Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Malnad Diary

Brahma Katae a small village in the heart of Malnad, with just about ten houses scattered around a radius of about five kilometers was truly one of the most remote places I had ever set foot on. A small house lay in the lap of dense forest and huge mountains. The house mostly surrounded by coffee plants, areca nut trees, orange trees and paddy fields was going to be my home for the next couple of days. My friend's uncle and aunt welcomed me a stranger, with enough warmth to make me feel at home within a few seconds. There was sincerity in their actions and innocence in their expressions.

I stood in front of the house with folded arms looking at the dark clouds; slight chill in the air had me rubbing my palms for warmth. A monkey screeched, the dog ran out to chase away the monkey, a bird sang at a far away distance, the areca nut tree bent but stood strong to face the wrath of the wind. The weather was magnificent, and rain could only make things better. Uncle came out; he stood there with me for a few minutes looking at the sky. A small prayer he muttered, requesting the rain God to pass away, requesting the Sun God to come out of his hiding. A loud thunder had him running towards his paddy fields cursing the weather, cursing the Gods; things could only get worse for him.

A young girl came out to greet me, looking at her a song from an old Kannada film started to play out loud in my head. I have a habit of adding own words to the original song and humming it with the original tune, and this song had a few added to it. She asked me a couple of questions, I answered them looking at her light black eyes, each time they blinked the song in my head got louder and louder.

"Malanada henna mai-chanda, aa nadae-chanda, aa nudi-chanda, mana sothu na ketae" (Rough translation: O beautiful girl of Malnad, your mesmerizing walk, your talk has stolen my heart and I seem to have walked into a mess having lost my heart to you)

A trek to a near mountain was planned the next day, excited with the idea we took off to scale unseen heights, to witness the beauty of the land, where Mother Nature seemed to have been generous with a wide variety of trees and plants. To be honest, I was excited about the chance to walk beside the Malnad girl, maybe I could talk to her, a few laughs we could share; if lucky get to know her better.

A muddy road with coffee plantations on both sides led us down to a vast area of paddy fields. Across the cut paddy fields sat the mountain 'Kal Gopura'.

Small streams we jumped, soft land of the paddy field we stepped on. The cold dew touched our feet, it brought with it a tickling sense; everything around looked spectacular, there was a smile on my face, I looked down to see my feet and the wet ground. I jumped immediately and kicked my feet in air, made sounds that could scare the monkeys from the forest; two blood sucking leaches were relishing my blood on my feet. Before I could do my dance and shout more, the Malnad girl bent down and gently pulled away the leaches, she looked at me and let out a soft laughter and all I could do was flash a stupid smile. Words failed me, her laughter echoed in my head and the stupid smile was pasted firm on my face.

Uncontrollable panting yet a strong determination to reach the top kept my friend and me going, he led the pack from the front while I hung at the back and between us, was the Malnad girl, her elder sister and our car driver.

There have been only a few moments in my short life where I have enjoyed the company of silence; standing on the top of that mountain was one such moment. Lush green forest stretched across majestic mountains and at the foot of the mountains light green paddy fields ran till the eye could see. The word beautiful fell short to describe Malnad and its people.

My friend walked up to me and asked 'so, whats your scene?'

All I did was sang my song softly.

I heard a soft laughter at the end of the song; I turned around to see nobody standing at the top other than us.

Did she hear it or was it my own head?

Still remains a mystery.


kavya said...

That's a good begining!!! A work well started is half done.. Way to go fren .Wonderful writing as always! Looking fwd for more.......Have a grt year ahead!

Shri Krishna said...

Enjoyed it,
If I can imagine the place correctly that you described here then it should be a great place.
I am feeling very naturalistic.
Thanks for sharing your voices in your head...

ElroyTLanphear said...

hello~nice to meet u..............................

Harsha Chittar said...

@Kavya: Thank u so much, u have a great year too :)
@Krishna: Glad u stopped by, hope u keep visiting :)
@Elroy: Nice to meet u too, do keep visiting

grace said...

Wow! Can anything be better than having a writer speak up his own precious true story? Perhaps not.

On the whole I found it to be an enjoyable read that left me feeling jealous.

Looking forward to more of such personal essays.

So far I feel that writing about one's own self is the most difficult job. You have really done a brave job. Kudos!!!

doctoratlarge said...

You are obviously passionate about your writing. Keep up the good work.

MADHU RAO | (INDImag.COM) said...

I must say I like your essays better than your stories.

The ending could have been more gripping but guess Malenaada henne was tormenting you by then :-). But the first two paras were absolute beauty -- Chittar-ada rangoli tarha ittu sir ! loved it !