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 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.

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 39


My mother on the left, sobbing; my brother giving her assurance of my well being; a fruit basket on the right; and handful of well wishers from school on either side- this is what I had wanted to see upon opening my eyes. That was not to be. To my shock I saw two uniforms. One was a green shade of khaki and the other a starched white. I tried focusing but to no effect, their faces were not recognizable.

Keshav: He is awake! (I recognized the voice)

White Uniform: Let me see. Hmm I can’t measure the mental trauma, otherwise he looks fine. Let me just clean the wounds.

Akshay: Thank god! You are alright.

With divine intervention I was finally able to see. The person in white was actually a nurse. Unfortunately my sensory abilities had not returned completely. I had been searching for an expression of motherly kindness on her face. But all I could make out was a nose. Or shall I say I was interested only in the nose. This was a nose which degraded my life to catastrophic depths. It was a nose without nostrils, a rather annoying site.

The man in khaki turned out to be a forest official. He asked my friends a few questions.

Forest Official: Shall I interrogate him? (Pointing towards me, he asked the nurse.)

Nurse: Only if you must. Although let me tell you that he is not in his senses completely.

Book 1: Page 38


The protracted journey of the jeep had come to an end. I knew my best friend Akshay had fought a bear to rescue me. Surviving the night with all the bleeding and unattended wounds on the contours of my rib cage was a subject of petite discussion. More confident than ever on my decision I opened my eyes. Akshay, who was sitting next to me, looked back at me. He was tired by the night’s misadventures. He pressed my hand against his and winked his eyes reassuringly.

Kalsh: Akshay I must tell you. Probably you are the only man I can trust my sister with. (These were my last words before they asked me to go back to sleep.)

He must have been very happy. That day in the forest we laid together the foundation of a very special bond. The bear was as much responsible for my decision as Akshay’s courage. However, not to my surprise though, Akshay never used my indebted life as an excuse to date my sister. His was a much purer form of love. He is still dating my sister. The couple is happy and soon they will tie the holy knot.

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.

Book 1: Page 33 para 1


Ah… run…it is coming…” those words were enough to trigger a sense of panic in the forest. I turned to see in the direction of the shriek. Sahib was running as hard as he could towards us. For a moment I thought it was a hoax to scare me. Perhaps, it was an attempt to check my wit and grit. But on closer observation I could also make out something else in the background. I could hear something else.

What is that?

No one cared to answer and the land under my feet froze. “A mammal of the family Ursidae having a massive body, coarse fur, relatively short limbs, and an almost rudimentary tail.” this is the description you will find in the tenth edition of the Concise English Dictionary. However in the forest this definition does not hold good. What was visible was a pair of canines bigger than my forearms. The shadow was a dark clumsy cloud of vengeance. I had never heard of any tale in which such a fierce animal attacked a man. Perhaps no one ever survived to tell the city dwellers that even a peaceful vegetarian creature can attack a bunch of school kids.

Book 1: Page 31


He was running. I was chasing him. He was jumping. I was leaping behind him. The words that came out of his mouth needed some explanation. Was this his idea of a joke? So all that time he had been rehearsing to ask me about my sister, pretending that that tree was me?

Chase
Chase

MAY I DATE YOUR SISTER”, was that all he could come up with? Was it the lameness of the line that bothered me or its sudden appearance out of nowhere? I couldn’t pinpoint the cause of my agitation. All I could comprehend was that everyone (except me) knew that my best friend liked my sister.

Kalsh: Stop Akshay! We need to talk.

Akshay: You will have to catch me first.

Kalsh: Both of us know I am the second fastest guy here. If I chase you down, you are gone. So it’s better to stop right here right now.

Akshay: Well is your answer “yes”.

Kalsh: Yes to what?

Akshay: To my question.

Kalsh: This is it you are going down.

And I pounced on him like a tiger and he merely evaded my hand by shifting his weight to the left like a black buck.

Book 1; Page 30, Para 2


I got up, in fact fumbled up; Forgot my shoes slippers or sandals and chased him. Had I heard it right? Had he been eyeing my cousin? The same cousin who served steaming hot tomato soup on the roof top, whenever we idled time at my uncle’s place? The same cousin who had defeated me in numerous video game battles? She is a darling. But that was not it. Was he serious? Was he infatuated? Was it love? Was he already taking her out and just wanted to inform me out of guilt? I wanted answers and I was going to get them.

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