Blessed we were when the rain gods showered their love in abundance on 18th August evening. As I was doing some work which matters in and around buffer zone of Tadoba villages, it struck me why not go to Tadoba. It was more like na Mauka hai (since its rainy season) and Na dastoor hai (that it was raining so heavily)… lekin Tadoba me Maya, Matkasur hai….
This was enough for me to take a light dinner, pack my bags to be able to trek in heavy rains on muddy soils & fill up my car all within next 1 hour. Hello Rains, did you bother me ? No way pal, Come along to Tadoba… we have fun … only You, Me and Maya… the Queen of Tadoba !!
It was 0400 Hrs when I woke up & Rain Gods were still playing symphony outside my window. May be they were giving serious competition to the one and only Yanni. My Wifey was awake too. She was pretty skeptical when my resolve to go to Tadoba was quite firm. We had this typical Husband Wife conversation like jana jaroori hai kya (do u really need to go?) and ek kaam karo, kal chale jao (do one thing, you go tomorrow)… I won’t stop you for tomorrow. The usual sentimental-blackmails we poor husbands always fall prey to!
But, I realized, you will never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say. And Wifey too obliged with her usual mild smile n her eyes looking through my eyes. She said nothing, but was perhaps conveying me that ‘I understand what you are doing, and I fully support what you do. Just that please be safe out there. And come back soon!’ Boy, now I know why we log our self up for 7 lives with same wife when we get married. We just don’t know her in 1 life at all, phew!!
Sipping tea, a normal tea and not lemon or a green tea, as am quite fit, I just thought of listening to Atif Aslam for the journey. Why not, he’s got quite good voice when it comes to connecting hearts. So locked, stocked barrel of pen drives ready and I began my N’th journey towards Tadoba.
I was wondering everything which happens, say once, may not happen again.. but everything which happens twice in your life, will certainly happen third time!! And this was indeed my third visit without much of a planning in last 15 days alone!
During Rainy season, everyone tends to forget people living around tadoba. What livelihood they must be having and how they are meeting their both ends. No one tends to bother that. Once I reached buffer zone, I was speaking to an elderly wise person, kaka, I thought I wanted to come here today. I don’t know why. But yes. This wise man had this answer, where your heart is… you will find your treasure. And yes, I am so attached to Tadoba, it was so true for me. No wonder experience of that old man had that one sentence quite valid for me!
But, yes, whether I was going to meet my girl Maya, the one I have virtually seen growing from new born to a naughty kid biting her brother’s tail to a young girl praying for the first time to an adult girl making choices of her life confidently to an undisputed Queen taking her decisions with power and elegance. All this within 7 years. May be I may see Maya. But I knew virtually it’s not possible too. Actually, it’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes one’s life interesting… I said to myself with a slight smile… So finally my mind was like I will see Maya, but I won’t see Maya… haha!!
When I reached Mohurli… I was awestruck. There was a whole new beautiful Statue of MAYA along with her 3 cubs was already unveiled by honorable minister and top team. It is such a warm feeling that the authorities too took cognizance of Maya, her contribution to Tadoba tourism and moreover the overall joyous environment of Tadoba ever since she’s made her presence felt.
I still remember the times of 2010-2011 when there were not many cubs in either Kanha or Bandhavgarh and sightings were becoming rare. And Tadoba, too, wasn’t as famous with international tourists as it is now. But Tadoba was blessed by litters from four strong females. And suddenly Tadoba visit was on top priority. Amongst these cubs, P2 or T16 was making her moves pretty fast. She took everyone by surprise with her quick adjusting to surrounding nature and quicker decisions. She is none other than Maya! After Machhli the Queen tigress of Ranthambore, all domain experts have started looking towards Maya as kinda Queen of Queens!
Maya too had her own set of success and failures in her 7 yrs of life. But what I see from her character is that, she’s never let it discourage her in whatever she did. A kinda secret of life, it is to fall seven times and to get up eight times!! And further she never feared anything. May be she knew another secret, there is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure!!
Maya is truly that tigress who created unadulterated charm to Tadoba through a seemingly magical span of just last 7 years. A kinda Alchemist She is !!
Yes!!! Paulo Coelho was right, “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Maya always had that invisible hand in conspiring to help me achieve what I wanted from this forest !! Maya fits the concept of a true Alchemist, which Paulo Coelho spoke about !!
Looking at her big statue along with her cubs, I thought Maya did keep her words. I met her. Through her Statue today! With a promise, that I will meet her the very first day when the reserve opens… I started my return journey. Yes, Atif Aslam was still playing for me ….. maana maine maana, hua mujhe bhi pyar hua …. Teraa hone laga hu…. Khone laga hu…. Jab se milaa hu…!!