BHOPAL: It was 11:30am on Monday. Birds suddenly stopped warbling. Darkness fell. Residents thought a canopy of monsoon cloud is swathing the sky. But that was not to be. It was a swarm of locusts hovering over the city sky.
Those who were outside went inside house. Many closed their doors and windows. Shopkeepers put up their shutters.
Nevertheless, a group of residents in MP Nagar, Kasturba Nagar, Gautam Nagar, and other places took to their rooftops and beat plates, sounded bells and burst firecrackers to shoo those little demons away.
A few locusts perched on a branch of a tree and gorged on its leaves in a few seconds. Its bare branch gave a melancholic look.
They looked like black curves against a gray canvas. Many people experienced this phenomenon for the first time in their life. Children were especially excited.
Nevertheless, many bikers, car drivers and pedestrians stopped on the Chetak Bridge to have a glimpse of the swarm of insects. This caused a minor traffic gridlock on the bridge.
A 14-year-old girl Khusi, resident of Kasturba Nagar, said she had seen locusts for the first time. She has only read about them in her text books.
Like many, 16-year-old Raju exploded firecrackers and sounded bells to frighten away the locusts. He also tried to catch one or two, but his mother prevented him from doing that.
The 80-year-old priest of a Hanuman temple in Kasturba Nagar Ramdas Mishra said the arrival of locusts is an ominous sign and it happens after every epidemic.
Mishra said he had seen such a swarm of locusts in 1960s when cholera assumed epidemic proportion in his village in Gorakhpur.
They enveloped the sky for 30 minutes. The efforts of policemen, firemen and those of locals finally frightened them away. The sky was clear, and the real monsoon cloud began to gather.