Now let us move ahead fifty years. I was staying in the West German village of Timmern. The villages there were villages in name only; they had all the conveniences of cities. Even the bathrooms had hot running water.
Those were happy days. Golden days like these pass on and are lost forever, I know, but their golden memory still remains. The East German border was a short way away from that lonely village. It was quite open in that direction – there was an open field and a few trees. After going for an evening walk, I sat down under a tree. The sun had set but some twilight remained. I could see deer rushing freely back and forth from West Germany to East Germany, and East Germany to West Germany. No one said anything to them. They didn’t require the curse of visas or passports because people had faith in them. They didn’t know how to cheat anyone and they didn’t accept the imaginary border. They didn’t play fast and loose with either their own minds or anyone else’s. Perhaps for this reason people had not set up any system of passport or visa for them.
Then I remembered what had happened fifty years earlier. I was there with Chandan Mitra and many others. A short way from the city was a mountain and some vegetation as well. Then also we saw some deer rushing back and forth in the same way. Deer in Germany are not so afraid of people because they know that people will not kill them, that people are not their enemy. People allow them the opportunity to play in their natural environment, but what I saw in Jamalpur was a different affair altogether. There the deer flee in fear when they see people, even from a distance, because they know that people may capture them or kill them. They fear people even more than tigers. People both uproot their forests, leaving them homeless, and recklessly exterminate them.
While sitting there under a tree in West Germany, the image of that far-off day came floating before my eyes. Chandan and I stood silently under the shelter of a tree watching the deer rush about. We didn’t approach them because if we did they would flee in fear.