Trekking can be hard work especially on a bright and sunny day. But singing can bring relief…and that's what Megs, Sandhya and Rohan thought until the bear jumped out of the bush.
It was hard work climbing the hill with the sun bright and yellow. But they soldiered on. It was Sandhya’s idea that they go on a trek. Of course, at that time Megs and Rohan had agreed…but now they felt it was a bad idea.
They had still a long way to get to the top and the shelter of the trees. They took sips of water and walked on. They had even stopped talking. They just trudged on, waiting for the minute when they would reach the shade of the trees.
Finally, after what seemed an interminably long time they were close to the shade of the trees.
The plonked themselves down as comfortably as they could, fanning themselves and then slowly lying down on the thick carpet of fallen leaves.
They recovered their good humour pretty soon, and got ready to resume their climb to the top. Now that it was shady they were more cheerful.
“The bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain…” sang Sandhya as loud as she could. She had no fear of anyone complaining about the noise or her singing. The other two also joined her. The sound of the voices echoed through the trees and at times it was as if the leaves and flowers shuddered. The song, though continued unabated.
But just when they reached the part of the song which said, “And guess what he did see…” , they heard a low growl.
They stopped singing and looked around. Again they heard it. A long low growl.
“It seems to be coming from that bush!” whispered Megs.
“I think its an animal…a wild animal,” said Rohan, in case the girls did not understand the seriousness of what he had said.
“Do you think it’s in pain?” asked Megs.
“Yes, pain of hunger more likely,” said Rohan, sarcastically.
As they discussed, they saw the bush shiver and shake and out of it jumped a bear.
A big black bear. Its fur stood on end and he looked angry.
They screamed and turned to run. The bear growled, louder this time. They turned to look and found him on his legs with his arms pawing the air.
“Run,” shouted Sandhya. “He’s going to attack!”
“Wait,” they heard a voice. When they managed to glance back all they could see was the bear. And he was still on his legs and nothing had changed. Again they heard the voice, “Wait. I am not going to attack you. I just get so mad when I hear that song!”
“What song?” asked Megs.
“That stupid song about the bear going up the mountain! I mean it is so ridiculous when you think of my life out here in the mountains. Why would I want to climb a mountain to see what’s on the other side? I know what’s on the other side…the other side of the mountain! Bah! Nonsense!”
“Look we are sorry. It's just a silly song we like to sing and the tune is jolly. But now that you have said it is a stupid song I guess we would stop singing it altogether.”
The bear was sufficiently calmed by then and dropped down ón all fours.
“The thing is,” he said looking at the kids, “you have no idea how difficult it is to get some food around here. Look around you… what do you see? Nothing that I can eat. So I have to walk and walk and walk. Sometimes I walk so many miles it is difficult to even figure out where I am.”
“But can’t you get honey in the forest?” asked Rohan.
“Honey? Honey?” he asked, furiously. “There doesn’t seem to be any honey around. And I KNOW! See, its like this, bears can smell honey from ever so far away. And that’s something that has not come by my nose in a very long time!”
“That is such a pity. What can we do to help?” asked Megs.
The bear shrugged. “I have no clue. But think about it,” he said. “I remember the last time I smelt honey and I followed the trail all the way up and down a mountain and another mountain only to find it was in bee hives in a garden. By that time I was so tired and hungry that I could not stop myself eating the honey in the hives!”
They chattered on and finally decided to share their picnic with the bear. Of course, there was no honey, but the bear quite enjoyed the sandwiches, vadais, biscuits and juice. He did refuse the chocolate though.
As they waved good bye to him they saw him ambling back into the shelter of the trees. Making their way down the hill they could hear the faint strains of “The bear went over the mountain…”
“Oh yes! The bear did go over the mountain!” laughed Rohan.