My pupils have dilated and like a four-year-old, I have pressed my face against the frosted window. Large fronds of ferns and stunted cycads crowd the narrow strip along a rivulet running parallel to the road. Beyond that is uninhabited wilderness— an undefiled, sacred land ruled by Aranyani, the mother spirit. Ancient trees with colossal scabrous bodies shoot up and disappear in the dripping clouds. A grotesque piece of bleached tree trunk poses strikingly amidst the intimidating green.
Post Anni, the clouds clear and I find myself perched high on the mountainside with a near vertical drop to my left. Far down an unfatigued river cuts its way through the rocks. Stunted pomegranate trees bearing red half-opened flowers challenge the monotony of conifers. The glossy road snakes down until we reach Kandugarh, a tiny hamlet with two-storied slate roofed stone huts and a pretty post-office veiled with creepers. And then without warning, we meander into a belt of purple wildflowers. Bewitched, I put my book aside. That purple and green could complement each other so magnificently I had never imagined.