The boat swirled in the rapids, twisted and leapt in the violent river. The chances looked slim for it to make it through. Not so far away, the other boat followed. Meanwhile, a boy punched the air above his head and exclaimed with joy, “Go, go, go!” The water droplet trickled from his forehead to his cheek like a rivulet, further down to his chin before it made a final jump towards the earth. The million other raindrops travelled the long distance to kiss its long lost lover. The two enchanted souls, drenched equally in the rain as they were in life, cheered as their boats made way through the newly formed stream. The fresh petrichor gradually filled the atmosphere, the lively cheers and the heavy downpour drowned the sound of the evening cricket and the day grew darker as the dense grey mass of clouds engulfed the entire sky.
Lost in the moment, the boys followed their boats across every bend, bolder and bush. The completion was tough: while sometimes it was Anil’s boat which was leading and the other times Sunil’s. It was not the first time they were racing, whenever they had the chance, they would battle it out. After all, the boats were hand chiselled by their father and were one of their prized possessions. They even had their initials carved on them.
Suddenly, a streak of lightning brightened the entire space followed by a deafening sound of thunder. Sunil raised his head to look around and noticed how dark it had been. They had come far away from their village to a deep unfamiliar forest. Sunil panted, his excitement giving way to fear, he grasped his twin brother on his shoulder, who was still lost in the game. Anil looked at Sunil with an angry frown. He quickly read his brother’s fear and hurriedly grasped the tiny boats in his tiny hands. They ran those fearful eyes through all possible corners; they were amidst an unknown growth. The stream - crystal clear water - tumbled over sand, gravel and rocks, where they had raced their boats a moment ago, cut through the woods allowing the nightlight to pass. Community gatherings were more fun, Anil thought.
Once there was a model making competition in their locality. Sunil had prepared a fine rock pulley system for the village well. He had designed it himself and was excited about the exhibition. Many did not turn up with a model, Anil was one of them. The model was equally appreciated by the people of all ages. Dheeraj, a bulky figure for his age, was known for bullying. He, along with his other notorious friend, tried to dismantle the model. Anil and Sunil had stood together to protected it until the others came to their rescue. They had run all around the vicinity with the model. It was time for such brotherhood.
Meantime, Sunil came up with an idea and started to follow the stream backwards. After a few bends, there were multiple sources which fed the stream and it was too dark to confirm. They went with the best option at hand. Hurrying past the thorny shrubs, slippery rocks and stubborn bushes everything appeared new. The rain had subsided by then into slight drizzles, but it was darker and colder. Their stomach growled with hunger, feet ached with tiredness yet mind was alert with pressure. They missed their parents and their beds. The familiar chirping of the birds, howling of the wild animals and rustling of the trees sounded terrifyingly louder and uncannily closer. They had lived the tough village life for twelve winters, but they were afraid, hungry and lost.
Sunil sat on dry space below the gigantic tree while Anil climbed up a rock to look around. He saw something; he hunched, almost closed his eyes and concentrated in that direction. Sunil stood, crawled up the rock and assumed a similar position behind him. A moving beam of light flickered far away; they both saw it and stared at each other startled.
They ran towards the light which had disappeared a while back. As they approached the end of the forest, they could see a vast stretch of meadows glistening in the moonlight. There were an array of cables arranged parallel to one another at a height of about a hundred metres above the ground. Just then a huge object came roaring and flashing a powerful beam of light. In about few minutes, dangling and suspended on the cable - the device was gone. The boys hesitated for a while and ran across the meadows like free souls cramped until then inside the thick jungle. They halted and laid on their belly as they approached the edge; their mouth remained wide open in awe by the sight they witnessed.
The area below them was randomly illuminated with lights placed at all different angles possible. There were temporary tents erected, equidistant from one another at one side of the area, which was appropriately lit. This residential section had strange beings conversing cheerfully. The children of those beings were floating about a meter high on their shiny boards. The other end of the area had huge containers where all those high parallel cables merged. Bulky beings, like bears with a massive body and hairy frame, rode on motorcycles to and fro. They all had a similar uniform and a neon headband; they looked bigger than the ones near the tents. The atmosphere was contrasting at the two sides as if it was a coin of two strikingly different faces. The whole place smelled like fresh honey – the boys felt hungrier. The farthest end of the midsection, dividing those two sides, was dark but at it's opposite nearest end was an area uncomfortably lit. There were two huge cells inside each was a giant circular wheel. Outside, many strange looking families surrounded the jail and enjoyed the show. The circular wheel must be powering the area. Some children were running on those massive wheels while many sat at the side, holding the prison bar exhausted. They looked sad and lifeless – a face looked familiar to them. They gulped their spit and a sense of chillness pierced their heart. It was their neighbour Anoop’s long lost son. At that moment, a high-intensity beam focused on them and they ran towards the forest like they had never before. The two boats lied abandoned somewhere in the meadows with their initials still carved clear.
While somewhere far away in a father’s mind, in a mother’s heart and in the tears of their well-wishers, hope blazed. A hope that Anil and Sunil will return and everything will resume to normal.