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  • Aarna Bothra

A Woodland Wander

I walk into the woods and everywhere around me, I can hear the insects buzzing and the crickets chirping. ‘It's a perfect day for a picnic’, I think to myself, the sky slightly orange and pink and the autumn leaves crunching below. The trees are alive, their branches swaying with the wind. I almost hear them saying, “Ah, what a beautiful day.” I wrap my arms around a big oak tree, its bark rough against my cheek. I close my eyes and inhale the fresh crisp air.

I start walking further up the well-worn path to the lake. I catch sight of a praying mantis barely visible, camouflaged against the fallen leaves. An eagle calls from the sky and swoops down to catch its prey. A squirrel darts from beneath a bush and scrambles up a tree, its beady eye watching from behind the leaves. I stumble slightly on a gnarled root and notice my shoe sole starting to come off. I groan, my voice lost in the din of the woods.

A black-faced langur fixes me with a weighing stare while I try to mend my shoe. Creeped, I walk faster, in a hurry to reach my destination. As I notice the first signs of the lake - the sound of water lapping against the shore, I hear a crunch behind me. I turn and see the langur following me, its eyes sending a shiver down my spine.

The lake comes into sight and takes my breath away. The aqua-blue water sparkling in the sun and the small fishes darting underneath the surface. A miniature beach leads the way to the water's edge, where I can see several small, red crabs trying to burrow themselves in the cool sand. The lake stretches for miles, the horizon aglow with the light of the setting sun.

I sigh, wishing someone was here to share the beauty of this evening with me. The langur stalks closer, takes some water in its hands, and drinks it. It then proceeds to scrutinize me again. I sit on a log, just now realizing how heavy my cargo pants were, filled to the brim with food. Without thinking, I take a bar of chocolate from my many pockets, and just as I unwrap it, the langur jumps, its hands aiming for the delicious food.

I let out a shriek of surprise and drop the chocolate, scrambling to get away from the hungry animal. The langur picks it up and surveys it. It puts the entire thing in its mouth, throwing the wrapper on the ground. The langur ambles away, letting out a burp. Shakily, I pick myself up and sit on the log again. This time I took out a protein bar, one which I did not want to eat and unwrapped it. I throw it towards the langur to convey my friendship. It stares at the food for some time, then picks it up and gulps it down.

I look towards the water, admiring the allure of nature, and notice that the sun is just about to set. I start in shock and see that the sky is covered in streaks of red. I hurriedly dust myself off and start the long journey home. I look back at the langur and see that it is watching me. I take out a banana and set it on the ground beside the langur. It blinks at me and raises its hand, as if saying goodbye. I shake my head at the notion and continue walking.

I reach the end of the woods and look back, expecting to see the langur, but alas, it had vanished by then. I reprimanded myself for thinking that our friendship had broken

look up at the night sky, twinkling with the light of a hundred stars. I breathe in the fading smell of moss and trees and turn towards home. It has been a long day.

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