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 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 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.

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 37, Para 2


Though it seemed to be a simple cast iron rod but it had the strength of true friendship. Both of its ends were fixed. The one nearer to my face was thrusting into the bear’s jaw, while the other was held into place by a knight. A knight with his broad shoulders and tensed brows stood upright between me and my decease. Akshay hadn’t given up on me. He looked me in the eyes and then again at the bear. With all the force that he could summon he pushed towards the bear and jumped out of the jeep. As the bear moved back, its claws withdrew from my abdomen

.bearattackAaahh…!”  I bled like a slaughtered bore. The exit of those paws was even more painful than their entry. If you ask me whether it was bear’s right hand that came out first or the left, I would not be able to recall. But I do remember that a pound of flesh from below my right lung was in its grip. Not only did he move away with an iron rod in his mouth but also a part of me. A muscle that I think ended up as a fertilizer for the forest or food for the ants or a memento for the bear. Akshay’s face was red and then it turned maroon and then an even darker shade of… till it finally became a black spot. My senses could make out a metal piece a handle perhaps. And I gripped my hand around it, although my arms were too eager to break off from the rest of the body. This was my last conscious decision before I fainted.

Book 1: Page 37, Para 1


Ah…hmmm… Err…” the pain was in my arms. I don’t know what part of its body pierced mine. Each drop of blood that leaked from my wounds anguished my entire circulatory system. “Ahh… God…!” my face had become wet by then. It smelt like the bear, tasted like tears and dripped like sweat. It was an awful time to realize the origin of the term ‘Bear hug’. An expression of love and affection had turned into slow poison. The affliction should have shunned my senses by then but it lasted a minute too long and a view of the beast from the inside was on offer. Before my last breaths were to leave my body I thought I might as well see what God had to offer in the name of death? So I paid attention to what was in front of my eyes. The bear was not enormous. He was just mad. And there was something in his mouth.

Book 1: Page 36, Para 2


I was breathing heavily yet I couldn’t smell the mud slipping through my hands. Instead there was a new odour. For the first time I realized that fear had as distinct an odour as anger. The two big eyes were black. It was right in front of me. It opened its jaw so wide that I could count all the premolars. Death is a feeling that can tell us a lot about a person. In that three-second time frame when the hairy beast sniffed my fears I prayed to a hundred gods; thanked a thousand people; pitied a million others and regretted not being there for another billion. That could have very much been my end. Out of all the misadventures that I had witnessed in my life, having an end as primitive as that appeared disappointing. Being the food of another animal is the worst possible way to die yet the most wide spread truth of the animal kingdom. I had closed my eyes. I thought if life were to end like that then why not sleep through it. There would have been pain and I would have not known where to expect the first blow. Maybe he would have swallowed me head first or crushed me under his body weight. Even a single pounce by the beast would have been enough to knock the living daylights out of me.

Book 1: Page 36, Para 1


Akshay had found his way right behind me. He had also managed to drag in the tent (although not as neatly as I would have liked.) He was just behind me (always watching my back). Akshay could sense that Keshav was shaking. He would have never gotten us out of there. So Akshay zipped to the front seat and levered the hand brake. In the commotion it slipped my mind that Akshay wasn’t watching my back anymore. So as I leaned forward with my lower abdomen outstretched to get Sahib into the jeep something happened. Something I could have never imagined Sahib doing. He… he stepped on my face. I could not maintain my balance and fell face first on the ground. All my worst fears had come alive. Everyone was on the jeep except me. Keshav was ready to press the accelerator any moment. Akshay was sitting next to the driver’s seat and reassuring him that we would make it; we…this ‘we’ did not include me. I was down on the ground betrayed by Sahib.

Book 1: Page 35


Even if I would have taken the driving wheel my hands wouldn’t have moved. I could have never pressed the accelerator or guided the car out of the forest. So it was safer and wiser for me to take a spot on the rear seat. At that moment of bravery I was not to be seen or heard. I just wished that all of them would make it in time. Keshav started the engine and my hopes were at an all time high. I could see that god was on our side.

DON’T LEAVE ME HERE!!

It was Sahib not to my surprise. He was crying. He chose to scream. Very few would have done something else in his shoes. I hopped to the bunk of the car. My hands reached for Sahib’s shoulders. I was going to try and pull him into the jeep. He wasn’t listening to my cries.

Come on Sahib! Give a push. This is it. Go for it. I am here. I won’t let you go.

I expected him to jump into the open back of our jeep. He could easily have done it, for he was the tallest among us all. I wanted him to make it, he had to make it.

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