When will this rain stop? I hope Kalyan has found a shelter. My mind ran helter-skelter while I tried to close all the windows and the door of the cabin. In the dimly lit, poachy room, each minute was long and every sound startling.
A couple of hours ago Kalyan and I had reached the Jungle River Resort, in the Kaziranga National park area. The lone caretaker, Kalita, showed us our cabin. “Sir, the resort is not officially open, as I said earlier. Only I am here. I will arrange your food and anything else you need.” Kalita informed with a smirk.
“Ok, don’t worry Kalita, I will pay you well.” Kalyan had assured.
The room was booked in a hurry. It was our honeymoon. Kalyan had insisted, “The lockdown is relaxed, let’s go somewhere. It will be a well-earned break.”
Kalyan noted the hesitation in my eyes, “It’s just two days. We leave on Friday afternoon and be back by Monday mid-morning.”
I too wanted a break. We got married on the 20th of March and in four days we were confined to our one-bedroom house, because of the countrywide lockdown.
I should not have fought with him. My eyes welled up. This stupid phone, it’s already discharged. There was no network anyway but I could have used the flashlight.
“How did you find this god-forsaken place?” I couldn’t hide my displeasure.
“I know this Kalita chap, so managed somehow.” Kalyan tried to assuage.
“We should have stayed home. Now in this rain, what will we get to eat?”
“Kalita said he will arrange chicken. Don’t worry. He is very resourceful.” Kalyan continued, “Weren’t you the one who was tired at home and kept crying over how all your dreams of life-after-marriage didn’t materialise?”
“So what, in this weather and Corona we should have stayed at home. See it’s dripping right above the bed.”
“I’ll go get Kalita.” Kalyan had left the cabin in a huff. Must be dying for his cigarettes.
Soon, it started pouring cats and dogs with thunderclaps at regular intervals. The power was already out. I tried looking out of the window. There was just darkness all around. I sat on the bed and waited.
I remembered the pictures of the resort I had seen on their website. Five individual cottages facing the Diphlu river and the forest beyond that. Kalyan had mentioned that these resorts are built on forest land, to lure the tourists. The owners had to have paid hefty amounts to the authorities for a location like this.
What was that sound? “Meow” There is a cat outside the door. “Jah, jah! Hoor!” I screamed at the top of my voice. I was scared of anything with four legs.
The clock kept ticking but there was no sign of the rains receding or of Kalyan. I sat there looking out into the darkness.
A sharp clap of thunder startled me. I must have fallen asleep. Why is the cabin moving like this? Is this an earthquake? I crawled under the bed, as I was conditioned to do since childhood. The vigorous shaking of the cabin stopped after an eternity. I screamed, “Is anyone there? Can someone help?”
My stomach growled to make me aware of hunger. I dug out a packet of biscuits from my handbag. Oh, Shiva! Please stop this rain and bring back my Kalyan. We will return home right away.
When I opened my eyes, the outside was dimly lit. My watch showed it was 7 in the morning. It was still raining like it would never stop.
I looked outside the window. My eyes welled up at the scene outside. There was water all around. As if the cabin was in the river. The cabin was built on bamboo pillars giving it some height, so the water hadn’t entered the room. I was now worried for my life. What if the water washed away the cabin? How will I reach land? I can’t swim!
I noticed a big tree flowing by the cabin. The trunk of the tree banged against the cabin. The cabin trembled. I lost my foothold and fell.
The rain just wouldn’t stop. I found a flashlight, a candle, a matchbox, a few bottles of water, a packet of biscuit and some tea bags in the room. There was no power so the kettle was of no use. I drank a little water and ate two biscuits.
I heard the meow once again. This time I was happy to have a living being nearby.
There was no sign of anyone, I waited. As night crept in, I heard a noise on the deck. When I looked outside, a pair of bright green eyes met mine. I froze. It was the big cat. I didn’t know what to do, so I just prayed.
The night passed by, I could not close my eyes for a moment. As the darkness faded outside I peeked again. There, the tiger crouching in one end, but what is that? A cat family, two street dogs and a deer were the on the deck as well. They were all peacefully sitting and waiting for the calamity to get over.
I lamented not having charge in my mobile. Such a scene and I can’t capture it!
The rain seemed to lose its power by afternoon. But the muddy river around the cabin still flowed with great speed. The cabin kept rocking as the different objects floating in the water banged against the bamboo poles.
Two days of no food or sleep had drained most of my strength, but I held on to hope. Maybe now someone will come with help.
“Mondira!” “Mondira!” Someone was calling me! I dashed to the window. The animals had left. I opened the door and stepped onto the deck. I saw Kalyan wading through the water and debris towards the cabin.
I broke down as Kalyan took me in his arms.