An Unexpected Adventure
Here we are with another Story Blog this time with a short story about Harinarayan, a village boy, and his friends. Hope you all like it <3
Another morning, bright and fresh, dawned on the village of Bhadrapur. The sunlight streamed into the huts of the people and shimmered on their faces. The slumbering villagers awakened to the sweet and melodious singing of the Kokila and instantly set out to do their morning chores. In a matter of minutes the entire village was filled with sounds of people- some began reciting their morning prayers, mothers could be heard trying to wake their children, villagers left their homes to go to the river to bathe, women set out to fetch water from the well and the dogs, to prove they too were awake and part of the community, began barking incessantly. +
Harinarayan jumped out of his bed and ran to the river. He plunged into the cold waters and began bathing rapidly. The speed at which he finished a bath and rushed back home left the others wondering. His mother was completely taken aback when she saw that he had dressed up so early and wondered what miracle had taken place that day. Harinarayan, called Hari by everyone in the village, was the son of a brahmin priest. His father was the priest in the village temple and his mother managed the domestic affairs, as all women were expected to do so. Hari, a young lad of twelve and was known to the entire village due to his carefree and indolent nature. Inertness was the only quality endowed onto him by the Almighty. While other boys of his age studied under the tutorship of his father and played games in the maidan, Hari would sit dozing under a tree and squandering time. Thus, his mother's surprise was natural when she saw her lazy son ready so early and running to the maidan. Harinarayan had been waiting for this day eagerly and his excitement knew no bounds. His heart leapt in his breast. The day had come at last, he thought as he stuffed a banana in his mouth, bolted out of his house and charged zealously down the streets of the village towards the big maidan.
Dawn had now broken into morning and the sun was shining radiantly in the sky. The villagers left their huts and went to their jobs, eager to start a new day at work. When Hari reached the maidan, his friends Chandra and Sulochan were already waiting for him. He ran to them and they greeted each other. ''
"Where is Priyakant'' inquired Hari
"Oh, he has caught a fever because we scared him as ghosts last night!" answered Sulochan. "He is completely rattled up and shivering in his bed. He won't be coming today". They laughed at the plight of the poor fellow and set out towards the forest.
Situated at the foothills of the Satpura mountain range, Bhadrapur was surrounded by forests on three sides, and on the fourth a road began, connecting the village to the city of Ujjain. It was these forests that Hari and his friends had decided to explore. Tradesmen and merchants coming to Bhadrapur always talked about the grandeur of these woodlands. The boys were constantly deliberating whether or not to go to these forests and had finally decided in the affirmative. "The interior of the jungle is quite dense, perilous and dangerous;do not make the mistake of going in there.....but the outskirts are pleasant and its worth spending a day there" a merchant had once told them. Their destination was a couple of miles away but the boys were so engrossed in talking, laughing, and merrymaking that they didn't even realise when the distance was covered.
What they saw when they reached the forest, took their breath away. Beyond them, stretched out the lush, magnificent forest land filled with different varieties of vegetation and myriad species of wildlife. In front of them there was a pond surrounded by trees yielding fruits and nuts. They stood in the vast grassland which extended beyond their view. Birds chirped in the fruit trees and cattle grazed around them. They were stupefied, too dazed to do anything. Eventually the spell broke and they leaped with exultation.
The three boys chatted and laughed gaily and didn't realize how the time slipped by. They talked of poor Priyakant and made plans of troubling him again, they talked of eccentric personalities in the village, they discussed what they were to do over the course of the day and Chandra and Sulochan tried once again to persuade Hari to forsake his laziness and be like the others but to no avail. They played various games and enjoyed themselves thoroughly. It was not till their stomachs rumbled with hunger that they realized lunchtime had passed. They broke various fruits from the trees, sat down on the grass and ate voraciously. After they finished, they lay down and gazed into the blue sky. The feeling of the soft breeze brushing against their bodies, the sight of clouds drifting in the sky and birds flying across the heavens enchanted them magnificently. It appeared as if Time itself stopped travelling and the boys felt as if they were in the land of the dreams.
Morning turned into afternoon, afternoon into early evening and the hours whizzed by like seconds for Hari, Chandra and Sulochan. As Hari lay gazing at the blue April sky, various thoughts crossed his mind. Why did everyone have a problem with the way he led life? He didn't think himself lazy, then why did everyone else? What would his life be like five-and-twenty years later?Would he follow the footsteps of his father or be something different? Thought after thought filled up the young mind of Hari. He had no control over them and no sooner had one thought began to fade than another took its place. Then he realised that lying there indefinitely was fun, of course, but why not do something adventurous and have an exploit of his own.....what fun it would be to blow his own trumpet back at home! He thought for a while and suddenly a shiver of excitement ran through his body and he sprang up from the ground.
"Chandra, Sulochan get up quickly! I've got a marvelous idea!" he exclaimed.
"What is it?" asked Chandra, slightly annoyed at being hauled out of Dreamland.
"Why not go deeper into the forest and explore! We've never been inside and imagine how exciting it will be!" shouted Hari
"Don't even think about it" reproached Sulochan. " Do you have an idea about the dangers lurking in there? Going in there will be sure death."
"Don't be a spoilsport Sulochan" said Hari with alacrity. "It will be so much fun and an amazing experience!"
"I agree with Hari...it will be thrilling to explore the depths of the jungle!" said Chandra
"Don't you remember the warning the merchant gave us? He told us clearly not to go deep into the woodland."
"Oh come now Sulochan, don't be a dog in the manger" Chandra exhorted.
"Alright, but if anything happens I will hold you responsible....don't say I didn't warn you then" Sulochan consented reluctantly.
Hari and Chandra galloped towards the jungle and Sulochan trudged slowly behind. Why did he have a feeling of an impending danger? The words of the merchant rang in his ears 'Do not make the mistake of going in there....' and a chill ran down his spine.
Angamala curled his lips into a sneer as he saw the figures of Hari, Chandra and Sulochan getting smaller and smaller as they entered the forest. A powerful emotion churned within him for he knew that the moment he had waited for for years now, had finally arrived. His heart danced with joy, devilish exuberance, as he thought of the fate of the three unfortunate boys.
Darkness enveloped them as they leaped over the bushes and laid foot into the woodland. For a few moments they were blinded, but soon regained their vision and slowly edged forward, deeper and deeper into the primeval jungle. Tall, massive trees surrounded them on all sides; the canopy was so dense that barely any sunlight was able to penetrate it and reach the ground, and, holding hands, Hari, Chandra and Sulochan continued their journey.
They treaded over grass, mud, shrub, and thorn. The sounds of the animals of the jungle were soon audible to them; at one time they heard the screech of bats and at another the laugh of the hyena. Once they heard the trumpet of elephants and once the chatter of monkeys. The noises seemed to be coming from close, but not a single creature was in sight. Hari and his companions were enthralled by the beauty and majesty of the forest....imagine living so close for years and never exploring this wonderful realm. It felt as if they had entered another world. They went on walking steadily, brushing aside bushes, jumping over shrubs and crushing the muck below their feet.
Suddenly, Chandra froze in his tracks and held the other two firmly.
"Do not move a muscle" he said,very slowly, as if mustering courage to utter the words.
Hari and Sulochan sensed some trouble so obeyed without question. A few moments passed in silence, thick with apprehension. Just as Hari's patience was about to give way he came across the cause of Chandra's consternation.
"I say, what on earth's the ma-" the words froze on his lips as he saw a cobra raise its hood and hiss menacingly. The signature mark of the cobra was clearly visible. Horror filled their hearts. They didn't know what to do- wait or run, keep silent or scream? Hari stood like a statue with terror in his eyes, Chandra whispered prayer after prayer to the Almighty and Sulochan shivered like a leaf. Suddenly, the serpent slithered rapidly towards Chandra and before he knew what was happening the serpent had dug it's poisonous fangs into his leg, just above the ankle. A cry of agony broke forth from his lips and he collapsed onto the ground, clutching his wounded leg. Hari and Sulochan were frightened out of their wits.
Fortunately, the reptile felt that attacking one human was more than enough, recoiled, and disappeared through the thick grass. The woodland was absolutely silent; no sounds could be heard other then Chandra's groaning and cries of pain.
Sulochan was the first to recover from the shock. He had learnt from his father, the Vaidya of the village, skills of first aid and these he put into practice. He rapidly tore a piece of cloth from his vest and deftly tied a tourniquet round Chandra's ankle, so as to prevent the venom from spreading. He also knew some medicinal herbs and roots which nullify the effect of a cobra's poison, and, leaving Chandra is Hari's care, went out to search for them. While Sulochan was away, Hari could not think of anything to say which would provide solace to Chandra and they passed the time in silence. At length, Sulochan returned with some leaves in his hand. He made a paste of some and applied it on the wound and gave the others to Chandra and instructed him to chew them. A while after the treatment was over, the colour returned to Chandra's pallid face, the area where the fangs had pierced his body stopped burning and a slimy fluid started oozing out of it.
"This indicates that the herbs have played their part....Chandra is free from danger" said Sulochan as he saw the indications. "Poor Chandra had to pay the price of not listening to the warning of the merchant .....I had told you repeatedly not to put yourself in danger but you wouldn't listen to me." He cast a reproachful glance at Hari, who had tears in his eyes. "Now, without wasting another minute lets get out here"
"Yes, please" whispered Chandra.
"There is a problem"Hari faltered. "We're lost."
Due to the panic caused by the attack on Chandra, the boys had forgotten everything for the moment and directed all their attention to him. Now they realised the gravity of their situation.
Not only were they lost in a vast jungle, but also it was late evening, nearing night. What was to be done now? Even the few beams of sunlight that managed to pierce the canopy and reach the ground earlier had stopped and there was pitch darkness all around. In the tenebrosity, the cries of the animals were heard even more clearly and the encounter with the cobra had shaken them so much that they put one foot after another, slowly, steadily and shot wary glances all around them; although nothing at all was visible. Seconds seemed like minutes to them, and minutes like hours as they tried to find their way out of the maze of trees. Chandra wasn't able to keep pace with then due to his leg and this slowed them down even more. They stumbled and rose, gave up hope and regained it, cried and wiped their tears, lost their courage and found it again. They felt they were going round in circles but nobody knew for certain whither they were heading. The moon was visible high up in the sky and the stars shone brightly providing just enough light needed for one to be able to move around. Once when they were sitting on the ground, taking rest, they heard the grunt of an animal; undoubtedly a tigers'. Panic seized them once more; facing a tiger would be sure death. They waited for a while, their hearts in their mouth, but the grace of Almighty was on them so a meeting with the tiger did not take place.
Luck favoured them at last. After who knows how many rounds in the forest and attempts to find the exit, at last they saw, between the trees, the maidan from which they had come. Their eyes were quite used to the darkness so they had no problem spotting the ground. They leaped with joy and tears filled their sore eyes....they were overwhelmed with a surge of emotion.
"We're through al last! " exclaimed Hari with a cry of joy.
"No you aren't, the worst is yet to begin" said a cold voice behind them.
They turned to find that they were surrounded by tribal people with spears and axes in their hands. In the middle of them stood Angamala, whom they recognised with surprise as none other then the butt of their jokes, their stupid old friend who was supposed to be down with fever, Priyakant.
It is important for me to recount a certain event at this point of my story, otherwise my readers will not be able to fully understand future happenings.
It was the time when Hari's grandfather was still a child. He lived with his family in a village called Suvarna-nagari, or the city of gold. The village was called so as it had extensive deposits of gold in the earth and this could be obtained easily by mining. Due to this reason, the villagers were extremely rich and lived happily. As time flew by, the fame of this village spread far and wide. When Hari's grandfather was around fifteen or sixteen years of age, foreigners began to come in from different parts of the country and mining away all the gold. The villagers put up a tough struggle against the invaders but it only resulted in enormous bloodshed. Foreigners kept coming and the condition of the villagers grew miserable. They were pushed away from their own homeland. They moved out of Suvarna-nagari and began finding a place where they could reside.
The villagers searched everywhere but didn't find any suitable land. Frustrated, they decided to use the same tactic that was used on them- take over another village and push away the existing residents. Eventually, everyone came to Bhadrapur and saw that the place had fertile land, a river, and all amenities necessary for a comfortable life; but it was already ruled by the Garonama tribe. The villagers tried to negotiate with them to let them stay in Bhadrapur but to no avail. They used Sama, Dama, Danda, and Bheda but could not overthrow the tribe. Finally, Hari's grandfather, who was quite old by now, thought of a scheme. He knew that the chief was the cause for the unity of the tribe. He decided to cut the head off the snake and devised a scheme to kill the chief cunningly. He instructed some villagers to set the chief's hut on fire at night. The villagers carried out his instructions and set the hut on fire. The chief perished in the flames but his daughter and the remaining members of the tribe escaped. The villagers then took over Bhadrapur and began residing there.
Now, back to our story.
Back in the village, everyone was very worried. Since morning Hari, Chandra and Priyakant were away and nobody knew where they were. Their parents feared the worst and didn't know what to do. Search parties were sent out in every direction but all came back with no news of the boys. They tried looking for Priyakant thinking he might be able to give some clue but didn't find him too. Nobody knew what to do, when suddenly, one of the villagers mentioned that he had heard the boys talk about going to the forest. A faint glimmer of hope came into the hearts of the villagers and, lamp in hand, they instantly set out towards the forest.
Meanwhile in the forest the boys were led by the tribal folk they knew not where. Half walked ahead of them showing the way with Angamala at the lead and the rest walked behind them, spears at the ready. Two tribals carried Chandra for they thought his limp would slow them down. After walking for some time they finally emerged into a vast open space. Hari saw that many huts were arranged in a circular pattern and some distance away was a hut bigger and grander than the others; this Hari assumed to be where the head of the tribe resided.The three boys were utterly exhausted and weary due the ordeals of the night but they had no choice but to obey the orders given. Soon they were brought in front of a towering woman seated on a throne with a large crowd around her. Her face was painted, she wore big earrings and a nose-ring and had a powerful figure. The chief of the tribe was frightening to look at.
"I have brought them, Mother" said Angamala. Hari and his friends did not know what had happened to their Priyakant. They didn't know what on earth was going on and the entire thing made no sense to any of them.
"Good" replied the woman, "they will pay severely for all that they have done"
Hari, Chandra and Sulochan didn't know what they had done and how this forest tribe knew them; but they had not the courage to speak a word.
"You will serve us as slaves and obey our orders. Whoever gives you an errand, be it me, my son or any other tribal, it must be completed without delay. Any negligence on you part, attempt to escape or any other act that goes against us and you be boiled alive and eaten by our tribesmen." The woman thundered.
"But respected chief, isn't this too severe a punishment? They're children after all" one tribesman said with his head bowed low to the queen. She shot him one angry glance and the thing was settled there.
"Take them away" Angamala ordered one of the attendants.
"But,Priyakant what have we done? Why are you doing this to us friend?" Hari said at last
"Angamala is my name and I am no friend of yours. I am the crown prince of the Garonama tribe. I was living as a spy in your village under the name of Priyakant. So foolish you villagers are; suddenly out the blue a person comes to stay in your village and not a glimmer of doubt enters your mind, ha! what callousness. I came there son could observe the village and its folk carefully so as to make appropriate plans of revenge."
"R-r-revenge? What revenge? What have we ever done to you or your tribe?" Chandra stammered with fright.
"You are the reason for our downfall" thundered Angamala. We, the Garonamas were living in Bhadrapur and ruled it till you people arrived. Suddenly, you aliens began to encroach upon our territory and treacherously drove us away from our own land. Your people tried fighting with us but could not defeat us. So you used deceit. Mother still remembers the death of my grandfather at the hands of you villagers. She was seven years old then and remembers the cries of her father after you dogs set fire to his hut in the dead of night. She fled with the tribe into the interiors of this forest land and built another village here over many years- she promised the soul of my grandfather that she will take revenge at get the land back."
"But what have we got to do with that? How will capturing us help?" Hari answered, his voice trembling. His father had often told him how they had liberated the village land from an evil tribe; and he took it as nothing more than a story. But coming face to face with reality shocked him.
"Capturing you will help us because the villagers will come searching for you right into our lair and nobody can save them from destruction then." Angamala's mother said with delight.
A shiver ran down Hari's back as he envisioned the place filled with mauled corpses of murdered village folk. He winced. Chandra and Sulochan were stoic. They were led by two tribals and shoved into a tiny hut. "Sleep till you want boys because tomorrow is going to be--" said one of the tribals as he left them in the hut. They didn't know what to do. They were so exhausted that as soon as their heads touched the grass they were asleep.
They awoke after around eight to nine hours and could hear sounds of a fight outside. They hurried out of the hut to see many other huts in flames, wounded tribals lying all around, some were even dead. They were bewildered and relieved at the same time. They could see a crowd in the distance and ran towards it only to find that it was the villagers! Hari, Chandra and Sulochan ran towards their parents with a cry of joy and embraced them warmly. They saw that the chief of the tribe, Angamalas mother, was captured by the villagers and was bound to a tree nearby. Angamala was nowhere to be seen.
You all here! How? How did you know we were here and how did you face this dangerous tribe? Hari asked a stream of questions to his father.He could not believe what he was seeing.
"All thanks to Tirumala" answered the priest, pointing to a stout tribal standing nearby. "He came and told us that you were captured by the Garonamas. We were heading towards the forest to search for you and met him on the outskirts there. He told us everything, led us to the tribe through a secret way and we strategised as to how to overcome these people. Firstly, Tirumala mixed a sleeping potion in water and gave it to all the guards. Next, we quietly sneaked inside and surprised them by an attack! They fought ferociously, but we were more in number and eventually overcame them. We managed to catch Kantidevi but her son escaped. Hari heard the woman's name for the first time. "But we are successful" The priest banged his lathi on the ground and beamed with happiness.
"But who is Tirumala?" asked Hari."He looks very much like our barber in the village who went away some time back"
"If the Garonamas can spy on us, even we can on them, can't we" said his father with a twinkle in his eye.
Hari embraced his father with joy. The villagers took the prisoner with them and with a cry of triumph left for the village. Hari, Chandra and Sulochan were very happy even though they knew that they were going to be thrashed for their 'adventurous deeds' back at home
Hari and his friends have had many more adventures since, specially after a new family came to stay in the village. The new boy, Pratap and Hari became intimate friends soon and Pratap accompanied Hari, Chandra and Sulochan wherever they went. It is here that I propose to end my story but do not know how to; please be so kind as to give me some suggestions.....should I conclude with a 'THE END'? That will be too old fashioned,right? Hmm, I thought so. Then what about 'BYE'? What's that?Too abrupt?Oh, you're right. How about, um, Hari and his friends have had many adventures since, but it is not my intention to recount all here. Thus, I end my story and ask your leave. So? That sounds alright? Great!
Hari and his friends have had many adventures since but it is not my intention to recount all here and waste the time of my readers. Thus, I end my story here and take your leave.