Monday, February 05, 2007

All in the Game – part VI

After a couple of hours she woke up and the trio started roaming across the forest in search of food. Anil and Puja were talking all through and Imran kept looking back to make sure they were never too far from the wreckage but after a while the smoke from the wreckage became almost non-existent ruling out the possibility of having the wreckage site as a reference point. After quite a bit of effort Imran was able to scoop out fish from the river but he then realized they wouldn’t be able to heat the fish, as they didn’t know how to make fire. Both the men were non-smokers, so they didn’t have a lighter or a match box with them. Anil came to know that Puja had just finished her college education and was traveling to her uncle’s place for the holidays in that fateful plane. She had a miraculous escape and had roamed around a bit in the darkness before being spotted by Anil and Imran.

Soon it was afternoon and the three of them felt very tired and hungry due to the constant walk. Suddenly Anil fell down as he was walking. Imran ran upto him and took him in his arms.

“Anil all you alright??” he enquired.

As he touched Anil he realized that Anil was having very high fever. Imran was beginning to get really worried. He knew that without any outside help saving Anil would be impossible.

When Anil woke up he felt fairly tired and weak. He could feel the warmth of fever in himself. He slowly opened his eyes and soon he caught the skull of wild boar staring at him! It was hung on the wall. He slowly turned his head and he could see a fireplace nearby and three women seated around it. It looked like they were cooking something!!! They were dark skinned and were naked except for the jewel around their neck.

Their hair was sooty black. It was in small rings and was distributed evenly over the head, and appeared to take the form of tuffs. The mouth was large, the palate was hard and slightly arched and the lips well formed. The hands and feet were small and well made. The ears were well shaped and the eyes were dark to very dark brown, bright, liquid and clear but prominent. The teeth were white, good and free from disease.

They had straps hung on their heads to carry their babies. He got up with a jerk. The women turned back at the sound and started smiling widely. One of them had a designer chain around her neck. It didn’t take long for Anil to figure out that it was Puja’s chain. Oh my God!!! Are they “cooking” Puja??

One of them said something in a totally non-understandable language. He wasn’t sure whether she said something or asked something!!

He muttered”I……..Iammmmmmmmmmmm…………..thankyou” as an acknowledgement and grinned with all his teeth showing.

He looked around to find that he was in some kind of community dwelling. He could soon see quite a bit of fireplaces all over the hut which was spread to some 50-60 square feet. There were quite a few people with some cooking raw meat and tuber in the fire. Then He saw Puja running towards him from one of the groups. She was wearing a few of the tribal jewellery. He realized that she must have got it as an “exchange offer”.He could also see that her wrist watch was also missing!!!! Anyway the very sight of her was reassuring.

“You feeling ok??” she asked.

“Iam .Iam “ he looked around and said” fine!! Where the hell are we??”

“we are in Andaman,these are the Jarawas,one of the indigenous tribals of andaman. I have read about them in books”

“yeah ..I have heard too.” He looked around suspiciously and continued ”Are you sure they are not gonna eat us alive!!”

“Shut up Anil that’s a load of crap. There is no record of such custom among these people. They sure are hostile towards strangers, but surprisingly they have helped us”

“What exactly happened??”

“Soon after you fainted , myself and Imran got worried a lot. Imran carried you for a while as we continued our food search, but even he was very tired and hungry so we just sat down under a tree.That’s when one of the Jarawa hunting parties spotted us. For a minute I was terrified as they pointed their bow and arrows at us and were about to shoot at us. But they were able to see that you were sick and also we ourselves didn’t look all that dangerous so they hesitated a bit. After that Imran somehow convinced that we are harmless and sought their help. After a bit of deliberation, the hunting team brought us here, but they had to do a lot of explaining to do before we were admitted in. This has never happened before Anil, I have never heard of the tribals helping the mainland Indians before. I think we are very lucky.”

“Hmmmmm” Anil was not fully convinced “are you sure they are not stuffing us ? getting us ready for some human sacrifice or something??”


“Ok Ok!!! Where is Imran”

“Imran?”Puja looked outside the hut for while and then exclaimed”there he is!!”

Anil turned around to see Imran returning with a few other Jarawan men. One of them had a wild pig on his shoulder while the other one had what looked like a turtle fish. One of them remarked something to Imran with a lot of laughter for which Imran responded with a big nod of head and a confused smile.

Then he came to where Anil was seated.

“hey man!!!!! So you have become a hunter now??”Anil enquired!!

“Hunter or the hunted, roles can change, but the hunt is always on” Imran replied with his usual style.

“You got that right buddy! and really really nice to see the old philosophical Imran back!!” Anil replied.

For the next few days Anil had a chance to bask in tribal “hospital”ity as he was nursed back to health by the love and support of the tribals and not to mention, the constant care of his friends. The Jarawans seemed to have taken a special liking for Anil with the children curiously watching him all the time and laughing out loud after sheepishly whispering something to themselves. He also got to know a lot about the Jarawan rituals and culture and food habits.

He watched the traditional dance , which went on all through the night around the fire with participation from one and all. He enjoyed the warmth of the fire as he lazily watched the monotonous movements with rhythmic drumming of the feet on a specially rounding board.

After a few days Anil was back to his health and soon it was time to leave. Imran received instructions from the tribal chief about the direction to take to head back to civilization. Imran couldn’t understand a thing!! The tribals bade a tearful farewell with some of them taking the hand of Imran and blowing into it exchanging sentences of conventional farewell.

The trio walked silently for quite a bit of time lead by Imran. Then suddenly out of nowhere Anil broke the silence.

“So now what??”

“Do not worry, I have got clear instructions from the chief. He kept repeating about a “big fat snake” which I guess should be some road or a high way. I think that marks the end of their territoty and aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah”

Suddenly Imran fell down. Anil and Puja ran towards him and found out that Imran’s foot was stuck in the deer trap, which was neatly hidden beneath the grass.

“Oh my God!! Are you alright??” exclaimed Puja.

“Iam ok , if I could just get this damn thing off my foot!!!” replied Imran as he tried to bear the pain.

“Look at the brighter side” said Anil as he tried to set Imran free,”if there is a trap here,then it means whoever set this trap shall come back to check it out!! , and that could be our straight ticket to mainland”

For some reason Puja didn’t seem to like the idea. But nobody noticed it!

To be continued…….

· All in the Game - part I

· All in the game – part II

· All in the game – part IV

· All in the Game – part V

· All in the Game – part VI

· All in the Game – part VII

· All in the Game – part VIII

· All in the Game – part IX

· All in the game – part X

· All in the game – part XI