It happened a long time ago, I was in 4th standard, barely 9 years old. Today my dear mother is no more & I am myself a mother & grandmother! Now when I look back it sounds ridiculous to me but this is my story of how I ran away!
My father was a school Head Master & was always getting transferred to many towns, & up until I was in 5th standard we always went along with him. However, after that, we ended up staying in one place to take care of our education as well as our coffee estates & my father only came home during weekends & holidays. One of the places we moved to was Kodlipet, a small town in Somwarpet taluk of Kodagu district in Karnataka. We lived in a nice comfortable rented house with very large compound, almost half an acre with lots of fruit tress like jackfruit, guava, etc., a large garden & farm animals like cows & chickens. Next to our compound was the local Civil Hospital which had a larger compound with lots of fruit trees.
Behind our house& hospital compound there was a vacant bit of land, another half an acre or so with thicket, then there was a pliable mud road with jelly stones leading to another place called Kyathe. Beyond that road there was a large Lake partially covered by forest with numerous fruit & flower trees including Seethe poo (wild fragrant orchid). We were well aware of the surroundings as weekends & holidays we roamed freely everywhere searching for fruits, berries, tamarind, mushrooms & butterflies, etc. There were a small variety of edible orange colored palm fruit which I have not seen anywhere else. Among everything there was a tree, my favourite tree, with tiny flowers called Suragi, one of the most amazing white & yellow flowers with round reddish buds which bloomed almost all over the stem, which was a rare sight. Add to it even when dry it had that amazing heavenly fragrance.
I was a very healthy child but one day I became very, very ill & my temperature started going up, practical burning with fever my whole body had turned red. Usually when we were sick, mother always tried some home remedy first & if we don’t get better then a trip to hospital next door. Since I was very bad with sudden rise in temperature & home remedy had no effect, my mother forcibly took me to the hospital. I was sobbing & throwing tantrum & blabbering without making any sense it seems. When doctor saw us, we got priority & he made me sleep on the medical table & checked. After the initial checking & looking at me he said don’t worry child, you will be fine by tomorrow I will write medicines for you. I was still on the table as he walked out gesturing mum to follow him & was telling her in hushed tone she is in very bad shape. “Why didn’t you bring her earlier… guess you have to admit her immediately & before that I will give an injection.” He called out the nurse saying I have done with the patient here prepare the injection for the next patient outside.
I had terrible phobia of injections & I summarized the whole thing in my mind & concluded that the injection was meant for me. Even though I could not sit or stand, just managed to get up from the bed & managed to slip out. Perhaps no one was expecting me to do that in that condition either. With the fear & fit of rage, managed to walk home, then realizing they would be looking for me, I decided to hide.
Where would I hide? I choose to walk towards the vacant land behind our house, then aimlessly walked further as if possessed crossing the road towards the little forest on the lake bank. By then my fear & rage subsided & the high fever putting pressure on me I started crying for my mother. When I left the hospital I had only one problem: fear of needle. But now the whole scenario had changed & I had one too many problems in hand.. I wanted to sleep on my mother’s lap, was thirsty, was scared, was exhausted, feeling giddy & could not see properly & on top of it wondering if my mother would punish me for bad behavior, etc., etc. Somehow, staggering I landed near my favourite tree perhaps that was the closest to my mother in my mind & collapsed rather passed out under the tree. The whole saga from home to hospital to home & to the forest was a haze… all jumbled up.
In the meantime big commotion at the hospital as to how such a sick patient disappeared mysteriously? My mother frantically searching & crying for me, word was sent to my father at school about me missing. No one knew what really happened to me… no those days they did not fear about the kidnapping… hahahaha. A voluntary search team was formed & my mother was nonstop crying bitterly… guess she must have thought I fell & died somewhere. For many hours they searched without any trace of me. Finally someone returning from his farm happened to see the commotion & when he learnt of Head Master’s missing daughter, he told them that: on my way to farm I saw her near the lake & I was wondering what she is doing alone on a school day. Guess she was headed towards the forest. I did not talk to her because I was in a hurry. So now that the search area is narrowed, they managed to find me under the tree passed out (or sleeping) I have no idea.
When I woke up my mother was holding me & crying, & my father sitting holding his head in despair. Don’t know if I was dead or only slumber or unconscious, I was not aware of how I landed back in the hospital. Doctors could not believe that I managed to survive the ordeal. I spent 6 days in the hospital & another one month at home resting. It’s a miracle I survived… seems like there was some kind of divine intervention or perhaps a fairy was sitting among those pretty Suragi flowers watching out for me or if the tree/flower had healing powers. I lived through it to tell the tales… if I was not found so soon, if not from my sickness perhaps I would have died of my other three phobias!! All for a mere injection… so phobia’s can have unimaginable effect on us… only good thing came of it was that I am not afraid of needles anymore!!
Note: I did go to Kodlipet few years back to get my school certificate as proof to say I am from Karnataka for my son’s engineering admission but could not go anywhere as we had to get back immediately. After we left Kodlipet I never saw those wild flowers but I can still feel the fragrance & see the prettiest flowers in front of my eyes. No wonder this ancient tree is called Punnaga (best among the trees). My mother loved them too. We made garlands & wore around our neck, on our braided hair, offered to God, kept under the pillow, between our books, as potpourri, made tea, etc. During the rainy season when the fresh water flowed to the lake on grass, the fish moved upwards from lake towards the fresh warm water & we used to go & pick them up even with bare hands too. Those were the times of plenty. The fun/beautiful moments, we had was once in life time experience & believe me way cooooolll than sitting in front of the note book-ipad-mobile!! If any of you readers have seen a wild tree (not hybrid) of Suragi please let me know!