(MIS)ADVENTURE IN THE JUNGLE
By Neel Anil Panicker
“Look, what have we got!”
Raj and Anjali looked at the direction of Niraj’s raised fingers.
There, laid out for the gaze of the trio was a golden streaked pathway lined on either side by wild multifarious flowers. A strobe of sunlight slipped through the leaves and branches of giant peepal trees.
“Eureka, we’ve found our magic elixir. It’s a pathway,” screamed Anjali as she jumped up and down like a ten year old who’s just been told she’s won herself a year long ‘eat as much as you can’ burger treat from Papa John’s.
“Hey, nothing to get so excited about. It’s a mirage. Just another turn that leads to nowhere,” proffered a voice from the back.
The trio looked behind them just in time to catch the look of despondency on their fourth companion’s visage.
There he stood, Vaibhav, his shoulders stooped, his back half bent like an old man’s, his hollowed out eyes___two bombed out craters. His entire persona the very epitome of pessimism.
“I told you guys not to venture into the forest. And now look, what have you gotten me into. I can hear hungry lions and wild boards and large pachyderms. Any moment they can make us their dinner.”
“Stop it!,” reprimanded Raj, the most assertive of the quartet.
“Look at Anjali. I thought she being a girl would be scared . But it’s you. You are no better than a milquetoast. Shame on you Vaibhav.”
Still not willing to give up his pessimistic stance, Vaibhav retorted, albeit in a slightly muffled voice.
“See, the only reason I agreed to come here is because I know you guys back from college. And now, in hindsight I realise I had made a terrible mistake. But it’s better late than never. I shall not allow you three to dictate my life anymore. And yes, I may be a milquetoast but unlike you, I’m humble enough to know danger when I spot one. Hence, I’m leaving.”.
So saying, Vaibhav turned around and headed in the opposite direction.
Hardly had stepped a few feet forward when an agonized screen escaped his lips.
There, standing a mere five feet from him was a lion. Even before the animal’s roar reached his ears, Vaibhav had collapsed onto the ground.
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