Monday, 18 July 2011

The Visitor in Seoni

Suchi from just got back from a trip to a farm in Seoni, Madhya Pradesh along with Gouthami... as usual, an action packed visit, here's her interesting update:

So much to share, but first the story I am simply bursting to tell!! It just has to be told quickly you see, otherwise it'll lose its sting...

It was the first time that I stayed at the farm during the rains. And I guess just as the monsoons are the peak season for tourism in the places around Mumbai – with hordes of people making their way to Lonavala, Khandala and the likes, it was peak tourist season at our farm in Bhatiwara too.

For the fauna of Seoni, that is.

Our friend Gouthami was coming over to the farm for a couple of days, and I had decided to join her, having missed seeing the farm in all its glory during the last monsoons.(Here is a pic from last year for ref)

Well, we didn't get to see the butterfly colonies this time (probably a little early for them), but we did have a whole lot of other visitors peeping into the mud hut Gouthami and I were sharing. There was a rather frisky centipede, a large number of fat black ants, a frog so small that at first I thought it was a cricket, and at a rough estimate, about 126 earthworms - all crawling, creeping or hopping right into our room. To have a dekko at us, from the looks of it.

But the most important visitor of all was a large scorpion, making its way rather grandiosely from a corner to the centre of our room, when we spotted it… I, of course, made absolutely no pretensions of bravery and scampered right out of the room with a loud yell. Gouthami, being made of stronger stuff, maintained her decorum and ambled out in a more dignified manner.

A young lad, the son of one of the farm-hands, volunteered to get the scorpion out of our room. As soon as he could stop rolling on the floor with laughter on seeing our reaction to the scorpion, that is.

Room de-scorpioned (by the brave lad carrying it out on a stick), we tried to go to sleep… I chose the ‘samadhi’ option – covering myself entirely from head to toe with a thick quilt, even though it was rather warm – in the hope that no creepy-crawly would be able to make its way inside the samadhi. My nervousness was contagious, but Gouthami tried to shake it off by declaring (in a tone that I think was supposed to be reassuring), “Scorpions stings don’t kill, you know - they are just extremely, extremely painful.”

Not the least bit reassured, I continued in my samadhified state – coming up for air occasionally, and not getting a wink of sleep, naturally.

Needless to say, all the locals were totally unfazed by the incident. All these creatures are very much a part of their lives. Even as we became extra wary after the sighting, shining the flashlight on the floor to check it carefully before stepping down from our cots at night, these people continued sitting around on the floor in their huts, chatting merrily. The sighting was an absolute non-incident for them!

By the next morning, things were back to normal even for us– with Gouthami rueing the fact that she did not think quickly enough to get some nifty close-ups of the regal creature before dashing out of the room, and both of us fondly remembering Nissim Ezekiel’s classic, ‘The Night of the Scorpion’.

Whatever else, the night visitor gave me a good opportunity to tell stories and boast about the sighting to all those who cared to listen. Gouthami tried to dampen my spirited story-telling, by raising one eyebrow and asking, “How big, how big?!” with a highly skeptical air every time I said “The scorpion was THIS big..’’ and displayed its size to the audience...

Tch! Some people just don't believe in artistic license. :-/

"I saw a human being last evening - she was THIS big... and yellow......."

Anyway, it was a rare encounter, and I am not going to miss any opportunity in future to tell this story... exaggerations and all. And I guess the scorpion is not likely to forget it either - the day a 1.7 m tall human being turned pale at its sight, and scooted at top speed...

- Suchi Srinivas

1 comment:

Jaya said...

Liby, Karuna and I encountered a scorpion last sunday as we walked from Nellavanka to Bablu's house at Timbaktu to feast on the chicken he had specially cooked for all of us, and the spiritual stuff ofcourse. Panic I did, as did Liby, but both of u did not want out five year old daughter to know that. So we just paused, and sized each other up...three of us and the solitary scorpion tail up two feet away...and we walked past as if it was a common occurrence :)

the first time was in 1994 during the induction field work in Naganwat Choti in Jhabua, as I lay in my sleeping bag on the only charpai in the house, I suddenly saw Kalua (with the perfectly toned body that I have ever seen) stride menacingly towards me, and stamp out a white scorpion from under my head...

Over the years at Gram Vikas it became a habit to give way to scorpions crossing the road as I walked or cycled...The occasional ones that entered my home were ore brutally dealt with...