As the sun sets, the sky is bathed in a robe of yellows and reds and all colors between. A pint of red is daubed onto the yellow harshness of the sun and the resulting orange hue bathes the sky, bidding adieu to the industrious day, and welcoming the tricky darkness of the night. Night that is set to cloak every road, every roof, every face with its all encompassing hug and suck the world into a period of doubt, of fear, of uncertainty, of helplessness.
People often tell me, green is the color of the Konkan. Look at the gurgling streams that bring perennial water to the forests here, feel the freshness of the leaves as trees sprout into life during the monsoons, hear the croaking of the frogs in spawn covered ponds, smell the rain spattered mud that signals the beginning of life for floral beauty and subsequently for the animal that inhabits, feeds on, breeds on the foliage. Konkan is green, they say confidently. Well, I beg to differ.
My Konkan is not green. It is the color of the sunset, composed of shades of red and orange, spreading like a drop of blood in a leaf-cup of water.
My Konkan is the color of the sunset, made all the more extravagant by the ruby red of the blood on the highway. Civets, mongoose, jackals, squirrels, snakes, frogs, birds- all contribute their share of gore to ensure that the speeding motorist has a red carpet rolled out for him. A black fur that speaks of a civet that wasn’t fast enough, the cold body of the jackal whose parents did not teach it to cross the road, the squashed limb of the endemic fungoid frog, the flattened head of the ratsnake are all incidental remains that the municipality cleans soon after. The spattered blood adds to the hues of our sunset.
My Konkan is the color of the sunset, and loves to flaunt its orange flame of the forest tag. Who said ‘flame of the forest’ was only a flower! Here it is the color of the forest, a color blown by the wind, like a child blows soap bubbles, to travel far and wide through the shadows of the night. We must thank the enterprising farmer for this, for how else would waste forestland be converted into useful crop? Birds can build new nests, snakes can slither into other holes, leopards can attack dogs, and who would waste time caring about tiny spiders, scorpions, crabs and what not? The brilliance of the flames, licking through ancient forests play their part- a dash of vivid on the palette of my Konkan
My Konkan is the color of the sunset, a deep mature red of the ferric soil that supports the alphonso, as also stores of bauxite ore. We need the mineral and how! Without it, there would be no foil to wrap our lunch in, no cement to build our ‘ideal’ homes with, no cosmetics to beautify our faces, no utensils to cook our food, no rubber to make our vehicles run, no dainty crockery to serve high tea in, oh wouldn’t we be so many times poorer! A host of mining companies rushed to our aid and vowed to get us this important mineral, by hook or by crook. The earth is dug, and dug and dug, and the mineral forced out from its bowels. A thick layer of red dust settles across quaint little villages and forces many to abandon what their forefathers’ earned through centuries of sweat and toil. The iron of the soil deepens the sunset whose colors have now bathed the clouds, the hill tops and the sea.
This is my Konkan, soaked with the colors of the sunset, all set to enter the stuffy tunnel of night. The sun is setting fast, the oranges and the reds have spread far and wide, they shine now on the brown hardened faces of the inhabitants. The night is creeping in, with its long spidery fingers stretched out to wrap what once was glorious. Now glorious is only a wisp of the past, and as the Konkan farmer looks at the sun, a dark shadow befalls his face. That speaks of hasty decisions, of greed, of mistakes of yore. And he falls to his knees, deep in prayer, as rivulets of his bloody struggle join the vast sea.