Updated: Oct 4
1. THE COIN IS TOSSED
Somewhere in a village near forest...
“Why Lord? Why?” bawled the mother who was crestfallen and sobbing as the other villagers watched the scene petrified. The father was standing beside her, shocked, completely shaken, and stood like a statue not able to imbibe the scene. His face was expressionless. He didn’t know how to react, whether to be furious or to feel sorrow and mourn. The villagers watched the horrific scene with utter dismay.
Few hours ago...
“This is the fourth time they have attacked and pillaged our crops. Two of our children have been injured. We can’t ignore them. We need to attack them and fight back” ranted Manov.
“We took over their forest. They are just trying to inure themselves to the change in habitat. We need to make peace with them. And we need to find a way to do this without violence Manov” said the village chief.
“No Chief. What Manov says is right. We can’t keep on ignoring these attacks. They have been targeting the croplands from all directions and we need to fight back. If not I am sure we will have terrible consequences” said Veera, one of Manov’s coterie.
It was an evening and the discussion was being held outside the village chief’s house immediately after an attack on the agricultural land in the south. Crops had been ransacked and this time the loss and damage was fatal to the village clan. Adding to the pain, the kids who were playing near the crop fields had been harmed and injured badly.
The village of Putna was situated along the mountains which were home to thick rainforest jungles. Over a decade the village had expanded along the mountain ridges, cutting down more than fifty percent of the forest area and transforming them into agricultural lands. The village which initially had crop fields only to it’s west was now surrounded by farming lands to it’s north and east. Today’s attack had occurred in the northwest region.
“Alright!” said the village chief shaking his head. “We will not attack them now. We will be on watch, day and night, in shifts. The next time they come to steal our crops we will attack them. And I command that there should be no killings. We will launch an attack and make them run away. That’s it. And nothing more. You all understand?”
Manov, his coterie and other village men nodded. They discussed on who would be watching over which fields and working out the shifts for day and night. Manov and his men were to be on lookout at the crop fields to the northwest tonight. The meeting had finally come to end with this discussion and Manov along with Veera returned to their respective homes in the eastern region.
“Paappppa... Paappppa”, Siddhu called out in joy as he saw his father coming towards the home. Hearing Siddhu’s excitement Manov’s wife, Neeta lifted Siddhu and carried him to Manov. Siddhu was unusually heavy for a two year old baby. They went inside home and had dinner. Manov explicated about the village meeting to Neeta and told her that he would be leaving for his shift, to look out for crops in the northwest fields after dinner.
At the same time, three groups of four village men headed to the crop fields for look out. One group which had went to the northwestern field set up a watch post and settled down at the top for night vigilance. Around 1:30 a.m. they heard a rustling sound from the distant bushes. They heard the sound growing intense and realized it is coming from the jungle next to the field.
Everyone took their spears and came down from the post. Manov and his friends reached the watchpost just in time for their shift and joined the others. They were prepared to launch a full fledged attack today.
[To be continued]