The Himalayan Escape - contd
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Babulal, the porter and guide, was late, and Raju, the old man, was nowhere to be seen.
“Can you tell the porter to meet me at the temple?” she requested Avinash before taking his leave.
The temple looked different today – an eerie, godly silence wrapping its arms around the ancient walls. The porter was now irritatingly late threatening the completion of her plans. She finally stepped out after waiting for close to an hour. The sun was now above the head and it wouldn’t make sense to start the day so late. She turned to step out and head back towards the guest house, only to find Sudhanshu at the entrance looking for her.
“So, you found me?” – she asked him curtly.
“It was not difficult to guess where you would be. All the trekking equipment was gone, and I guessed you would be here. After all, you had mentioned this place so many times that it was engraved in my memory! What was difficult was to have the courage to come here. I was scared of rejection – of finding out how much I would have made you drift apart….”
“Can I be your porter, my dear...” – Sudhanshu was saying and Jayanti couldn’t find any words coming out for an answer.
“Madamji, I am your porter!!” – Babulal, the porter and guide, was repeatedly saying.
Jayanti tried to re-focus. Clearing her throat and chiding her imagination and day-dreaming, she followed him towards the entrance of the Himalayan National Park, alone.
Jayanti had a perfect escape from her city life into the wilderness where mountains dominated the vision. Babulal, the porter and guide, was quite knowledgeable of the flora and fauna and she gathered a plethora of information which she would have otherwise not known in this life. She silently thanked her whim of dropping everything and venturing into the unknown, as she realised that sometimes it was worth passing through a few unknowns to know yourself.
She had filled pages and pages of her notebook with thoughts that flowed out of her as if enacting the Tirthan river gushing alongside. Finally, after trekking and camping for five days, it was time to head back. She stole a glance of the snow-capped tip of the mountains as the sunlight touched its surface. “This would be for the next visit” – she noted it down. The descend was simple and Jayanti’s steps were joyful with the accomplishment. She collected samples of pine-cones and leaves like a small kid – a physical remembrance of the place which she would never forget.
The village was same as she had left- not that she expected anything around her to change, just in five days, even though on the inside the change was dominating her thoughts. Raju, the old man, seemed delighted to welcome her and congratulated her on her summit.
people plan – but are back half way. Sometimes they don’t seem to fathom the heights. They are not fully prepared.” – he commented as Jayanti sipped the hot tea which he had offered her as a welcome drink. She realised that she had been prepared for so long – it had to be done now.
He also informed her that the novelist was still the other occupant and had not been out of the room for the last two days. Avinash had told that he should not be disturbed. All the food had been served in his room about which the old man was not very happy – and he had also seen crumpled paper all over the room.
Avinash had strictly asked not to pick them up
as he might refer any of them anytime.
Jayanti smiled she pictured Avinash being a writer and decided to stay for a few more days, as she headed back to her room.
“and Madamji, there was a trunk call for you just after a day you left, enquiring if you are staying here. I told your whereabouts. Will it be a problem?” – Raju, the old man, sounded a bit unsure.
Jayanti assured him that she didn’t expect any problem, humming her way back to her room with a victorious stride.
The door was ajar as she reached her Delhi house – the familiar smell of years of living at this place engulfed her, welcoming her with open arms. She saw Shudhanshu sitting in the balcony with the morning newspaper – a ritual which they had followed now and then on Sundays. To her surprise there were two cups on the table making her stop for a second with doubt if she was even welcomed back.
She turned to go into her room only to hear Shudhanshu calling her name and inviting her to join for a cup of tea.
“The other cup is for you as I knew your train would reach on time for us to have the morning cup together” – he said.
“Rajuji had told me that you had already boarded the train back. You know he has become a good friend of mine with our daily trunk calls” – He smiled sheepishly.
Jayanti sipped the tea- “It’s a bit too sweet” she said with mock complain as she tasted the sweetness of her husband’s comments.
“I will soon learn if I practice it every Sunday!” Shudhanshu said and after bit of dilly-dallying, as if trying to find the right words, he added – “It doesn’t have to wait till the next time when I welcome you back.”
There was only frankness in Shudhanshu’s voice.
‘There would be a next time without a doubt, though not an escape but a tryst with those moments of life that would be treasured forever’ – Jayanti thought as she chatted with her doting husband with a refreshing ease. ***