Book 1: Page 48


Akshay: ahem…ahem… Do you mind if we enter miss? (He interrupted the emotional moment.)

Sis noticed that I was bothered but she also noticed that I did not object. I was getting accustomed to Akshay’s company in my sister’s presence. In the mean time footsteps stomping the staircase with the bulk of my uncle’s heavy built made an announcement.

Uncle: So how was your trip boy?

The Terminator: Tremendously refreshing. I think we can take on any curriculum now.

He shot the first words to steal the attention. I knew it wouldn’t be possible for me to hide my pain and resentment from my uncle. Though I never wanted to dishonour the S.B.X.P. but it was always a possibility under the towering presence of my uncle. So to minimize our father son interaction Akshay and I left for the hostel the very next day. We took our room-keys. We raced to get the top birth and guess what? I won, though reaching my room on the first floor was rather painful this time. I began panting. This had never happened before. The luggage was the same, the distance was the same, and even the racers were the same. However something felt different this time. I felt a serious jolt somewhere in my right abdomen, as if a very sharp flint shifted in my gut with every breath of mine. I presumed them to be aftershocks of the rollercoaster ride that I had been through. Soon we were joined by other batch-mates and the whole hostel was vivacious. The dinner was served and it was a delight to eat with all my associates after such a long time. The usual fighting, growling and teasing followed the welcome lecture by the principle. No dinner can be complete without the fight for one’s partner’s sweet dish. Everything was the same. Only I ate less than usual. Only I spoke less than usual. Only I fought less than usual. Only I was in pain.

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Book 1: Page 47


Sahib dropped Akshay and me at my uncle’s place. Upon ringing the door bell we were greeted by my sister. She sprang her arms around me. Pecked me on the cheeks and shrieked, “I knew this would work out.” All my attention was sidetracked from the pain and the accident. She was the most benign member of my extended family. My sweet little sister (we are of the same age, but it’s always the brother who feels bigger and conscientious.) Her dark brown hair waved with a gush of air that freed my tensed nerves. The freckles on her face were not a result of age, but a sign of fret and relief on holding her dearest brother tightly after such a long time. Her eyes, a shade darker than mine, were shut. She only opened those almond contoured eyes to look at Akshay. We had never had any sibling rivalry. We owed this to the fact that my uncle treated me as the son he always wanted and my cousin was overwhelmed by the distinction of being the only girl in the whole of Dehradoon who could address me as “Brother”, without offending me.

Book 1: Page 46


Our journey mutated in to a misadventure and nurtured our friendship in to a lifelong bond. I understood whom I could trust and whom I should have not cared for.

I was all patched up but something was just not right. I could feel a lot of pain in my abdomen, a little to the right, the exact place where that bear had punctured. It was necessary to visit a doctor, a sense of discomfort lingered in my walk. Being a small town my uncle knew almost all the good doctors. A visit would have proved terminal for our covenant. So I decided to bear the pain and apply the ointment instead.

Book 1: Page 45


Akshay: You are right. We have exploited all the resources available to us. You suffer because of us. We are responsible and now you must share our responsibility. Shower us with your compassion. You are the captain; you are the machismo of Dehradoon. This is your exploitation and our ‘Spoilt Brats Exploitation Program’.

Their persuasion was futile. I had made my decision not on vague arguments put forward by the group. I signed the covenant because Akshay wanted me to sign it. This was to be my last covenant. I promised myself that I would never get myself into such a situation in the future. No lies for my family anymore. The last covenant signed and christened   “Spoilt Brats Exploitation Program” (SBxP).

Book 1: Page 44


Akshay: In fact you are right. We have exploited all the resources available to us. You suffer because of us. We are responsible and now you must share our responsibility. Shower us with your compassion. You are the captain; you are the machismo of Dehradoon. This is your exploitation and our ‘Spoilt Brats Exploitation Program’.

Their persuasion was futile. I had made my decision not on vague arguments put forward by the group. I signed the covenant because Akshay wanted me to sign it. This was to be my last covenant. I promised myself that I would never get myself into such a situation in the future. No lies for my family anymore. The last covenant signed and christened   “Spoilt Brats Exploitation Program” (SBxP).

Book 1: Page 43


Keshav: It must refer us as ‘Brats’

Sahib: I will add a ‘Spoilt’ to that.

Kalsh: Your Program ah… (I was still in pain) sucks big-time.

Akshay: Awesome ‘Spoilt Brats Program’ that works for me. What do you guys think?

Kalsh: Hey that was not a suggestion. I actually think we must tell our folks about it.

Keshav: Please, Kalsh we all know your brother will vouch for you. He will convince your family that the only people responsible were the ones administering the jungle. But if and when your family tells ours, we our dead meat!

Sahib: Won’t you do this much for your friends? (I was astonished t o hear about friendship from his mouth.)

Akshay: See the point is that it was our fault. We lied to our families. We entered the prohibited forest area. We angered the animal. But the media will blow this attack out of proportion. The Indian bear is already endangered and the media frenzy around a “Man-eater bear” will only worsen the situation. Think of the greater good Kalsh.

Kalsh: Stop it you guys. This is called emotional ‘Exploitation’.

Book 1: Page 42


Akshay: Yeah, yes hmm… Then she gave me an ointment and said it is very effective and will heal the wounds quickly. Anyways there is something more important that we need to discuss (he came closer, Sahib stopped the car.)

Kalsh we must, all four of us, sign a covenant right here right now. See, our trip was a secret. The place where we were camping was out of bounds. We had no idea that the area was frequented by animals. We lied to you, but all three of us knew about the clandestine nature of our outing. The forest official has asked me not to mention this incident ever. He has been recently posted in this district and a mishap like this would reflect poorly on his record. Moreover we don’t want negative publicity for our town, our school or the animals that are already endangered. Brothers (he raised his right fist to touch the roof of the car) we all must sign a covenant here. What we survived this weekend must go to the grave with us. If my parents come to know about it, I will be eternally grounded. If Sahib’s dad learns about it he would never get a car for any road trip ever. If Keshav’s mother hears of what he has been through they will ask him to leave the hostel. And Kalsh nobody can imagine the havoc that your brother would rake once he finds out. Surely the whole school would learn about it, the forest officer would lose the job and you will not know what privacy is for the rest of your teenage. So all four of us present here must enter this covenant of muteness, which we shall call…err… help me out here.

Book 1: Page 41, Para 2


Our foremost priority was to get you treated so we made our way to the forest inspector’s hut. There I had to lift you on my shoulders all the way to the emergency room.

Kalsh: Ah… that explains the blood stains on your shirt.

Akshay: Yes right, now shut up and listen. Although the ranger was nowhere to be found but luckily there was a nurse in the hut. She cleaned your wounds. A kindhearted lady who made sure that you did not die of septic.

We cannot thank her enough.” Keshav and Sahib chimed in unison.There were tears in their eyes. Akshay ignored them and continued:

But you see she was not a specialist doctor. Her stitching skills were not perfect. Although she tried her level best but she couldn’t stop the bleeding. We tried ice, water, and bandage but to no avail. So to cut the long story short, you bled for one whole night. She also contacted the ranger.

Sahib: He wanted to interview all of us but I made sure that he did not disturb your sleep.

Akshya: Will you two stop interrupting. (Sahib pretended he was looking at the road.) So where was I?

Kalsh: The forest official…

Akshay: Yeah, yes hmm…

Book 1: Page 41, Para 1


I pushed an iron rod into the bear’s mouth. The beast couldn’t withstand my power and backtracked. The jeep jolted to a start and these two were probably going to run away (he gave Keshav and Sahib a disenchanted glance) without you. It could have been unintentional also. Perhaps, Keshav pressed the gas incidentally with his trembling foot. I was going to pounce at him from the trunk itself but somehow you managed to hold on to the hind bar of the boot and he (Akshay pointed at Keshav) dragged you along for some distance. In fact he dragged you till you actually became unconscious and let go off the jeep. He stopped only when I screamed at him from the last bunk.

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