By the time I stepped outside, the leaves were on fire. The sight put an instant halt in my advance. The fiery scene first held me stupefied for a few seconds. The whole grassy area in the lawn was covered with the dry and yellow autumn leaves. Now, all of them making yellow and red flames. After the grip of sudden exposure to the scene had eroded, I began to enjoy the unanimity with which all the leaves were leaving their present form giving life to the fire.
The ethereal burnt particles of the leaves blew high along the fire waves with a low crackle. I lingered, unmoved, at the first place, for almost ten minutes when the thought of a bonfire struck my mind. The night was dark. The sky was starry without the moon. The stars glittered and shimmered in the night’s vigil. Having a treasured stare at the multiple appealing sights, I strolled back into the house.
A cloud of steam had engulfed the kitchen. Frightened and hasty, I swooped up the kettle by its handle. The water in it had almost come to naught. I refilled the kettle with water and let it boil again therein.
The chopped woods were placed under a canopy made of steel-sheet to save it from getting soaked in rain and snow. I picked few pieces of dried wood and headed toward the lawn. Fire was dying, or rather was breathing its last when I gathered the burnt leftovers into the center of the lawn. Hurled the pieces of wood onto the pile of blackened leaves. Then, I went further picking more dried leaves round the lawn and topped them onto the pile. Thick and black smoke started to swirl into the air before catching a flame. I left the thing to itself, and fetched a sofa from the living room.
By the time woods caught fire, I had perched on the sofa with a light cream color shawl pulled over my shoulders and a cup of coffee steaming placed on the grass beside the sofa, at an arm’s length.
It was four long years back when our group in the high school had decided to go on a trip to the mountain side. The moonless dark night was a reminiscent of the frightful and risky nights we spent in the cradle of the north mountain.
Basically, it was an idea of a sole person, ‘Anderson’, who have had inherited a wondrous and dreadful country house in the middle of nowhere. The house resided a little below from the top of the mountain.
‘I repeat, you are all gonna love the scene and sight from the mountain top. It is just like a tele match of soccer game, or a survey from the airplane.’ Anderson was leaning on the dais by his sideway while the rest of the group sitting in chairs haphazardly scattered onto the auditorium floor.
‘Oh! So you want us to risk our lives for a moment of sight. That place is a complete wilderness. I’d rather recommend a tour to the amazon forest where you can at least find basic things and most importantly people.’ Added Cole who is always objectifying each member for no reason, but this time the suggestion was not so ridiculous
‘He is somehow right in his opinion.’ Said John. ‘Why are you forcing us for a plan which isn’t ratified by rest of the members?’
‘My goodness! Why would I force, or could I make you guys go where I want?’ Asserted Anderson, flipping the legs while keeping the same position by the dais.
‘All right! Now, don’t make heated debates for no reason.’ I chimed in. ‘There are several days remaining to embark on the journey, till then, we would likely sort it out.’
Concluding the talk of the day, we clasped the backpacks and pulled them over our shoulders at once and trudged towards the parking space.
‘I am still confused and have double-minded whether I should assent to you guys.’ Scratching his head with both hands, Cole mumbled.
‘Now, don’t act like a child. Be a man. If we go, we go as one, united therefore unharmed.’ Anderson patted on the shoulder of Cole trying to boost his confidence.
‘There is plenty of time to ponder upon guys.’ I attempted to calm them before we parted as I switched on the engine of my car.
Finally, came the day. I stuffed my things into the backpack. Greeted siblings and parents, and set off to meet the group at the main gate of our school. As I stepped down from the cab, Cole waved both his hands high in the air, while Anderson and other two guys loaded luggage into the SUV.
‘Hello fellas! At last we are about to make it. Aren’t we?’ I muttered to them while shaking hands with Cole, who was wearing a square shaped black sunglasses. I remember it, for I had seen my uncombed hair in the glass.
‘Yeah Yeah! We are gonna make it happen.’ Uttered Anderson. ‘We will have a hell of fun and enjoyment with complete freedom boy. You just can’t imagine.’ Anderson stormed upon me and gave a tight and brief hug.
‘Hmm! I too don’t expect anything less than that my friend.’ I responded soberly. ‘What about Cole? You seem to have gathered more resolve than the rest of us bro, don’t you.’
‘A true man is always resolved and committed. That’s how I am, guys.’ Cole remarked with a suppressed laughter.
‘Are we set to leave?’ I asked Anderson.
‘Yes, but only one task remains, which is to pick some grocery from the mart.’ Responded Anderson.
After buying the necessary items, we geared up our vehicle and stumbled upon the road which took to the highlands. As we entered the jungle spot at the bottom of the mountain, monkeys and squirrels appeared scampering across the road. The road was a bit extra bumpy.
Our journey had not exceeded twenty minutes when Cole started to shiver and held his belly so tight.
‘Now, what is the matter, buddy?’ I asked him, as we sat along on the rear seats.
‘Would you guys halt for a moment?’ Spoke Cole with a painful voice. ‘I want to get light.’
As soon as Anderson pulled the vehicle to a halt, Cole flew out with a jump and landed on a slab like boulder. There he stood panting and vomiting for at least fifteen minutes. He advanced toward vehicle. His face had turned yellowish, and eyes blinking fast. I handed him a bottle of water which he used to throw some splashes onto his face.
We reached at the spot driving nonstop for two and a half hours. It stroke 9pm when I descended from the vehicle. When Anderson killed the engine and light, we couldn’t even see each other. There were only two sights to be seen with our eyes, the distant starry and scattered lights of the city very far down and the constellation of stars shimmering and winking right above our heads. Everyone was yelling and howling with loudest ever tone.
‘It was worth coming here buddies. I am in an ecstasy.’ Jubilant Cole scurried round the vehicle, repeating his joyful thoughts.
‘That’s why I argued that much. Sometimes one should say ok to his lovely friends. Ha-ha!’ Anderson winked at me while saying this to Cole loudly who was still moving to and fro saying something inaudible beside the vehicle.
Turn by turn, we unloaded our luggage from the vehicle and headed to enter the house which wasn’t in our sight until I switched the torch on. It was quite a small structure made wholly of wood. The steps to the entrance creaked loud as we walked over it.
When all the things were sort into their respective places, all of us jumped onto the couch, opened beer bottles and gulped the whole liquid in unison.
When we were done with meal, I excused the rest of the guys and threw myself long on the bed.
A sharp smell of burning made me wake. I, nevertheless, stayed in bed, hoping the smell to go away and to fall asleep again. But, it only grew stronger, moment by moment. I became curious. As I put on my upper and walked outside, the whole wood was on fire, even the vehicle had caught fire. The whole air was filled with cloud of black and grey smoke. For a few seconds, I remained dumbfounded and still right at the entrance steps. I rushed back into the house yelling and bellowing.
Our group stood in a straight line outside the main door of the house, watching the monstrous fire devouring the woods.
After a stint of senselessness, Anderson sent a message from his wireless set to the rescuing agency which responded in positive.
I had almost gulped the last of the coffee when the phone rang. I extinguished the bonfire, took the sofa and headed to answer the phone. It stopped to ring until I reached. It was Anderson.