One Night Stand

with BHILS

On the way to Nandurbar, Dhule District, Maharashtra close to
Khondamali village, there’s an isolated hilly forest area. it’s a no man’s land.
One scorching afternoon, I was looking for a place for lunch where it is impossible to find. I saw a house, a little away from road uphill, thought of taking a chance on that bumpy off-road. When I got there, nobody was there so I turned to leave, just then a woman called out to me ‘bulati hu, bulati hu’. Without listening to my reply, she walked away to get someone from the woods.

After 5 minutes, she returned with her husband. He greeted me a warm ‘Namastey’ and asked me in anticipation ‘Kya kam hai?’ I told him I was looking for a place for lunch. He thought and replied,”Ok lunch?! Bohot door tak yaha kuch nahi milega”.”Okay then”, I said and started walking towards my car. After walking for like 10- 12 steps, he called me and asked me in hesitation, “hamare pass jo kuch bhi hai wo chalega toh bana dete hai”. “Yes yes”, I lapped on to the offer as if I was waiting for these golden words. That moment left us with smiles on our faces that were very real and innocent.

His wife started cooking, meanwhile he took me around, showing the place. I realized they were tribals from this place called Bhil and government had given them land to take care off. He started sharing his stories of shikar from this jungle when his wife called us for lunch. She had cooked some rice, some local greens in earthen utensils just for me as they had had their lunch already.

While I was still eating, he proposed me ‘ aaj ruk j ao yahi’ , I instantly agreed. He informed me that they lived about a km away.Happy about having found a place to stay overnight without effort, that too in a beautiful jungle, I got relaxed and took a nap.

Late evening, he took me there. it was a mud house, not so small. While he went in to get a charpoy for me, he instructed the woman inside to cook something special for me. I wondered who this new lady was, later he told me he had two wives. At night it got very cold, so they both lit a campfire and we enjoyed simple yet delicious food by the fire. After finishing the kitchen work, all women gathered around the fire to enjoy hukka.
That night I slept under the stars after a long time.

Next day, woke up to a beautiful sunrise and hot milk. I saw children playing some local games and I joined them in the fun. At first, they were shy, then they opened up and started explaining the game.

After I had played to my heart ‘s content, he took me to a stream for a bath and to wash my car. When it was time to go, he handed me some food for the way andgifted me a bow and arrow, which belonged to his wife who was supposedly a very good archer.

He asked me if I could do some paperwork for him in district forest office. I was more than happy to be of any help to this kind family. i left with gratitude in my heart for this unexpected meeting and sadness of not being able to meet them again.

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