A journey to wonderland
A Journey to Wonderland
Tiku sat on the edge of an old moss-covered tree trunk lying on the bank of a small stream. This was his favourite pastime gazing at the serene flow of water under the blazing amber yellow sun of long summer afternoons. Sometimes he used to wonder at this everlasting calm which gave him a sense of warm comfort. Everyone around him would get upset with him once in a while, even his grandmother, whom he otherwise considered to be a perennial source of affection. Even Granny would show signs of irritation, but not this stream. Often, it appeared to him to be a huge glass bed on which he could lie and count millions of stars at night. Sometimes the water was so still that one could just think of walking over it and catch those myriad glass bubbles which seemed to be embroidered on it. When the lethargy of silent mid-noon hours engulfed the whole household, he would quietly slip out to enrich his travails of life. The humming of bees and the rapturous notes of various unseen birds would supply him with a spirit of ambrosia. He felt he could spend his entire life sitting on this friendly tree trunk. However others did not seem to share this view. As soon as the first soul woke up Tiku would hear his name being called out. He disliked his elders for this untimely interference in his wise musings. Blaming it on the distance, he would pretend to have not heard it and continue with his favourite past time. He often dreamt of a world without adults, yet he wanted his parents and grandparents to be present in it at his convenience. According to Tiku and his friends the whole riverside seemed to be a treasure trove of fun and adventure. The riverside was truly Tiku’s afternoon abode.
Tiku always felt that the most fascinating part of the wide panorama was still lying untouched and unexplored by him. Just where the stream seemed to vanish in the thickness of dark green vegetation, there was a small path enticingly disappearing into the thickets. Tiku had never seen anyone going or coming out of that place. “Don’t even think of going there” was the response that his mother had for him whenever he mentioned it to her. Even his courageous group of friends were a little hesitant in accompanying him on an exploratory jaunt on this adventure. “Have you ever seen anyone coming out from there?” once his grandmother had told him. “That may be because they do not want to come back Grandma. It must be very nice there, I am very sure.” He tried to reason it out with her but to no avail. Each negation increased his desire to explore that grassy path which looked perfectly fine and friendly to him. “I am going to see where this path leads to!” was his firm resolve. Many a summer noon went past without a suitable opportunity and Tiku felt that his dream would never wear the garb of realization.
Then suddenly, one day he heard the soft knock of opportunity at his door. It was a perfect summer morning. Tiku was woken up by the pleasant sound of mild vernal showers. There was a wedding in the neighbourhood and all the members of his family were busy in the wedding preparations. After quickly finishing his breakfast, he sneaked out of his house with a mission in his mind. He was alone today, since all his friends were lingering around the wedding house in anticipation of a sumptuous feast. The light drizzle had stopped and every glistening grass blade had greetings writ large on it. Today, Tiku did not want to sit on the tree trunk and enjoy the view. He had to finish his task and be back before his parents reached home.
As he took his first step on the forbidden path he felt a strange chill of exhilaration in the warm spring month. This was the most amazing journey he had ever undertaken. The serene beauty around him made him forget the length of his journey. The path got wider and wider and suddenly his eyes were mesmerized by the breathtaking view that unfolded in front of his intoxicated eyes. It was the most astonishing nature’s wonderland he had ever witnessed. Here the forest, the fields and the glade seemed to be apparelled in a celestial light. The gentle waves of the river were dancing in rhythmic delight. The luminous blue of the sky seemed to be casting a spell on those waves. This was bliss combined with magical mirth. The well known stream of Tiku’s village actually started from a small waterfall. Here, the garnered rays of a bright forenoon sun and the fragile mist of tiny water drops were weaving a colourful rainbow. Tiku, himself felt to be standing in the midst of life’s exquisite chorus. Everything seemed so magical and serene that he did not want to even touch it. A symphony of vibrant colours was being played by the wondrous spirit of nature. Ivory petals of sweet champa, crimson blossoms of gulmohar, golden yellow acassia, pure white jasmine were set amidst the emerald carpet of nature. Tiku stood there drinking this visual manna little realising how the whole day passed in this delightful episode.
Suddenly he heard some voices of children. Did they too skip the wedding feast and dared into this prohibited area? He wondered. He knew his blithe season was about to expire soon as the dark shadows of tall trees were getting longer, foretelling the arrival of evening. Realising that his family would have come back by now, Tiku retraced his unwilling steps towards the slow, long journey home. Throughout his way back home, he kept on asking himself many questions. Why did his parents and grandparents stop him from exploring the mysterious path? Were they never allured by its mystery? Why had his grandfather, whose omniscient look was an object of adoration for Tiku, also never spoke about this treasure house of nature? How did his father, who would fearlessly venture into the darkest corner of their huge house even in the middle of the night, resist the temptation of taking that unknown road? All these questions created a whirlpool of confusion in his mind.
As he approached his house he realised that the wedding celebrations seemed to have got over. Thinking that his family would have reached home, he increased his speed. He saw his mother standing at the gate with a worried look on her face. “Where were you? You did not even attend the function? You look so tired and hungry? Did you eat anything” She presented hundreds of such queries knowing well that only a few select ones would be answered by Tiku. “I was sitting by the riverside and today…. ”. Suddenly he stopped. Should he tell her about his amazing adventure? Would she be thrilled or he would be forbidden from sitting over the tree trunk also? He was not sure. The unpredictability of his elders’ reaction prohibited him from opening his mouth. His untimely silence was making his mother impatient and she was still waiting for an explanation now along with his grandmother. Rescue came from unexpected quarters when his benevolent grandfather walked in and carried Tiku to his cosy room.
Happy to be rescued from the uncomfortable situation, Tiku relaxed, only to be jolted when his grandfather suddenly raised his silvery eyebrows in a quizzical manner and said, “So till where did you go today?” Tiku was caught completely unawares and suddenly something flashed in his mind. “Grandpa you know about the place, you have been there!” he exclaimed without pretensions. The quizzical lines of grandfather’s loving face melted into a warm smile. “Of course we all have been there or somewhere. I, your father and many others like us. But we all go there alone, without telling others. We find our own wonderland of joy and mirth, which remains a well hidden secret in our hearts. Those who muster the courage to tread on less travelled paths, always discover something new and amazing. I too found my land of happiness long back,” he said. “Where did you go grandpa? Did you also go to the same place where I went?” Tiku inquired.
“That is something you don’t share with anyone else Tiku” grandfather replied with a twinkle in his eyes and walked slowly out of the door leaving Tiku pondering over the wisdom of these words.
- Vinti Jetley