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.