After spending a couple of days in the pristine beaches of Rangat, we drove down to Port Blair through Andaman Trunk Road. As luck would have it, our car broke down in the midst of Jarawa Reserve Forest. Since we had two hours before the arrival of rescue vehicle, we decided to venture out in the buffer zone of the forest.
We were slowly advancing in the swamp forest. Our driver Rashid Khan Chopped down the creepers and branches. We walked about half a kilometer when my son shouted out,”Look over there.” Lo and behold! A group of eight to ten Jarawas, hidden behind the bushes, were intently staring at us. For a few seconds we were almost mesmerized. Rashid kept his cool. He took hold of the bananas from my wife and showed to them. Slowly one of them came down. He had a dark complexion with frizzy hair. Rashid asked him,”Ni abiba?”* He replied, “Tenmey.” He took the bananas and disappeared behind the bushes.
Tenmey’s piercing eyes put me in a trance, as if he kept whispering in my ears,”We are only 400 people. Give us a little space to live on our own.”
* What’s your name?