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It is a frosty afternoon. I am numb though. I try opening my eyes. They are glued to each other. There is a lot of buzz around me. I muster all my strength and my left eyelid flickers. I can’t see anything. Blurry objects dance their way across kindling my curiosity. I try to listen intently. The sounds make no sense to me but they are amusing. Fun and frolic fills the air around me. Something important must have happened. But I feel reluctant to get up. I pop my head out. My bed seems too small for me. I feel drowsy. I am bored. My eyes fade away slowly as instinct brings the curtain down for the day.
I wake up again, this time my eyes cooperating a little faster. I have no idea how long it has been. I don’t seem to care. I hear a few voices around. No more celebrations though. Guess it is just another day. I smell something really good. It is a new feeling and I seem to like it. I exercise it until I get bored of that. Food is ready. I have not been a big fan of it until now. I take a nibble. Something is different. It tastes different. It tastes better. I flush it down my throat vigorously. I look around with curiosity. Lots of things have changed. I devour the views. Lots of inanimate objects made to look meaningful. I don’t understand their purpose. I look outside. Lots of animate objects wandering aimlessly! This kindles my interest.
I walk outside. I feel the sun pinch me mischievously. I amble around and let my feet lead me. It may seem ironical but it feels very natural. I discover a garden. I meander aimlessly along inhaling all the freshness and beauty it has to offer. What a jackpot. Breathtaking color, brimming life, unparalleled magnificence, poignant tranquility! Heaven does exist. A rabbit looks at me curiously. After a little hide and seek, it tip toes towards me. We have a long distance conversation for a moment only to be interrupted by a sprightly squirrel which bisects us on its way to a lilac tree. The rabbit leaves me for the squirrel. The sun seems to have gone for a nap. Clouds engulf the sky and wet me. I seem to enjoy it. I walk past the rustling leaves towards a sprawling orchid tree. Rain seems to have stopped but there are water droplets hanging on desperately fighting a losing battle against gravity. I observe one such beauty which is slipping down from a branch. On its way down it magically clings on to a leaflet. But unfortunately the leaflet lets it go and it slides down a breakneck speed. But it is miraculously caught by a black skimmer that transports it seamlessly to the nearby lake. A poetic journey comes to an end. I am tired. I see a bench. A fluffy dog is resting on it. It scoots in, inviting me for some banter.
I have lost my carefree abandon. Monotony has engulfed me. I feel suffocation. I seek adventure. The dog gives me company. I enter a jungle. I don’t know what lies ahead. The dog does. Still it follows me. I hear a roar. The dog leads me to safety behind a tree. I see a majestic lion. I am not afraid. Yet! I yearn to be him one day. I am hungry. My lips haven’t felt the cool touch of water in days. I collapse under the shade of a tree. The dog eggs me along. I refuse to budge. A deer stops by. It pities my plight and leads us to a river nearby. I thank her profusely as the dog barks its gratitude. The dog grabs a fish out of the running water and proudly displays its catch. I make fire and dinner is served. The deer opts for some fresh grass instead. Life is good. For now!
I like the forest. I decide to make this my new home. I cut a maple tree; gather some wood to build a small house. A sparrow is left homeless. I make the house pretty, the dog gets its own room, the deer visits often. Life treads along smoothly. One day I get a surprise visitor: the rabbit from the garden. I am happy to see him. He is not afraid of me anymore. Somehow that bothers me. Life is peaceful. The four of us tread the jungle in the day, swing by the river for some food and then hang out in our house during nights. Winter arrives. The biting cold freezes my spine. I don’t get out of the bed. Hunger scorches me. The dog is not around. The rabbit gives me company. I look at him. Evil intentions take over. Suddenly the rabbit looks delicious. I was not wrong. It tastes delicious. Guilt knocks the door. I don’t answer. I see the dog staring right at me, a fish between its teeth. I look away.
The winter runs deep. Light rarely penetrates into the house. I rarely permeate out of the house. The dog still brings me fish and the deer still visits. Coldness is not just in the air outside; it is between us as well. I decide to step out to feel the icy mist on my skin. I see the lion lying rather timidly at a distance. I shiver from the inside and outside. But I hold my ground. I see a jackal sitting next to the lion. I wonder why. Days are darker. Nights are lonely. I see the lion and jackal regularly at night. Food seems to elude them and the winter is not kind. They don’t intimidate me anymore. The jackal approaches me. I grab a stick. It grabs my attention. I say yes.
The deer has been tied to the lonely oak tree outside my house. It looks at me with teary eyes. I look at my feet. They are dirty. The lion feasts on the deer. The jackal scavenges the remains. He is generous enough to leave me some. I sit next to the deer’s corpse. A tear starts to trickle. I wipe it clean. A vulture looks to pick up the remains. I drive her away. I take a bite of the deer’s leg. I feel ashamed. I gobble up what’s left of it. The dog cringes. I burp.
Winter is finally over. The sun is a little more generous. Life is not. My communion with the lion and jackal continues. The dog rarely leaves the room. I don’t know why he hasn’t left me yet. He does not bring me fish anymore though. I never liked fish anyways. The lion dies. The jackal has promised to find another one. I don’t seem to care. I feel asphyxiated. The presence of the dog haunts me. He will never leave me. I should.
I have walked several miles without looking back. I can’t see the jungle anymore. I miss the dog. The deer haunts me. I decide to rest. I see something green. A park, maybe! There is a small bench. I decide to lie down. It is too small. I crouch. I close my eyes. The rabbit smiles! The deer smirks! The dog weeps! I open my eyes. I smell rotten earth. I feel cold. I feel numb. I hear a gong. Will the dog forgive me?
- A SHORT STORY BY RAJ