SMITTEN by the idea of vacationing in a deep forest, amidst hills and a brook, with wild animals promising to show up, we decided to take a trip to an eco resort at Palani Hills, near Kodaikanal.
The pristine view of the hills, the vales and the wild flowers in the backdrop of a gushing spring, with a variety of birds filling the whole forest with their musical tweets, was delightful. The huts that the resort offered were clean, with no frills; the polite and helpful staff made up for most of the shortcomings.
With almost no access to the outside world, we were blissfully away from the madding crowd. Accustomed to a hectic life, we were confronted with the prospect of ‘managing’ leisure, which we did by exploring the valley with a security guard for company.
But this heavenly feeling didn’t last as the villainous stomach bug attacked my wife. Amid a relaxed chat, she abruptly bolted to the toilet, retching uncontrollably, and then collapsed on the chair with a gasp.
I took charge as the medicine man with a questionnaire — Nausea? Acidity? Loose motions? Cramps in the tummy? As she feebly responded to my queries, I sorted out the pills from the well-stocked medical kit for each of the answers in the affirmative.
The medicines worked, and to our relief she spent a relatively uneventful night. But in the morning, it was my turn with the bug, and as I hobbled towards the toilet, I noticed her watching me carefully with a gaze that is usually reserved for judging the steadiness of my gait after 8 pm.
‘No, it’s nothing of that sort,’ I said with a grimace. She then asked me the same questions in the same sequence, demonstrating her elephantine memory, and thrust a handful of pills towards me — literally giving me a taste of my own medicine. As the icing on the cake, I was force-fed ‘Amrit Dhara’, a pungent concentrate, supposed to be a panacea for all ills.
Exhausted after bouts of diarrhoea, we sat gazing at the picturesque view outside. Dark clouds descended, lending a heavenly hue to the ever-changing colours of a misty afternoon. Their rumbling coincided with the rumbling in our tummies. As the rain came down, the sound of the droplets on the tin roof and the shrill cries of peacocks made us forget our misery. Later, we walked amid lengthening shadows, deftly manoeuvring the jagged edges of jutting rocks. As darkness descended, we were reduced to mere silhouettes, silently moving alongside each other, even as the sounds of cicadas and crickets filled the night air. We imbibed the intensity of each other’s company, realising the importance of just being there for each other in distressful situations.
The darkness of the hour held out a metaphor for the evening of our lives, and possibly a portent of the times to befall us in our declining years.
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