We were walking through the mist, in that dense jungle of Kamalshile in a group of 30 people. After a 20 minutes brisk walk we reached the cave, of which we had heard a lot by then. We kept our shoes and umbrellas on the shoe stand. In a short while the group gathered there waiting for Raghu’s instructions. Raghu, the guide was local Kannada man with a very little command over English. ‘What bhaiya(brother), what didi(sister), fast walk’, ‘all good boys, good girls’! But we were able to get the meaning behind his words.
“Fifteen people only”, Raghu was giving us instructions to enter the cave. Rest of the 15 people had to wait outside for their turn. “No umbrella, no chappals”. His instructions were strict. We all made sure to keep our umbrellas there. No one was responding to his instructions because we all were following ‘Silence’ a.k.a. ‘Maun’ for our Art of Silence course. We went some ten feet under the ground and there were some idols. Raghu was explaining, “Bhayya and Didi, this lord Shiva. Very old. All natural, no man made.” He then took us 10 feet further underground. It was cold and dark and not enough space to stand, some of us were sitting on their knees and some were just bending down. There were few more idols there. “Lord Ganesha here” Raghu told us. It was difficult to identify the idols in that darkness and we believed what he was telling us.
We went down further 10-20 feet and it was a tough job. We were walking on the slippery rocks 30 feet underground in the darkness. There was nothing to take support. A chubby collage kid next to me was holding onto my support to get down and there was a girl behind me struggling to get down. I give her my hand; trying to keep my balance. Quite adventurous it was for me. “Stop all bhaiiya and didi”, he pointed his mobile torch on a surface, “see bats, all god bats, no harm” To our surprise there were thousands of bats resting everywhere in that cave, which we noticed only when he pointed his torch. Some of those bats were disturbed due to the light and started flying to search another dark place. I realized the weird smell was coming from those bats and the slippery thick reddish substance is bat shit under our feet.
I thought we are now at the end of the cave and was about to take turn when Raghu yelled, “Please NO torch. All good boys and girls. God bats” We were crawling further and the little light which was coming from the entrance disappeared. We were going through waist deep black water. ‘What if there is some rattle snake in this water?’ a thought touched my mind. But there was no time to look for an answer and I was in silence, so couldn’t discuss about it either. The girl behind me took a solid grip of my right hand and the boy next to me was holding my left hand whichever way he could, I could sense their fear of unknown. Finally we stepped on a big rock and Raghu instructed us, “please! off your torch, all of you, bhaiyyas and didi”. There were 4 lights which were powered off one by one. The mobile torch in Sonia’s hand was not switching off and Raghu was yelling “no torch didi, what didi, please didi”, so she kept it in her pocket. After making sure all the people of group has reached there and powered off their torch, Raghu finally powered off his torch. It was silence and darkness. A black color which I have never seen so closely. There was nothing else but that black color. We were far away from any light, it was thousand times darker than what we see in the night.
“This is what blind man see in his entire life!” Raghu said. “Please donate your eyes bhaiyya and didi, don’t burn it! Let a blind man see from your eyes!” It touched my heart. I always thought of donating my organs. But knowing what exactly blind persons go through was a different experience. I promised myself to donate my eyes at any cost.