Pre-Script: KuJo is a figment of my own imagination and what follows is fiction. Any resemblance with characters living or dead is purely coincidence!
KuJo is a friend of mine. What makes him special is that he is only one I know whose sole aim in life is to lead a Middle-Class TM life. KuJo’s Middle-Class TM theories are an epic in itself and I will discuss them at length later. Even though I have spent quite some time with him, it can at times be very difficult to fathom the workings of his Middle-Class TM mind. That is precisely the why no one in world except Lord KuJo himself knows the explanation behind his mysterious disappearance in the middle of an excursion.
Five of us, me, KuJo, Raul, Chath and Shah (The core AF-gang TM) decided to go on an eco-expedition to Wayanad, a hilly region nestled among the Western Ghats. KuJo had no problems in pledging full support for the tour initially but decided to pull out in the eleventh hour, citing some strange reason that he had to take his aunt to the hospital on the tour day (What the #&*%?). Enquiries made by Raul (incidentally, his best friend) unearthed the fact that KuJo was in fact apprehensive of coming to the tour considering the risk involved in it. One of the most important characteristics of a Middle-Class TM mind is that it will not take risks. But risk is part and parcel of a Wayanad tour package as it is basically a hilly terrain and the places to visit there are mountains, waterfalls, forests and the like. We badly needed KuJo to cut down on the expenses and eventually managed to convince him that we will not take undue risks.
There can at times be a lot of problems created by the idiosyncrasies of a Middle-Class TM guy in your team. KuJo annoyingly keeps on asking you to repeat the itinerary again and again on the eve of the expedition. Our plans to set off as early as possible was almost sabotaged by KuJo’s persistent insistence on finishing off breakfast before leaving (Where to get breakfast at 5 am and that too in a place 20 km away from the city?). KuJo needs assurance that he will get food three times a day, on time. KuJo won’t sleep in a dorm; he needs a proper room if he has to stay overnight. KuJo wants to hire some vehicle in a place where walking on foot is the best way to go. He insists on hiring a jeep when an auto-rickshaw would suffice and on taking two auto-rickshaws when one would serve the purpose. KuJo gets mortally tired on climbing 200 meters of a medium inclined path … Hundreds of problems, but we managed to move on with all those.
We had never anticipated that a Middle-Class TM guy would be so afraid of taking so small risks. Our first destination was the Neelimala view point where, standing at the edge of a cliff, you should be able to see the spectacular Meenmutty waterfalls tumbling into the valley below, from the opposite side. KuJo even considered walking on the narrow mountain trail quite risky. What if a snake comes in? According to him, we should have taken a fully fledged first-aid kit that includes an antivenin! The thrill of a trekking expedition is in exploring new stimulating trails. KuJo won’t let us trek in peace. He would say at least a thousand times that it is risky to go to unknown places and that we should turn back. We snubbed KuJo, scolded him and ordered him to keep quiet, but it was of no avail. We proceeded nonetheless and after some search we finally discovered the trail that would lead us to the view point. But with every step taken, KuJo’s protests grew larger and larger. We finally asked KuJo to wait in some safe spot, while we go explore and come back. To this proposal he would not agree. If you were to go to the edge of the cliff in order to enjoy the full splendor of the viewpoint, there might be some risk involved, but absolutely nothing if you decide to stay a few feet away from the edge. I tell you, it is hard to find a guy with so much fear riddled in him. A road accident has 100 times more probability of occurring rather than someone managing to slide through the thick vegetation among obstructing rocks and tumble down from a cliff!
Having relished the waterfall from afar, we were eager to go around and have a closer look. That we did not know exactly how to get there was reason enough to send butterflies in KuJo’s stomach. Later, on learning that we had to trudge on for 4 km from the main road to the waterfall, KuJo started protesting. He suggested he would go to Mananthavady, a nearby town, get a room and stay there awaiting our return! We were literally pulling him like a tethered goat as we set out our march to the waterfall. The flat road came to an end 2 km down the line. To proceed, we had to take a slippery path that slithers dangerously close to a steep slope. By that time we had realized that taking KuJo along would simply add to the troubles. We acceded to his request that he would wait there in the thatched shed nearby till we came back.
It was indeed an arduous trek. I was panting and taking laborious breaths by the time we came back to the rendezvous point. To introduce a dramatic twist, we decided to frighten KuJo by telling him that Raul went missing, and that he was nowhere to be found. Upon our request, Raul fell back and we started shouting aloud ‘Raul, where are you?’ as we neared the thatched shed. Upon reaching there, the situation was, ‘KuJo, where are you?’ We searched all over the place for signs of KuJo, but he was simply nowhere to be found! Where could he have gone without telling us? He had the eatables and water bag, and there was no reason for him to go anywhere. Finally Shah got an SMS, “Friends, you should not mistaken me for this action of mine. It is for your and my own good that I finally decided to abandon you in the middle of the tour. This tour is too risky for me. I am on my way home”. Everyone was baffled; we had planned on a number of things for the next two days, and this humbug has fled to his home, 200 km away!