School had just begun. Dev had gone back to his home in Calicut, while Meera and Raghu were back to their usual school routine. Raghu was back to biking to school through the village and forest. He had not met his cobra friend, Rasiya, during the summer and one day saw him lazing on the branch of a tree on his way back from school. “How have you been Rasiya?” said Raghu excited to see his friend after a long time. “I’m fine Raghu, just napping after my lunch. Are you back to school now?” said Rasiya lazily. “Yes Rasiya, and our Science teacher announced a photo contest today.

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She told us to go to outdoor areas around our house and take photos from nature. The best ones win a prize! I’m so excited and want to take the coolest photo ever! Will you help me Rasiya?”

With half closed eyes, Rasiya looked up towards Raghu – “Sure, what do you want me to do?” “Rasiya, can I take your photo on the tree? It would blow my teachers and classmates minds to see a snap of a cobra lazing on the tree!! I would love to see their faces!” laughed Raghu.

The usually wise Rasiya replied thoughtfully – “Raghu, I feel you should go explore around and see if you find anything intriguing and truly inspiring around your house, rather than just take a photo to show off. Go look around your backyard, the nearby village, you’ll find so many things you’d never have noticed.” Raghu realized what Rasiya was saying was true and biked off home after saying goodbye.

Once home, Raghu went to his backyard. He had to look around more, really see what all there was in his backyard. He found bugs and insects he h

ad never seen before, there was a ladybug perched on the leaf just sitting in the sun,

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an ant moving around busily carrying a tiny load like it meant the world to it, leaves lay on the ground in different patterns, coloured in all shades of green and even hints of different colours, twigs with multiple textures, the long and beautiful branches of the banyan tree. He carefully took each photo, kept the ones he liked and deleted the rest. They were good, but he had to explore more.

“Mother, I’ll be back” said Raghu, as he head towards the nearby village and forest.  On his way he found a flock of birds sitting on the tree, a young mother bird was feeding her baby birds in the nest.

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There in the little lake was a man giving a herd of buffaloes their bath, there were the beautiful paddy fields with the farmers singing and working in them, and there were the monkeys jumping around from branch to branch. He had seen all this before, but he had never really taken the time to stand and observe how totally vibrant and alive each animal, insect, tree, plant was.

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As evening started to approach, Raghu tiredly walked back home. There was a high boulder near the tiny village pond on which he sat watching the sky. The sun was setting and he still had a lot of work to do for tomorrow.

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He had taken many photos and now had the task of choosing the best ones among them. As he sat watching the sunset, he was overtaken by the beauty of the setting sun. The shades of reds, oranges and yellows had mapped the entire sky, while the tone had been set by the chirping birds. Had he never paid attention to a sunset before? So fully involved in that moment of watching the sunset he became that he later realized he had forgotten to take its photograph. As Raghu walked back home he smiled, he realized he was taking back much more than just photos with him.

 

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