, instinctive and seemingly reckless (that moment) decision of theirs. She was not able to walk a week before and now they want to send her to some far away place from home and that happened all of a sudden. Hm, that didn’t comply with me properly. And like usually, I couldn’t conceal my emotion ten and Sravan and Srikanta could grasp it easily. Sravan probed me again and again what was happening and at some point, I broke out. They took me near. The comfort, man; the comfort between friends is irreplaceable. All a woman at that time could do is say a sorry and feel bad that things are going out of control; a woman can’t come out of herself and comfort a man, but friends can do that. While woman sinks in her own guilt and more of consoles herself by expressing how much pain she is bearing because of the things going around, the real comfort would be missing somehow; the man waits for woman to stop feeling guilty and come out of her herself and comfort him, for he is the one who is really effected by it; she is effected by the cause that she has affected him; the comfort should be his, but such a warm kind of a comfort is hard for a woman to provide when she is not conscious at those times.

“Let’s drink a lemon soda,” Srikanta said. “You like it, right?”

“Yeah,” I said, slowly. “But I think we are short already.”

“With the money we have, we would anyway not get anything to eat!” Srikanta said and they both walked towards this special soda stall. The prices were too high. But we wanted a place to sit and drink and talk. I didn’t explain them what has happened, but I just told them I was in a little distress. And they too didn’t want reasons, they would try to make me feel fine. They, with their fun and jokes filled me with a surprising sanity and resurfaced the idea that she is mine anywhere she might be and I would anyway care about her all the time. “Yes,” I hugged both of them with ease. “She is mine, yes.”

That night, Sravan did what he wanted to after many years. I can’t and don’t wanna explain what he has done but all I can say is he has shaken the foundations of faith in Srikanta with his insane enquires and held me at the end crying talking out all his fears about me. He was afraid how my life would be and how my future might turn out. The problems he has faced in his life, in all kinds, he has poured out and he took out things out of his experience talking how things might totally go wrong when we don’t expect them at all. He simply, at the end fell on the bed holding me, weeping in his sleep. But that was a relief, I thought. He talked out all the things he wouldn’t have spoken when he stays sane but they have frightened Srikanta to the core. The night ended at the early morning, till when Sravan kept on his rant of unintelligible things. A few were fine, they were related, but a few were totally obscure; we didn’t understand what he was talking or what he means by the words he was exactly speaking. After he slept at nearly 3:30 or 04:00 in the morning after spoiling the whole of the washroom with his tremendous vomits, Srikanta and I discussed much late; he asking questions and I debunking his fears behind the queries. That was a late night; my temporary low didn’t feel a speck near to the anguish that man was carrying all along. That was one tremendous night and Srikanta, for sure, would never forget it, of course me too!

The next morning, as expected, we missed our bus to Dindigul, so, we missed our train to Chennai. We stayed in the room till the owner of the hotel woke us up at ten and asked us to vacate immediately. We stayed 5 hours extra and left the washroom totally destroyed. Something should be done. We walked out with our luggage and found a travel. He said there is only one bus back to Chennai and that was at evening six. We didn’t have a room, but the travels owner offered to stay at his office and keep the luggage there. We sat there and then, I got the idea.

“I would record this journey; it would be remarkable!” I said, and they both applauded the idea. I began planning how this should be written while Srikanta and Sravan planned how we should reach Vijayawada from Chennai, Vishakapatnam from Vijayawada and then, Vizianagaram from Vuishakapatnam; what we didn’t knew was, all the plan they were scheming would be an utter disaster. Anyway, their yet-to-be-disastrous plan was done, while I began writing the first instalment of this blog.

We decided what we would say to everyone and how we would support our lies about this journey. The plan was set. We sat in the office.

“I think it would be great if I buy a chocolate box for her,” Srikanta said. “I can gift it to her in the Nellore station!”

“You will go now to buy it?” We asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“Money?” we got the last three or five hundred or something by then.

That was something I too thought, to take a gift for my woman, but I stopped for we were short on money. But he said that out and we can’t say no to him.

“Don’t be late, go on and come back quickly!”

After twenty minutes, he was back, with empty hands. “What happened?” I asked.

“We don’t have money, I thought we should save what we have!” He said. My god, I was shot up angry that he didn’t do it when he wanted to, but. . . He did the same what I wanted to with the same reason in his head. What could we say? We all simply laughed out, but teased him for a while.

When it was the bus’s time, we ate noodles – which proved fatal to my health later. We got on the bus, and the descent from the mountain of Kodaikanal to the normal city life was really depressing. In just two days we got habituated to it a lot that when we were getting down, I didn’t wanna talk with anyone; I just wanna sit and look at the mountains conquering us slowly. I thought my Lord would be somewhere around in these mountains or in the coluds up above or in the sunset that just preceded us. The crescent moon was a wonder sight I would never forget. The villages on the way, which were sleeping when we came up were fully lit and awake, full of life, people swarming up in cheerful faces all along the way, wobbling on their native tongues. I closed my ears with “Namo Namo” from the movie Kedarnath. That proved to be a perfect track for the perfect timing.

That night after two in the night, my health slowly fell down. The continues vomits which drew from leagues together squeezed me more than I would be frightened in a worst nightmare. Sravan was sleeping beside me and he doesn’t know what was happening to me. Srikanta got a seat away from us, he would be sleeping or would be anxious about the girl’s reply. From two in the night till five in the morning, I spoiled all the bus’s window and outer body with my terrific vomit-venture. By the time bus stopped in Chennai and Sravan and Srikanta woke up, I was half myself and ready to die.

I would never take in anything in a day without completing my daily religious rituals/duties. I should not drink anything or eat. But that day, I genuinely believed I would die. And Sravan too insisted that I should take in something to complete the pooja and be alive. The bus cleaner demanded a hundred rupees to clean the bus and when we all opened the purses, all together, we didn’t have a hundred. We simply said sorry and got down. After getting down, I held Sravan’s shoulder and started pecking him that I need to eat or drink something – eat, I would never do, even in a dire circumstance, but drink, I should. We tried for lemon-water or lemon-soda but didn’t find any. At last, we found a tea-stall and there was boost. Milk is as good as food, but pleading forgiveness from gods, I simply drank a glass and then, I found life surging back again. We got an auto, went to the Chennai railway station, which was nearby. Then, I called Aamani again.

A 1000 rupees. Again. Without hesitation.

People who read the previous instalments would know who she is and how important a person she is for me.

With that 1000 in hand, we became raja’s again. In the station, we took an A/C langue to stay in. We checked for the next Chennai to Vijayawayda train and got tickets in a Chair Car. In the A/C langue we had our baths and then I did my mini-compacted-pooja there and then, I walked out.

2 Mankind Mozambi juice bottles 30rs, I drank them alone, yeah. These two bought tiffins, but I was too dehydrated that I just wanna drink something and nothing at all. Even if I eat something that would just be sent out again by my systems.

We charged all our electronic things; 3 phones, one kindle, one power bank and one laptop. We actually occupied the charging space with all over equipment and wires and sat around it letting no one get towards that. Till the train was announced, I sat there writing up the first instalment of this blog which I would publish from the moving train. And they both were. . . I don’t know what they were doing: I didn’t bother them actually.

The mission is done bro! Come one!

When the train was announced, we set everything up and sped towards our train and found our seats. There was a little confusion among the seats, but at last, making some clumsy adjustments we three sat side-by-side and then, I published the first part of this instalment which was an instant hit and to all my surprise, broke all the previous records of my blogging in a single day!

Srikanta tried to call the lady to be at the railway station but she said she couldn’t come, and then, compensating it, he took a picture of Nellore and kept it in his Instagram so that she would know; to make her feel guilty by showing his pain or something, yeah, a love drama! Babboooyyyy!

By the time we reached Vijayawada it was almost midnight. By then, because I was vomiting all the night before and we didn’t sleep because of Sravan’s rant the previous night, it was just hardly six hours that I slept in 48 hours; my legs were shivering and it would be third night in a row that I missed my sleep. Eyes were burning and the later effects would haunt me for days. Sravan got down the train and ran towards the tickets counter asking us to draw the remaining five hundred – we drew only five hundred – of which Aamani has sent. I and Srikanta ran towards a nearby ATM and Srikanta was on fire. I never saw Srikanta more energetic; he just wants to go home – but the problem is, that is the only thing that wouldn’t happen that night.

Just by the time Sravan could reach the counter, we returned and handed him the amount. The next moment Sravan took the tickets, a train was waiting on the platform. We simply ran, Sravan was the one who got most hurt, for he ran twice the distance of the whole platform. By the time the train would move, Srikanta’s Insta-Woman wanted to do a video call for him. He said he would talk later but she INSISTED, my god; my woman never insisted upon me till now! Really -apart from the haircut part. But the train would move and the train was bulging; we got in the general compartment and there were no places. Even to stand. But Sravan asked him not to disappoint her. Srikanta began the video call and I and Sravan got on the train. The train was moving and Srikanta didn’t get on the train, but no tension, he got on the next compartment. In this compartment I and Sravan were standing with our tremendous luggage and in the next he was alone, with no luggage but a phone in his pocket.

I couldn’t stand. I couldn’t move my eyes from side to side. I would faint in a while and with all my might I was trying to stand. I would have sat, but in the train, the wash-basin was filled with some rubbish and the water was flowing out, my god horrible and no one could sit down, so there was only one place to sit – After standing for two hours, when I couldn’t stand anymore, I sat beside the bathrooms of the train, which was a horrible experience, but totally adventurous. I know this trip is going to be rugged, and I was expecting such a time would come; we came prepared for everything worse and then, that didn’t shock me. I was fine, until, Aamani messaged me.

She asked me how is the trip going. I was glad she pinged me. My woman wanted to be with me, but dozed off because of a medicine and I was in a total emotional distraught. I said I was fine, but being in a tremendous position. Actually, I think that’s the part of a divine plan. Generally, Aamani was never in that touch with me. She is busy in life and I would be playing around in mine, but then, anyway, she was there every time I needed someone reliable – emotionally and financially! HEHEE (evil smile!)

She scolded me for being irresponsible, I didn’t care. At least something’s happening and then, I dozed off into sleep. Sravan woke me up; the plan was to reach Vizag by early morning four thirty and reach Vizianagaram by seven and then sleep like a dead man. I was tremendously happy that we reached the destination already and I was simply sleeping, it was just like a fifteen minutes trip. But when I saw the station reaching, that felt very familiar. That was like. . . Rajahmundry! MY home town.

I looked at the watch immediately and just fifteen minutes passed away since I slept. I asked Sravan what that is, he said Srikanta called him and told him that he no longer can stay on the train and he was feeling like dying – same pinch bro!

We got down the train immediately without a second thought with all our luggage. The moment we got down the train, in a euphoria of reaching real home, I kissed the platform and slept flat over it on my belly. With a laugh, Srikanta took the place next to me. We both fell lying there for five minutes.

“Now, plan?”

“Who has a plan?”

“Like, some idea?”

“What’s the idea?”

“What’s the time?”

“One thirty mid-night!”

“What to do now?”

“How much money we got?’

“Who said we got money at all?”

“Like, dead? Nothing?”

“Not a penny!”

“What to do now?”

“AAMANI!”

“Come one!”

They cheered her name like maniacs and I pinged her. Told her that I was in the Rajahmundry station. My house is a five-minute walk from the station, but my dad will tear my body apart if he knows I am undergoing this HAZARDOUS adventure. I wouldn’t go home and that is what I told her when she suggested the idea. She asked us to come to her home, sleep for the night and then go in the morning. If it was just me, I would go and would never go out of her home; her home is one of the most comfortable spaces for me to live – but with two rugged guys along with me – didn’t seem like a sane idea.

I said we would sleep on the platform, that fumed her and she said she would book a lodge. No, I wouldn’t actually agree for that. It felt like she is the one who is bargaining with me at my comfort and at her stake. My phone would die in a while. While we charged them full at Chennai, the blog’s hit consumed all the charging with compliments and questions. It was the last three percent charging. She finally said she would book bus tickets directly to Vizianagaram from Rajahmnmundry. We were jumping with joy!

She started enquiring which seats would we prefect!

“Array babu, take us home, that is enough!”

She booked the tickets and at the last moment I forwarded the ticket to Srikant and my phone died!

From the railway station we somehow reached the bus stop and the time was around two and the bus was at three thirty, and the bus stop was a highway junction. What to do? By then I was about to die. We simply stuffed all the bags in a corner at a shop and I slept on a road corner. I don’t know if it was comfortable or not; all I know was I would die if I don’t sleep. I simply slept on road. The only thing that was disturbing me was Srikanta. That guy got these wireless Boat headphones on and was walking with a stupid smile in the middle of highway and was going from here and there. He walked too far from us I had to wake up, run towards him and slap him on the back and beating him again and again warned him not to go anywhere; he said he would stay beside us. I slept.

It was three thirty and the bus still didn’t come.

We called the phone number from Srikanta’s phone and, they said our bus met with an accident!

They said they were trying for my number and it was switch off. We asked them to give updates to this number, and from there, they asked us to reach outskirts of Rajahmundry on our own. Scorning at our fate, we did.

At five thirty in the morning, the bus was there, and we didn’t sleep till then.

We got on the bus and then, slept.

I don’t remember, but at NED of Vizag they asked us to change the bus. Sravan woke me up again after a couple of hours, and we were at Vizianagaram; the place from where we have started.

Ha, at last.

Alive.

Srikanta’s father was waiting for us and I and Srikanta went to Srikanta’s home on his dad’s bike while Sravan went home on an auto.

Before parting, we had a long bro-hug.

Chapter 22:

After that, life has dramatically changed. My woman as thought, left the place for a better environment and it worked out for good. She also resumed her studies and she is doing great. I went back to Vizag and started preparing for NET, which I cleaned with an all India percentile of 99.43% and apart from that, at last Srikanta found out the woman and was excited most of the time. Sravan and Srikanta took back their T.L.D much seriously and started drafting out plans to elevate their start up from the coming August.

Life is great at last after the grand adventure. I am planning along with Usha Kiran to clear J.R.F next time and set everything up and everyone around me are happy and totally in spirits and that’s the best I can ever ask for!

{I thank the muses which have let the things convert and flow trough me as qwords. As long as I take breath, I pay you my homage to you. My reverence for you crosses the crave for my life and in you, one day, I wish I would be buried in without return}

I thank all the readers who spent their time in sharing my tale and travelling with me. I can’t thank you enough! I am glad I have you all along with me. Thank you again!

In the forest:

It was dark, dense and a demonic forest. Apes were hanging over the trees and snakes lying in the grass. It was raining by the time we entered and in the barks of trees we’ve searched for the heard that we need. After a search of an hour, Sravan found them at last; little herbs at the roots of the tree under leaves, after that we’ve found many going through the path. The Great Western Ghats have provided what I needed the most on this planet.

Tell me, where resides God, if not in a place which would stand a life with its simple existence?

That is what it means when we sing: Radhe Radhe Govinda, Govinda Radhe.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Mamta Indoria says:

    Great…this was amazing….finally it rained ,beautiful was that!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Awesome…..sir…..its amazing….loved the last part. Beautiful….cant say it in words.

    Liked by 2 people

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