Like today, most of the Sundays I venture into this hill which has become a part of my life. Ever since I took up the job as a teacher at a private school in this not-so-popular town, the adjoining hill has been more like a companion to me. From my balcony, the hill at less than a few kilometers away would offer a breathtaking view. In the morning it would appear fresh and glowing due the mild soothing sun rays. In the evening, it appears mysterious and shady against the backdrop of the setting sun. Often it looked like a pretty young girl reclining on her back and whispering her love to the dark clouds above (that looked like her aggressive lover).
As the rickety path took a curve around a tall teak wood tree, I sat down to rest for a while under the tree in its generous cool shade. From where I sat, I could have a beautiful view of the town below. Just ahead and not far away I could see my school and its old building in dull gray. The school ground was visible and there seem to be a cricket match in progress. There can be no better way to spend a Sunday morning for our school boys. On the far left side of the town, stood the church with its gracious bell tower. The church road appeared crowded due to the carnival. I could see a giant wheel and a line of road side shops selling fancy things. On the right side in the heart of the town, the railway station appeared calm and looked like an abandoned warehouse.
I rested for about fifteen minutes, finishing a pack of cookies and a can of coke. Then I started walking towards the dilapidated temple, a few hundred feet away which was the highest point of this hill. This temple must have been in existence for over seventy years and is probably being used by the tribal people living in the forest. As I neared the temple I could smell a faint aroma of spices and cooked vegetables. Just outside the temple I saw signs of someone having cooked food. The place had the left over of burnt wood, figs and dry leaves. This isn't unfamiliar because there are many tribal villages in the forest and the village folk gathering nuts, fruits and honey must have visited the temple to prepare their meal and rest for a while.
After sometime I was tracing my way back through the forest and down the hill. The descent was easier and enjoyable. I could see more monkeys now, some playing at the stream and some chasing each other. There was one in particular, a cute little one, which was clinging on to it's mother's belly and cast a glance at everything around with surprise and fear. But it also had a look of satisfaction in its eyes for being in safe hands. Somewhere at a distance I could also hear the loud haunting call of a peacock. Though it was a shady forest trail, it was more humid and I was sweating profusely. With only fifteen minutes away from the foot of the hill, I was very tempted to take a dip in the nearby stream. But I quickly decided against the idea since I did not want to scare away the herd of spotted deers drinking water at the stream. I moved on silently enjoying the rare sight.
When I reached the foothills it was nearing 1.15 in the afternoon. I crossed the isolated forest guest house, then a row of houses on the workshop lane and turned right into the market lane. This lane is as colorful and busy as usual with people moving around either selling or buying commodities. Near the police station there was a crowd of men engaged in a loud and heated discussion. It appeared that there was something wrong. A couple of men at the adjacent tea shop were keenly listening to the radio news. The news reported of three men who were apprehended from the nearby hill with fire arms and country bombs. They are believed to have links to a prohibited terrorist group. It is very likely that they have been camping at the nearby hills and planning their next attack on the town railway station and the places of worship.
Suddenly I felt dazed and insecure. When I reached home I walked into the balcony. The hill was there - calm, green and picturesque. But beyond its calm and silence, it appeared mysterious and unwelcoming as if something horrific is about to happen. For the first time ever I felt a shiver down my spine when I glanced at my favorite hill.