Ursus Arctos. The supposed villain in the story of three friends who went to the forest where one ran away, the second climbed up a tree and the third pretended to be dead.
The first ever story I heard in Dalhousie was that of a cantonment guard who could’ve been killed but was spared with a long scar across his face, after a bear attacked him. Then Fr. J told me stories of how he’d plant flowers in his garden and care for it like a child only to find it uprooted and half eaten each morning. “Who did that to your flowers?” I was expecting him to say monkeys or cattle, but he said “Bears”.
I didn’t know that it bothered me until I began waking up terrified and exhausted. “But you just got up. Isn’t sleep supposed to relax your body? Why are u exhausted?” I want to say “It’s because I’ve been running away from bears and climbing up roofs and poles”, but I’m scared I might sound dumber than usual. So I shut up. This is when I realised I was terrified of bears.
Terrified enough to have nightmares.
For the longest time, I thought this began in Dalhousie. However, the other day, I was talking to S about my obsession with farming games, when I realised something!
Apart from Farm Ville, My farm, Ranch Rush, and Farm Mania, I often played a game called ‘Farm Frenzy’ and when the game begins, you have enough cattle and poultry and land to cultivate. With each new level, you could add up your earnings and use it to upgrade your farm. So at one point, you’ll earn enough to open a mill that converts the harvested crop to flour, a factory to process milk and so forth. Unlike other games, this one had a terrifying element to it. Every once in a while, a brown grizzly bear would drop from the sky and proceed to eat up my cattle or poultry. This is when I, like a maniac would run across from my farm, to come cage the beast to ship it away with my other products. To cage it, the player has to click on the bear in quick succession as a crate slowly forms around it. Mamma has watched her 10 year old daughter just frantically clicking on the mouse as if her life depended on it.
“Angu slowly! Don’t break that mouse”
“Mamma shhh that bear will eat all my hens!”
“Hens o? aah you know what, you sit and cage your bear, I’m eating all your nuggets and If you come whining to me after, I might eat you also”
There, that is probably where my fear began. On one side, bears eating my hens and on the other, mamma eating my nuggets.
“Daivame how did you sit through ‘Brave’ then?”, asks S. “I don’t know”, I say.
“You know pandas are bears too right?”, says T
I am shook.
“But they roll”, I say. “Bears don’t roll”
I sat on B’s bed staring at her stuffed Panda, for a good five minutes.
Later that night, I had a dream ;
‘B and I were heading home late one evening, through what seemed like the ruins of an ancient monument. As I exited the ruins, I found a huge stretch of forest ahead us. “Wth dude! It’s night and there’s a forest to cross.Why didn’t you tell me?” “Edo I’ve crossed this many times. Kozhapilla vaa.” Barely mid way through the forest, a growl and a massive bear, right in front of us’.
I jumped awake. I looked at the clock, and it was well past midnight, so I went back to sleep, more than sleep, I wanted to complete the dream.
‘Growl and a massive bear right in front of us. Just as we decided to run, another bear, behind us this time. Incredible as it sounds, I was suddenly Iron (wo)man. The gold and red suit sparkled as I thrust myself up in the air, arms stretched and *pew*, *pew*, mini missile went right through the bears’ heads. Ooh did it end there? No! More bears came, as if they sent out a telepathic message much like how the dema-dogs were summoned in ST. *pew* *pew*, now I was flying around, sending missiles through bears and not feeling guilty. However when I flew up into the air to see how many more bears were coming, it was like the moment in movies, when the camera pans up to show a battle field. Here though, it wasn’t soldiers I had to fight, it was bears. Millions of them. Aaah do you know what I did? I dropped a huge missile and wiped out the entire race of Ursus Arctos.’
“Well, now if they go extinct, we know who to blame.”