A hunting trip
Khekiye K. Sema
THIS is an account of a 15-year-old on his very first hunting trip with his uncle, a veteran hunter. Since this character is still alive today, we shall spare him the embarrassment of an identity disclosure and Christian him as ‘Chishi’.Chishi’s uncle had earlier discovered a fruit tree being frequented by a barking deer and had prepared a rampart on another tree close by from where he could sit and dispense judgment on the deer. On the fateful day the uncle decided to give Chishi an opportunity to join him for the hunt. This was about to be the most exciting experience of his life and so young Chishi enthusiastically accepted the offer, even before his uncle could complete his invitation to him for the hunt.
With a well-cleansed 12 Boar double barrel gun, the uncle led young Chishi through the jungle maze and made it to the pre-identified spot well ahead of the feeding time of the deer. They comfortably settled down on the camouflaged rampart and began the waiting game. As the sun slowly dipped towards the horizon, his uncle cautiously turned to Chishi and whispered to the youngster that it was nearing the time for the deer to appear and that he should remain still and maintain absolute silence. Up to this point of time, Chishi had in fact been sitting very still and quietly by the side of his uncle, totally absorbed with anticipation and imagination of things that would soon transpire. However, from that very moment young Chishi heard the stern instruction of his uncle, everything went horribly wrong. Something started to crawl up and down inside his throat. His discomfort mounted by the second. He just couldn’t help clearing his throat. Chishi made the best of efforts to muffle the sound of clearing his throat with his hand cupped to his mouth… U-u-mph! It provoked a rather quick nudge from his Uncle with a bonus of a dangerous stare, which said it all… keep it quite damn it! It must have been a terrible sight since this uncle had extra large eyes as it was. It only helped to worsen the situation for Chishi and that ‘something’ crawling up and down his throat accelerated its presence even more vigorously… another controlled muffle …‘Uuummmph’… followed by a quicker, rougher nudge and a bigger stare from his uncle once more!
The sun had now slowly disappeared below the horizon and dusk had well and truly set in. Young Chishi helplessly took a strangle hold of his throat with all the stealth he could master, to ease the irritation. It just didn’t work. Having failed miserably, he turned his face away from his uncle and let go another muffler…. Uuuummmmph! and yet another one at a regular interval.
The silence of dusk was rudely interrupted by a very loud angry howl from the uncle… “Aaa-yee-hhaaa-aa!! What kind of an animal will come to this place with all horns blowing full blast!!” People five kilometers away would have clearly heard this outburst.
Before the startled Chishi could collect his wits, his uncle had already climbed down the tree and was storming home with his torch erratically flashing ahead of him. He was not even bothered that his goofed up nephew was still stuck up in the tree on the rampart. Young Chishi managed to frantically grope his way down the tree in the darkness in a super quick time and scrambled madly through the thickets and brushes to catch up with his uncle. He finally managed to close up the gap with his fuming uncle.
Now, Chishi was an extremely brave soul…so long as there was daylight. He however discovered with much discomfort that the situation at this particular moment was somewhat different. It was dark! Scampering desperately behind his uncle with branches and twigs flying into his face, disturbed by his utterly annoyed uncle ploughing through the jungle, Chishi began to feel a cold eerie sensation that something from the dark would grab him from behind. His heart was making a punching bag out of his chest and his lungs begged for more air. This was an arrangement not very much to his liking, and so young Chishi decided to alter this scenario with a frantic overtaking maneuver of his uncle. He somehow made it to the front. His uncle was focusing the torchlight to the ground closer to his feet and everything else was dark at the face level and beyond. Though now in front, this eerie feeling still refused to go away. The grab from the darkness was now coming from the front! Though there were only the two of them, Chishi desperately wished that he was in the middle. Well, he made it home all right but was unable to recollect how it was achieved.
This was an experience Chishi would never forget including the fact that his uncle would not speak to him for a week thereafter!
The writer is a retired IAS Officer.
Forest Colony, Kohima