The village home with a sprawling backyard is as close to the nature as it can get. A very low wall, just about 2 feet high, made of mud, straw, a few broken plastic buckets and tubs, sand bags, separates us from our wild friends, a tiger or two, spotted cheetahs, a fox, many rabbits and a couple of dogs. A cool dark well
which is the only source of water lies beyond that wall, in the thickets.
My mother-in-law carries a huge straw basket and a bucket on one hand, and walks up to the well wielding a huge stick on the other. The house has two huge doors opening into this backyard and I sit just at the stairs to this entrance and watch Vyas play beyond that wall, near his grandma. He walks a little further into the coppice when I call out to him to signal him about the beast that is watching him from the tree-top only to discern the loss of my voice! There is such a thing as ‘luck’ after all as he, intuitively, retraces his steps and walks back towards the well and I wonder where my M-I-L has disappeared! This time I find my voice and beckon him inside, but he pays no heed and instead takes a diversion, swerves to his right, away from the well and there is that orange-black striped beauty looking up at him annoyed at being woken up from his siesta.
“Vyas, don’t touch him. He is awake, come back in here!”, I bellow. The boy panics and makes a dash towards my outstretched arms only to be overtaken by the spotted beast that was watching him all the while. It stands long and tall between the two of us and am scared to instruct the next action to my boy, for this cheetah understands the language, and again, I struggle to find my voice.. Fear is writ all over his face and I feel hot and flushed…
“Ma, Varun is awake already” Vyas whispered into my years. His eyes, looking extra large and more beautiful without the spectacles, wore that expression of, “whats wrong lady?” and he pointed in the direction of the little warm body lying across my feet, awake, and babbling away.. I took a deep breath and drew my boys closer, felt them, and held on to them… My boys are safe in my arms this time..