Prologue - Wild Rumours On The Safari Express By Yogesh Chandratre
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Before you read all those Wild Rumours, learn more about the journey beyond wild imagination on the Safari Express.
Ask not where on Earth does this Safari Express run. I cannot show you the train. Nor it's track. Neither the stations it halts at. But yes, I can tell you this - It follows a wild track. Its wooden planks are edged sharp, like nails of some beast. And its driver is a Zulu who knows every wilderness in this world and elsewhere, it is rumoured.
Don't ask how I got on to it. That's a different story altogether. All I can tell you is that I was not the only one on this train. There were quite a few seated before I got in. And many more were to board as the Safari went on from one wilderness to another. Talk was on since before I stepped in. They were all listening to this story, unaware and unconcerned over who stepped aboard or who left.
They spoke grave & deep like dense of wilderness. And their tell was sincere and mythical all at once. Just like the rustling of grass or the howling of moon. That's how they sounded, these wild rumours on the Safari Express. I call them rumours because meeting a fellow traveller on a journey is like meeting the wind. All that they say can be heard, but its truth can never be touched.
Some whispered short and in haste. Some spoke in long and proud. One followed the other. Before I knew, the journey itself sounded like a rumour. A wild rumour of some wild-loving people boarding a wild train on a wild route and talking some really wild stuff.
All hailed from some wilderness of this planet. A wilderness that was either home or wandering. And in certain, a wilderness that had gripped them completely. A bunch of obsessed lot, one might think in first. Well, not actually. Perhaps passionate and proud about their habitats like any true citizen of his or her nation.
They all wore this poise of a calm and serene wilderness. But their excitement to meet everyone, apparently similar or different from them, and learn that they all had something in common filled the Safari Express with the warmth of brotherhood. One spoke. The rest listened. And then, they all had a similar experience to share that was as bewildering if not more. Wilderness changed. So changed languages, names and entities. But the subject remained on track as did the Safari Express cruised through the most exotic, enchanting and mesmerizing places on earth.
Days, weeks and months passed and the Safari Express became abuzz with a lot of commonness found between people who were a world apart. Looking back, I still wonder if all that talk was just a series of wild rumours. Was there perhaps a tinge of sense and substance in any bit of it? God knows. And though, ascertaining the truth to whatever was spoken aboard the Safari Express is nearly impossible, there is one truth I touched for certain - it made my journey across the world, travelling wild in all the eight directions from one continent to another for over fifteen months, a truly memorable one.
And oh, just for the record. I missed a few tales. Three had already spoken before I boarded the Safari Express. They were now more interested in listening to others. One found his destination before his turn to speak. On some other journey he would utter it for certain. I could see his eagerness. In stark contrast, there was this one fellow who kept quiet all way long. Keen in his ear but extremely reluctant in tongue. There were two seats vacant. They had missed the Safari Express, I'm sure. And last but not the least was the Zulu driver, who kept talking all the way. His was perhaps the longest of tale. But none were keen to hear a long tiring epic. Luckily all the sound of the engine and horn made it inaudible.
'It happens all the time,' said the Zulu driver in his ever stern and unblinking gaze. 'Some miss the train. Some miss the whole point.' He was a believer in Truth. Even if it was wild. I had this strong feeling he knew my doubts over all that was talked. He clearly didn't look pleased with it. 'Fifteen months! Over world! And still he doubts. Calls Truth 'Rumours'. Calls travellers 'Wind'. Who knows what he calls this Zulu? Don't know want…' He grumbled his way back to the engine room.
Here I was, back home feeling a bit lost. Bit unsure. Fortunately, in this part of the world I am certain of one thing. There would be many to share my doubts over these wild rumours.