Encounter With A Lion

By Neel Anil Panicker

The evening was an engaging experience for Rohan. The 21year old had almost given up on the night, and braced himself for yet another long, lonely night, his six foot rugged frame wrapped around his legs, his head threatening to tear asunder the flimsy  apology of a cotton tent that he had the idiocy to borrow from an uncle in deference to the old man’s fervent pleas.

“You may need it, son,” were the genial yet insistent septuagenarian’s parting words that rang in Rohan’s ears as he set for the jungle.

So now, there he was stranded in the middle of a thickly wooded forested area, on Day 2 with his only other accompaniment, the ever adventurous Oscar missing and incommunicado for the past 48 hours.
The last he had seen of his childhood friend was when the latter had left the tent stating that he was going to scour the place.

Strange, Rohan had thought at that time. Whoever scours a jungle infested with wild a animals and poisonous snakes and reptiles?

A now he was, bereft of the only human company he had, and stuck on no man’s land, waiting for his nightmare to end, and for his friend to return, and the two to make a safe exit out of the jungle that if history books are to be believed is the most dangerous wild life area in the entire Western Ghats.

It was then that he heard the noise.
At first he thought if was being delusional.
A second later he heard it again, this time the it was loud and clear, and sent a chill ran down his spine.

He wound himself tightly, his legs bundled around his chest, his long legs hurriedly pulled .

This time he knew what that sound was, and where it came from.

It was the roar of a lion, and he could smell the animal.
It was outside his tent, and when it roared the second time, Rohan felt as if his end was near.

At that instant, the words of his father, ever grimly mocking rang in his ears, “Son, you wanted your life to be very engaging, isn’t it? Now, go and on and engage with this lion”.

Rohan, ever the atheist, for the first time in his life, closed his eyes, a d prayed to all gods and goddesses, known and unknown to spare his life.

#neelanilpanicker #flash #fiction #shortstory

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