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The Incorrigible

The Incorrigible

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Published by: Ritwik Joshi on Oct 26, 2012
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10/26/2012

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The Incorrigible

Ritwik Joshi

“This summer, I’m proceeding to the inmost recesses of the Himalayas and may be up to the glaciers,” declared my father on a fine spring morning as I got up groggy and tousled from my bed. My extended sojourn inside the quilt, claimed as a legitimate right on weekends, was cut short by this announcement. I was promised a full and fair debate on my inclusion on this trip once I got ready for the breakfast in time. All the rituals were accomplished in an unusually short time, and I was demanding breakfast, something unheard of and a pleasant surprise to my mother. After I had grubbed, a conference was held where my mother also demanded an equal participation. My father was in no mood to take us along because he thought we will not be able to endure the rough and tumble of the rugged terrain. Moreover, it would require additional tents and paraphernalia which meant employing more labourers to carry the camp equipments. This time around, my mother was in no mood to give up and clamoured. “I’m fed up of cooking and doing the chores.” My father finally relented as he faced stubborn and sullen faces, but not before extracting a promise from me for a better performance in the exams and following the discipline of tent life because a mischief may prove costly. My joy knew no bounds when it was decided to take along our Tibetan Mastiff—a large breed furry canine. “Rimi would trudge along well in the mountains, better than you two,” said my father, as the breed is well adapted to such altitudes and topography. “She would stay in my tent,” I said demandingly. “We’ll sort this out later,” said my father. I ended the matter then and there fearing, my perseverance would be received with considerable disapprobation. My track record of over affection to pets had been unflinching. Several reprimands, on ushering Rimi quietly at the dead of night, on my bed in fact indurated our friendship.

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For the late arrival and non compliance. Nand Kishore unconvincingly put the entire blame on the vehicle. With a grin he would glance at me hoping to extract an appreciation for his driving skills. Several soaked towels were wrapped around her and finally some ice was bought to keep the heat away. very meticulously and with great precision. petromax. bamboo poles. He would play the same pranks with the pedestrians and animals on the country side. as he would do every year. hurricane lanterns. will the second be opened. By around noon. canvass buckets. I realised that he did not like Rimi. Despite several reminders to drive slowly and safe he remained true to his spirit of incorrigibility. ropes. tents. This way. medicines. In a hush-hush voice he spoke to my mother. wicks. as only after discarding the first carton which meets every demand of the day. The journey on that eventful day began late as against the wishes of my father who wanted to start at the break of the day. stove and pins etceteras were made in great detail. I noticed.Next few weeks I saw my father packing things. Rimi could not bear the heat and became restless.” These kind words were ascribed to the driver who was allotted to him for the official duty. Not able to impress me. tool kit. One day. As the days passed by and the appointed day was nearing. adhesives. iron and wooden pegs. my enthusiasm was peaking to crescendo. camp cots. In the course of time. This would immensely amuse him. whenever we halted for refreshments and tea. “This fellow Nand Kishore is a rogue. Nand Kishore was very erratic in driving that was commensurate with his behaviour. he is incorrigible and shameless. He would maneuver the jeep very close to bicycle riders nearly hitting them and making them fall on the ground in panic. Packing was even more dexterous. his impish smile would evaporate instantly and he would try still harder for a better achievement. I found my father very upset and flustered. when the sun was right on our head. List of groceries and condiments. He will do just the opposite of what he is instructed. the load would be reduced day by day and so would be the load carriers. And besides. 2 . he would give a contemptuous look to Rimi as she approached him with affectionate gestures lovingly wagging her tail.

The jeep came to a screeching halt. She would have jumped off the vehicle had it not been for the alertness on the part of my father who tightened her leash. the cacophony of horn. The bull came charging with a full blow denting the bonnet. the site offered splendid and enchanting view of the high lands. Sun was racing towards the horizon. 3 . I found my father glaring northward with field glasses and Rimi was standing beside him.” he said hearing my footsteps and removing his binoculars. They were singing in chorus unmindful of the world around them. My immersion was abstracted by the sudden appearance of a robust bull. as is said “Old habits die hard.” tried his tricks again and this time not able to live up to his reputation. The embankment on the rivulet was dotted with peasants returning home carrying haystacks and firewood on their heads. The birds in flocks were returning home. “Looka yonder. Snorting and bellowing. My father yelled at Nand Kishore to turn on the ignition. Albeit. Next morning when I got up and stepped out of the portico. Fatigue of the long journey had worn me down and after an early supper I retired to my bed. The brook on our right emanating from the Siwalik hills was flowing quietly except an occasional sound produced by the impediments of boulders. spending intervening two nights at Inspection Bungalows. engine and Rimi’s bark seemingly confused and perhaps scared the bull who turned around and kicking up the dust from the hind quarters rushed towards the embankment on our right. Not to be left behind. Rimi was on her toes. a flour mill and an apothecary shop. It was sparsely populated farm country with scattered houses. he gave a grotesque look and charged again. the distance between the vehicle and the bull was reasonably safe and negotiable but Nand Kishore. Here at our destination. Nestled in the pine and rhododendron woods. hit the bovine on the hind side. We reached our destination on the third day late afternoon. The melee that ensued.It was nearing dusk and our first day’s destination was still thirty miles away. growling and barking violently baring her teeth. we were to spend first few days at the Forest Rest House in Jasrauli until some land was cleared of bushes and shrubs for camping.

all five surrounded my father and were discussing something not very clearly audible to me in the portico. “These are for her safety and protection. quite reasonable in numbers. I would like to meet them. Dhani Ram reported back that there was a shortage of labourers as most of them had been employed in the removal of debris. frequent the woods and the bells would help us in retrieving her in case she strayed in the forest.It was a breath taking scene. Soon. The collar would safeguard and prevent leopards from wounding her who. “And of course would forewarn her presence to animals to avoid confrontation. I learnt that the older one had finished his college majoring in history whereas the rest four were still in school. Presently.” explained my father glancing at my quizzical look. and reconstruction some twelve miles from here. A specially fabricated metal collar with spikes placed around her neck and few small jingle bells tied to her legs. Multi coloured birds were chirping in the woods and flitting over the buds. It was very puzzling to see Rimi in her new outfits. Men folks were ploughing the fields while women in the barn were chaffing the corns from the ears.” clarified Dhani Ram. “It is so clear because it rained the previous night. The snowy Himalayan range sparkling in the morning sun against a clear blue sky with coniferous trees in the foreground. Four of them were in the age group of twelve to sixteen and one somewhat older. 4 . My father sent for the chowkidar Dhani Ram and asked him to arrange five to six persons on daily wages who would be assisting my father in his job. “Arrange for some chairs in the lawn. About two hours later. a severe earthquake had hit the area. Soon they were let off and asked to report back an hour later for the assignment. where a month ago.” instructed my father. They are students and have volunteered to work. They were having their holidays and wanted to earn some pocket money.” explained my father. “Five boys have come forward.” he continued.

“Pappu would assist in the kitchen. By mid day everything was very neatly arranged with camp cots put in place. Kailash and Lalit would accompany me to the field work. Grossly immersed. These ghost stories would frighten me and send goose pimples all over my body but I would maintain a bold façade. Each morning he would leave for geological investigations and return late in the afternoon.” instructed my father. and data collected in the field would be transferred to them. a special kind of compass attached to his belt. Three tents were in a row. In the evening and stretching up to dinner time. One of the latter was for bath with neatly laid chiseled paving stone disjointed from the nearby rock exposure and the other served as a toilet. She 5 . together they cleared a glade off shrubs and bushes and in no time six tents were pitched. Following a self imposed frugal dieting because of heat and arduous journey. All of us had a break for the lunch and then assembled again. Next morning. lantern and petromaxes cleaned and filled with kerosene. pondering over the field diary and maps for a great length of time. the fourth a ‘Kitchen Tent’ was in front and the rest two ‘Necessary Tents’ in short referred to as ‘N Tents’ were farther and some distance apart. large maps would be unrolled. water for bath and drinking arranged and kitchen established. By evening. the major part of the job was accomplished under the watchful eyes of my father. field glasses and adorning a large sun hat. Sometimes my father would also join us when he was through with his plotting. the youngest of the lot would look after the camp site and do the errands while Girish. a shirt with lot of flap pockets.Displaying amazing alacrity. Except for the two. Their day began by clearing another piece of land some two hundred metres south of our camp site for parking the empty trailer and another tent for the driver. the entire contingent and Rimi would sit around us. the rest were off from the duty but would seldom show eagerness to return home. Jeevan. marching boots. They would narrate to us the folk lore and ghost stories. he held a special hammer in his hand. he was often heard and seen talking to himself and making gesticulations with both hands. Rimi responded to regular meals as a parched land does to rain. I saw my father in different attire. Wearing blue jeans. While mamma and I would sit in front of camp fire. Next day they were summoned early in the morning.

As the days passed by. In return. when my father bought her for three thousand rupees. Rimi also poured her affection over Jeevan in unbound measures. Her dam had died in an accident soon after she and her siblings were born. She was rising three weeks then. which normally is done after eight weeks. Rimi earned her popularity in the neighbourhood. They were raised by a surrogate mother. I have discovered this through my own sources. Some would feed her millet and maize while others brought her turnips and nuts. She is rising five and half years now. they would tease her by dropping rotten or half eaten fruits. Otherwise obedient. Once ensconced on tree tops. 6 . She would dash down to valley side and chase them who would promptly seek refuge in a tree. In no time she became the darling of every one . My mother somehow assured the lady that this would not happen again. to avoid an early neglect. Village folks from far and wide would visit our camp site to have a look at the furry species nothing short of a Himalayan black bear adorning a similar white ‘V’ on the chest. a ritual for which I competed fiercely with my next rival Jeevan. Therefore. She became the bone of contention among the five over her ownership for the evening strolls. Jeevan and I played with Rimi during the day after she was thoroughly brushed and cleaned. it had become imperative to separate her from the litter. She won the heart of one and all except Nand Kishore.was enjoying the salubrious wilderness. she would on seeing troops of langurs. disregard our instructions.The boys had fallen head over heels in love with her. Certainly the altitude and the place had their effect in shaping her to grow upon a very attractive and handsome specimen.” complained a chubby lady.” My son is offering his share of milk to your pet.” complained the concerned woman. My mother was ignorant about this deal between Jeevan and me where I had an equal participation. and all the gold in India would not buy her. He despised her for reasons best known to him and the prophet. please refrain him from doing this. “Madam.

The brook on the leeward side of the embankment flowed quietly with scattered egrets trying their luck. was in a flash. As we entered an Inspection Bungalow of public works department. By second day we were descending down the hills and nearing the vast alluvial plains of north India. 7 . we decided to go out and see the country side. My father was standing with his arms akimbo and enjoying the country side when the crowd hollered. dried in the sun and packed in gunnies. My father’s assignment was over. and with ears laid back and tail tucked in. We abandoned our tents and moved to the Rest House again. Nand Kishore had already left towards the river with a towel and a fresh pair of clothes. It was nearing three months since our arrival at Jasrauli. it became hotter by each descent. Yelping she came down with a thud. on occasions were obliged to him for a free ride. The gay crowd in gay garments was returning from the village fair nearby. Snacks and tea were soon ordered from the stall and we relished them. It was a parched landscape and unusually hot for us as we had been accustomed to the cooler climate of the mountains. On the road side adjoining the bungalow was a crowded tea stall where village folks were supping tea.bye to our young brigade. Tents were brought down. To take off his heat and drowsiness. An enormous bull was charging our vehicle and people were running helter-skelter. His boorish behaviour was not liked by the villagers but they tolerated him as they. While my mother rested in the suite. The last night was celebrated with a camp fire and sweets were distributed to all. the chowkidar opened the suites for us. we had covered some distance in the plains when we decided to have some leisure and refreshments. tossed in the air. Next morning after a group photo session we bade good. By about two in the noon. In the intervening period he made several trips to the interior taking the Alpine tents and leaving us in the company of Rimi and two guards. They were loaded on the trailer along with boxes containing neatly packed rock chips for further examination under the microscope at the headquarters.Presently. The vehicle moved slowly towing the trailer on the winding curves and I kept gazing at the forlorn site until every thing disappeared from my view. I gathered that no one liked Nand Kishore. Rimi turned around and dashed towards the bull to take on. As the altitude lowered.

ran for dear life. it unaccountably stopped and then moved in the reverse direction. the formidable and the fearful crossed over and were soon out of sight. who occasionally visits us. The return journey witnessed an antithesis of him. The bull followed her towards the embankment. For about twenty. with tears in his eyes and oblivious of the act of obscenity that he performed a while ago. All the assistance my father could render was to shout at the full extent of his lungs. Since then. Only then did we realise the coincidence when someone from the crowd informed that the bull was acting roguish for the past three months. as he came out of the room. the women with squinted eyes sniggered and blushed at this strange yet amusing sight. is a changed 8 . Both escaped by showing a clean pair of heels and providence.five or thirty metres the desperate and unequal race for survival and supremacy continued and just as the bull was within the reach of Nand Kishore. Both. Dressed. The men folk joined in lustily and the tumultuous pandemonium reached its climax.” murmured my father as he stepped out of the vehicle to enter the portico of our house. Not looking back. not displaying his driving skills again and. Nand Kishore. Bowing their heads and avoiding a direct look. A man who could not be amended by any one from the superior race was so easily recompensed by only two representatives of the Animal Kingdom. he carried the impression to his adulthood that “animals do not forget their friends and foes alike. Lo and behold! Rimi appeared on the scene again bounding and followed by Nand Kishore. He drove straight and cautiously. Years have passed by and Rimi is no more with us. One from the crowd was sent to retrieve the assets left behind by Nand Kishore and promptly deliver them to him. “Strange are the ways of nature. the overriding thoughts that filled his mind was that he was saved by Rimi who intruded into his privacy to forewarn him of the bull’s intentions. Strong believer of childhood tales. completely stripped and running for his life from the imposing danger as the bull approached and gained on him at every gallop. at every halt went out of his way to buy some eatables for Rimi.” He was caressing Rimi time and again who found a new companion in him. The crowd burst into peals of laughter on catching the sight of a man running in his birthday suit. he had been challenging only jeeps that passed by and ignored the rest. the sprint continued until they snugged into the dingy room of the chowkidar.

I am reminded of this trip.personality now. Ritwik Joshi 52 – Bal Vihar Colony Post Office CIMAP Lucknow-226015 Ph. Kamal Kunj Mahanagar Branch. 0522-2342604 Class XII-2 City Montessori Inter College B-320. I become nostalgic and this incident still sets my ribs tickling at its very reminiscence. Whenever. New Building Lucknow – 226 006 9 .

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