Jungle is home and home is only a shelter my mother always said. People in the mountain depend on jungle from food to fuel. You get almost everything in the jungle – food, fruit, firewood, timber, medicine herb, fodder for animal etc. This may be why she said so. People go to the jungle every day when there is little work in the farm. As the jungle there is managed by the community and people have to follow certain rules and people are also aware of this conservation system called ‘community forest’. So everyone going jungle in the mountain doesn’t mean deforestation.
The people must go to jungle for fodder and firewood which is very basic for their living. They also bring timber and medicinal herb from the jungle. There are still some people whose family business is to collect herb, make medicine and sell. My mother used to swop such medicine with grains. And as a child I rarely had to use allopathic or other modern medicine since my mother was good at using these medicinal herbs.
But the children used to have different propose for going jungle. It is all about fruits and picnic, birds and butterflies, fun and fight.
Almost every day of spring we dwelled in the jungle. The jungle in the spring is full of fruits, flowers and birds in the hill. Just a feeling of it makes me happy! Yes, different kinds of berries (kafal, aaiselu, macheni) were found this time and we loved it! We were always full and collected as many as we can in our bags to bring home. At this time many flowers bloom and new leaf come and make the jungle so pretty. At this time the jungle becomes a piece of heaven. Climbing up the trees and eating berries, looking for the bird’s nest, searching a kind of fern for vegetable, collecting tree barks for firewood were all fun and we passed hours doing so.
Till today those are the best days of my life. I always wish I could pass whole life picking berries, playing in the jungle and listening songs of birds. Sometimes we played in small brook and tried to catch tiny little fish all the day. We never cared for the sun that was travelling in the sky changing the colours of mountains and hills. And it was that moment we remember home when the cold evening air from the mountain hit our tender skin. Then we had to run and run up the hills to be home before the sun goes down.
My mummy told me that once two of my elder sisters and their friends went to jungle and didn’t come till it was so dark. And my father and other villagers had to find them with the torch so worried that the children might have lost way back home or wild animals might have attacked them. But story was different; the children were coming home singing and enjoying at the bottom of the hill on the trail towards village. Their bags were full of fruits and berries, their arms and legs were bruised and pricked by wild thorn and they were jolly and cheerful just like the stars that watched them from the heaven.