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.
“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.
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.
My heart wanted to write about the immense beauty of the greens, but my hands were trembling with anxiety at the sight of the equally daunting woods. The jeep was covered from the top, but open in the back. We were comfortable with our luggage under the seat. A smile was noticeable on Sahib’s face. He was signalling something to Keshav, with the his squinting eyes. I had never seen him give such a smile since the fifth grade. I was clueless as to what would be coming my way. I turned towards Akshay who appeared very restless. It appeared as if he was framing sentences, probably to disclose something to me. Presumably he would soon make the announcement.