The butterfly danced around Tukai
On the sands I was kneeling down, the shallow water, the soft flow broke over the bed of stones in gentle ripples that sparkled in the morning sun. With quiet joy I captured the soft greenish flow, the broken glass ripples and the brown-green March hills beyond that cradled the river tenderly.
Gentle sparkling ripples of Koina
Previous day at noon we reached Manoharpur, a small sleepy village town in Jharkhand after a comfortable six hour train journey from Kolkata. By road it was about 470 kms and an eight hour drive.
Manoharpur is a relatively unknown gateway to Saranda forest that runs all the way down South-West to Andhra Pradesh.
We two were allotted a spacious six-bed room made of wood with a high ceiling and a faint aroma of vintage. It was a pleasure to have the extra space and wood all around.
The lunch was delicious and sumptuous. Avijit Ganguly, owner of the ecotourism centre personally took care of us and after lunch showed us his father’s collection of paintings. With no specific plans for the few hours left before the sunset we were not in a hurry to do anything. The maddening crowd we had left behind.
Crossing the undulating ground in front of the lodge you would go up a small hillock overlooking wide rolling plains. We sat on the grass atop the hillock as the sun slowly dipped towards the far away horizon. The long thin railway line lay before us. A train appeared on the right and its whistle waned as it vanished behind the bend on the left. Night descended.
That was yesterday.
This morning we had left our place with packed lunch. The Bolero jeep had taken us here after two hours’ drive through empty roads, sparse jungles and friendly brown-green hills. This was the dry season, just before peak summer and oncoming monsoon. Dust all around—the dry brown leaves caked with brown dust, the road covered with an inch of brown dust at places—even the air looked brown. The jeep had stopped at our first river—just before a small bridge across the river. Lean and thin it had a sweet name—Koina. Tukai and I got down. We were the only humans around. The river, the hills and the jungles were with us.
Sweet meandering river Koina
We felt free. Now it was time to go down to the river that waited for us. No hurry anywhere. Slowly we savored the atmosphere around—the two feet deep river leisurely flowing towards its destination, the brown leaved trees giving way to sparkling bright greens and reds; our jungles are full of colors.
The lean river lazily meandered through the hilly terrain. Straight ahead a larger hill clothed in trees broke the skyline.
Green hills breaking the skyline
With graceful movement the river took a right turn a little ahead. Moving along the river, soon we found the bend where the river bed had widened.
A quiet serene place
The water here was shallow but calm—a quiet serene place.
Humble but peaceful nature
We were now immersed in nature with no trace of civilization around; just unorganized nature—humble but beautiful. Our eyes always look for the unusual, exploring. Soon we located a lone hand-made thatched shed perched halfway up the hill-slope on the opposite bank. We didn’t mind its presence; in fact it looked fine here and blended well with the environs.
A lone hut but part of the forest
The ripples of the shallow clear water over the rocks strewn on the river bed somehow gave me pleasure. For ages the pebbles were here—much before Tukai or I saw our first light. Flowing water had smoothed their rough edges—they were friends with the now gentle water. I dipped my hand into the water. The cool flow broke around my palm caressing. It talked with me.
Ripples over pebbles on the river bed
Tukai was wandering around. Now he came towards me. I stood up and handed over the camera to him retreating a few steps. Just then flew in the red-black-white butterfly and landed near Tukai.
The butterfly landed on the scene
Tukai loves to shoot butterflies I knew. His eyes shone with excitement. He stood a few feet from the butterfly. It happily perched on the sandy ground, rapidly fluttering away its wings as if inviting him.
Rapidly fluttering wings
Tukai adjusted his camera and pointed the lens towards it. He could not take the shots comfortably because of the rapid fluttering. He waited patiently and took a few compromised shots. I could see that he was not happy. Most of his shots caught the wings closed together or fluttering—not very good for shooting.
The butterfly must have become bored sitting on the sands for such long minutes. It took flight.
Taking Tukai as a friend to play with it started winging around him in wavy loops. Again and again.
The butterfly danced around Tukai
Tukai tried to keep the lens focused on the flying beauty and had to swivel himself around standing at one place. This delightful game went on for a few minutes. I smiled without making a sound. Then suddenly the butterfly stopped and landed on the ground again. This time very near Tukai as if inviting him, “Come, catch me if you can.”
Tukai accepted the challenge. He knelt down and slowly, very slowly extended his hand. I could see he wanted to catch it this time. I shouted in my mind, “No, you can’t get so close.” Just as his fingers were about to close on its wings, the butterfly flew up and away. I laughed aloud, ambled towards him to see the photos. Yes, he could capture some of it—not so bad after all. “Good, it was a nice game,” I told him, “but you know, if you catch a butterfly, it doesn’t remain a butterfly anymore.” He silently looked around as if trying to capture the flavor the last time.
We started back towards our car leaving behind the river, the trees and the butterfly at peace again.
A calm place again
The car bumped along the rocky road. “Yes”, I silently told myself, “You can’t catch a butterfly".