I stare at them as they stare at us. I’m under the clouds while they play behind those trees. I notice how they are different – the cotton curious eyes, the funny ears, the odd pointed nose, the fuzz on their head and definitely the way they walk. They make funny faces and it makes me want to giggle the same way as I do on my brother’s funny jokes. I hold back and pretend to be the wide-eyed serious one though.
I wonder what must they think, if they can think. What must they do when they get bored? I wonder what must they say to their friends, if they can talk. What kind of life they live, if there is a place they call home. I try and look in their eyes. I try to find if there is some intelligence in them and my wise father has been a little off in his judgment after all.
“RUN!” My father’s scream gives me goosebumps, and I knew I would fight with him when we are done with the stroll. I know the story he would tell. The same that mother tells every night. She imagines how we should fear those cardboards more than anyone around.
Maybe, the silent cardboards want to play tag with us and that is all. I stand there thinking why should I fear these meek creatures who hide and can’t even face me; these creatures whose air-light walk doesn’t even make a silly sound.
I hear a thunder, louder than I have ever heard, and all the birds take off in a fright. I feel some pain and I search to see if my brother has hit me with something sharper than his teeth this time around. The thought faints as I feel a darkness covering me like a blanket. And it’s not even sunset time yet.
“Shoot that buck… that big buck,” screams one of those cardboards in delight.
“I got’em that bloody deer in a single bullet. Dis centerfire is kiss worthy,” says the other kissing his gun after the fire.
“T’was just a yearling, chief,” replies his friend, “Just a yearling.”
Father and mother were wrong, I guess. The cardboards do talk; although a very different language. I see them coming out of their hide and walking towards me before I give in to the drowse.