A night's experience in the forest
John, popularly known in the locality as ‘Captain’ as he took leading part in all activities, lay on the playground after the football practice. While all the friends were chatting away John was quiet and seemed to be either unwell or deeply absorbed in some thoughts.
‘Are you alright Captain?’ Peter asked.
‘Is something bothering you, can we be of any help?’ Garry and Robert asked worriedly.
John sat up, smiled and said ‘I am alright my friends, thank you. I was actually thinking of a plan; don’t know whether you would like it.’
‘What’s that, please tell us’, Robert asked excitedly.
‘Well, I was thinking… why don’t we venture out in the forest?’
All the friends agreed that the idea was really good except Garry who kept his head down and remained silent.
John said ‘Garry, may be you are getting scared. Listen, you don’t have to come with us if you really don’t want to.’
Garry smiled and said ‘ Well, you will all go and me at home, that cannot be, I shall also go.’
‘That’s the spirit!’ Robert said with a smile.
John said, ‘Well then, let us now discuss the matter at length. Firstly let us decide as to when we should go for this adventure? If you ask me I would suggest that we go for this expedition tomorrow itself, tomorrow afternoon to be precise and we can return next morning.’
‘That will be great!’ said Jeremy.
Apart from Garry rest of the friends raised their hands and confirmed that the day would suit them fine.
‘One thing Captain, wouldn’t it be too risky to spend the night in the forest?’ Garry asked.
‘There is risk involved my friend but we must not be scared.’
‘What about arms and ammunitions, permission from Forest Department?’ Peter asked and awaited a reply. John smiled and said ‘All these will be taken care of. I have had a discussion on this with my Uncle Terry who perhaps you will know is the Range Officer. He will go with us with his team and we will go in their vehicles with search lights and all.’
‘Oh that will be so great!’ Thomas jumped in excitement.
Robert asked eagerly, ‘But shouldn’t each of us carry anything with us... I mean a stick or something of that sort?’
Jeremy laughed and said ‘A stick? What will you do with a stick, will this frighten a tiger or lion?’
‘Look, having a stick in your hand will at least boost up your courage.' Robert replied and looked at John to hear what he had to say. ‘Thank you Jeremy for reminding me. I would suggest that we carry Hockey sticks, never know these may come to us handy!’ John said and laughed. And then after a pause said ‘We can all meet at the Club house and take these out. And one other thing, each of us must carry some dry food, bottle of water and a flask filled with hot tea or coffee.’
As discussed, they all turned up next day at the Club house, took out hockey sticks and proceeded to the forest which was only a small distance away.
Garry said ‘I am afraid I don’t think I can go deep inside the forest’.
John said ‘Well, now that we have already made a move and about half a kilometer inside the forest, there is no way you can return now. Come on, be brave!’
Garry‘s legs wouldn’t move!
John then asked Garry to climb on a tree and stay up there till they returned in the morning.
The friends chose a huge tree and waited there till Garry climbed up.
John said ‘Hold on to the branches tightly and stay awake all night, you just have to. You have some food and drink with you, so that’s O.K. and remember to stay up there till we return.’
‘But what do I do when I need to pee?’
Everyone laughed. John said ‘For God’s sake, don’t you get down, do the job from above. Now we have to move, Good night.’
Garry was scared to be alone and felt unsafe as he watched his friends jumping in a big Safari Jeep with the Range Officer and his team. The vehicle slowly started to move deep inside the forest and then became out of sight.
It became dusk. Garry wondered what would he do if a leopard saw him! Little did he know that a gang of monkeys were sitting on a tree at a distance. They jumped from one tree to another and rested on a tree very close to the one where Garry was sitting. They took a close look at Garry from various angles. Garry was scared, he kept quiet and still. When should he have his
food that he carried in the bag? If he didn’t eat them now he would have no food for the night as he knew for sure that the monkeys would definitely get hold of them.
Garry opened his bag quietly, took out few packets of food and started to eat quickly. A little monkey guessed something was going on; watched Garry from a close distance and gave some kind of signal to the gang. Immediately all the monkeys jumped on the tree one by one and tried to come and sit as close to Garry as possible. One big monkey, looked like the leader of the gang, practically snatched whatever food Garry had in the bag. Garry somehow managed to drink water and then had a cup of hot tea from the flask. The big monkey came closer to Garry, took the bottle of water away and a little later took the flask from him too. There was some tea left. The monkey opened the flask, examined the tea from top, waited for a while, finished off the tea and then threw the flask down. By now they started getting used to Garry. They had made faces at Garry but now they have stopped that.
Garry was desperate to empty his bladder. He picked up courage and started peeing down. This was very amusing for the monkeys. They started to move from one branch to other and finally became quiet.
Garry looked around to find that he was surrounded by monkeys. They accepted Garry as their guest and one of the monkeys even spent some time running his fingers through Garry’s hair! Garry sat still. The smallest monkey, at one time, even sat on Garry’s head before jumping in his mother’s lap.
The night was totally dark and Garry couldn’t see anything except that he felt presence of the monkeys all the time and hear their chattering. There were some strange sounds coming from far away which were very scary. He kept his eyes and ears wide open and wondered what his friends could be doing now and how far away they could be. He had no choice but to remain seated on the tree. He could hardly wait for their friends’ return.
Hours of his waiting time was finally over. It was dawn. With the chirping of birds the monkeys were all up and became lively again. Garry heaved a sigh of relief to see the vehicle coming from far away. The monkeys spotted the vehicle too and were restless. As the vehicle came to a halt and everyone got off Garry had smile on his face. His friends, the Range Officer and his team were surprised to see how comfortably Garry was sitting amongst the gang of monkeys! Garry wanted to get down but a few monkeys wouldn’t give him the way. They were making faces at those who were under the tree waiting for Garry to get down.
The Range Officer asked Garry to remain seated. He smiled and said ‘There is no way you can come down young man, the monkeys are probably thinking that we can do harm to you. They have accepted you as their friend and they will do everything possible to protect you. It is only our guns which can drive them away.’
‘But, uncle, please don’t shoot them, they haven’t done me any harm!’ – Garry cried out, his eyes were full of tears.
The Range Officer realized Garry’s concern and asked him to be calm and assured that he had no intention to do such a thing. He shot fire in the air and that frightened the monkeys, they jumped on to the nearby trees.
Garry quickly got down and was greeted by his friends. The Range Officer appreciated Garry’s bravery for spending all night with the monkeys. The monkeys realized that Garry was in safe hands; they kept quiet and looked sad. Garry was sad too and he turned back and waved his hands at them.
‘Did you manage to see any tiger,rhino or any?’ – Garry asked his friends.
John said ‘No we couldn’t. It was just bad luck. They must have kept themselves in hidden areas! But you seem to have had a very frightening time, Didn’t you?’
Garry said ‘Initially I was frightened when the monkeys jumped on the tree and surrounded me but later I got used to them. I have learnt about monkeys a great deal. They are really wonderful animals and undoubtedly very clever!’
Every one patted Garry for the courage he exhibited. John said ‘you have shown your patience, tact and bravery, Garry. You have always underestimated yourself. This has been a very adventurous trip for you! We had thought that you were not brave but you have proved us wrong. You are the bravest person of us all. No kidding, I am serious.’
Garry laughed and said ‘Sometimes situations compel you to hold your nerves. Captain I am fully ready to go for any adventure in future and I promise I would not be hesitant ever again.’
John smiled and said ‘We know you wouldn’t’.
After putting back the hockey sticks in the club everyone departed. They all needed a good sleep. Garry was not sure whether he would be able to sleep. He couldn’t wait to reach home to tell the story to his parents and sister. In the evening he would have to narrate the entire episode to his nephews and nieces as they would be coming to see him. He felt so happy and excited!