In the Cave with Goats

Dr. Buddhi Malla

After completing my SLC examinations, I found myself with several months of leisure time. SLC, often referred to as the Iron Gate of Study, marked a significant milestone in my academic journey. The anticipation that follows such an important examination is usually accompanied by a lengthy wait for the results. During this waiting period, which could extend to nine or ten months, I had the opportunity to engage in various activities that allowed me to relish the freedom of temporary freedom from the strictness of formal education.

In the tranquil days that followed my SLC exams, I embraced the pleasures of rural life. I spent a substantial amount of time tending to our family’s vegetable fields. Irrigating these lush plots was a daily ritual, and it provided me with a sense of accomplishment and connection to the land. The simple act of nurturing the crops from seed to harvest was a valuable lesson in patience and responsibility.

One of my favorite pastimes during this period was fishing in the nearby stream. The stream meandered through the fields, offering a serene escape from the demands of my previous studies. I once enjoyed fishing, employing various techniques. I utilized fishing rods, attached hooks of bicycle strings, redirected water currents, and even set traps to capture fish. My fishing adventures were filled with creative methods and excitement. The connection between man and nature, as well as the thrill of the chase, made those fishing expeditions a cherished memory.

Another adventure I enjoyed was grazing our goats in the jungle. The jungle, with its dense canopy and diverse wildlife, was a place of wonder and exploration. As I guided our goats through the difficult paths of the forest, I was constantly in awe of the natural beauty and wild landscapes. It was an opportunity to witness the delicate balance of the ecosystem and to immerse myself in the wild.

Playing marbles with friends was a joyful way to pass the time. The sound of marbles clinking together and the excitement of competition were sources of delight. I was the champion of our village when it came to playing marbles. I fondly remember winning a box of marbles one day. These simple childhood games brought me closer to my friends and taught me valuable lessons in camaraderie and fair play.

One of the more exhilarating activities I engaged in was riding my bicycle in the narrowest of spaces, such as across a narrow wide wooden bridge or through the fields. Navigating these tight spots required a mix of skill, balance, and fearlessness. The thrill of adventure and the feeling of freedom that came with these daring rides were unparalleled. Riding my bicycle became a symbol of my youthful excitement and a testament to the courage to explore.

One particular day, during one of my adventures in the jungle while grazing our goats, an unexpected turn of events made it a day to remember. The sun was beginning its descent, casting long shadows over the dense greenery. Without warning, the sky darkened, and heavy raindrops started to fall. I was caught in the heart of the jungle, far from shelter, with a crowd of goats and the threat of a brewing storm.

It started raining cats and dogs, accompanied by booming thunder and violent winds. I sought refuge under a large overhanging rock formation, which I suspected might be a cave. As the storm raged on, my fear grew. I couldn’t help but imagine that the cave could be the territory of a tiger, a terrible predator of the jungle. My heart raced with both the thrill of adventure and the genuine fear of being in a tiger’s den.

Time seemed to slow as I gather together with the goats in the dark cave, listening to the relentless rain and the frightening thunder. It was a moment of stark vulnerability, where the natural forces of nature emerged large, and my own mortality became apparent. I took safety measures and climbed a giant tree to protect myself from potential attacks by wild animals but, imagine the stories of brave explorers and adventurers who had faced similar situations in the wild.

For three long hours, I remained in that cave, the anticipation of the unknown distressing at me. The rain, as brutal as it was, seemed to be in merciless with my imagination, creating a fearsome atmosphere. In the midst of the storm, I held on to the group of goats, finding comfort in their presence even as the possibility of a lurking tiger remained in my mind.

Gradually, the rain began to subside, and the thunderstorms receded into the distance. The darkness of the jungle gave way to the gentle, post-storm atmosphere. With a mixture of relief and fear, I emerged from the cave, I was soaked along with goats, cold, and physically drained, but I was alive.

As I made my way back home, the memories of those three hours in the jungle, with the elements and my own fears closing in on me, stayed with me. It was an unforgettable experience that reminded me of the power of nature and the unpredictable turns that life can take. In that cave, I had faced both the majesty and the terror of the natural world, and it left an indelible mark on my soul.

In reconsideration, those months of leisure following my SLC exams were a unique and cherished chapter in my life. They allowed me to reconnect with the simple pleasures of rural living, to embrace the challenges of nature, and to confront my own fears in the face of adversity. The memory of that rainy day in the jungle, with the threat of a tiger lurking and the storm wild, serves as a reminder of the resilience that resides within us and the beauty of the natural world that we must both respect and admire.

In the end, my journey through those months of leisure was a valuable experience that enriched my understanding of life and the world around me. It was a time of exploration, adventure, and introspection, and it remains a cherished part of my personal history.


(Author Dr. Malla is a banker)