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 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 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 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 34, Para 2


We had not got a chance to unwind and most of our time had been spent on erecting the tent, therefore our luggage was still packed. Keshav and I quickly picked all four bags and tossed them onto the back of the jeep. It is amusing to look back at our actions, how even in the jaws of death I wouldn’t part with my clothes. The jerseys, the gloves, the jackets, the mufflers (the most beautiful part of any ensemble), counting all these exclusive clothes which I had collected over the years it never occurred to me that my shoes were still in the tent. A heartache ripped me apart at the bereavement.

You never liked them in the first place.”

More importantly my shoe size would have definitely increased one day and risking my life for the pair of shoes would have been dumb.

Book 1: Page 34, Para 1


Why are you still standing? Someone start the car damn it!!”

There are some particular times in a person’s life when the mind goes numb and that was one such moment. I very vividly remember that my first confrontation with an animal in the wild was not at all encouraging. Sorry brother I actually peed on the same tree where it was looking for food!!” this was the most dim-witted reason to be attacked by a wild animal. Then again it struck me that animals are hyper sensitive to odours of body fluids which they often use to mark their territory. It appeared that our dear Sahib had just crossed it’s territory. Prior to that incident, I believed the bear to be a benign creature that never attacked a human, but I was wrong. Neither a tiger nor a lion, not even a wolf but a bear came for us.

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 32


Nothing had changed around me but it was not the same anymore. Same trees which were shady some time ago; same damp air which was brushing my hair some time ago; same swampy crickets which were annoying me some time ago; but now my mind wasn’t empty. There was no space inside my heart to accommodate the magnificent Nature. The moment of beauty had seized to give me joy. I had a very disquiet topic to think about. I sat down to weigh the pros and cons. Akshay had been my “best buddy” since I had learnt that such a word existed in the dictionary. He was one of the most handsome boys of our school with a hefty built. He was also a true gentleman. God had blessed him with a lineage so pure and noble that I touched my ears three times before taking his grandfather’s name. But it was my sister’s opinion that mattered the most to me. Her decision would make all the difference and I needed to talk to her. It would be best if the two of them decided for themselves. So that was it. The first thing I would do after reaching home would be to stay away from this matter. No preferences. No prejudice. No suggestions. It felt real good to have reached a sound conclusion. I got up from the fallen bark that had been my seat and walked in a circle looking for the remaining gang.

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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