Atin was sitting in his spacious study room in an overstuffed chair and was aimlessly gazing at the window. He was a professional photographer and has worked with numerous reputed international agencies. He has come to the fag end of his career. He has restricted his work over a couple of years since his body has failed to cope up with the perils of intermittent sojourns. As he was gazing through the window, several memories were flashing in his mind. He has been blessed with a very eventful life. As he veers down the memory lanes of his illustrated career, he could recollect several incidents that have left an indelible impression on his mind. Today he has plans to pen down one of the umpteen incidents which had occurred about twenty-five years back. He now opened the first page of a diary and began writing…
The year was 1995, in September I guess. I had been assigned a project by the National geographic journal for capturing the wildlife of the famous Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand. The national park located in the foothills of the Himalayas is adorned with several memories of the legendary hunter, writer, and philanthropist, Jim Corbett. It was my first visit to the place and I was quite excited since I have read a lot about this place. The place is none less than a treasure trove for all the wildlife lovers like. I was quite certain that I would be able to complete the assignment with flying colors. I had previously booked my accommodation in a resort located in the buffer zone of the park. It was already dark. However, the serenity of the place soothed my exhausted mind and soul. I was greeted by the manager who seemed to be very friendly and amiable. I informed him about my assignments and he assured me that he will make all the necessary arrangements. The next morning a jungle safari was arranged. I was accompanied by an experienced forest guide. He was carrying an old hunting rifle with him. I was getting my desired visuals and was constantly keeping a close vigil of the surroundings. The jungle did not disappoint me as I got the best possible visuals of several birds, deer, and elephants. But I was keen to capture the Royal Bengal tiger. The guide and the diver were also trying their best to locate one. I had already taken government permission for allowing me to venture into the core area of the forest. We soon found ourselves within the densely forested region and my guide cautiously maneuvered the vehicle towards a narrow stream. There we saw a tigress and her cubs, sipping water. They were hardly taking notice as I quickly took some snaps. They were hardly twenty yards away from us and I could feel a pang of unfathomable excitement within me. They completed drinking and sauntered their way into the dense jungles. The guide motioned the driver to slowly retrace our track. Soon we returned to our resort. It was already quite a successful campaign and I decided that one more venture tomorrow will be enough for me. I now decided to loiter around the place in the late afternoon and capture some more visuals. The manager on seeing me, getting out said, ‘‘ don’t go too far, sir, and please do return well before dusk. This is a very dangerous place, sir. There are lots of man-eating tigers around. They usually come near this area to pick up their prey.
Just a few weeks back a foreign tourist was picked up by a man-eater only a few hundred yards away from his resort. And you are completely unarmed, sir, I will advise you to wait for a few minutes. I am informing the guide, he will come and accompany you’’. I nodded and waited there in the lounge as the manager began to call him. He came up to me and said, ‘‘unfortunately, sir the guide is now unavailable. He is in the jungle with another tourist group.’’ I was now determined that I had to go and I told him, ‘‘I will take a few snaps and come back quickly, don’t worry about me.’’ I made my way into the sparsely forested regions of the jungle which was dotted with boulders and numerous pebbles. I was quite busy taking snaps as continued to progress into the forest. The sun was now beginning to set and soon realized that I have reached quite far from my resort. I quickly wanted to return, but after some time, I realized there were five narrow bylanes and I could not decide which one would take me to the resort. I was feeling quite uneasy as I was quite aware of the impending dangers. It was a completely desolate place. I was feeling quite helpless and suddenly I saw a boy coming from behind a tree. He was a lanky lad and from his appearance, I could make out that he lived in a nearby village. I narrated my problem and also mentioned the name of my resort. He nodded and motioned me to follow him. I was left with no other options and had to follow him.
After about ten minutes I could see the entrance of my resort. I was quite relieved and heartily thanked the boy. I wanted to give him some cash but he refused it with a smile. I then returned and the manager was quite relieved to see me. He said, ‘‘I was very worried about you, sir. Thank god, you have returned.” I narrated the whole story and also described how the boy came to my rescue. He gave a wry smile, ‘‘This boy has again saved a life. I don’t know whether you will, believe it or not, sir. This boy had been killed last year by a man-eater. After that, many tourists like you have reported that this boy had come to their rescue’’. I was stupefied and could not believe my ears.