A lifelong affair with nature
“This year’s Travel Blogger of the year, award goes to Mr. Akhil Mishra. His rich descriptions of Lace have won the hearts of thousands of travel enthusiasts. Kudos to the dwell package of an adventurous traveler and a formidable writer”. The chairperson of ‘Travel, Unravel’ association congratulated a shy Akhil Mishra, trying to button his sleeves as he hurriedly walked towards the stage.
Nothing about Akhil’s appearance or his self-depreciating responses even remotely reflected the ‘charisma’ befitting a multiple- time award winner.
Accepting his award with predictable humility, he said, “I have done nothing except to make visible the already-existing links between man and nature.”
On his way back home, Akhil stopped at the bakery to buy four packs of bread for a group of orphans he supported.
“Here’s Rs. 5000, we can use for getting the flush repaired and crutches that Sameer needs. We will be left with some money which can be used for a second-hand book on engineering for Tanvi”, he suggested his plan to his fans waiting at home for him.
Akhil was a well-known travel blogger. He had the unique ability to not just describe places but also moods that they wore, the language that the contours spoke and the connection to nature, only visible to passionate travelers.
All of 30, Akhil grew up in the same orphanage whose members he now supported. He worked as an illustrator for a magazine that came out with historical facts about places all over the globe.
“Akhil ji, I love this illustration of the Serbia snow you have captured so well”, admired Tanvi, an aspiring engineer.
The underprivileged orphans did not know much about Akhil’s interests but regarded him as their hero.
Akhil’s routine was fixed. Get up, prepare tea for the whole house, discuss every ones needs during breakfast, have a quick bath and head out to work on his bicycle.
“I love the way breeze combs sheets of tall grass. The way sun plays hide-and-seek with the clouds. I love the drops of rain that seem to be temporary rings on fingers. Isn’t the machine a prized seat, having nature as a constant companion? I wonder why the security guard loathes his job.” The chance to gaze at nature’s beauty all day and get paid for it, sounds like an extravagance to me.
Thoughts like these made Akhil unique. His analogies and interpretations reflected in his blog aptly titled ‘A lifelong affair with nature’.
His smartphone had several travel-related apps. Eighty per cent of his time on the phone was spent exploring these apps.
Back from home, he had to respond to fan mail, from India as well as abroad.
Akhil had penned blogs on the Steppes, the Prairies, life in the Tropical Regions among others. He was well-read and could also pen pieces on how political stability had repercussions on the travel industry.
Two months after he won the best blogger award, he received an invitation from Germany to write about how the Government there was enhancing the arts museum at Leipzig to provide more comprehensive details to patrons.
Akhil was alone when he read the letter. He wrote back politely declining. “I thank you for considering me for this unique honor. However, I will not be able to come there. Apologies.”
This was not met well by the authorities in Germany. Akhil was easily a public figure and the refusal had only strained relationships between the two nations. Foreign ambassadors of both nations tried to reason with Akhil but could not resolve the issue.
This refusal was followed by another. China had invited Akhil to illustrate a book on the history of the Jade Buddha temple. However, Akhil sent the letter with the same reply he used for declining Germany’s offer.
Bloggers started posting questions on his blog instead of the usual compliments. A digital unrest was sensed within the travel enthusiasts.
Akhil was known to be a loner and hence it was tough for anyone to pull out a secret from within him.
It finally took the underprivileged children he supported to take up the responsibility. “You support us so well. Can you not tell us why you are not accepting these offers?” Tanvi asked Akhil.
Akhil smiled a bit and then thought it was time to be honest.
“My friends, I am a travel enthusiast who has not travelled much, except for my journey from home to office and back to home. I have visited local parks and museums. However, I do not have a passport or a visa to accept these requests”, he admitted to a shocked audience.
Prominent members from the cultural ministry who were called by the children then hit back. “How could you write such fabulous pieces about the Nile and the Congo basin, about the Alps and the Great Wall of China?”
“Gentlemen, I have always been fond of reading. I never had enough money to travel to exotic locations though I always regarded nature as a serene friend. This bond with nature made me read about places all over the world. I picked up magazines from old paper marts and gathered knowledge about these cherished locations. I created fictional experiences and included my own analogies that the readers enjoyed”, he clarified.
“Of course, it also helped that I worked with a publisher where I had easy access to all the information I needed. The artist in me made sure I could create a good visual imagery with my words”, he added.
“I wanted to set an example that you can continue to love nature without travelling to places. You can create a bond with a location simply by reading and collecting nice pictures. Let scarcity of money not hinder your bond with nature. Let the lifelong affair with nature be even the pauper’s right”, he spoke to his fans who could relate to his optimism.
There was applause reflected through claps and sensitivity dripping in the form of tears. Akhil Mishra’s lifelong love affair with nature inspired the poorest of the poor.