Contrary to what a lot of people thought…:), here is =”Wayanad Part 2″ The booze had gotten over, the songs had subsided, and we were sitting in compatible silence. Occasionally, one of us would get up to feed the fire, but otherwise it seemed like we were the only people in the world.
We weren’t. Suddenly the calm of the night was penetrated with the cackling of loud and hysterical laughter. The sound was so alien to the atmosphere that it took us a moment before any of us could react. It was Amit who quickly got up, and walked over to the edge of the campsite. He came back and said that it looked like they were forest officials, but he looked decidedly uncomfortable. He suggested that we extinguish the fire because the officials could accuse us of starting a forest fire and cause trouble. I opened my mouth furiously to say that we had done nothing wrong, but one look at Mika’s and Amit’s face, and I joined them in pouring water over the embers. MF look decidedly nonplussed by the turn of events. He too got up and all of us decided to call it a night. As we worked in silence, cleaning up, all of were hoping that the men would ignore us and walk away.
But they didnt.
We couldn’t make out the number of people from the voices. Maybe two or three. Five six. Ten twelve. More. As sounds came closer, we gave up the idea that it was the Forest officials. Amit had a grave expression on his face as he asked Mika and me to get into the tent. I was surprised. The fire had died down, but the embers were still hot. Mika and me huddled in our jackets and were reluctant to shift our positions away from the fire. We protested – we wanted to sleep outside, looking at the stars. The voices were now very close. And coming towards our campsite. I could now make out that the guys were speaking Mal, and worse that they were drunk. What they were speaking in Mal did not sound very comforting either. It finally seemed to dawn on MF that things were a little serious. On the top of Chembra, with two women, and meeting up with twenty drunk men was not a situation that he had envisaged. And as far as I was concerned, being with drunken company in Bangalore had hardly prepared me for this kind of situation.
And the funniest part was that there was probably no situation. I mean the men could be harmless, and they would probably not bother us. But in the middle of nowhere, with no protection other than a ..well, nothing, I was suddenly damn scared. The men were there of course, but they looked so grave and disturbed that it was really no comfort. Amit insisted that both of us should go into the tent, and MF agreed. Mika and me were not uncomfortable with the idea. Forget the stars, we felt that if we hid in the tent, and were discovered later, it would suggest that we had something to hide. Somehow the whole idea seemed distasteful. The men had almost reached the campsite and there was no time to argue. Mika and me got in hurriedly into the tent. I almost jumped out of my skin when Amit reached into his bag, took out a knife and handed it over to Mika. I was now really scared.
Finally, footsteps and noises gave way to form. The long grass that parted the campsite from the pond was parted, and three men walked onto the campsite. They were quite drunk…and friendly. Very surprised to see men, with a tent quietly sitting next to a dead fire. MF was decidedly enterprising as he walked up and said hi to the newcomers in Mal. A few words in Mal, and the men were suddenly very friendly. They even invited MF and Amit to join them in their party by the pond. My clenched fingers relaxed, but it was too early to relax completely. The men were very impressed to see our tent; they had come upto Chembra with just loads of alcohol and chicken – not for them any sleeping bags, tents or blankets. I am not sure how but MF somehow managed to distract their attention from the tent. In the course of conversation, finally introductions were made. They were students from a college in Calicut. And they were pretty kicked when they found out that MF was from Cochin, and was now working in Bangalore. The good old Mal bonding was at work, and more so I think when MF told him that he had done his engineering in Kerala. Oh! I was relieved. I mean – what could be so dangerous about a bunch of college kids. I waited for MF to tell them about us, and we could come out of the tent, and have a hearty laugh about it.
I peeked out of the tent, as MF knelt by the tent and opened its flaps. Mika and me were ready to jump out, but MF insisted that it was not really safe to get out. Why? – Because they don’t know that that you are in. So tell them that you have female friends here, and we can get out. – They will think different things. What kind of things – You know. I don’t, why don’t you enlighten me. Common its not safe, they will get the wrong idea about you girls. The argument went on.
Oh why didn’t we tell them the truth earlier. It was a no win situation now. And I was irritated along with being scared. MF’s clinching argument was the best. “You know how Mal kids are; and they are engineering college kids. They are decent kids you know, but you know they are drunk, and they are young. Nice kids actually, but you know. And engineering college kids, you know.”
No, I don’t!!! Hallo! Where is the logic. Mal engineering college kids, young and drunk – and oh I forget..nice and decent – does that translate into horny, potential rapists? Common!!!! It was if engineering colleges in Kerala graduated a special breed of sex maniacal and alcoholic flag bearers. But I have heard the same argument from so many other Mal men, that I decided that there was no point in arguing.
All of us settled down into our sleeping bags – Amit and MF near the fire, and we inside the tent. Outside the festivities were loud and hysterical. The chicken was being slowly roasted and the alcohol was being consumed at ultra high speeds. My ears were turning red because of the cold, but the conversation was turning my normally unblushable cheeks quite warm and red. I have always known than Mal bachelor parties get quite wild, but this was like being an invisible ghost and watch the party the violence. Mika couldn’t understand a word of what being said, and for that I was glad. It was bad enough that I was really embarrassed, and it would have been worse to share it. As the night wore down, the voices continued, but the taste of fear that I had on my tongue was gone. The voices were now groggy, and I finally dared to open the flaps and peek out.
The blanket was still comfy, and the halo lit angels still smiled at me. I smiled at them at too, and we once more settled to compatible understanding.
The next day…
The incidents of the previous night seemed so far away. As Mika and me walked to the pond to wash up, the look of amazement on the guys’ face was worth it. I almost burst out giggling. Sane and sober and looking incredibly young, I couldn’t understand why I was so scared the previous night. It seemed so silly. MF talked to them, and told them that we had slept off early the previous night. There were some disbelieving looks, and some smart-aleck comments, but generally they were quite peaceful. I would like to also believe that they knew that we had observed their wild antics, and they were suitably embarrassed:)