It is dark at noon. A thick, wet leaf pile squelches underfoot. Often your way is blocked and you must crawl under branches or take detours. The silence of the forest is sometimes unnerving. Every now and then you are lost and can’t tell the way.
Abdul Kareem, in front of you, wends and weaves through the thicket with a proud ease. But then he has been around here – for 25 years, in fact. He has seen the 32 acres of a lateritic hillside grow into this wild forest. He had simply dreamed it, willed it, kept vigil, stood guard, ran a few errands- and the forest happened. And is still happening: it’s a work in progress. Abdul Kareem has created and saved forever a piece of wilderness for India.
The pull of Kaavu:
Abdul Kareem is one of India’s midnight children. He was born in 1947 at Nileswar, a small town on the NH7 between Kasargod and Payyanur in Kerala. His father Abdullah was a small time businessman. After passing his high school and a year in college, Kareem decided to venture out to India’s Big Apple – Bombay! He worked in a private dockyard as a labourer to learn the ropes. Just when he thought he had found himself a vocation, he was shaken by parochial riots in 1969. Back in Nileshwar he taught himself book-keeping and typewriting with assistance from the Muslim Waqf board. He began to earn a steady income as an itinerant accountant. Marriage followed and also some good fortune.
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