It was around eight pm. Mr Mehra brought the gypsy to a gentle halt. We were in a vast expanse of grassland interspersed with a few jamun kunj. Silence of the night echoed everywhere, except for the intermittent calls of Night-jars. As he turned off the headlights, darkness engulfed us in a blinding blanket. He whispered to look on our right. Hundreds of tiny lights were twinkling.
“What, what is it?”
“Come on Jaishree. You don’t know! You really don’t know!!”
I moved my neck slightly in denial, without ever taking my eyes off the twinkling grassland.
“These are jugnus”, replied my husband in a matter-of-fact tone.
Oh yes, they must be jugnus. How could I not see that they were jugnus! I have seen jugnus but it was limited to spotting a few of them here and there, while taking a stroll in night. However, there they were, ten-twenty-fifty, no, not even hundreds, but in thousands. A sight-enthralling! It was as if the tips of long grass blades developed phosphoric radiance and the timings had been set to fractions of seconds’ to-blink-and-light randomly.
I have seen jungles in real and watched wildlife on National Geography and Discovery channels. But none could match the impressions of that moment. Dear reader, it all happened in our very neighborhood: Corbett which till then (to me) meant Dhikala, Bijrani, jhirna and nth number of resorts. It all happened in its Sitavani area which is a buffer zone of Corbett.
Sitavani ke Jungle