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 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 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.

Book 1: Page 29, Para 1

Besides all this thinking, my attention was also drawn towards Akshay’s uneasiness. He wasn’t enjoying the surroundings. His mood was no doubt jolly, but still I felt he was scared. Normally I would have concluded that he was cowering off the wilderness. However it seemed more complicated than that. He walked out of the tent. Now Sahib, Keshav and I were in the tent. They were trying to suppress their giggles. I was intimidated by the idea of another surprise? What was to follow? Why was only I unaware? Had they planned a trip just to target me? Had they brought guns to poach? All my worst fears spiralled round the tent and the rail of bizarre guesses came to a halt only when Keshav stood up.

Book 1: Page 28

All the stars that I can’t count,

All the notes from the neighbouring pond,

MoonLight.. Oh Dear Moonlight
MoonLight.. Oh Dear Moonlight

Lay below the moonlight…oh dear moonlight.

I need no songs, no lyrics,

No beats, no bass, no rhythm,

I lay below the moonlight…oh dear moonlight

One side was dark, the other darker,

One was near, the other farther,

And I lay below the moonlight…oh dear moonlight

Book 1: Page 27, Para 1

I wasn’t shocked. It was an invitation to the abode of Mother Nature. The only thing that raised the hair on my legs was the fact that we were going to be in a forest all by ourselves; that too in the thickest jungle in the whole of Uttaranchal without any guardian or forest guide. They had packed bundles of eatables lest Akshay would miss his spaghetti balls or French omelette. I had been to several bonfire events before it, but this was much more special. It was not planned (at least not by me). The drinks (I take only soft ones) the songs by the fire, the eerie stories and ancient legends of the jungle. It was …THWART! My entire dream sequence was brought to a halt by this monster of a bolder. We departed from the freeway towards the patchy segment which was not straight, not unidirectional and definitely not frequented.

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