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Deer departed

High Jumps With a deer  

“Guess what happened?” asked my husband when I called him to announce my safe arrival in Delhi. “Trump won,” I replied grumpily. “Who cares about that?” was the rather surprising answer. “I am talking about Anaikatti.” It was nothing to do with demonetisation, the school or the son. He was drawing out the suspense.

When I finally ran out of guesses, “A deer jumped on our car,” he announced.

“You mean, over the car, right?” I asked cautiously.

“No, on the car,” he said. “It landed on the bonnet.” I wondered how much damage a deer on a car could cause. Not much, I hoped. The silence seemed to unnerve my husband. “It was a spotted deer,” he added helpfully. “An elephant came out of the bushes and startled it.” I looked around the posh hotel room and felt a sense of unreality take over. Elephant, deer, forests all seemed so far away from the urban chaos outside the window.

I forced myself to come back to reality and focused on the most important question: “Is the car okay?” There was silence on the other end. “Bonnet, headlights, and front bumper smashed, radiator moved and radiator hose cut.” The damage was enumerated with pauses between each for effect. I was too stunned to react. “What happened to the driver?” I asked feebly. Luckily he was safe.

When I was finally able to speak to my driver, it was to find him extremely annoyed. It turned out that there had been a herd crossing the road. He had slammed the brakes, causing the passenger in the rear to fall off the seat. While the other deer had crossed the road in an orderly fashion, he said, this one stag decided to leap over the car.

To make matters worse, there was another car that had been coming from the opposite direction. So the stag landed first on our car, which had been going uphill, and then jumped on the other car and then off into the forest. “Ennavo cinema stunt madiri (Like some stunt from the movies),” he said. The other car gave up its ghost and refused to move after the deer got off while our car managed to limp home.

When I returned, on the way back home, I was treated to a “this-is-where-it-happened” routine. So once we crossed SACON, my driver began pointing out landmarks. “I was turning here when I saw the deer,” said my driver, gesticulating madly. A normally placid man, this encounter seemed to have had quite an impact on him.

Next, he brought the car to a stop near a brick kiln. “See the herd was over there,” pointing to a tree, “and the stag jumped out of this bush.” I peered at it dutifully and then asked if we could go home. “It had huge antlers. I was lucky that they didn’t break the windshield.” I shuddered and was grateful that we got off so lightly.

When I finally reached home, my first question to my husband was, “So how much do we have to shell out for the repairs?” His reply was a nonchalant, “A couple of thousands.” I stared at him wondering if this was a leg pull. “Insurance,” he reminded me. For a deer hit? “Well, we had to get a report from the Forest Department and submit it to the insurance company.”

Once people were reassured that I had heard and seen all that there was about this particular encounter, they settled down to tell me stories of all that I had missed. One young teacher found a centipede in her room. “It was hiding behind the bathroom pipe,” said the gardener, who was my informant. “It was much bigger than the one that bit you.” Well, I suppose I should be grateful for small mercies.

Another teacher found a scorpion in her classroom. “She didn’t panic at all. She just placed a box over it and then called me.” I was left wondering if that was a commentary on my reactions but didn’t want to ask.

A pair of kingfishers had made an appearance at the dining hall every day. It’s been a week since I came back but I am yet to see them. Every morning, I hear them calling but, for some reason, they seem to have decided that I should not see them.

I was gone for less than a week but, by the second day, I was singing “Tell the world I am coming home”.


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Printable version | Jul 23, 2021 8:45:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Deer-departed/article16667498.ece

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