I liked Anni very much when, nearly fifteen years ago I passed through it. Then I had a second chance, after a few more years, to pass through this small village and had a short break for a cup of tea. The owner of the shop was a friendly man. He asked me to sit on one of the chairs kept outside the shop. Anni was a small village in those days, in the outer part of Seraj of district Kullu, but was looking towards the rapid development. Due to some local festival at that time, the bazaar of Anni was full of local girls and women claded in extremely colourful dresses. Everyone walked to the bazaar and then to their house as there were no roads to the villages to connect to the main bazaar.

This time when I went to Anni, I was stunned to look at its changed face. I had a chance to stay there for a few days. A story of mine had been selected for a film and Anni was the venue of the shoot. Himal, the director of the film and myself walked through the bazaar and then followed the uphill narrow road leading to the open ground where the actors were busy rehearsing for the shoot. The bazaar was crowded with vehicles – cars, busses, motorbikes, all honking and speeding up to overtake each other. This road rage presented a picture of some semi developed Indian town. The boys looked were more aggressive than any other person and in their modern dresses, generally jeans, and latest style of haircut, they behaved like heroes on their motorbikes. But up at the playground the scene was different. I recognized the group of the actors gathered in a corner.

The Play Ground

A large piece of flat land was very well fenced with the high rising iron grill with a narrow gate to enter. Two different teams of cricket players had occupied two different parts of the ground. Both the teams concentrated on their game and the mixed sounds of shouts, on every hit to the ball by the batsmen, echoed in the area. Many times the balls of one team rolled to the other side but was gracefully returned by the members of the other team.
At one side, a few boys stretched themselves for yoga exercise. They were in half pants and Tee-Shirts and used one grassy portion of the ground for their yoga. Some others jogged around the ground and most of the time they remained along the iron fence. They made several rounds of the ground without making any disturbance to the cricket teams and others. Two boys, wearing shorts and Tee-Shirts sprinted from one corner to the other and hit the fence. They practiced to defeat each other and sweat themselves on that warm evening. As they stopped near me I noticed their deep breathing and then they turned around to run back.

Some others practiced judo in their white judogi. There were girls and boys lead by a trainer who stood in front of them and made them do some special exercise. Two judo players practiced separately on the mattress and used various techniques to defeat the opponent. Sometimes all of them, the yoga team, the sprinters, the joggers and the judo players were hit by the ball of the cricketers but they didn’t mind and returned the ball.

The Bull

The dusk begun to followed the day. The evening moon peeped from behind the hill. The dark began to take the area in its grip. The night was still far so the players continued with their activities. Suddenly a bull entered the field. The green grass of the field near the boundary wall attracted him to graze. The bull quietly moved to the grass and without making any disturbance to anyone got himself busy with the grass. After him, a group of some notorious boys entered the gates of the ground. The festival off Diwali was around. The boys had a few fire crackers with them which, very quietly, they tide with the tail of the bull and ran away. The wick sparked for sometime and then the crackers bursted. The bull, busy in feasting on the green grass got frightened on this sudden attack. He failed to understand the fact and ran. He rushed towards the joggers who ran faster to save themselves and ran out of the gate. The sprinters running towards the bull at full speed lost their control and hit him from behind in a rage. He turned and chased the sprinters. They had already lost their breath but still managed to zoom away towards the wall and climbed the fence to save themselves. The bull lost his control and charged on the cricketers. The left their bats and pads and ran away to escape the charging animal. All over in the field there was could of dust.

In a few seconds, the ground was emptied and all the activity came to stand still.

Game Over

The moon had risen higher and the lights of the houses had begun to shimmer on the slopes. It was dark.

Himal, myself and the actors also found a way to move out of the ground and walked towards our guest house. The sound of the vehicles mixed with some religious songs being played on a loudspeaker echoed in the valley. Soon it was going to be silent as the people were terrified due to the movement of a bear in the area. Only a few days ago the bear had entered the bazaar an attacked a man and injured him badly. He was rushed to the big hospital in Shimla. Himal told me that the previous night a leopard was seen in the garden of the Rest House where he had been puting up for last one month.

The animals are likely to enter the human areas because we the humans have begun to encroach their habitats. The growing speed of Anni is a good example of this damage to the ecology.

Written by

Written by

Sumit Raj

Better known as Summit is the founder of Shimla Walks and a qualified tourism professional from Delhi University. Summit is a published author with six books to his credit, now. His seventh on titled as ‘Shimla Walks’ is on the way and to be released soon. Summit loves Himalaya and says that ‘Mountains travel in his veins with blood’.

One of his books that he wrote on Kalka Shimla Railway, named as A Journey to Shimla – by Toy Train can be read on Kindle.

Contact Him : +917018703170, +91 9459519620

WhatsApp : +91 7018703170

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