It is not very often that one gets to visit a forest in the night. Well, to be truthful, I would rather say that it would be a rare night - once in blue moon kind of night - that one likes to visit a forest in the night. At the outset, I am not much of a night-owl. Add to that, my first such walk experience, eons ago through the forests surrounding Ranakpur, where though, seemingly a life-long trail to meet a holy man in the area was uneventful, the stories about the animal and other worldly encounters that our guide recounted gleefully during the walk were scary enough to keep my hair raised for the months to come. So, it was with much trepidation that I set off on a night trail in the forest, albeit feeling secure amongst a group of like-minded, perhaps even equally faint-hearted sapiens. The optimist in me had already charted out a list of all the creatures that the eyes had been wanting to see, while the realist inside would have been happy to survive & come-out unscathed. Of course, the heart yearned to trust Nietzsche and find bank full of roses under the cypresses in the night full of dark trees, while the mind was busy chanting Hanuman Chalisa. As a raconteur, I would not be worth my salt if I fail to write a book about it, but woh kahani phir kisi aur blog par. For the sake of brevity, it would be enough to know that by the end of the trail the heart was longing to go back into the forest and be one with the universe under the star-lit sky, and I did make another trip following night. And that part about not being the night-owl? I think I am still not one, though came across an Indian Scops Owl on the trail, perched on a branch looking inquisitively at us, the irritating creatures disturbing its sojourn for food & some fun-n-frolic, perhaps. Mary Oliver's verse helps me in describing it much better:
Somewhere in the universe,
in the gallery of important things,
the babyish owl, ruffled and rakish,
sits on its pedestal.
His beak could open a bottle,
and his eyes – when he lifts their soft lids –
go on reading something
just beyond your shoulder –
or the Book of Revelation.