Book 1: Page 53, Para 2


Kalsh: …Yes Miss, you are right. We are going to bet who scores a hat trick today and I hope you place your money on me.

Akanaksha: Maybe I already have. But the stakes might just be too high for you.

Kalsh: This sounds interesting. Surprise me; do you want to see us take the ball from one end of the field to the other using only our heads? Or even better you want our goalkeeper to score.

Akanksha: Maybe…Maybe not! Anyhow I wasn’t talking about the game. You are wasting your time there. You should spend more time in better company, perhaps with us.

Kalsh: I would love that (I felt a jolt in my stomach.) Ah…

The momentary excitement in my stomach drastically changed in character. It was very painful. I got hold of Akshay’s collar and whispered, “I need to see the doctor. Let’s go back”. I turned around and was confronted with shrieks of all those girls who were giggling at my senseless jokes a split second ago.

“Oh god, He is bleeding!”

Book 1: Page 49


Now I must confess a thing or two. I am not good at memory games. This is the reason that thenceforth I lost the track of how my life progressed. The next two chapters might not be in a chronological order. Please bear with me. This problem also arises because of the fact that I never maintained a diary for the purpose of converting it into a book one day.

On one hand the following year was full of new introductions while on the other some old friends deserted me. The first one to vanish was our Lady Penguin Patch-up. I heard that she had left Welham Girl’s school and had taken up a job in a production house in Delhi. She was also going to teach part-time at National School of Drama. So it was obvious that there would be no more musicals in Dehradoon. I was going to miss them a lot, wouldn’t you have?

How funny it is when someone comes in your life and you have to make way for them by letting someone else go. I have learnt, I think to let anyone go. In fact I have stopped crying. For a while now I have grown accustomed to being deserted, although that wasn’t the case when she entered my life… back in the spring of 2006.

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 40


I closed my eyes and went back to sleep. It was probably several hours later that I woke up. We were going back to Dehradoon. The misadventure had killed our enthusiasm. Sahib was driving. Keshav was sitting next to him and Akshay had fallen asleep by my side.

I tried in vain to get up from my quiescent position on the back seat. My effort ended up interrupting Akshay’s dream.

Akshay: Is it still paining?

Kalsh: Nah… in fact I am enjoying it now.

Akshay: Very funny. Now see, this is important. Take this ointment and apply it on the wounds. (He gave me a tube.)

Kalsh: Great (I snatched it from his hand). Now tell me everything that happened since I fainted.

Akshay: Rest for now. It’s not time yet. You have been through a lot.

Keshav: Tell him about the covenant. (He jumped out of his seat.)

Kalsh: About the what? I didn’t know we had a covenant in place, especially when Sahib stepped on me. (I got up.)

Akshay: Hey calm down you two. It’s not that simple.

Kalsh: Then tell me how complicated it is? I am all ears.

Akshay: Should we? (He asked Sahib and Keshav)

Sahib: We have to tell him eventually. Better sooner than later.

Keshav: Everything suits me as long as I am not the one narrating.

Akshay: Alright then, gentlemen brace yourselves.

Book 1: Page 3


Now back to the kick. This was not Italy and definitely not an Italian goalkeeper facing me. So I missed. The ball touched the top right corner and then it occurred to me- A’ Del Piero was left footed!! And I wasn’t.

The ball bounced, everyone pounced and the tallest man on the field, Keshav, made contact with the ball. Not his feet, neither the head, it wasn’t a hand or an elbow, no footballer thighs but a part so intimate that I can hardly mention, but yet he could hardly ignore. He squeaked like a pig whose tail had been squashed!save

But this was not the worse part. Incidentally the ball was now moving towards me and everyone towards him. I had the choice to help the boy get up and forget the kick. I had to make my first unregimented decision and I decided to go with my heart and forget the last eighty eight seconds of fame.

I extruded a shot so fierce that not even a wall would have stopped it. I scored the goal that got us the title of ‘Champions of Dehradoon’.  The goalkeeper was with his defender (Keshav) and the ball inside the net.

I was not on the field anymore. As the referee whistled my teammates made a gesture I can never forget. They lifted me six feet in the air and Anurag, the captain standing in front of me gifted me my dream. Like an elder brother hands down the prodigy of a family. I received a piece of rubber cut like a ring. I might be the only prince to be crowned with a ring and not a crown.  I was now wearing on my right arm Anurag’s band, the captain’s band, it was now my band.

That day I was unofficially declared the captain of the school football team. This chapter is full of terms like ‘Me’, ‘I’, ‘Mine’ and the likes. At this point of time in my life I was at the apogee of my epilogue. Peak in academics, peak in sports, peak in relationships and I feel a compulsion to start this book from the peak. This is the beginning of a long journey. It is the pinnacle of ego where the most interesting revelations occur and here I stooped down below.

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