Once we were in the mighty Indus, we discovered we had a different problem. Timmy’s antics had made Bear forget to give exact directions. So while the eagles had taken us to the Indus, they had taken us to the middle of it. We needed to land on the right side, so we could head to the hills in the distance and find, on the other side, Balochistan. But how could we steer without oars? Our arms were not long enough. And Timmy rejected outright my suggesting that we hold him by the feet, dunk the rest of him in the water and use him as a pole.
‘I have a feeling,’ Bear seemed to be smiling, ‘that we will not have a problem finding out way to the right bank.’ And as he spoke, there was a gentle bump on the bottom of the trunk, and Timmy and I clutched each other as we rolled around, alarmed.
‘What was that?’ I wasn’t scared. I was just curious. There’s a difference, you know.
‘What do you think it was?’ Bear’s grin grew wider.
‘A shark?’ Timmy squealed in fright. ‘Was it a shark?’
‘Are there sharks in the Indus?’ Bear seemed to be really enjoying himself, and while I was quite sure there were no freshwater sharks (though the bull shark has been known to exist inland in deltas in India), I wished he would hurry up and tell us already so we could stop thinking of the worst possible possibilities.
‘I’ll give you a hint. What is blind, endangered and the cousin of the smartest creature in the world?’
Of course! The Indus – the blind, endangered creature – I was just about to say it out loud when Timmy squealed.
‘Ooh, ooh, I know this one, I know this one,’ my little brother started hopping up and down in excitement, with his hand raised.
‘Yes, Timmy?’ I sighed and placed an imaginary microphone at his mouth. Let him enjoy his one moment of truth. We had all learned enough about the Indus blind dolphins in school to cover a fair-sized wall in graffiti, and it would be an opportunity for him to redeem himself after the golden eagle/airhostess fiasco.
‘The creature that is at this moment bumping its nose against our trunk,’ Timmy leaned down to the imaginary microphone and put on his most important voice, ‘is Rehan from Class 2A in our school.’
I could only stare at him with my mouth open, but Bear scratched his head and then ventured to ask how he had come to that conclusion.
‘Because one time Rehan walked smack into a wall while reading a book, which means he’s blind, and then Mrs. Firdous got so angry she threatened to kill him, which means he’s endangered, and his cousin got thirty-four As in his O Levels, which means he’s the smartest creature in the world! See! I told you I knew it!’
And without further pause Timmy leaned over the side of the trunk and started yelling ‘Rehan! Oye! Rehan! Come up and play!’ while Bear helpfully pinned my arms to my sides so I couldn’t push my little brother over the side like I wanted to.
A rounded snout popped out of the water in response to Timmy’s cries, and a jet of water shot from its open mouth and splashed on Timmy’s face. He looked down at the bottlenose protrusion, drew back and looked at me, confused.
‘You know, Rehan seems taller in uniform.’
Shandana Minhas, Survival Tips for Lunatics