Lost for a Cause
“Are you serious?” was my first reaction when my friend Jude flashed two passes of a two day trek in the dense jungle of Kodaikanal. I jumped with joy as there wouldn’t have been a better break after my promotion from an ordinary reporter to a ‘Chief Editor’. Right from the tender age of nine I wanted to make a difference to my country. Therefore I had decided to become a reporter who reported scams and investigated further. But I belatedly realised that the world was full of competition and I had to compete with the rest. I could never compete with the language the ministers spoke, which was a great deterrent to my career. With this, I had to become a page 3 reporter and had to catch all the latest gossip of the film industry. But God’s grace was always upon me and I caught a drug deal that was on its way in an actor’s party. With this big achievement I got promoted to the post of the Chief Editor!
I started preparing for the trek. My mother was apprehensive about me going for an 800km trek as I was very dainty. But somehow I managed to coax her and my gullible mother agreed. I loved photography and carried my 15 megapixel camera, some non-perishable food and a change of clothes in my haversack.
Finally the d-day arrived and Jude and I left for the airport in the wee hours of the morning. We engaged a taxi. Coincidentally the taxi driver was from Palani, a city in Kodaikanal, in Tamilnadu. He increased my adrenaline level by narrating hair-raising tales about the dense jungles of Kodaikanal.
My friend Jude was swanky in the eyes of people so I was his only friend among the acquaintances. He would never help anyone if he disliked them. Finally we reached Kodaikanal and I was inquisitive to know more about the place.
The next day, early in the morning, we left for our trek. Our guide had warned us to stay with the mob but I wanted to explore more. As we walked further I got fatigued and lost track of the mob. I tried to gather my exploring skills and reached a stage where I had to choose between two roads, which went in different directions. I tried to throw an arrow in the dark and remembered William Wordsworth’s poem ‘The Prelude’, where he talks about two roads and choosing the road which had a canopy.
I was confident that I would meet the mob but after a long brisk walk I was compelled to believe the fact that I had chosen the wrong road and I was lost! I tried pinching myself that this was a dream but Oucch! It hurt. I tried giving myself false hope that I was a brave reporter and that I could not lose hope so early. I walked further and discovered that I had entered a forest where there were only trees with mo place even to walk.
I looked up and saw that the darkness was covering the sun. I reached for my torch but the batteries in the torch had run down. Ultimately, I was in a dense forest, all alone, without any source of light and had to spend the night there! I walked further to see if any Good Samaritan was staying in the forest. When I went further, I couldn’t see anything; I tried rubbing my eyes, but in vain. It was not the fault of my eyes; instead, it was the darkness.
Left with no choice I decided to spend the night in the forest. I settled on a hard thing that seemed like a stone to me. The shrill cry of the bats made my heart jump to my mouth, and I cursed myself because of the hasty judgement of mine. I felt that I could never get out of that forest and would soon die of hunger as my friend Jude was carrying all the food since I couldn’t carry so much food.
With this thought, I got nostalgic about who would get my post and how would he manage it. All of a sudden I heard a loud thud as if a truck had come to a halt. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me, for help. I could scarcely see a mole of abase men with humongous axes cutting the sweet smelling sandalwood trees. As I moved closer I could clearly see, though the truck driver had switched off the headlights. The men had lit small lanterns.
I wanted to capture that and found my camera. I took the pictures slowly and surreptitiously so that no one could notice my presence, for otherwise I would be in deep trouble. After taking the pictures I crept away and spent the night under a tree taking a little comfort in the presence of the sandalwood smugglers. The next morning I ran with enthusiasm to find the road that led to the town. My friend Jude was delighted and relieved to see me. He hugged me and had tears of joy running down his cheeks. He was flabbergasted when I narrated the tale of the sandalwood smugglers. We decided to leave for Mumbai right away. I contacted my boss from the airport and was summoned to the office immediately. I discussed my adventure in the woods with my boss. My boss was impressed and asked me to investigate it further and then make it headline news. To my surprise I found out that the scam had been running for the past fifteen years with the support of many politicians. My boss was elated to know that our TV channel was the first to reveal that scam and I was the lady behind it.
I walked with my head held high in the office, winning the respect of all my colleagues and I was voted as the ‘Journalist of the year’.
Therefore, with this success running behind me, I can only think about one thing when I remember this incident: “A decision taken in haste is not always a waste!!!”