There used to be a time when was a genuine nature nut. The whole sleeping-out-in-the-woods-with-a-thousand-vicious-mosquitoes-needling-you-simultaneously-experience fascinated me thoroughly. Honest. But my tryst with the great outdoors ended with the summer of 2002. It seems like yesterday, I was like any normal 13 year old, fighting my own battles with evil things like acne and the strange growth of hair in stranger places, not to mention the weird smell that would follow me wherever I went (it took me sometime to realize it was me). A couple of classmates were all enthusiastic about signing up for some impromptu camp thing, it was a one night thing and it was being organized by a well known enterprise too, so I got swayed. This was my big chance to actually experience the stuff that made Enid Blyton’s characters go all gosh-golly. Convincing the parents was surprisingly easy and before I knew it I had been dropped at the Besant Camping grounds by my parents (after many ‘be careful’s). Truth be told, I enjoyed slushing through the “woods” and stamping on dry leaves to look exotic birds. All we saw were different varieties of crow, but then again, the experience was what really mattered. I also enjoyed the beach walk, which basically skilfully maneuvering through the dog poop spread all over the sand.
But Nature! Yes, the lone thought of all those beautiful “nature” wallpapers in my computer was the only thing that was fuelling my zest.
Before we knew it was 11 pm. Around 20 of us were packed into one tent, thanks to one of my friend’s extreme generosity. At about 3 am (I knew this ’cause I had a glow-in-the-dark watch then, it was like the heights of cool) my best friend, K, woke me up. Well, not wake up technically, because I wasn’t sleeping too soundly, it’s hard when there are a thousand blood thirsty mosquitoes trying to suck your life out at the same time.
Anyway, Queen K was in dire need to do the Royal Pee-Pee. Which meant she needed me, her loyal knight in my-honeybee-pajama-armour to help guide her to the royally-creepy loos. I didn’t have a problem, I am the regular braveheart after all. No creepy camping grounds at 3 am freaked me out, nope. So I guided K through the path to the toilets.
It was while waiting for her when the terror happened.
A giant THING was on the floor. I kid you not, it was the size of a komodo dragon. I squealed. Hearing my not-so-little squeal, K, my dutiful best friend squealed as well, and came hurtling out of the toilet 3 seconds later to lend me her support. Then we both saw the THING and squealed together while making a run for our tent. Now, we had sprinted back to our tent and went back to sleep in order to forget about the THING.
The next morning, while standing in line for breakfast, a rather enthusiastic boy came up to us.
“You know ya? There was wolf and all near our tents yesterday night”
“Ya ya, wolf only. I think it ate somebody”
“Yes ya! I heard screaming and all. It was horrible. Like the wolf tore the victim apart. Horrible ya, but I heard it, mother promise!”
By the end of breakfast, the wolf story (with full dramatization) had spread across the entire camp and some girls were in the verge of tears. It took some major damage control from the camp instructors to calm them down.
Some of the boys were extremely happy though, each one of them thought that he was some kind of Indiana Jones to have survived a night among the wolves. Stuff that they’d tell their grandchildren.
Which is why I never told them the truth about the blood curdling screams. An extremely fat lizard, somehow doesn’t quite have the same effect as a wolf.