“Nothing can stop me now from going to the Bergs Hill!”
The young Joy ran out of the shop, carrying a soft drink in his hand. He had been waiting deliberately for this day since his family shifted into this city. He had asked his parents almost every day to take him to the hill, or atleast allow him to go but the persuasion was never successful for they knew the perils that lay near the hills. After almost an year, he would now fulfil his wish. He beamed as he remembered how brilliantly he’d fooled his parents into going to Lee’s place.
With a bright smile on his face, the thirteen-year innocence danced towards the hill. The sun was playing hide and seek in the morning sky and the birds were riding the soft wind as if trying to impress each other with their flying skills. It seemed that the weather too was celebrating the birthday of this young joy.
By the time he reached the foothill, he was panting but the sight of destination just right in front of him didn’t allow him to rest and he raced up the hill. The hilltop was more beautiful than he had anticipated.
He laid down on one of the grass patches, a smile of satisfaction spread across his face. Still holding the drink in his hand, he curiously observed the clouds and the wonderful shapes they made in the sky. His nostrils drew in and out a large amount of air as he laid there, silent, allowing the breeze to relax his muscles and cool him by drying the sweat. His body was motionless after the tiring expedition but his mind wandered, wondering at the unique creation of the clouds and the world.
A bird landed near him as his reverie broke and he dropped his bottle as he got up and walked slowly to a side. His eyes were enchanted by the view of what he saw, blocks of houses and bushes to tall buildings, everything seemed small to him, but the sky, now covered by grey clouds, still seemed large.
He looked up at the sky.
“One day, you’ll be in my reach!”the eyes said it all.
He drew in a deep breath and spread his arms to embrace the coolness in the slowly speeding wind, his eyes closed as he smiled at the beauty of the nature.
When he felt thirsty, he went back to the grass patch to grab his bottle. As he bent down, his eyes caught the sight of a small black millipede, running in between the grass. He got on his knees and slowly observed its motion and as the small insect continued its journey, he followed it, his eyes fixed on it. Wherever it went, he followed. Suddenly, he was rolling down the hill. He shrieked, screamed and shouted in pain.
His right cheek bled while there was a deep cut on his left forearm and one on his right thigh and also had rashes on his palms. There were small injuries and scratches all over his body. He laid on the rough ground as he glanced at the hilltop, only to realize that he had reached the steeper end, while blindly following the millipede.
He tightened his fist and clenched his teeth in frustration. He tried to get up and in the process, saw the torn and broken body of the millipede; but his attention shifted to his aching body. Climbing up the steep slope was itself not easy and considering the dire situation he was in, it was almost impossible making him slowly move into the large forest that lay in front of him.
He was not able to walk properly but still kept on dragging himself with the help of the trees that populated the entire area.
He was scared and was hoping only to get home safely as he found himself lost in another world. He cursed himself for not obeying his uncle and the millipede for landing him into this situation.
It was not much time before he heard the first voice in the jungle, of a lion.
His heart fluttered. His eyes widened as they tried to scan everything in sight. He knew that his already paining body won’t allow him to run and so if he was spotted by any animal, it would be the end for him.
He tried to move as fast as possible, but the cut in thigh dragged down his pace. His eyes welled as he lost the hope of living. His throat tightened as he tried to suppress a sob. Not knowing what to do and where to go, he sat against a large tree and looked around in search of any help although he knew it won’t be there. He took his head in his hands and cried, the tears and the sweat caused burning on his palms and only added to his agony. He was now convinced that he could not help himself.
“If only I had not followed that small insect, if only I had not climbed up the hill, if only it were not my birthday today”, in a moment the silence of the forest was filled with the pattering sound of rains, “if only it had rained before”, and the tear drops, showing exact resemblance with the weather, fell down his eyes.
It was only after sometime, when he got tired of crying that it dawned upon him that it was no use sitting there and got up. Joy was drenched to skin and the rainwater, mixed with forest atmosphere was now creating a harsh effect on his wounds, making it difficult for him to sustain each moment.
After walking a few steps, he stumbled against the protruding roots of some old tree and a loud shriek escaped his mouth. He tried to get up, but in vain. He felt like crying again. He tried once more, but as he was about to make it, he slipped in the mud. Tears were again back in eyes but he didn’t cry and made one last attempt with all his might as he got up. Standing never felt so pleasing and amidst the tears, a smile found its place.
He looked up at the sky. “ I won’t quit, do everything in your might!” the eyes said it all.
The rains stopped and a ray of hope could be seen.
He was now all set to continue his alien journey.
As he looked around to decide the path he would be taking, a sight drew all his attention. This time fear, and not tear, found place in his eyes. His hands trembled as he tried to cover his mouth to prevent any sound. He slowly moved backwards as he tried to avoid any attention of the ferocious lion that stood proudly in his sight. The body drenched in rain, looked magnificent. It was sure that the lion had already taken his smell but had still not found him. He moved back a step as he tried to crouch. But then, he slipped. He managed to save himself from falling again as his hands got hold of a lower branch but the swift movement caused a hustle in the leaves, which was enough to draw the attention of the predator.
His eyes met the lion’s as it began its move. Joy moved back a step but then the very same tree against which he cried a few moments ago held him from moving back and he could only stare the death moving towards him. He could hear his heartbeat, his breathing getting shorter with each passing moment. Beads of sweat drenched him to soul. He knew he could not do anything. Running was never an option and he did not have even a name-sake weapon. The hunter increased its pace and ran towards him. When he found the lion pouncing upon him, he closed his eyes.
After a moment, when he thought he were dead, he opened his eyes. He could see the deadly face right in front. His eyes met the animal’s. The same hopelessness that rested in his eyes some moments ago were now in those of his predator. He could get its smell as it closed its eyes and fell down in front of him. He was confused at what he saw.
“You have been saved, kid.”
Somebody shouted out loud. It was shot in its head.