YOU may not believe this story. But I can tell you it is true, because I have been to Pambupatti, a village on the edge of the jungle. It is on a cliff, and the vast forest stretches below like a mossy green carpet. There are many kinds of people in the village — dark, fair, tall, short. They speak many languages. Some eat meat, some don’t. Some pray in a small temple at the edge of the forest. Others pray in a mosque some miles away.
My name is Prem and I live many hundred miles away from Pambupatti. I had heard about the village, but I’d never been there. Then last year, something terrible happened. The people of my own village went mad. Far, far away in a place they have never even been to, a temple or mosque had been burnt down, and they went mad. They started fighting with one another. Some had to run away in the middle of the night. And at three in the morning, as I lay in my house, half awake to the sounds of hate and violence, there was a fire. Many houses were burnt down in the fire. One of them was mine.
I managed to grab a few clothes, some coins, my little Ganesh statue, and I ran! I ran for a day and a night, resting whenever my legs would not carry me any further. I jumped on to a train, then on a bus. No tickets. Never mind, everyone seemed to be running. Finally, I found myself in Pambupatti, and I saw some villagers gathered near a well. I ran to them, and before I could say a thing, I fainted.
The author starts his narration in the introduction section by depicting the picture of Pambupatti village, where he had never been before that lies at the edge of the jungle. The forest beneath the cliff had been stretched out like a green forest.
People from various backgrounds and different ethnicities live in that village, as they speak different languages; practice different religions; some are vegetarians while some are meat-eaters. Some pray in Temples and some from Mosques.
Pambupatti village (Only for reference)
The author, by introducing himself, slowly explains the instance of a religious outbreak that happened in his village, which led him to leave his birthplace and escape to Pambupatti which, he had not gone all these days but heard of.
A year back, people from different religions started to fight among themselves in his village. It was a religious clash that had been happening for quite a long time. It reached the worst situation after some time. As a result of this religious breakdown, houses were burnt, and one such was the author's house. When people started to fight against themselves and the houses are burnt, they left their place overnight. This devastating effect made the narrator run from his own village, to escape from the riots.
The author explains the difficulties he faced on that night, as, without knowing what to do next, he wrapped up few clothes, coins along with his little Ganesha statue and got on the train without even buying tickets; because people went running around to safeguard their lives.
Finally, it was the village Pambupatti he landed at last. On reaching the village of Pambupatti, the narrator tried to approach the villagers to seek help from them. Unfortunately, he fell out of tiredness, without speaking a word to the villagers.
Meanings of difficult words:
A high area of a rock, often at the end of the sea or ocean
Covers like small green or yellow plant that spreads over wet surfaces, rocks, trees, etc.
Something that makes you get shocked or upset
To take something suddenly using your hand
Something that destroys or which causes damage
Refers to a violent situation involving a group of people
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2006). What Happened to the Reptiles - Zai Whitaker (pp. 33-42). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.