My eyes opened to blinding day light and deafening wind. Almost immediately, the smell of Maggi drifted into my nostrils. I got up on my feet, spread my arms wide and stretched. I almost got knocked back by the force with which the wind hit me. It took me some wild flailing to re-adjust my centre of gravity. I looked around with squinted eyes and gradually, my eyes got accustomed to the glaring day light that was flooding the slit in the mountain where I stood. After my first closed-eyed ‘Good Mornings’, I immediately armed myself with the ‘green bottle’ (Refer Part 2 of Time Warp) and marched my way to answer my nature calls. And then I stopped. Where in the world would I go? My mother stood grinning at my sleep-clogged face and the ‘green bottle’ in my hand. Then she pointed to the other adjoining caves on the left. It was where I had found the rockel last night. She handed me my toothbrush and toothpaste and after a while I returned afresh. My mother and father were hunched over the ‘chul’ where a healthy fire was already in existence. My sister was filling water at the tank, something that she enjoyed a lot. She found it extremely fascinating. How there was a little drip in the ceiling where a drop of water kept plunging down to the tank. She loved how the cold water felt on her baby skin, not dead and freezing but refreshing and nourishing. She loved the ripples that she could make on the surface and how they all receded to a standstill in the tank. She only came back when the fragrance of the noodles wafted over to her. Impatiently waiting for the noodles to cook, we killed time by chasing monkeys away. Oh right, I forgot to tell you. There are like a billion monkeys all over the tourist spots or forts or parks in India. Most of the time they stay away, nearing you only if you have eatables on your person. And we were cooking. Monkeys that they were, they scaled the cliffs with ease and waited under over-hangings right on the edge. And they waited there to pounce. If we succeeded in driving them away then they would reappear in another corner in a jiffy. Annoying, I know, but the good thing about monkeys being near-human? They were fast learners. If you succeeded in warding them off for the first 15mins then they would stay away. Usually. But that didn’t mean you dropped your guard. They would be on the lookout for that. So if you were non-alert for one moment, the monkeys would break havoc around you screeching for reinforcements. So I sat down with my sister and mother in the centre with the men sitting around us with enormous sticks in their hands. If we were to eat our food, this was a battle we had to win. We had hold our fort and keep intruders out. Luckily, there were no possibility of treachery because all of us were 100% humans with no wish to join the monkeys. So basically, this was a full-fledged war against invading vegetarian barbarians.
Blah, blah, blah. I wish I could write a few lies about how well we won the war but the truth is that they let us eat in relative peace. We made the men wash the vessels and clean them and then pack up. Until then I picked up my camera and went snap, snap, snap. Once we were packed and clicked we commenced our journey back. We scampered down the tree trunk, making sure we didn’t look down at the cliff. In the morning, the heights seemed much more intimidating to everyone because we could see the danger below us. We didn’t take the same route back though. Instead of going up to ‘panch tanki’ we took a route that went down to the plains.