The Jungle Goddess
The Jungle Goddess6 mins 190 6 mins 190
5th September 1945
"Ma, can I go and play beside the river?"
"No Bhuwan, you can't."
"But why Ma?"
"Because I don't want you to go to the jungle."
"Are you afraid of the tiger?"
"Yes. And Bonbibi too."
"Who is Bonbibi?"
"She's the jungle goddess."
"Yes. She protects the animals of the forest and punishes those who harm them."
"Is that true? I mean does she really exist?"
"Of course she does. She rides a tiger and keeps close vigilance on her subjects."
"She scares me Ma."
"She invokes fear in all jungle folks. They say she's extremely vengeful in nature."
"I don't want to play beside the river."
"That's my good boy."
10th October 1955
"Bhuwan! Come and have your meal."
"Coming Ma. But first I must go and take a bath in the river."
"Why not bath in the village pond?"
"Because I love to swim in the river."
"But you know that I don't want you to go near the jungle. There are the tiger and Bonbibi...."
"Oh, come on Ma. How long are you going to fool me with stupid lores? I'm nineteen now."
"Hush son. Don't you dare disrespect Bonbibi? Stay away from the jungle for your own safety."
"I don't care. The tiger lives in the core forest and doesn't leave its lair before sunset. And Bonbibi doesn't exist. Hence I find no reason why I can't swim in the river."
"Who says so? Bonbibi does exist. Moreover, there's always the possibility of a hungry tiger attacking you. I can't allow you to go there alone."
"Relax Ma. I can look after myself. Last time when I accompanied Sameer babu into the forest for hunting we almost came face to face with a tiger."
"What? Did I hear you right? You went hunting with that zamindar's son Sameer?"
"Yes, Mom. I never told you before, but I love to hunt."
"O Lord Shiva, save my stupid son from the wrath of Bonbibi. Why son, why slaughter innocent animals for no reason at all?"
"You sound just like Sameer babu's mother. She also says the same things to him."
"Sensible woman. Listen Bhuwan, I have already lost your father. You are my only child and I don't want to lose you too."
"Don't cry Ma. Okay, I promise to stay away from the jungle. Happy now?"
"Yes, if you stick to it. Now go and take a dip in the pond while I set your lunch."
22nd December 1955.
"Bhuwan, I'm afraid that this is going to be my last hunt."
"Why Sameer babu?"
"Paula and I are soon getting married. Like Mom, Paula too is an ardent animal lover. They will never let me hunt again."
"Congratulations Sameer babu. Ma was saying something about me and Radha getting married in the coming spring. That will put an end to my hunting sprees as well."
"Wow, that's great news Bhuwan. Let's make our last hunt a memorable one."
"Let's go then. Kalu and Shibu are waiting in the Jeep with Jagan Chacha at the steering wheel."
"Yes, let's go."
22nd December 1955
"This is the worst hunting expedition I have ever had. Apart from a few coots and wild ducks we've found nothing."
"You're right Sameer babu. This is so disappointing. Where have the animals gone?"
"Hibernating I suppose. Anyway, we can't stay here much longer. The core forest is not a safe place to be in after sundown...What's the matter Bhuwan? Why do you look so tense?"
"Shhh! Look at that shrub. Something's there. A big animal."
"Yes, you're right. Keep quiet all of you. It's moving. Here goes my gun."
"Bravo! It's a big sambar deer, shot right through the heart. Good job Sameer babu. You indeed are a crack shot."
"Thanks. At least the day is not a waste. I'm going back to the Jeep. You three tie up the dead animal and bring it there."
22nd December 1955
"Indeed Jagan Chacha, I fail to understand why they're taking so much time to reach here. It's only a few birds and an animal they're carrying."
"There they come. I think they've killed some more."
"That's what I see. What else did you hunt boys?"
"Sameer babu, we found the fawns of the dead sambar hiding in a nearby bush. Bhuwan killed them with his hunting knife."
"Oh no! You should have spared those little ones Bhuwan."
"Why Sameer babu, their meat will be softer and tastier than their mother's."
"You won't understand. Anyway, what has been done is done. You guys have already caused a lot of delays. See, it's already getting dark. Now quickly stuff the dead animals inside the dicky and get into the Jeep. And don't forget to roll up all the glass windows. The forest mosquitoes are dangerous."
22nd December 1955
"Hurry up a bit Jagan Chacha. Mom told us to return before evening."
"It's difficult to drive faster on these undulating forest tracks. You should have started earlier Sameer babu."
"I know, I know. But it was not really my fault. Now I'll have to face Mom's anger. Hope she doesn't complain to Baba."
"Relax Sameer babu. I'm trying my best. Now, what's that?"
"Oh, it's just a stray rabbit. Look at the way it's hopping in front of the headlights."
"It appeared sort of suddenly. Hell, it's blocking my way. I can't gain speed because of that little creature. It isn't responding to the horn also. Deaf or what?"
"Sameer babu, aren't you fond of rabbit meat?"
"Yes, you're right Kalu. We can add this one too with the other animals. Where's my rifle?"
"Here it is."
"Thanks, Bhuwan. Slow down a bit Jagan Chacha. Yes, now let me roll down the glass a bit and take aim. There it goes."
"Oh no! You've missed it, Sameer Babu!"
"Can't believe that I missed such an easy target. Anyway, let me try again. Take aim and there it goes."
"Unbelievable! Missed again!"
"That too from nearly point-blank range! A crack shot like Sameer babu! I can't believe my eyes!"
"Shut up Shibu! I didn't miss it. I clearly saw the bullet going straight through the rabbit's body. Yet...yet it's alive! How?"
"We too saw the same. It's weird. The rabbit is not even frightened by the bullet shots. Look at the way it's playing in front of the headlights."
"Stop the Jeep Jagan Chacha."
"Why Sameer babu?"
"I want to get down and catch the rabbit from the road. It looks easy."
"No, you won't. Sameer babu, let's get out of here fast. I know an evil omen when I see one."
"What nonsense! Stop the Jeep now or else I'll jump out of the moving vehicle."
"Ok, here I stop. But first, you must listen to me. Sameer babu, I know you from your birth. You are like a son to me and I can't let you go out into the danger."
"Danger? From a little rabbit? What nonsense is this?"
"It's not an ordinary rabbit. Can't you see the absurdities? It's neither killed by two direct rifle shots nor frightened by their loud retorts. It's like a bait used to attract prey."
"What do you mean? What's the rabbit then? A ghost?"
"Bonbibi. Today you killed her subjects. She now wants vengeance."
"Bonbibi my foot! Stay there Sameer babu. I'll go and catch the rabbit myself and prove that Bonbibi is a hoax. Here I go."
"Don't go Bhuwan!"
"Come back Bhuwan!"
"The tiger appeared like lightning and took him away! The rabbit has vanished as well."
"Oh-oh, Jagan Chacha! Bhuwan died my death! The tiger came for me."
"He's Bonbibi's mount."
"Bonbibi took her revenge!"