Last week, we drove down to Atvan for a much needed getaway. The morning was beautifully cleansed by a steady drizzle and soulful music filled the air. As we drew near, the slow upward climb was made surreal by the dense fog that hung over the valley like a thick, fluffy blanket. Atvan means ‘into the forest’ and it was exactly where I craved to be. After a small, rickety ride off the main road, we came upon the iron gates of the property where we were to spend the next couple of days. It was like stepping into another world, where all one could do was just ‘be’. The foliage was thick and glowing, the skies weeping in bursts every now and then. A subtle peace hung in the air and clung to us as we walked down the suspended wooden bridge that led to our tree house. It felt like ambling through a paradise that promised to hold me in its arms and heal me.


The tree house itself was splendid, beckoning to me as if it was a home I’d never known I had. The lines between the indoors and outdoors were so artfully blurred that I could reach out over the railing and touch the branches from where I stood. For a nature junkie like me, there was nothing more to desire, nothing more to ask for. The best gift, however, was the birdsong. For the first time, I discovered the salacious warbling of the ‘Malabar Whistling Thrush’, aptly nicknamed ‘Whistling Schoolboy’. I’m known to fall in love more heavily with sounds than sights and I was properly charmed by this one.  The whistling of this bird has an uncannily human quality about it and the constant trill kept me amused throughout my stay there.

While there was still light, we explored the forest, walking along winding pathways and climbing slippery slopes. There were very few people around and it was just as well. The quietude was welcome and calmed my troubled heart like nothing else could. It was very reminiscent of my summers in pre-electric Mangalore, when the only illumination after dusk came from small lamps scattered around the house. Oftentimes, I long for those inky nights that were spent gazing at radiantly starry skies.


Mostly, I am a happy person, but I suffer from intermittent existential malaise. There is a melancholy that runs through my veins, and most times that very darkness inspires me to be creative. Of late though, there had been constant spells of anxiety that rattled and numbed me in cycles. It wasn’t a good feeling. But right then, in the lap of nature, it seemed possible to wipe away the grime, lay down for a bit and stand up again. I felt ready to refocus and recalibrate. That said, the learning curve was yet to present itself.

As the day folded into night, a swarm of moths came out. The night was punctuated with their calls, but other than that it was a world that demanded nothing but the slow unwinding of a ragged soul. As I snuggled under the covers, peering out into the night through the wide glass wall, a stellar spectacle built up before me. My eyes lit up and widened to the effervescent dance of hundreds of glowing fireflies. It was like a secret rendezvous that was planned just for me. I was so dazzled by the wonder of it, that sleep just vanished and I stayed awake for hours watching as they twinkled and dimmed until I could no longer tell them apart from the stars above.


It brought to mind a song by Owl City called ‘Fireflies’. A whimsical song that on the surface seems to speak about insomnia and childhood dreams, but is said to be more deeply about lucid dreaming or even astral projection.

The bioluminescence of a firefly is an enchanting process that involves conversion of chemical energy into light. Could these little beacons of hope then be passing on a message to us? That no matter how much darkness we’re drenched in, we could possibly make our own light? Lost in the embrace of that soft, mesmeric night, I surrendered to the dazzling flashes of life that these little critters brought me. For as they say, every blink of a firefly’s light says ‘Believe’.


28 thoughts on “INTO THE FOREST

  1. First of all where”s this Place? It seems so beautiful 😍nd secondly u really manage to describe ur experience so beautifully👌👌BRAVISSIMA 👏


  2. WOW!! Ren, great experience!! Missed your writing for a while. By the way, there were no vampires only fireflies, thoda aur mazaa aata.


  3. Rhea told me about the place, but your description really can make anyone pack their bags n head to this place. Well written as always, Aunty. 😋💕


  4. It’s so breathtakingly beautiful…you pen down every detail so well,Renica… would love to visit that enchanted forest


  5. Hi Renica , it is lovely to read about your visit to forest as if I also walked with you. What were the take away from your journey beside it recharged you and gave creative ideas .
    Keep writing and sharing .
    I am currently holidaying in ottawa , Canada with my son . Lovely weather 20 to 25c and greenery all around .
    Stay in touch . What is Lance doing these days .


  6. Hey
    Where have u been so long no posts
    Was actually missing ur writings
    What a beautiful description
    It took me to the machaan
    I too had been there
    But ur description made it look more inviting
    I want to pack my bags once again and head to the tree house 😂😂


  7. Hey ren… After long I visited your blogs…. This time i read it aloud… Your fotos took me right there in Atvan…. ….your narration made me sit up to edge of my sofa to find this place… …U cn be a great branding exec…. … Reading aloud made me realise your vocabulary is so profound…that my tongue touched every point on the insides of my mouth…. … You give away your spritual base … when you talk of wanting to just ‘be’ .. You made me realise my self worth to have had the privilege , experience and ecstacy of such plain existence under open sky in forest, with the cold breeze reckoning commencement of monsoon…the starry nights and fireflies…. …back then it was plain daily routine life… …in todays time its a prescription to decluttered minds, healing pill for the broken soul, refuelling of the weary beings…. …. You make us live your experiences and thats not fair…. Hehe…thanks so much for taking me along your journey…. Thanks!!


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