Sunday, 6 April 2014

My tryst with nature

What would life be without the illuminating and intrigue consciousness of nature? The treasure trove of natural abundance ignites our basic curiosity and awakens the intense energy hidden in the depths of our minds and familiarises us with our surroundings. Be it the famed natural resorts or picturesque locales, or any other verdant vista, nowhere can you get as close to nature as with the first hand experience with our environment or learning life skills. Taking a panoramic view of my life, I reflected the moment where my grace shined the brightest. My tryst with nature at a tender age has imbibed me with a sense of realization of my surroundings. Nature empowers us with value based learning that updates us with environmental facts and providing a new dimension to reality.

I am overcome with nostalgia as I remember my first conscious encounter with nature. My father’s transfer to a remote place in the southern region gave me the chance to discover the enchantment of nature. Living in urban area sometimes camouflages the real natural vista as the bustle and din of industrialisation impede one’s creative penchant. In the beginning we were quite apprehensive about our relocation to rural Kerala, and my disappointment was obvious in my petulant visage.

“Ma, I hate to go to a village...I’ll miss my friends and old school.” I sulked for hours.

The bus journey towards Allapuzha remained uneventful and I slept on the way. My father tried to cheer me up by pointing towards the sea route and the green foliage of coconut trees lining the winding road. 
“Ravi, look, look the sea! There are fisherman boats too. It seems exciting.”

But I looked bored and felt dejected. Tears rolled down my face as I remembered my friends, our cricket matches, video games and the fun tours the school had taken us. Soon after, we arrived at the small town where we were to meet the caretaker of our quarter. A tall, swarthy man wearing the traditional lungi and a white shirt welcomed us and helped us with our luggage. It was almost dark when we reached our house and I could not fathom the area in the dusk. I could only discern that the house was amidst a cluster of trees and was quite spacious.

The winding road from our house lead to a small temple surrounded by green trees and the rural scene unfolded a new realm for me. Untouched by commercialisation there was a kind of symbiotic link with the earthiness and the skies that was totally unknown to me. Brought up in an urban atmosphere had left me bereft of the sights and sounds of nature. This unleashing of the natural vista was a learning experience for me. The place retained a kind of rustic charm that appealed to my senses. As I walked towards the 

Muruggan temple my mind was suffused with a pristine aura. The temple has existed as a mud-lime structure for generations and the head priest was a family member, Swami Chinnamalayan who was to be my mentor in the coming days. My childlike inquisitiveness was fulfilled by the spiritually and culturally minded Swami profound experience.

“Child, I can see that something is troubling you,” the Swami gently spoke. “I believe I can help you.”
I told him about leaving the city and my friends which caused my woes. My life had become miserable.
 He smiled knowingly and said, “Son, you are young and have a lot of time to make friends. With time you will like this place. There is peace and a lot of beauty here which you will soon discover.”

His words had a soothing effect as I sat on the parapet walls along the steps and watched the serene world so very different from the place I inhabited. Even as a small boy of twelve, I could feel a change in me giving me a sense of wellbeing. The chirping sound of birds and the small ripples forming in the clear pond nearby caught my eye and I watched with avid curiosity.

“Are there fishes in this pond?” I eagerly posed a question to Swami. 

He nodded fondly patting my head.

You will find small fishes mostly...and there are snakes too!” Swami rolled his eyes.

“Can I see the fishes?” I asked as my interest was growing.

“Yes, you can watch the local boys who come here often for fishing.”    

Suddenly a whiff of cool breeze ruffled the leaves and flowers near the front yard of the temple cheering me instantly. The soothing words of the Swami had a calming effect.

The advent of modernism has almost wiped the simple pleasures of life with the internet boom and children today are more engrossed with technology with nature taking a back seat. It is imperative to learn about our natural environment as it is essential for children to know the real world, to feel it, to inculcate nature’s education and to bask in its glory for it is one of life’s greatest pleasures opening the door to insightful knowledge and independence. Nature has a tremendous influence on a child’s perception, interaction and transformation in the formative years. Through nature’s acquaintance individual intellect is sharpened, skills harnessed, knowledge base is enhanced and artificiality eroded. My advent to this remote village was a boon in disguise as it provided me an opportunity to discover the delights of nature. In his apartment in the city, sunrise or sunset, the ruffle of swaying leaves or the vivid colours of nature was obscured by the tall high-rise buildings and concreteness. Indoor games due to lack of space obstructed the children from experiencing the outdoor life. Climbing trees, running about in the open fields or observing the rainfall, thunder or other natural occurrences were almost unknown to me. My only allowances were a trip to the mall or to the movie with occasional treats at the restaurants or ice-cream parlours in the weekends. Needless to say I was now on the verge of discovering the actuality- the varied hues of life –to gain new paradigm at this juncture of my life.

Bird calls are bound to wake you up in the mornings in this peripheral village near Allapuzha and gives one a chance to rouse up early to get connected with nature. Blessed with abundant flora and fauna the tranquil scene instilled in my naive heart a profound peace. And gradually my acquaintance with the local children in my new school gave me ample opportunity to look at life from a different perspective. The students were simple and friendly without any snobbishness which helped me to interact with them freely. My visit to the temple also renewed my acquaintance with Swami who became my mentor who appeased my inner curiosity and i gained deep insights about nature and values. He patiently dispelled my doubts and placated the magnets of my curiosity with easy and meaningful answers. Looking at the distant waves rolling onto the craggy rocks Swami explained to me the cause of waves. Not only he explained to me about the benefits of nature but also apprised me of its catastrophes.  

“What causes waves?” My knowledge about the natural phenomenon was bookish.
“My child, Waves cannot exist by themselves, they are caused by winds. When wind blows and pushes across the surface of the water, it causes the water to move around.” He pointed his finger at the waves breaking down eventually on the shore. I gazed with immense interest for the practical knowledge seemed to me so fascinating. I felt excited to observe the bounce of waves. He also made me aware of natural calamity as well.

“Son, do you know that the earth also rumbles, explodes, roars and shakes with wild weather, giant waves, earthquakes and volcanoes?” Swami asked me.
“Oh! Yes, I read about earthquakes and...and also about Tsunami in the books. My teacher told me about volcanoes too.” I said.

“Do you want to know about the Tsunami which took place a few years back? I can show you the place where the waves rushed in and caused havoc. I was near the sea-side chanting my morning prayers when there was a  sudden roar and enormous waves higher than theses coconut trees came rushing in...after that there was torrential rains...” the priest narrated the incident.

“Can...can  you show me where the waves exploded?” I asked in amazement. As I walked about the sandy beach picking up the broken shells and pebbles, Swami explained how the calamity distorted the entire shoreline wiping out the entire villages. Sometimes the loss of life and property is too devastating.
My first hand experience with nature instigated me to probe into the natural realm. I began to observe the minute aspects of the environment with a newfound interest and joy. My friendship with Swami developed and age was no barrier. His sagacity and wisdom taught me about things which were unknown to me hitherto and his instruction had a positive effect on my personality. My queries about the fishes, birds, waterfalls, plant life and about the universe were innumerable and Swami always quenched my thirst for knowledge. He showed me the simplest way to meditate amidst nature, to breathe in the unpolluted air and absorb in the enchantment of nature. I enjoyed playing in the open fields, running about in the meadows, the smell of the earth, watching squirrels moving deftly, the dapple of sunlight falling in the water, the dew drops on the leaves and the hues of butterflies and birds, caterpillars and worms crawling on the ground, filling my childlike mind with glee.

“How do we smell?” “How do fish breathe?” “Where do butterflies get their striking colour?” These questions had their answers in the environs itself. I learnt all these form observing the natural elements.
 I totally unlocked my heart to nature and thus developed an affinity with the elements of life. All at once, the cool blast of wind blowing, the rumble of thunder or raindrops falling created in me a sense of wonder and I basked in nature’s glory. My days in Allapuzha from then onwards were glad moments and my pristine self confidence gave me a feeling of achievement. Physically and mentally I became rejuvenated and my parents were happy to see me contented. My rendezvous with the living world was like a windfall in life which awakened in me a love for nature and developed a symbiotic link with my environment.

This post is written for a contest sponsored by Kissan.


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