A white van on its way to Masinagudi was rocking with the guffaws inside. The atmosphere varied from loud chuckles to intimate discussions to cat callings and largely interspersed with the stench of beer. Here was a team of 15 on their maiden trip to a jungle resort in Masinagudi.
One gang in this team comprising Nikhil, Arun, Karthik & Jeevan were particularly having a whale of a time . They were fully geared to enjoy the stay….2 nights, 3 days away from work. An all sponsored holiday by their organisation on their project’s successful completion. Just what they needed after many months of hectic work schedules.
Nikhil especially was looking forward to capturing his moments with his new high powered camera.
On reaching the resort, they cleansed and had dinner. They were adviced to get to bed early. The next day was expected to be the action day filled with activities, sight seeing and safaris. But impatient Nikhil had fixed up with a local guy for a night safari on both the days.
It was quite late when their safari jeep arrived. There was a guide, a local, to accompany them. They set off into the jungle. They were adviced to talk in low volumes and refrain from photography. They were told about prospects of spotting jackals, tigers, bisons, big cats, etc. It was a full moon night making it rather a good day for better viewing. But even after twenty minutes into the jungle they could barely spot a thing.
Strange, said the local guide. It was quite unusual. They decided to get back and return the next day. Nikhil suddenly spotted a white cow in the distance grazing in the jungle. How uncanny he thought , at this time, a cow grazing in the jungle! It seemed to look in their direction.
Nikhil : “Hey guys look – who would believe we are seeing a cow in a jungle safari”
Arun : “Where da?”
Nikhil : “Turn around”. “Oh shucks. It seems to have gone now.”
Jeevan : “Man, are you the kind who gets a hangover over a sniff of beer you had 8 hours earlier!!!”
Karthik : Ha ha ha.
Nikhil : “No way. I swear I saw it. Keep looking you might spot it as well.”
Karthik : Next you are going to see a bunch of chickens….you watch out!
Ha ha ha !
But nothing came in their line of vision and they went back disappointed and tired. They crashed out immediately….all except Nikhil. He was very restless and finally when he did manage to shut his eyes he had visions of an accident he had about three years back.
Next day, the team woke up to the chirping sound of the birds. The day looked promising. Soon after breakfast there were events organized in the open. Then they head off to a lake not too far away. It was so beautiful and untouched. They were chilling out and engaging themselves. Nikhil was busy strolling around with his camera and taking shots. Three elephants were marching towards the lake. The team watched from a safe distance. The pachyderms left after drinking the water. Then came a flock of cows.
They were grazed out by a shepherd. All but one. One cow decided to stay over. A big white cow. An extraordinarily white one. Nikhil had just about taken a picture of it when it came charging towards him. He looked around for the gang only to find that they were already settling down in the van. He ran as fast as he could and just about made it to tell his friends about his great escape. His friends looked out only to discover that there was no white cow again.
They had lunch followed by events. It was so fun filled that Nikhil had forgotten the episode. That night the jeep driver came again to pick them up for the safari. The guide was not present this time. Nikhil’s friends dropped out as they were too tired. But Nikhil, hopeful of spotting animals atleast today, decided to carry on. He wanted to make the best of the trip. He got into the jeep and was all set to explore night life in the jungle.
They were about to enter the jungle when Nikhil spotted a man with matted hair, with one hand and one leg trying to crawl across the road in the middle of the night. It was eerie. They barely crossed a half kilometer when a ferocious dog started following the jeep barking loud. In close quarters he realized the dog did not have one ear…seemed to have been bitten off by a wild beast.
They were slowly entering the wilderness. He spotted a pack of wolves at a distance feasting on a carcass of what looked like a bison. Then again nothing for a full half hour. The driver decided to head back. And then Nikhil heard it….. a deafening sound. It was an agonizing cry of an animal. It got louder and louder.
He asked the driver what it was but he guessed he couldn’t possible hear him in this din. They were anyway getting back. Nikhil felt the noise getting closer, closer closer and closer. Suddenly he realized there was a fallen tree ahead. It was not there on their way up. He called out to the driver but again he was not sure if he heard him. The jeep stopped. The driver got off the vehicle. Nikhil was inside.
Nikhil realized the agonizing noise had stopped. The only thing he could hear was his heart beating so fast. He stepped out to check on the driver. He had barely taken a step forward when he realized there was something behind him. It was making a gruesome sound like an animal panting. He turned around….
It was THE white cow. He felt numb. Its eyes were blood red. Nikhil was trying to move but his body wouldn’t cooperate. With great difficulty he started walking backwards. He tripped and fell. The cow did not move. It was right there watching him. The wolves were howling at a distance. Something was pouring down the cow’s eyes which resembled tears. Nikhil tried to reach the driver’s seat and start the vehicle. The cow was still. Just as he was about to start the ignition the cow positioned itself right in front of the jeep. It let out the most agonizing cry that echoed through the entire jungle. Then it came charging towards the jeep. It pushed it down with extraordinary strength and out came Nikhil. It was about to maul him once and for all……
When Nikhil came to senses he was in a hospital. “What had happened to the cow? To the driver?” were his first thoughts.
He looked around and his parents explained. The driver had brought him back from the safari. The driver had stated that that they had not spotted anything significant and were returning after half hour. That was when the driver had stepped out for a biological emergency and when he got back he found Nikhil screaming and shouting. Nikhil’s friends had called his parents who had rushed down. He had been running high temperature for the last few days and had not woken up at all and was on drips.
“What happened to the cow?” He asked repeatedly.
Nikhil was treated by a psychiatrist for some days. The doc’s verdict was the trouble was not the cow but his own scruples. It was to do with the accident he was responsible for a few years back. He was returning home after a party. He was drunk and was listening to loud music in his car. He was driving at a high speed. It was too late when he suddenly noticed a white cow and a little white calf inching across the road. He avoided the cow but couldn’t help banging into the calf. What followed was a horrible sight. The cow was mooing loudly. But he just sped away with some help..…..The white cow’s calf he had killed years back had triggered off his worst fears and the misery Nikhil narrated was an outcome of his guilt. Nikhil tried to believe his doc’s theory.
He was back to work in a while and the episode was forgotten……almost! His friends never brought up the subject. Then one fine day he vaguely remembered that he taken a pic of the ‘cow’ drinking water. He rushed back to check his camera downloads. There it was – a beautiful lake – a huge white cow drinking water – with blood red eyes. He rushed to show it to his friends but all they could see was a little white calf beside the lake.
The nightmare began all over again!!!!!