Forgotten Three Days-V (Life Saving Graffiti)
Forgotten Three Days-V (Life Saving Graffiti)18 mins 306 18 mins 306
(Prologue: Setting aside the log fire, left over-night base camp following Bhegnath who was following a jungle sprint down-stream. As perceived from the villager’s words, the village was not that far. But even walking for more than 4 hours we were surrounded by greeneries around ... )
11:35PM, May 12 - BANAJ(UK): Let me add during the early hours of walking previous morning, I narrated about my grandfather. While carrying survey work in the forests of Mayurbhanj, a predominantly hilly District of Odisha, there was meat in opulence of deer, goat, jungle fowl. The local staff used to stuff the meat along with salt, turmeric, condiments and few drops of oil into a hollow bamboo and drop in to slow fire for an hour roasting. Every narration about the unique flavour and aroma, the gentleman made me drooled.
The image of steaming hot meat pouring out of a blackened bamboo pole filled my imagination made the taste buds ejecting lots of saliva and my hunger increased. Thoughts like this may seem depressing but in the contrary, it was giving us motivation, a renewed zeal to walk faster towards that destination of “lavishness” of hope.
11:35PM, May 12 - BANAJ(UK): I must add here, we had little money with us and going by Bhegnath’s description of financial conditions of the tribal area, even with that meagre student-time money, we felt like rich city kids fully loaded. That gave us a lot of confidence, of course.
CROSS TALK BEGINS:
11:38PM, May 12- GIRIJA PANDA: Auro and Banaj, my son says it's cool, awesome, exciting, adventurous and what not ... salute to you guys ...
11:39PM, May 12 - AUROBINDO: Is he still awake? How old is he?
11:39PM, May 12 - GIRIJA PANDA: 10 years ...
11:40PM, May 12 - AUROBINDO: Awakened … so lately …
11:42PM, May 12 - GIRIJA PANDA: We started reading from where we left yesterday. It was gripping and he wanted to continue with.
11:43PM, May 12 - AUROBINDO: Might it’s too late today better to continue tomorrow. Am I right? Even in articulating my flash back and searching the Google map, for the path traversed, I couldn't sleep last night.
Let’s hope … I will have a sound sleep tonight …
11:43PM, May 12 - Surjit: Karma Phala (Reward of Action) … torturing us with your overnight suspense …
11:43PM, May 12 - GIRIJA PANDA: Now he will catch up tomorrow, though, he is unwilling to go to sleep. Kahuchi sarila parjyanta padhu tha mu sunibi... (Urging to continue reading, till the story ends...)
11:44PM, May 12 - BANAJ(UK): And that adha kosa distant village, supposedly half or an hour’s walk was not to be seen even after 3-4 hrs walk.
You start journey dreaming of a delicious meal, in contrary you realise that you have got no food and no chance of any food. It starts playing with your mind. I recall Niranjan losing temper and shouting at Bhegnath, for proposing short cut, which was probably turning out to be cutting our life short.
11:46PM, May 12 - AUROBINDO: But why Niranjan is silent? His contribution will add more life to the fading memories. What about Pulu, the pampered brat, the navigator, owner of wrist-watch with magnetic needle.
11:48PM, May 12 - DEBASIS RAY(USA): Manoj can help retrieve the messages and print it for us.
11:49PM, May 12 - AUROBINDO: Well with every line I try to finalise I badly miss Bhegnath who could have added numerous colours to the activities and with Shashikant UBI joining, the pictures would have been more vibrant than what they are now.
11:51PM, May 12 - MANOJ DAS(USA): Yes Debasish, I can run an achieve, once the story ends, compile edit and mail to Nayan who has mailing list.
11:52PM, May 12 - BANAJ(UK): Do you remember seeing bit of graffiti in a concrete structure near the reservoir, submerged in water ?
And how uplifting it was for the group!
First time or probably the only time in my life, I was so excited seeing graffiti!
11:53PM, May 12 - MANOJ DAS(USA): Most funny thing is trekking team started because Pulu had a watch with magnetic needle.
11:56PM, May 12 - MANOJ DAS(USA): Graffiti does not mean people around but may be people like you were lost at some point of time and wrote something with frustration.
11:56PM, May 12 - AUROBINDO: But Pulu suffered a lot. With torn shoe, bruises while crossing the bamboo bushes and might be a cut in the foot on the pebbles. Even Banaj carried him on his back ... "LAU (Piggy Backing ...)“
11:57PM, May 12 - MANOJ DAS(USA): That’s amazing, sounds like expedition in Amazonian Rain forest in Brazil or Peru.
11:58PM, May 12 - AUROBINDO: But that would be more challenging. I would love to join such team, even carrying their luggage. I would die to do such a stuff.
11:59PM, May 12 - BANAJ(UK): It was almost like finding life on Mars. As if we reached a place which earlier human civilization had touched.
That graffiti meant a lot … A good chance we could get out alive.
To be doubly sure, Niranjan got into knee deep water to make sure that it was graffiti and not our eyes were playing up.
Arabinda, please add the dialogues if you remember …
12:05AM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: But Bhegnath told a story about a submersible temple, in the mid of the reservoir, at about half km away from the shore. But the most hilarious part for me was Nranjan's eating SCHOOL brand biscuit. Try to recall else wait tomorrow for me to put down.
12:07AM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Do you remember the name of the village where we were offered the delicious lunch?
12:13AM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Banaj are you there?
1:00AM, May 13 - BANAJ(UK): I will wait for you to continue the story and that adventure deserves your kind of ultimate way of lively narration. I will add only a few extra facts in case you miss out and if at all I happen to remember.
Now that you are asleep, let me do the Q&A session in the group, to relieve you from that duty.
2:04AM, May 13 - BANAJ(UK): Dipti Bhai add Niranjan. I have sent his number.
2:40AM, May 13 - NAYAN DAS(UK): Barca in the final …
2:42AM, May 13 - DEBASIS RAY(USA): Yes, was hoping Bayern will shock...
2:42AM, May 13 - NAYAN DAS(UK): Banaj I don't think Niranjan uses whatsapp. U need to call him to convince.
2:42AM, May 13 - DEBASIS RAY(USA): Looking forward to Real Madrid …
2:44AM, May 13 - BANAJ(UK): Yes, Manoj you are absolutely right about graffiti. It was giving us a mixed feeling of hope and a sense of abandonment, all at the same time. Hope that we have reached a place, where other people have visited. But the faded color of charcoal on graffiti reminding us how long since it was drowned in the water.
Years later while watching Cast Away, a movie about the sole survivor after a plane crash in an unmanned island, this particular scene of our adventure flashed vividly in my mind. To be honest, it was not that depressing as the movie story line. I was not alone but were 6 people.At least, one thing gave us a lot of courage that if we want, we can follow the bank of the reservoir and in a day or two could reach Hirakud dam.
The feeling of your life would be saved. You are not going to die being lost in the jungle. We had smiles on our faces for the first time that day.We had become so tense and negative prior to that, can't believe now. The distinct smell of marsh-land much before seeing the reservoir, the smell of rotten grass, rotten wood were in the air. All could smell, but nobody was uttering a word. When we actually saw the reservoir, it was a huge relief.
2:48AM, May 13 - NAYAN DAS(UK): Banaj it gave me goose bumps imagining how easily things would have gone worst!
7:45AM, May 13 - Dipti Patra: Newly added batch mates: Ajay Behera-Electrical, Dipti Hota-Mechanical, Prasanjit Mishra-Mechanical and Pradeepta Sahu (B) - Mechanical
Let's welcome them and with this the group has reached 100 member.
Banoj, I think Niranjan one of member of the adventure team is not in WhatsApp.
There is heavy demand from others who r waiting to be added to listen to this live description of jungle trip by our friends.
Manoj plz make an archive of the story n get it edited for its publication. I ll take the responsibility to arrange the publisher.
7:47AM, May 13 - ARUN MAHAPATRA: So we made it century, congrats all …
7:51AM, May 13 - Dipti Patra: Arun plz decide what is to be done for waiting list friends
7:52AM, May 13 - ARUN MAHAPATRA: Manoj was suggesting mirror group. He may tell
8:23AM, May 13 - MANOJ DAS(USA):Dipti please create another group UCE 1994 -2 and made it member of this group
10:40AM, May 13 - RAKESH DAS(USA): Baya Aurobindo. Nice story....put this in doc....shall make a movie
11:50AM, May 13 - BANAJ(UK): Thanks to Manoj Lamay's persistence for getting this story out of Arabinda. Dipti bhai Niranjan would be in whatsapp today.
CROSS TALK ENDS:
11:55AM, May 13 - BANAJ(UK): Arabinda, do you remember how we managed to carry ourselves in the munda phata khara (head breaking sun) on 2nd day? Hopes dying, legs and whole body given up, eyes almost shut to the beauty around. But still something kept us going, even though we didn't know where we were going. But I remember we were walking quite fast, but to what end in mind?
12:05PM, May 13 - BANAJ(UK): I remember, the overhead sun was burning. Yes, even in deep jungle, sun finding its way through the leaves, many dry. Though it was winter, it felt like a summer day after a couple of hour's walking.
On the first day every little movement in the bushes attracted our attention. Shashi and Niranjan would bend over, sneaking at the source?
Bhegnath would quickly recognize "Se gataku gala … banua musa … na kain je …(Slipped into that hole … it’s a jungle mouse…might be …)".
But second day, I don't think, we would have given attention if a tiger would have crossed our path at a distance!
Anyway after we smelt marsh discovered ourselves out of the tunnel of the jungle onto the open space and the vast the reservoir at front.
Arabinda take us from there …
12:26PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: After following the zigzag jungle sprint, making all out efforts not to be far-off from it, about 11.00-11.30 am we had a full view of the endless sky, overhead. As we left behind the jungle a mountain range at the opposite was taking shape.
12:27PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Bhegnath to recognise first, "Left Dyke na kain je … (Might be Left Dyke … )"
CROSS TALK BEGINS:
12:29PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Well at this point for all non-civilians a question from me is why Burla side is called the "Right Dyke" and Hirakud portion is "Left Dyke"?
12:33PM, May 13 - Lamay: As river Mahanadi flows in that direction
12:34PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Needs some more clarity baby? Am I wrong civilians?
12:34PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Sabyasachi are you there?
12:38PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: I am waiting at the Builder’s office. But how come SDO sir is free at this hour?
12:39PM, May 13 - Lamay: Bcoz its always u before anything else ... Ha ... Ha ...
12:45PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Feedbacks across the globe made me to have few more sleepless nights in recalling the finer details of that expedition. Reached half way through!
12:47PM, May 13 - HARESH BHAI: Flow of water from Hirakud to Sambalpur ... Along the flow path left dyke and right dyke are designated.
12:47PM, May 13 - Lamay: Yes some old memories never die and some must be kept alive forever. Just as yours, unique one …
12:51PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: But Haresh Bhai its quite encouraging that you are following the story from the beginning except asking about the hot water therapy.
12:55PM, May 13 - HARESH BHAI: I did not miss anything Auro. Shasi's explanation of Malaria free flowing water was known. I missed the part of boiling and carrying the second morning. May be old age approaching fast... I am still young at heart ...
12:56PM, May 13 - Lamay: So are you ... I know it from ur good morning msg
12:57PM, May 13 - HARESH BHAI: Thank you ...
1:06PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Haresh Bhai can't be older than where from we separated? I I am anxiously waiting for the day to meet you in person after a gap of 21 long years.
1:09PM, May 13 - BANAJ(UK): Arabinda do you remember, in those hours of despair how the sight of that familiar face (dyke), magically uplifted our spirits. Pura completely normal hei jai thile for few minutes, nahi? (We got absolutely normal for few minutes, didn’t we?)
1:07PM, May 13 - HARESH BHAI: Great Banaj & Auro ... Ethara Proceed kara ...
1:08PM, May 13 - Lamay: Auro / Banoj both are welcomed... now proceed ...
CROSS TALK ENDS:
1:20PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Bhegnath led us through a marshland piercing the green thick grass around. Even at times they completely out-grew us. As if we landed on a soft moist land.
1:24PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Every step had more and more clear view of the mountain range forming the left dyke boundary of the Mahanadi Reservoir.
1:27PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: It must have been some half an hour’s walk through the marshland led us to have the first view of the sea like water of the reservoir.
1:27PM, May 13 - BANAJ(UK): Near the reservoir we rested for half an hour or so. We had forgotten all the worries and pain of last 24 hours.
CROSS TALK BEGINS:
1:27PM, May 13 - HARESH BHAI: That's the place where you saw the left dyke view ...
1:31PM, May 13 - Lamay: Do u know when the dam was build 100s of villages were made to vacant the place and all the domestic animals were left out on a mountain and now those cattle have turned wild.
CROSS TALK ENDS:
1:32PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Six voices chorused, "We did it ... Yes … we did it..."
1:36PM, May 13 - BANAJ(UK): How come that water was so clear? Crystal clear, one could see leaves, twigs, rocks, fishes swimming underwater, transparent as glass. More importantly, we were able to appreciate the views in front as mind was bit relaxed seeing the familiar sight of the dyke.
At one point, even Pulu, who was extraordinarily quiet so far in the second day, told "Jau ghara sabu budi thib ta bhitare, ebe dive kariki gale ta dekhi haba… (Diving, one could see the drowned houses…)"
1:38PM, May 13 - BANAJ(UK): Then probably Bhegnath narrated that story of a submersed temple, can't remember though.
1:40PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: But all through the walk a vital aspect I missed. As I narrated earlier we 5 were leaning over the sharpened bamboo pole, provided by the staff at Debrigad Range Office, to use at time of exigency of coming across jungle beast, were literally used for dragging ourselves every feet but Bhegnath was different.
He had the pole over his back of shoulder, both the hands crossing from behind like the "Bagal(Country cow-boy)" style, was leading from the front.
1:40PM, May 13 - BANAJ(UK): Arabinda tell the story and all the details while we rested there, I want all the details of that happy half an hour or so by the reservoir
CROSS TALK BEGINS:
2:00PM, May 13 - DHUSA BHAI: Lamay, Please rise to your job profile & nature of job. Always you are in WhatsApp ... Give me a job under you ...
2:03PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Banaj might be at that very first point of our touching the dam water we came across the graffiti you mentioned last night. You mentioned about a "Heavenly Message" on it. The message was vital for giving further course of path to walk on.
Banaj, recalling your lines and “Karma Phala”as told by Surjit, again had a painful sleepless night. But somehow could depict the gist of the message of that graffiti, though not the exact words ...
2:04PM, May 13 - Surjit: Dhusha,you are All-in-All of MCL. Why such drama …
2:07PM, May 13 - HARESH BHAI: Don’t deviate Auro from story ...
2:08PM, May 13 - Lamay: right Auro, you carry on …
2:08PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Haresh Bhai, you being the same enthusiast can't pretend getting old.
2:08PM, May 13 - HARESH BHAI: No Auro ... You must finish how you reached back to Hostel ... Anxiety is surpassing endurance of an old man like me.
2:09PM, May 13 - Lamay: Haresh do u have a plan for jungle picnic?
2:10PM, May 13 - HARESH BHAI: I will love to do so ... Already hinted you last time ...
2:10PM, May 13 - Lamay: Manoranjan Pallei is also agreed to …
2:10PM, May 13 - HARESH BHAI: Great … Keep that urge live till our next GT on 23 of Decamber’ 2015.
CROSS TALK ENDS:
2:11PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Niranjan, Banaj and Pulu went inside water upto their thigh and retrieved a submerged graffiti after a good amount of effort. The writings in black were little faded but we could read the Odia line,
"Jhagadabehera gan dei, Lakhanpur kathuria camp pahanchi hema. (Via Jhagadabehera village one can reach Lakhanpur wood-cutter camp.)"
2:14PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: It also had a directing arrow, below “Jhagadabehera.”
The graffiti writer must have been following the reverse path at that material time to reach that point. After taking a brief break, marking the graffiti, in between, might have gone deep into the Reserve Forest, following the reverse path that we had traversed, so far.
A thought looms, “If they were sane must have followed the right dyke to reach Debbrigarh range office.”
God knows …
CROSS TALK BEGINS:
2:14PM, May 13 - BANAJ(UK): Yes … You are correct. That was the message.
2:15PM, May 13 - DHUSA BHAI: Auro are bankers on strike?
2:16PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: For a Housing Loan ‘am on leave at Bhubaneswar.
CROSS TALK ENDS:
2:20PM, May 13 - BANAJ(UK): Almost 15-30 minutes break. There were a lot of dead trees submerged in that crystal clear water. Some of us sat on partially submerged dead tree branches, just above the water, dangling our feet into that crystal clear water, while chitchatting and planning the next course.
As usual I was making whirlpools rotating my feet vigorously and looking in amazement at the rotten leaves below the water. A serene place! Had we not been in a desperate situation, I would have suggested for a whole day camping, catching lot of fishes. But we had something more important to do, to save ourselves from dying of starvation.
2:24PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Gulped good amount of water that we carried since morning but under strict prescription of Shashikant. Each one of us literally dipped ourselves in the water up to our thigh before getting prepared for next march.
On concurrence of group the twelve feet proceeded ahead in the direction of the drawn arrow of the graffiti. Bhegnath led the march by the shore of the dam. The water at our right seemed flowing reverse giggling endlessly. The waves of the dam and the 12 thumping foots were the only silence breaker of that noon.
2:34PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Not sure how far we might have covered, empty stomach, since the last lavish lunch we had at around the same time some 24 hours before, in an eagerness to lessen our burden of backpack was the biggest blunder, first and last.
As Banaj recalls the speed was good enough.
After some 30-45 minutes walk spotted a man ahead of us, clad in lungi and Gamucha Theka (turban made from towel). This was the 9th living animal for me since we stepped into the jungle. A small snake, three elderly couples, the GIANT MOUSE and now this gentle man. In Begnath's term Gaunli Lok(Country man).
2:36PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Same for Pulu also but for rest 8th as they didn't come face-to-face with GIANT Mouse. Anyway, don't ask how I am so confident that it was not MICE!
2:40PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: We soon reached the man and he confirmed about our path leading to "Jhagadabehera" village. We walked side by side for some minutes at equal pace.
On my enquiring, Bhegnath asked the man about the relevance of name “Jhagdabehera”.
2:44PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: The girls from the villages were not generally accepted in nearby villages for their fighting quality and they abandon their in-laws in no time. So the village was named "Jhgadabehera (Jhagada being the Odia word for quarrel and Behera is used in Sambalpuri for a place, might be.)".
2:47PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: The man diverted off the shore or might we overtook with our near running pace with a mission to reach the village, as earliest as possible.
2:50PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: On our right, at around 500-1000 meter was a lone temple peeping from the endless water. Might be the water level was just beneath the main veranda. A small temple, of 10 x 10 sq.ft. At the very first sight of the temple Bhegnath narrated a story...
“During the rainy season the temple gets immersed in the dam water. But at fag end the water level recedes. The day the water level falls below the veranda, Dehuri (Priest) sails across in a wooden country boat to the temple for offering rituals.
One fine day he found a new born girl child being guarded by a King Cobra, swaying its hood over the girl’s head. On Pujari approaching the temple the cobra disappeared leaving the sleeping child, smiling in her dreams. After rituals the girl was carried to the village.”
3:03PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: The story narrated by a literary giant of Bhegnath's repute was enough to keep us think beyond the killing hunger with lot of questions like, when that happened … how old the girl might be then … where were her real parents … etc. etc. and we marched on.
3:09PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: It was about 1.30-2.00 pm appeared like our coming closer to a place of human habitat. Smoke at far left caught group's attention. We followed a serpentine narrow footpath. The huts, the smoke and all other symbols of a village became more prominent. Literally our walking was paced to near running so as to reach the village at the earliest.
3:12PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: With another half an hour walk we were entering the Jhagadabehera village where a grandest feast, much more royal than we used to have in UCE hostel, was welcoming our arrival.
3:21PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: The roads between adjacent “Khapara Ghara (Tile-roofed Huts) led to the heart of the village where in one house was running the sole shop. Meeting daily needs of the villagers.
With Bhegnath’s mastery in Sambalpuri, we were deprived of hearing the famous slang "SALE … KATKI". Bhegnath had a free passage to inside the house and as we were welcomed by the near naked village kids with dry-skin, running noses and untidy brown hair along with few elders gathered around. We were offered to sit on the verandah, outside the shop. The main door was fully open. And the ladies ran towards us with mug full of water and brass glasses. It was just the beginning of the fabulous lunch.
Let’s hope it’s grandeur than Sabyasachi thinks and Banaj’s drooled, his grandfather’s steaming bamboo meat recipe.
CROSS TALK BEGINS:
3:21PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Let me have mine ...
3:39PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Are bhaimane soi padilaki?(Might be I made you sleep?)
3:40PM, May 13 - AUROBINDO: Abe Banaja uthu be ... (Hey, Banaj wake up ...)
3:42PM, May 13 - BANAJ(UK): Aji pura busy bhai ... (I am little busy today ...)
3:46PM, May 13 - PROF. PANDEY: Auro tu eka kafi ... (Auro, alone is enough...)
3:52PM, May 13 - MANORANJAN PALEI: Auro,did you finish lunch?
CROSS TALK ENDS:
3:54PM, May 13 - BANAJ(UK): Yes, waiting for that fabulous lunch Arabinda. Am sure you remember all the dishes. If you forget any, I will add. Ha … Ha …
Honestly, after reading through the lines ‘am reliving those moments
To be continued …
[It is said, good times run faster and bad time sticks. But when you don’t find time to check watch means the time is neither good nor bad.
Time can never be good nor be bad, it can never be stall. We have to match its ticking.]