Mysterious Teddy18 mins 16K 18 mins 16K
“DAKSHITHA, GET INSIDE THE BUS. We are already getting late by two hours. C’mon don’t give us trouble,” her mother said. She was pushing her child to climb up the bus foot board. Her relatives and neighborhood people were screaming from the bus, to get her inside.
“No mom, I can’t come. I can’t come. You go and join them. I will go to house and play with Mithun,” Dakshitha said, she was holding a small teddy bear in her hands. It was greenish yellow color and had soft linen fur on it. It’s like you are clasping bunch of feathers in your hands. Mithun was a puppy dog, which grew along with her.
“Are you going to go inside or I should throw this teddy bear into the ditch,” her mother’s voice was so strident now. She panted and ran her hand on her forehead as if she was going to grab her dress and throw her inside the bus. But she didn’t.
“Mom please understand me. I couldn’t travel. I will die if I travel in this bus,” Dakshitha said and few tears sprouted from her small blue eyes.
Her father and brothers laughed on hearing this, they were sitting close to the window in the back seat. Her brother Lino was showing his face as wrinkles formed over it, and rammed the side of the bus with his splayed palm to provoke her.
“What?” her mother said.
“Yes mom,” she was sobbing lightly and her pony tails were bobbing up and down, “there is some evil force in the bus and it will kill me if I get inside. No, I won’t join you.”
Her father wasn’t happy at all, “Hey, come in baby. We have to start now. Don’t worry I will buy loads of chocolates for you on the way. Come in,” he gestured with his hand.
“No Kashyap, she is not ready. She is telling something weird. I don’t know how to convince this small crook. Come here,” her mother said.
The bus driver had blared the horn twice now. The others were excited for this journey. They had planned to go boathouse in the Gutiyala, just forty kilometers north from Kadappa. They used to see some important place every year. The last time they had visited Maylavaram dam. It was pleasant experience for them, as everyone had quality time with others and enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere.
Dakshitha’s father came out of the bus with heavy strides and had beaten across Dakshitha’s face, her eyes immediately poured tears and wailed strongly now, “I don’t want to come. I don’t want to come. Leave me alone. I will go to house….” She was mumbling these words as cried. Her small fisted hands wiped tears around her eyes, but it wasn’t enough to stop the copious flow. Her father now tossed this small girl inside the bus and whistled at the driver to start the ride. The bus roared suddenly and they were snaking through the forest like village, it was full of greenery as tall spruce and palm trees were everywhere.
“You……..sit here,” Dakshitha’s mother pushed her in the seat, very close to the window as her face plastered to the glass window. Her tears clung to the glass as if misty rain drops fell on it. She sobbed as clutched the teddy bear in between her thin legs. The violet frock she wore was just ended above her knees, her white shanks were shown.
The young fellow, who sat just behind the driver, had played a rocking song from ‘Chennai express’. He raised the sound immediately. The old fellow sat in the middle cupped his ears with both hands and said, “Hey, little mongoose, reduce the volume. My ears will explode if you raise the volume like this.”
“Hah, old timer, shut your mouth and ear. We aren’t going in mortuary van to mum ourselves. We are heading toa boat trip man. Enjoy the songs. Did you ever hear such beats in your young life?” the young fellow said, who had spiky hair in the centre and the sides of his skull was trimmed. He wore cargo pants and blue polo T-shirt, he tied red scarf around his neck which was flying as the bus went down the nursery school and Government health centre and took left turn and went straight to join the SH31 national highway.
“See how these young guys are talking. They have lost their senses how to respect the elders,” the old fellow said to his wife, who chewed tik-tac to refresh her mouth.
“Why are you troubling them? Let them enjoy. You are the worst fellow than these guys in their age. Remember how you had whistled to get my attention in my school,” the old woman said as smiled, there were only two teeth in her mouth. One was in upper and one was in lower. Her leathery arms and face was wrinkled, but she was healthier even in this old age.
The aunties and uncles who sat in the back, laughed loudly. These old fellows shied away, particularly the old woman buried her face on her husband’s chest.
A couple of young guys and some girls were dancing to the high beat of the song. The bus was running smoothly. There was no traffic, road was very clear and the early morning fog was still hung in the sky, as orange sun was coming out slowly. The driver also drummed his fingers on the steering wheel as he hummed a few words of the song. He was really enjoying this drive.
“Dakshitha, have these butter cookies. You haven’t even had milk in the morning,” her mother said, as extended the Britannia biscuit pack towards her.
The little girl shook her head and said, “No, I don’t want it.”
“If you won’t eat, you can’t enjoy the boat trip, understood?” her mother muttered. She was getting angry because her daughter was behaving strangely today. Dakshitha had always earned a good name among her parents for obeying their commands and never being adamant to any of the matters, but today she was making them feel bad about her.
Dakshitha didn’t say anything, but prodded her hand over the soft fur of the teddy bear.
“What happened to you today? What’s the matter with you?” her father said, he was visibly unhappy. If Dakshitha won’t say the truth, he was really going to beat her again. He fisted his fingers and stared at her.
Dakshitha stopped stroking the teddy bear and look at her father, “Will you beat me if I tell the truth?”
Her father smiled and looked at her wife and back to Dakshitha, “See dear, if you won’t tell me the truth then only I will be angry with you. C’mon tell me now.”
“Dad, today morning, the teddy bear spoke to me. It told me, I shouldn’t join this trip because our boat is going to trip off and everyone will die falling in the water,” Dakshitha said, in a very childlike voice. Her father and her brothers laughed at her.
“Bah, this is the reason why you were adamant to join with us, eh?” her elder brother teased her. He tossed the football above his head and caught it. He had planned to play football with other guys in the garden, close the boathouse.
“Hey, be silent. Don’t hurt her,” her father said.
“See Dakshitha,” her father scooped the tendrils of hair fallen in front of Dakshitha’s forehead and tucked it behind her right ear. And took the teddy bear from her and continued, “this is just a toy, it can’t speak anything like us. It doesn’t know anything about this world. It is just a dead piece, that’s it.”
“Daddy, don’t call it dead piece. You are lying to me. It spoke to me today. You know what, it actually wished me happy birthday last week. It was the first person had wished me that day. Then only mother and you sneaked into my room and wished me birthday wishes,” Dakshitha said.
Her mother was bemused and didn’t know what to speak. Until now she thought she was behaving weird, but first time her heart beat spurred like spacecraft. But she didn’t want to believe in this story at all. She thought she was attached to that teddy bear closely, that’s why she was thinking it had talked with her. Also she believed it was illusion and she had created herself.
“Dakshitha, my dear. The lifeless teddy bear can’t speak anything, okay? You promised that you never lie in front of me, remember?” her mother said in a stern voice.
“Yeah I remember. But I am not lying with you,” Dakshitha said.
“Are you going to tell us the truth or what?” her mother boomed now, as raised her hand.
“Neema, be calm. Don’t raise your voice. Otherwise people think there is something wrong with us,” her husband said. “But……..” Neema said and shook her head.
Dakshitha’s father slowly turned at his daughter and said, “See Dakshi, no force can destroy us. This teddy bear would have tried to make you feel anxious. But you don’t worry my child, we will be safe. You just enjoy. Do you want to dance for that song?”
“No Dad. I don’t want. But my teddy bear never tells lies,” Dakshi said.
Her father was furious now, and his patience was suddenly drained out. He didn’t want to discuss about this topic anymore. He wanted to join with other neighborhood friends and chat with them.
“Then ask your teddy bear to talk now. If it tells something then I believe,” he said as scratched his trimmed beard. His center of the skull was bald, but his hair in sides wasn’t greyed yet.
Her mother was curious as she chipped her fingernail with her teeth.
“It won’t talk now daddy. It is shy to talk before others,” Dakshitha said immediately, but her lips were about to smile.
“Fine, today I am gonna show you that your teddy had dissuaded you. You are going to see that in a hour.” her father said and patted her back.
Dakshitha threw a reluctant face but anticipated to enjoy this trip with her parents and brothers.
In an half an hour, they had reached the boat house. You could see the water clearly from the pier. It was stretched miles away from south to north direction. Lot of foreign birds had come to shelter there. The place was so colorful with different birds and their preening and crooning voices echoed everywhere. These birds sung like melodies. The greenery was surrounded this small river like place. The counter was thronged with people, who were in the queue to buy the tickets. Some mothers were screaming at their children for jumping around all over the places, it wasn’t noisy though.
Already few boats were traveling through the water, and few boats were tied up with long poles.
“Come on everybody. I have got tickets for all of us,” Dakshitha’s father said.
The people circled him. There were about twenty two people travelled together. These were distant relatives of Dakshitha. Most of them were aunties and uncles.
“Okay, make three groups. I think it will be tougher to go in the same boat,” one lady said.
“No, we will miss all the fun if we travel in different boats. You know it defeat the purpose,” one aunty said, she wore heavy brownish lipstick. She was fat and shorter. Her husband was completely reverse to her.
Dakshitha went down the garden to take the football hit by her brother. She was giggling, as it ran in a zigzag manner. But she kept her teddy bear tightly in her left hand. She didn’t want to give it to anybody.
“Fine, we will go and talk with the boat fellow. We will decide after hearing him,” Kashyap said.
“That’s a good idea,” the old man said. They all joined together in the pier. But Dakshitha was still searching behind the football hidden inside the grown bushes.
“Dakshitha……….” Her mother yelped now.
Finally Dakshi found the ball in her hands and hurried to join them.
“C’mon dear, let me hold your hand. You shouldn’t go away from me, okay?” her mother said. Though she didn’t believe anything what her daughter said, she had a faint unrest in her mind. That’s why she was caring her daughter more than required.
“Forty people can travel in this boat. It is very strong,” the boatman said as punched his hand at the upper plank of the board.
Kashyap slightly feared, but the boatman’s strong statement made him feel good, “Okay, then get inside the boat. We all travel in this single boat.”
It was a motorized boat. He turned on the starter, when people had seated safely inside. But the boys were seated on the edge of the boat, as they took selfies through mobile phones. Even few girls had rubbed their faces closer as took selfies. Aunties and uncles didn’t stand up but gossiped as they sat in their seats. Dakshitha and her mother sat in the center. The crawling fear had made her to take that decision, but her father and brothers were standing next to the boatman and talking with him. He was telling the old stories about this place. The boat slowly and steadily went ahead through the water. The ripples were formed as the boat trundled upon the water. You could see some birds were hovered past them and perched on the top of the trees, in sideways.
“Some Australian birds didn’t come to this spot this year. Because the monsoon isn’t good this time. Even I couldn’t see some of the Singaporean species,” the old man said to Kashyap, “you know what last year there were about thousand different types of birds came here from all over the world.”
“Is it?” Kashyap said.
The boatman increased the speed of the boat, it was pacing swiftly now. A boat crossed them now, they were returning back to the pier. The young boys and girls cheered as beckoned their hands at them and hollered something in joy.
“Yes, it was started only five years back. Before to that not a single foreign bird has entered this spot. But after this kookaburra had come to this place, a lot birds like amur falcon, magpie, pelican and others had joined here,” the boatman chuckled, “see even the male birds are always after a female bird.”
“That’s the law of nature, we can’t do anything about it,” Kashyap said and laughed.
The boatman belched a laugh in return.
“Is there any crocodiles in the water?” Kashyap asked.
The boatman lighted the cigarette with a matchstick. He shook his hand as the fire in the matchstick died and he tossed it into the water. He blew smoke out of his mouth.
“No, but you can find a lot of water-snakes in it. But it won’t harm us you know,” the boatman said and grinned. Kashyap started enjoying the scenery, and his sons were snapping photos around them.
“Dakshitha, what are you doing?” the old woman asked.
The little girl didn’t respond. She didn’t enjoy this trip at all. She still believed that her teddy never lied with her.
“Dakshitha, you should respond to her,” her mother said in a commanding voice.
“Don’t criticize. Let her be. She is just a small girl,” the old lady said, as ran her fingers over her hair.
The boat suddenly slowed down. The motor was creaked loudly and halted. The boat was slowly moving now as if they were rowing with oars. You could hear the faint ripples from either side of the boat.
“What the fuck?” the boatman said and hit his fisted hand on the steering. The motor roared a few times and died away. He spewed on the water.
“What happened man?” Kashyap asked him.
“I think the motor has failed to run. Maybe something stuck in it,” the boatman said.
“What should we do now?” Kashyap said.
“Nothing. Don’t panic. I will make it ready within few minutes,” the boatman said.
The boatman had opened the top cover of the motor and looked at the fuel section. The diesel was filled to the brim of the fuel tank, and there was no issue with it. He had pushed his hand inside to know if the engine was heated. When he rummaged inside, he found something squelchy and silky in his hand, and he thought some napkins had caught in it. But when he drew his hand out, it was coming to the length of his height. It was something like snake, but it wasn’t really. The head was like an elephant having big ears and big face, but the whole length of the body was like anaconda.
There was sudden panic seized in the boat. The elephantine snake slid from the boatman’s hands and stood in front of him as its face was bobbing up and down. The boatman snatched a knife, but it was too late. The elephantine snake crawled beneath his feet and swirled around his body like rope had been tied. And it started squeezing him tightly as the boatman’s bones were crashing now. His spine was crushed into half and his throat was strangled. He was gasping for air now. The people were scrambling to and fro and didn’t know what to do now. They were in the middle of water, and no boat was crossing to save them now. Kashyap had snatched the bamboo stick from the boat and hit it. But it had squeezed the boatman to death, as the fresh blood spurted from his mouth and his eyes had been clinging out of the sockets. The deadly snake now released him as the dead boatman fell on the boat.
Now the elephantine snake nodded at Kashyap as if it was going to attack him now. But it didn’t attack him and just slid away from there and fell on the water with a loud plopping sound.
“Dad, what the fucking snake is its?” Dakshitha’s brother said to Kashyap.
“I don’t know boy. We should get out of here immediately,” Kashyap said. His face was drenched with sweat. His fingers were shaking yet.
Dakshitha had buried her face on her mother’s lap and she was sobbing badly now. Everyone had seated in the center of the boat, crouching close to one another, the monstrous fear had seized them already. They felt like they were in the middle of the sea. The jostling boys and girls were silent now. They looked at each other in panic and their breath became faster. The old woman was already weeping and leant on old man’s shaggy shoulders.
“Do something fast. We are going to die for sure,” the heavy lipstick aunty said, she was crying now. Tears were stepped out of her black eyes in a sneaky way.
One aunty mumbled a prayer as folded her hands before her chest.
Kashyap had pressed the starter button again and again. It gurgled slowly but died. He kicked his feet on the motor. Suddenly it started now. The boat began running down the water. The people began cheering now. He guided the boat to take U turn and it was gliding on the water smoothly now.
Before the boat went down four hundred meters the boat halted again. The panic seized. Everyone looked at their faces and swallowed a lump down their throats. The aunty was kept praying. The boat slowly jerked to and fro, there was eerie silence ensued now. You could hear the ripples formed in the water.
Boom….the elephantine snakes came from either side of the boat and grabbed the shrimpy throat of the old woman and swallowed her like an insect. This was even bigger than the one that assaulted the boatman. The other snake shook the boat from the bottom as the panicked aunties and girls had clutched the edge of the boat tightly. On seeing her wife die, the old man stood up and hit the body of the snake with his wrinkled hands. The booby snake hit him on the face with its tail. The old fellow was tossed on the other side, he almost fell on the water but Dakshatha’s mother had clutched him safely. Now the boat was shaking weirdly. The bottom floor was creaked and in the corner chipped and created a hole. The water seeped into the boat. The clamor increased among the people. The boat was going to sink now. Dakshitha was still holding the teddy bear in her hands.
The one more gargantuan snake leapt out of the water as spewed copious water on them. The people were drenched now. Dakshitha was started crying because the teddy was wet and its softy fur was thick now. The heavy lipstick aunt looked at the snake and rolled her eyes to and fro, she shook her hand in front of this deadly snake not to kill her. It looked around them and stared again at her, this time the long tongue came out of its mouth and pushed it into her torso like a bullet. She was immediately crashed down as blood smeared on the boat. Loud screams erupted now.
Kashyap took the diesel canister and tossed the fuel on the snake, but it ducked away its head. The diesel fell on the water, and he struck the matchstick and fired. The orange-blue fire broke out of the water now, but the snake hadn’t died. It was still thrumming with so much noise as its snotty nostrils grew wider and tried to attack him now. Its head came on top of him, but he drew it away with the help of big cane stick. It fell on the distance, but again sprung close to him. This time it had bitten his left arm, blood slightly leaked out now. He didn’t bother about the pain. His wife was hollering as clutched her hands on her chest. She ran close to him.
“You don’t come near me, go away,” he shrieked in a thundering voice.
She drew her step back, but didn’t relented to go anywhere in the boat. Dakshitha ran towards her mother, but the other snake came from her back and swirled around her body and lifted her up with its large mouth. Dakshitha cried, still holding the teddy in her hand.
“Dakshi, stay on. You are fine. Don’t move,” her father screamed now. On the other hand, her sons and few other boys were fighting with the other snake.
Dakshitha’s father looked out for something big now. He couldn’t find anything. He rummaged on every side of the boat, but it was not helpful. The boat was sinking low and low. The boat was badly tilting on one side.
“Dad….Dad……..” Dakshi was screaming from above now. The old fellow drew one plank out of the boat and handed it to Kashyap. It was beyond his capability, but he did it. Kashyap snatched the plank from him and gave a few heavy blows on the snake, now it was swayed as Dakshitha moved along with it. It rounded the boat in pain. Kashyap didn’t give up, he kept whacking on it. The snake couldn’t withstand the thumping pain as it released Dakshitha, who fell on the boat on face down. She was fainted, and the teddy in her hand was slipped into the water. The deadly snakes which were assaulting them from every side were immediately drowned in the water. Relief clung to their souls. They breathed freely now.
Dakshitha’s mother splashed water on her daughter’s face. She slowly opened her eyes and hugged her mother. Kashyap thought they were going to drown now, because half of the boat was already sunk into the water. But, happy tear rolled down from his left eye when he had seen a boat was coming from the opposite direction.