The one and perhaps the only thing which made me drive the 20 kms long drive from my home to my college was Kerwa. The picturous Kerwa.
National Law Institute University (NLIU),my Alma mater was situated in middle of a forest, away from the city and the urban jungle. We, its students, had the pleasure of being surrounded by three dams from three sides, and if some one wanted to meet a watery grave, our college was the place.
Whenever it rained, as in the sense of a ‘Bhopali Rain’ ( when it starts, it doesnt stops), each one of my classmates, me not excluded, had to confront the fear that today was our last day on the earth, and soon all the three dams would flow, overflow and then burst, drowning the whole of the Kerwa, the nearby Mindori village, the magnificent palatial bungalow of the local liquor king which was adjacent to the more magnificent, NLIU building. These were the times when my heart would long for a girlfriend, a ‘Rose’ ,for I didn’t truly like the idea of dying Jack’s death alone.
A landmass that has three large water bodies to quench its thirst, will naturally be a heaven for the trees, for the animals and not to mention the love-couples, who would come there to find some solace and weave their own romantic dream without anyone to disturb them. There were many other features of Kerwa, which would make our imagination run wild. The Rock cliff situated at a height of 250 meters was a place which the dopers, the jointers, the smokers and the boozers adored. The path to the cliff was treacherous, having its share of snakes and scorpions, but it had its reward. Once you would reach the top, you would be welcomed by the ever flowing breeze, due to which all the tiredness would vanish. The ever present faeces of wild animals would instill that fear of the unknown in your heart. The cliff was enchanting, inviting and the local ‘Mount Everest’. The feeling which you would have once you climed on the top was one which can only be felt, not described. The feeling of being at the top, with feet’s dangling in air was just unmatchable.
Then there was the dam, the Kerwa dam itself. It was not the kind of dam which had big sluice gates, rather it had five small iron gates, which were there just because they had to be there. The dam had an extended path, from where you could see the amount of water it stored, and that same path went right to the center of the dam itself, and that was one place which everyone turned to after he had just watched ‘Titanic’, and wanted to re-enact the scene of Jack standing in front of the ship and shouting ‘I am the king of the world’. As you further walked down towards the end of the dam, one would come across a temple, which not surprisingly was situated in a cave.
The best part of Kerwa was for those who were ready to go that extra mile, or those who were willing to take that extra risk. When you go to Kerwa, passing the ‘Kerwa kothi’, you need to turn right for the dam. Most of the people would do that, turn right, but people like us seldom take the ‘Right’ turn. We would go straight, passing the notice board of ‘Danger’. The road that I am referring to, would go straight and straight for about 4 kms, and after that there was nothing but forest, and a small river, no human , no sign of civilization, and more importantly no network for the mobile. The path was a ‘kacha road’, with many a curves and bends, curves which would make even JLo envious. On one side of the road were mountains of dense vegetation and big boulders, and on the other side was a valley, which fortunately never gave us the pleasure to experience how deep it ‘really’ was. As you would drive by, (walking was not a very good option. Cannot remember seeing anyone walking`, except on my farewell day, when I was roaming there on my foot, that too in the middle of night, which I regretfully would like to add was because I just had 4-5 bottles of beer ) you would encounter many a local residents, the peacock, the monkeys; the snakes which were always there without fail, and which even a blind man could never miss out. If you were fortunate or unfortunate, depending on your situation, you would have the pleasure of watching a wild-boar or in some very rare cases a leopard.
The whole of Kerwa was a thrilling adventure, you could visit it everyday, and still your heart would crave for more. It was at its best in the monsoon. Whenever it rains, Kerwa comes to my mind, and also comes to my mind is the new academic session which would start on the onset of monsoon, and which like Kerwa, was so promising.
When it rained, we just couldn’t stop our feet, and all our human instinct would push us towards Kerwa. As and when this would happen, I would take my car, which I now think was also ‘Kerwa obsessive’, and with Sandeep, Sumit, Patel, Churu and Dharma would leave for our epic journey (Kerwa was only 4 kms away), but not before we had taken the necessary stuff to last our journey, which would generally consist of a flask of hot steaming tea, 2-3 pockets of kurkure and more importantly packets of Wills navy cut. With Bryan Adams, or Attaulah khan to give us company, we would march towards our surrogate home.
When we were sad, or had something to sort out, Kerwa was our refuge. We would go there, sit on one of the many rocks, with our feet in water, and guppies to give us a ticklish foot massage, and would think or talk, as was required. The trees and the rocks of Kerwa are the beholder of many a tales and secrets. Secrets which they have shared through generations, secrets which were shared by our seniors and by us.
The nights in Kerwa were special, and only few had the privilege to attend a ‘Kerwan night’. The soft wind would be our lullaby, the stars our protector, and the trees and the rocks our friends and companion. Sometimes we had special guest appearance in the form of a wild dog or a monitor lizard, who on their way to dinner would give us a courtesy visit so as to make us feel 'comfortable'.
Kerwa was our very own forest, and when it was ravaged by the forest fire, we would do everything to stop it. We would catch the illegal forest cutters. And would attend to the snakes that like us, were resident of Kerwa, but who were hit by bikes & cars and were unable to find their way back home.
When a new academic year would begin, Kerwa would be ready for the newcomers, with its own new trees, green leaves and fresh flowing streams. So green, so wet and so inviting. As our session would end, Kerwa would show its grief too. The winds would howl like a beloved crying for her lover who is about to leave her, perhaps never to return. After 2-3 months of grieving, it would again become the old Kerwa again, standing with open arms to welcome the new people who had joined NLIU. Somehow Kerwa taught us the essence of life. People cry for their beloved and dear ones, for the departed. Slowly the pain recedes and life always moves on.
It has been a long time, since I left my college, but the memories of Kerwa is still afresh is my memory, as if it was just yesterday that I drove into the forest. The pleasent moist smell of soil and leaves are still fresh in my memories; I can still feel and see how the tress would ‘swivel’ in happiness when they saw us coming. It was a ‘mutual’ love, one between us and Kerwa.