Chapter 1 The Dark Mark
Our hostel is about 1 km from our departments. We all take the roadway which goes by a jungle, tennis and basketball courts and the bloody Mech department. That damned department is bloody for 2 reasons, for the damned workshop where we toiled hard in first year and the damned building we see everyday on the way to college.
Our friend Jungle Boy is smart. He took this secret route to reduce time wastage. He went through the jungle everyday.
The jungle is full of life; shrubs and thorny plants, and many small animals. A lot of snakes too. One of them happened to be on Jungle Boy’s path that fateful day.
Perhaps it was the sun. Perhaps it was the jungle. Perhaps it was Vidhya that our friend was too occupied to see the snake on his way. We will never know. What we do know is that the snake bit him on his right ankle.
The most dangerous snake in the world is the Black Mamba. This snake has a white body with a black mouth hence the name. And it has the ability to kill 20 elephants or 200 men with the neurotoxic venom that it injects in a single bite. But our snake for some reason only manages to punch 2 holes apparently with minimum damage.
Chapter 2 The Bloody Scar
That day I saw him coming towards my room.
“Vidhyaaaaaa!!!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. That was the name of Jungle Boy’s love bird who flew away too soon.
He looked visibly uncomfortable.
“Madan, tere paas dettol haikya?” Do you have dettol, he asked.
“Nahin. kyoon?” No, why? I asked.
“Mujhe ek insect bite huwa hai.” I got an insect bite.
“Maybe Deepak has,” I said.
That evening in the mess hall. Murugun the loudmouth of the batch was blabbering in full speed Tamil about Jungle Boy. He said, “Jungle Boy chathittirukku! Jungle Boy chathittirukku! ” Jungle Boy is dying! Jungle Boy is dying!
Murugun munched an idli and said, “Macha, you know what happened to him, da? He’s dying, da!”
I was shocked, “What in the blue hell happened to him?”
“A snake bit him in the leg!”
“Two holes in the ankle! Means two bites!”
“Paambu must have been so big!”
“Poor Jungle Boy!”
Some time later, Senthil and Jandu came inside the hall.
“Jungle Boyis fine for now. Today is the third day since the bite. Doctor told to stay in hospital. They said that they cannot confirm which snake bit him, so they shouldn’t use an antivenom immediately, but only if his situation turns critical.”
We all prayed our friend would recover and come back fast. Fortunately, he did, and three days, he came back much to the delight of the trendsetters (or c*cksuckers as Shaggy would affectionately call them).
Chapter 3 The Ouroboros’ Plight
I walked into AP’s room one day. The kullu Tamil gang was rolling on the floor laughing, specially Murugun and Rashid, who were renenacting the snake bite. They were joking.
“Macha, how did Jungle Boy not die?”
“Maybe he steeped on the snake’s ass, thus acting as a suction, and thereby stopped the poison from reaching his leg!”
“Maybe the Paambu was female! Couldn’t inject poison into a broken hearted fellow!”
“Maybe the snake died after she bit Jungle Boy!”
Everyone was laughing. Suddenly Jungle Boy entered the room and looked at everyone. Everyone shut up.
I broke the ice. I sang an old hindi movie song from a snake movie called Nagina and did a parody of the heroine super-snake Sri Devi’s snake bite on Amrish Puri, the Snake Charmer. Jungle Boy said, “Ay-yay-yo!” and left the room.
The next week, Swastik, our favourite hostel magazine was released. One article said:
Jungle Boy’s Victims:
1. Jaggu, using his extremely loud early morning bhajans in pc next to his room.
2. Scorpions found dead on the roadside at night. Yes, Satyamurthy, the CSE teacher didn’t kill them, Jungle boy did!
4.Madan, AP, Shaggy and Swaroop for writing these jokes.
5. Space available!
We will all laugh at gilded butterflies. We laugh at funny stories and funny jokes. But maybe the snake who bit Rajagopal is still there. Maybe she is still looking in the jungle for yet another victim, looking at the sun and in the pines everyday, waiting for an old love whom she kissed but who had never returned that love. What goes around sometimes never does come around.