let the kakad bark,
as the sun slips down where the sky ends
and darkness descends,
the jungle awakes
to the howls of jackals and the music of crickets,
and the hoots of an owl,
and then suddenly
to the toot of the cheetal
and the honk of a sambar.
I stiffen in my tracks,
as twigs crack
under the footfall of Baagh
the king who lurks, hiding from his prey
in brown and grey
has been seen
and the jungle reverberates with alarm calls
beware, don’t fall.
A zephyr rustles
through the moyan leaves
gently touching my cheeks
a snake slithers past my toes
ever so close.
Then, like it had begun,
suddenly the jungle goes quiet,
now it is only me and a heavenly light
not even a murmur, only the crickets’ tenor
and at this hour I imagine ghosts,
and hear the banshee behind me.
Stopping on the way
brushing aside the games my mind wants to play,
I find a ledge overlooking the valley
from where I see the silhouette of hills and thickets and trees,
and a huge lake spread before me
washed in the silver that pours from the sky
and, looking at the hoary moon
and counting the countless stars, I
listen to the whispers of a gentle breeze.
And all this happens in my crease
I am the jungle of Pench
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