It was just another Saturday evening. I lay on the floor of my sweltering room, looking up at the fan swirling without a touch of breeze. I was bored. I had nothing to do. I was tired of sitting indoors all day watching TV series from the 70s. I had done nothing else the whole of that day and I wanted the next day to not be the same.
I messaged my friend and set up a plan to visit the nearest zoological park. And to think I hated zoos and crowds of people! But that’s how desperate I was. The urge to do… something, led me to nod to plan that’d been in discussion for a long time.
I woke up early, and washed my hair.
At about 2.30 pm, we left braving the vegaries of the unusual monsoon heat, with cotton shawls over our heads and swelling anticipation in our hearts.
As we stepped into the first few inches of the spanning 1,490 acres, a chill ran through my spine. It is a large forest; people come here for day trips and picnics. And we had come for just a walk. We started out with a massive crowd hogging its way into the park, but it thinned out as people moved away exploring on their own.
That was the best part of the visit. It wasn’t anything like the school excursions we used to go on. We didn’t have to hold hands with our partners and walk in lines. We didn’t have to split our attention between the trees, animals, and to the teachers lest they made announcements. And we didn’t have to time ourselves so as to leave early.
We could take all the time we needed.
I never liked gawking at animals in a cage. Or pointing a camera, teasing them to turn around and stand still so I could take a picture for my friends to “ooh” and “aah” at later. So we stuck to the pathway not going up to the enclosures. And lucky for us, most people clung to the enclosures, giving us enough space to strut the path.
We walked around with lusciousness looking down at us from every corner. Tiny nectar plants attracted butterflies of all colours. There even was one with a chocolate-coloured coat.
Trees of all kinds and sizes stood by our way, letting through the setting sun, leaves swaying to the breeze, and looming shadows starting to show. Some other trees had begun to stoop realising night coming.
The way was paved well, easy to walk on even for hours along. We roamed about looking around, gaping at heights, pointing out squirrels in bird cages, and catching a glimpse of the white marvel peacock with her sad eyes and drooping head.
Looking up at decade-old tree barks, peeling off skin and sprouting new ones, I realised the value of nature. There was a time when trees, plants, and shrubs just grew every where, unbound. But we now have confined these forests behind stone walls, enclosing animals along with it, naming it a zoo, making a fortune in maintenance fees, and calling it preservation.
Sure, it was a well-kept park. Neat and tidy, with snack parlours and ice cream stores. It was a perfect place for human entertainment. But if we had left them be, unpruned and un-sheared, there would’ve been more.