A Strange Encounter



Midnight

Some where in India

200 kms away from home.

The moon was white as milk; illuminating the dense forest covering an unmarked road leading to the state highway. The owl’s were whispering, bushes and branches were talking with the sounds of animals rumbling nearby. Clear skies with a hint of white pillowy clouds embarking over the foggy green lush carpet on earth is a rather astonishing view to behold; but Armaan is busy hovering over the open bonnet of his 8 year old Hyundai with a torch shinning from his phone.

Sweat dripping from his forehead drenching his new crisp shirt from the vain efforts of almost an hour; teeth grinding and nostrils flaring almost clenching his bearded jaws, he said to himself,” Great going Basanti, you cannot give up on me in the middle of nowhere, I wanted to arrive a day early to surprise her…wake up!!

We need to be home before my baby is born tomorrow, Aisha needs me.”

(Gasping) “ Oh… whom am I talking to, I did not witness a single soul present in a 5 km radius. Armaan, you are effectively screwed.”

He extends his hands into the air holding his mobile to check if just one lifeline in the form of a bar would appear so that he could ask for help; his fingers rushing towards the keypad to find his wife in the messenger, but all in vain as out backs and technology seldom go hand in hand.

He takes a quick breath and sits on the asphalt leaning his head over the right door of Basanti; its the first time that he does not care about his black trousers turning white from the dust against the freezing ground.




He looks over to his watch to find that midnight had arrived an hour ago; his hands shaking relentlessly; his lips trembling and suddenly a loud noise engulfs his attention.Terrified; he was shook up from the intimidating grizzling roar.

He gathered his courage and stood up from the abyss of his thinking; trying to find the dreaded mess he had got himself in and walks over to the entry point of the trail entering the jungle just a few steps ahead of Basanti.

His eyes glancing over some type of a board; he opens his flashlight to find the written words as

“Do Not Enter”, his eyes widening at the mere sight of that board and again a loud paralyzing noise deafens the vicinity.

All of a sudden he finds himself mouthing the sacred gyatri mantra his mother always used to teach him in his childhood which he never paid much heed to, “Om Bhur Bhuva Swaha, Om Bhur Bhuva Swaha…….”

“It must be close…think Armaan think…you need to stay alive.”

He opens the boot of his car and then leans over to find something to defend himself; his eyes gaze over the wrench and he grabs it. He then looks over to the brown duffel bag next to it to reassure himself by unzipping it to check if the money he was carrying from the proceeds of his property was safe and sound; takes a deep breath, zips it and closes the hood and stands with the wrench in his right hand with his eyes wandering to find noise.


The roar was inching closer and closer; the fog almost vanishing away for a few moments; he saw a dim yellow light emitting from within the trail inside.

Pondering over his chance of existence , he went ahead to catch the source of the illumination; thinking to himself that there must be someone there.

Struggling to walk over the trail; deflecting the thick bushes and branches that presented itself along the way with the wrench in his right hand, he found a fork in the road.

“Come this way…don’t be afraid.” said a masculine voice in a peaceful way but the curious crusader was startled and fell over, hitting his left hand over the pointy rock.

“Who are you?.............. What are you doing here?” (displeased tone)

“I live here!!…I heard some mechanical noise a while ago and wondered if someone got stuck again on this road….so was coming over to offer some help….are you okay?(offers his hand to Armaan to get up from the dirt).”

“Well…thank you….but wait…. why do you live here?(his eyes completely still and looking towards the image of the frail old man.)”

“I am the guard of this secluded reserve…my name is Kishan.”

“Do you need help? Why are you here?”

“My car decided to break down here and so was trying to find a way to get back on the road but no network and little knowledge of fixing cars is the reason why we both are meeting here.”

“Oh!…..ok…let me see what I can do.”

“Why uncle, are you an engineer?(chuckles whilst shaking his head in disbelief)”

“(laughing) no no…but I know my way around vehicles as I was earlier in the military as the station driver..”

Armaan closes his lips tight and says,” very well chacha(friendlier way to say uncle)…lets go.”

As they move towards the direction of the exit of the trail, Kishan notices that Armaan’s left hand is bleeding when he hit the rock.

“WAIT!!….you are bleeding

(after a short pause) IT KNOWS!!”

“Who?”

“The 10ft long bear…we are not safe anymore…like a shark they can sense a droplet of blood from 3 kms away….we must get to the hut now to save ourselves from the danger that's ahead of us”

Armaan is contemplating what he must do right now.


“Come Fast…watch your steps.”

Armaan hesitantly follows Kishan to an even smaller uphill trail leading to the light bulb closer and closer.



He notices that a cluster of different fauna follows them, “Don’t worry, they won’t hurt you. Since, you are new here, they are here to protect you. They are merely accompanying you to the nearest safest place”, Said the calm voice.



They approach a humble abode in the midst of the jungle as all the animal stop for them to enter their abode for the night.


They both enter inside the weak wooden door; dust settling on one side of the corner in the room; a shelf on the other side with some utensils and a small stove laying on it; a rugged mattress lying on the floor overlooking a window to the wilderness; Kishan takes his hand and starts cleaning with the water as the dry blood washes away and marries with the ground outside his little palace.


“You must be cold and hungry…have this dal(lentil soup) and chapatti while I make you some tea.”

“Thanks chacha…but really... do not go to that trouble.”

“Have it beta(Son)…I was supposed to take care of you today…that is why you came into my humble abode in the middle of nowhere….have it.”

Armaan smiles and starts eating the hot food, one bit after another; filling him with warmth with every bite he took; for the first time, Armaan finds the simple dal extremely tasty.

He witnesses a small water body in a distance from the hut; Curious as he is, he asks, “The bear?…is it dangerous?”


“who….Raja?”

Armaan nods his head while relishing his humble dinner.

“1 week back it mercilessly tore apart a young deer in the hills even though he had just hunted 4 days before.….2 months prior to that, there were rumors of it tearing a male human’s hand, bleeding him to death in another part of the reserve.” he says as he finishes making tea and pours it in a clean brass vessel.

“So yeah…I would say he is dangerous at the moment.”

“Then how come you feel safe here?…there is no stopping Raja to enter through that door and tearing us apart?”

“Me?(smiling)….well, lets just say I am capable of handling myself from him tearing me apart.”

“How do you know so much?” his curiosity had no bounds as his eyes were fixated on Kishan whilst sipping the magical elixir.

Kishan smiles “When one has lived a certain kind of life, they are bound to get the answers to their own questions.”

Armaan again brings his eyebrows together but they return to their original place in a jiffy.

Thunder rumbles and the coldest droplets fill the area from above….a dense fog blankets the jungle reducing the visibility to the bare minimum.


Armaan is savoring the last of his tea as he cleans the vessel dry.

“This was one of the finest tea I have ever had….chacha, you are a life saver.” Armaan extends his right hand towards Kishan as a sign of respect and thankfulness.

Kishan shakes the hand rather hard for his frail body type as Armaan’s eyebrows come together again.

“Why don’t you lie down for a while and rest as you have a lot more distance to cover in the morning.”

“Yes…you are right.” Armaan leans over to the ground and is taken over by the sudden onset of deep sleep in a jiffy.


Few Hours pass by, Armaan wakes up in a surprised fashion only to find that he is alone in the hut. He looks over to the water body in the distance to find the animals drinking water. There was an unexplained serenity in the jungle after the mist as the silence complimented the strong dusk.


He rushes out from the hut and starts yelling “Kishan….Kishan”; his voice echoing and suddenly his body froze. Raja is standing in front of him in an almost hunting position. His glassy eyes reflecting the worried and pale image of the father to be . Raja slowly and steadily inches towards him.


Before Armaan could think of something to do, Raja stopped midway by the sound of the mesmerizing flute echoing in the jungle. Raja roared a decent volume before turning away calmly as if something got lost in translation, leaving him frozen.

Kishan was arriving from a distance with a packet of bread in one of his hands and a flute in the other.

“What happened?

Are you alright?…you look like someone plastered the wall white.”

“Raja….he came, and went away.”

“what?….you are one lucky fellow, facing him and standing alive….that’s great.”

“hmmm….Do you play the flute by any chance?”

“oh yes…I start my day with the flute…makes me calm and ready for the day…opens up my mind to endless positivism.….why?…did you hear it?”

(smiling) “Yes.”

“Anyways…the nearby villager Ramu provides me with fresh bread every 2 days…I don’t have much to treat you but bread and butter as a breakfast will surely make up for a few hours.”

“How can I ever repay you chacha?”

“Repay?….that’s a rather heavy word don’t you think?

Do you know the meaning of Aavir? It's to be brave and courageous and a knowlegeable person...become Aavir in life.…help a person in genuine need...…you never know that one may change that person’s life for good."

“Right!!” (smiling)

Few minutes pass by as both enjoy an extraordinarily sumptuous breakfast while witnessing the nature at its finest.

“You must leave now…I guess, you need to be somewhere important.

Why don’t you walk towards your car and I gather my tools to come help you.

It may be possible that it may have over heated.”

Armaan nods his head in agreement and starts to exit the trail. Upon reaching Basanti; he finds 4 people gathered trying to find something.

“HEY!!…”

The people are shocked to witness a man arriving alive from the menacing trail.

“Sahib(sir)…who are you?…why did you go there?”


“My car broke down and so went to look for help.

Thankfully I found Kishan and he saved my life.”

“Kishan?…who Kishan?” quips the strangers simultaneously.

“The guard of this reserve…Kishan!”

“Sahib….I am the reserve’s guard…my name is Shyam….who did you meet in this outback?…no one lives here…it’s too dangerous!!....there is a devious bear present in these parts… I too have to live in the nearby village…no one has occupied this space in 2 months.

Next week, a team would arrive to put things in control…as of now…this is a restricted section.”

Armaan’s mind is racing as everyone starts to dissipate and he is forced to leave the location without getting a chance to go back and look for Kishan. He sits in front of the steering and whirls the key in to the ignition and there she starts.

He cannot comprehend the gravity of what transpired with him in the strange night.



He accepts his fate and moves towards meeting his wife and meet his about to be born baby.

He understood that he was in the presence of something godly and must make something incredible of his life and take care of the community around him.

He was blessed with a baby boy who he names Aavir.