Read #1 book on Hinduism and enhance your understanding of ancient Indian history.
Read #1 book on Hinduism and enhance your understanding of ancient Indian history.

Evil In The Jungle

Evil In The Jungle

12 mins 849 12 mins 849

I'm Jamie Rosenbloom and I'm kind of a wizard. I live in a small town in California, a suburb of San Francisco, called Fremont. Let me explain this to you. I didn't exactly want this jaw-snapping, hair-raising, terrifying adventure. I'm more of a guy who'll explore far-off, exotic places, have death-defying experiences, not through actually going there but by curling up on a cushy armchair, near the fireplace, and reading a book. Even in this technologically advancing world, I've learned to cherish the last true magic, words.

It all began on a normal day in my abnormal family (we should have a show about us). When you have a mom and dad like mine, you're bound to be...different. I'll be honest with you guys. We're all a little kooky, a little on the edge. All of us are insanely creative, innovative, and never let the rules bind us. My mom, Blue Rosenbloom, is a world-renowned archaeologist and environmentalist. She has been credited with the most valuable find ever, literally, the lost Inca City of Gold, Paititi. My dad, Nick Rosenbloom, is a Nobel-Prize winning botanist who has discovered over 164 types of flora. They're both pretty adventurous, but I am far from that part of the gene pool.

I become so scared of little things, I freeze up. Though with my parents' sky-high expectations, I've turned out okay. I'm good at school and according to my friends, awesome at writing. Like Martin Luther King Jr., I have a dream that one day I'll be an award-winning, highly celebrated author!

Okay, let's continue… My dad had been studying a new plant that he'd discovered in India. In honour of the strange, large, bulbous, head-like structure at the top of the stem, he nicknamed it Li'l Einstein. I had been baking cookies over at my grandma's. My grandparents' house is just across the road; my grandmother had given my dad permission to marry Mom only if their new house would be five minutes away from hers! I packed some cookies in a Ziploc, said goodbye to Grams and Grandpa, and cycled back home for dinner to hear the news that would change my life.

Over pizza (it was ‘Friday Funky Fun Night') that night, my dad dropped an atom bomb. It turns out, he had received funding for an expedition to India, for which all of us would be leaving the next morning. Mom would be coming along to study the modern forest dwellers and tribes. Me, I would have to survive in a land filled with bloodthirsty mosquitoes, enraged rhinos, and deadly tigers which were almost impossible to spot in the vivid colours of the jungle. I was as terrified as a mouse trying to escape from the clutches of an eagle. I moaned, "Dad! Why me, what have I done to deserve this? What about my books, my friends, my school!"

Dad replied, "James, this will be a new experience for you!"

Mom quipped, trying to lower the tension, "Hopefully this time you don't think the branches are snakes."(Long Story!)

Dad continued, "As for school, I've arranged for you to take some time off ."

I was about to whine when Mom gave me ‘THE LOOK' and said,"No arguments!" Then she sent me to bed. I was in a difficult predicament. It was like I was heading to Tartarus (an endless pit full of monsters in Greek mythology) and like all the Greek heroes, for me too, there was no way out! I fell asleep only to find myself in a world of ghoulish nightmares. My overactive imagination was trapping me inside my own head.

The next morning went by in a blur. I didn't even get to say bye to my grandparents. Before I knew it I was on the plane, from my home in the comfy suburbs of San Francisco to the vibrant city of Mumbai. I read about India on the plane from a tour guide Mom had brought. So, basically, a few years ago, there had been a freak storm near the bottom edge of South India, which includes Sri Lanka and the area near Kanyakumari--the southernmost city in the Indian peninsula--in ruins(this part looks disconnected). All human life was gone. It was the worst natural disaster the world had ever seen. A jungle had sprung up there, with Mother Nature taking back the land that belonged to her. Many animals, plants, and traditional native forest dwellers made it their home. That's where we were heading, to the tip of the subcontinent.

The journey from Mumbai to what was now called the Great Indian Rainforest wasn't very interesting. We got into a helicopter straight from the airport and even with the deafening roar of the blades, my jet-lag made me fall asleep. When I came to my conscience, we were landing on a helipad in a camp in the middle of the jungle. On stepping out of the helicopter we were greeted with what was like a full-blown party. There were people playing drums made of animal skin and wood, traditional dancers and a snake charmer. Two of the dancers came forward and put tikkas on our foreheads. We were treated to shikanji and tasty mithai, including many types of barfi. We went to our tent, which was the biggest in camp, reserved for honourable guests.

While Mom and Dad prepared for our trek, which was to start the next day, I went to meet our guide who would be with us for the next week. He was a short, sturdy man named Sanjay, who was quite adept at telling stories. He had an entertaining way of telling them by acting out all the sounds and modulating his voice. In only a few hours, I knew all about the demons of the jungle, the silent killers, the deadly insects, the ones with a poisonous bite.

He told me about a time when he, on seeing a tiger, had hidden in a tree, from where he later saw a once-in-a-lifetime battle between an endangered Royal Bengal tiger and a rare extinct white version of the same. He had a knack for beautifully weaving an adventure out of the blandest of stories. Soon enough it was dinnertime. After eating some lip-smacking sabji (I can't believe I loved eating vegetables) and a few different types of curries, I went back into the tent and dove into a dreamless sleep.

The next morning, we woke up at the crack of dawn. After a tasty breakfast of sambar-dosa, we set off through the jungle. We'd taken elephants to ride upon for the first day. The mahouts were walking near my elephant while my mom and Dad had commandeered the other one. Sanjay was leading the whole group on foot. As morning became afternoon and evening turned to night, the sun completed its path and finally disappeared into the sky from which it had risen. We stopped at various points with Dad taking samples, Mom conversing with the mahouts and guides (she had learned Hindi in college) while I took pictures. We admired the wonders of Mother Nature, seeing a variety of amazing animals, most of which were hidden in the vivid colours of the humid jungle, plants lying on the forest floor, brimming with life... Following the shimmering path of air before us, we came to a majestic waterfall with clear fresh water roaring down the rocks. It was like paradise on Earth, like the fabled home of the Greek Lord of the wild; the God Pan (not the cooking utensil). Everything was perfect except for the constant bites of the bloodthirsty mosquitoes. It was a wonder none of us caught malaria after the trip! We set up camp near the waterfall on a platform of smooth, shiny rocks.

All was well until we sat down for dinner. We were sitting around a bonfire Sanjay had built when something suddenly fell down from above, right in front of me. A regal sight to behold, I was hypnotized by an Olympian specimen of the Great King Cobra. The longest venomous snake in the world, they can reach up to 18 feet long. While I froze up, the cobra got ready to strike, swaying its head, paralyzing me with its stare. Sanjay wasted no time. He grabbed its head and pulled it shut. The mahouts brought a wooden cage out of nowhere and the cobra was trapped. Shocked by my encounter with the snake, I stumbled into my tent and slipped into my sleeping bag in a daze.

I woke up that night to hear the sound of a living camp. I felt a flurry of movement around the camp, and there was a tingling feeling that made me feel as if spiders were crawling all over my body. Before I could do anything, I felt a prick in my neck and the world began to spin. The last thing I remember was seeing somebody who looked exactly like me but with darker skin.

I came to my senses in a wooden cage big enough to hold a house. Mom and Dad were searching the cage for something they could use to get us out. I gave out a sigh of relief thinking that the guides and mahouts must have escaped. As soon as Dad noticed I was awake, he quickly pulled me into an embrace. Mom too joined the hug, crying,"Thank God you're okay! We were scared beyond death!" Soon we were all crying, able to find comfort only in each other.

Interrupting our family moment, I heard a voice exactly like mine. Dressed ceremoniously in a bright blue tunic with a crown of wood and amber on his head my doppelganger spoke in English, not Hindi (unexpected). "Now, now," he said sarcastically, "there's no need to worry. After all, you're only going to be burned alive, sacrificed to the magnificent God Agni (the Hindu god of fire), so he may bless me with incredible powers!"

His monologue continued, "According to an ancient ritual, sacrificing one who looks exactly like you through fire will give you double the power, double the brain, double the magic, double the success of any other person in the world. Burning the parents…well, it's just fun! Mwa-ha-ha! I have already obtained a magic that allows me to speak any language. People like you have been destroying my ancestral home, the jungle for centuries. My family died because of people like you! Now, it's my turn! I will take revenge for them and my tribe.Tonight you die! Tonight, I become God! I am Alimobinadodado!" By his strange demeanor and the manic look in his eyes, you could tell there was no stopping him.

There was nothing we could do. We were left alone with two guards.I slumped onto a pile of leaves only to jump up with a scream of pain. There was a strong but blunt ceremonial knife hidden in the pile of leaves. This knife could save us from certain death. The guards believed me when I said I was panicking. Dad set to work cutting and dislodging the wooden bars at the back of the cage while Mom and I distracted the guards with her pretending to calm me from my supposed fit. The guards had gone for a bathroom break in the trees when we managed to slip out of the hole Dad had made.

We ran towards the woods only to find ourselves surrounded from all sides by hundreds of tribesmen. There was no escape. I managed to let out a cry for help but there was no hope as my voice echoed through a dreary, lifeless forest.

We were bound, gagged and dragged along the ground. All I was thinking was that if I ever survived, the number of diseases I was bound to get would kill me. There was a variety of slimy moss growing on the ground. I'd started to think it was growing on my face and would eventually take over my brain. I was delirious because my bucket of hope had been emptied and crushed.

We struggled as much as we could. Dad even managed to get his gag free. But it was all for nothing because we were tied to an iron spit, ready to be roasted over a fire. I realized that Alimobinadodado was going to eat us! His madness had turned him into an animal, a cannibal!

Alimobinadodado began, "Today, I reach my true potential! Today I gain the power to save our civilization!" So the fire was lit and my crushed bucket of hope was thrown into a bottomless chasm of darkness. When we finally came to terms with our imminent death and all hope seemed lost, we heard a horn. This horn signaled rebirth for me as the guides, mahouts, birds, and animals of the jungle rushed in to save us. There was magic in the jungle, ancient magic, and it had come to protect us.

A raging battle ensued, the tribe with spears and stones, Alimobinadodado making mystical gestures and throwing people into the air with magic. The jungle fought back with its claws, tusks, and fangs, it fought with its life for ours. Knowing this battle would cause immense destruction, I strode to the center of the battlefield, miraculously unharmed and used the power inside me. I unleashed the truest and most powerful magic, the magic of words, the magic of the world, wave by wave, visible blue waves of power resonating from my heart. As I spoke, the waves hypnotized the people around me. It was horrifying, deadly, sad, happy and exciting, all at the same time!"Stop!" I screamed, "You are just destroying yourself, your family, your world!"

My voice rang out true and clear as the jungle fell silent. "We live in a world where every day we get a choice. If we live in a world full of grief and despair, are we really making the right choices? Lay down your weapons, use your hearts!"

Everybody got thrown backward by a huge wave emerging from my heart as their weapons flew up into the air. A huge King Cobra (the one who had almost bit me) sank its fangs into Alimobinadodado's neck just as he let out a guttural roar. The evil chief was dead! We had saved the jungle!

Over the next few days, we helped the people and animals of the jungle, united as one, to lay down the foundations to restore the jungle to its former glory. The elders explained that it had been foretold that I would save the jungle. Apparently, I was some kind of ultra-powerful wizard. This mystical power led me through many more adventures. It showed me that any of us can become the brightest of stars in the darkest of nights. But this one was the one that inspired me to remember that one small ray of light can make the darkest cloud disappear.


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