One Day

One day, when we’re tired,
Of the droning monotonous lives we live in,
And are flummoxed by everything that happens around us,
When the day is done and the sun sets down,
I’ll come over to where you sit all day,
Looking at those tiny-font lines of code,
And wondering if they’ll do the magic this time.

I’ll ask you out for a drink or two,
You’d look at me with the same grown look,
We’re growing old, and drinks don’t charm us no more,
You say it’s better to be in your senses,
What’s the fun in getting tipsy anyway,
When we’ve done that so many times?
Let’s try something new, for a change, you ask,
Let’s go out for a cup of tea.

So we walk outside, and the drizzle hazes your glasses,
You take it off and wipe it nonchalantly,
And that’s the first time I see your eyes,
As naked as it were in my dreams.
You eye me now, where am I lost?
I smile and say that I was wondering,
Are you a ginger or a cardamom person?
You pay no heed and continue to tell me the story
Of a neighbor who loves your dog.

We walk for a while, the rain’s now stopped,
And the last sip of tea remains in your cup,
You gulp it down, and we rush back to office,
You to your lines of code, and I, to mine.
And when after a while, I turn my head,
You’re smiling on the phone, your eyes are bright,
Telling him how you just had tea,
Subtly omitting out the colleague.

One day when we look back,
To trace how we fell in love,
We’ll not remember the numerous times,
We went to the pub, or danced to songs,
Which we could not remember the next day,
We won’t remember all the drinks we had,
Or all the ones we didn’t.
But that one evening, when we walked in the rain,
And tried to keep ourselves warm,
Tea being the only help,
And when I listened to your story,
Of the neighbor who loved your dog,
Is what we would remember as,
When it all began.

Tulips

So here we are at last, at the end of another journey. Another round of thank-you’s and goodbye’s need to be done, and I am yet not ready for them. It seems as if only yesterday we met, and somehow time rushes so fast, like sand between the fingers, that you’ve lost almost all of it even if you stop thinking about it just for a while. So why did I choose tulips as the name for the last post? Why not something more conventional? Why not a hibiscus or a chrysanthemum or a lotus?

I associate tulips widely with my nostalgia. This dates back to several years later, when one of the Windows had as its default wallpaper the Tulips. Was it XP? No, XP had the green field. Maybe Windows 2000 or Windows NT or one of those, but it was at that time when I first started using the computer. I used to spend hours trying to draw figures on MS-Paint or play Pinball and beat my own high scores. Those were simpler times. How times have changed now. Now I am a computer engineer, and soon I will become a computer scientist. Where will I get the time to relive those moments? One can never say.

So long. Let me not talk about nostalgia and my previous experiences because that will become both redundant with a lot of my early posts as well as very boring. But the thing is this, and I think you will agree with me on this one fact at least; that nostalgia is something you cannot run away from. You never know what will trigger it, it is like a gunshot, point blank, direct to your brain, and it bleeds out profusely all those memories which have been buried like rubble under big buildings of new thoughts. And then you cannot help but think about them, and join all the broken strings, and tie all the knots, and cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s and it becomes overwhelming and you cannot handle it after a point of time. What do you do then?

You throw the bouquet away.

Cluttered Thoughts

[1]

Somehow now I want to write this, and I don’t know if this will turn out the way I intend it to, if it will overshoot its purpose, or if I will be able to express what I want in the simplest of words. Already I am extremely sure that this post will be the least viewed or at least the least famous of everything and anything that I have ever written, because I think most of it will not make sense to anyone but me. But now that I have decided to write about it, and talk about it, I better get on with it.

So what is this about? This is about me, and my dreams. And this is a very stupid topic to talk about. I recently had a talk with a couple of guys who are staying with me and they told me that I should write about things that other people can relate to, that other people have already seen; for example, one said, talk about current affairs and what is happening. I asked them, why? I do not agree with this. I write what I write for my pleasure. If someone likes to read it, that is an added bonus for me; precisely why I post them. I am sure there are many of those who sometimes stumble upon my blog, get really bored because they cannot relate to my poetry, because they think, “What does this guy intend to write?” and move on. I do not write for them. And so they do not affect me. Affection is like a disease. And that is why I must stay away from it.

I am currently reading “The Interpretation of Dreams” by Sigmund Freud, and I have come to realize finally that maybe if I could find people who could relate to this book, maybe they could relate to what I think and how I write. How I write is a very different procedure from how most bloggers write, and I know this because I have made some friends in the past who are bloggers. After I finish writing a post, I do not reread it, unless for the grammatical errors. This is very important for me. I do not want to put a check on my thoughts and their flow. When I write, my free-flow thoughts are not curbed. Curbing them by re-reading and changing words seems then, treason to my own faculties.

Hence this small new category. This category is going to be the most unique one out of anything I have ever written. This is because of two things. Firstly, I am not going to think anything before I sit down to write. I will write whatever comes to my mind and however crude it comes out to be, that would be it. Second, I will write in this section only in the late hours of the night when my mind is free of other thoughts and pressing business so that I can focus completely on writing and freeing my mind of all the burdens that it carries in it throughout the day. In this way, I would be achieving two things at one time. My mind would be well-rested because when everything is said and done and written, I do not need to ponder on it again. Secondly, sometimes it is good to let one’s thoughts flow freely. In today’s world and in the industrial life that we lead, which very soon I will be free of, the mind is seasoned to work like the others do in a procedural manner, one step after the next.

I do not want my mind to work procedurally. I want it to flow from a thousand tributaries from a river and randomly diverge them into different distributaries before they finally all join the sea. This is my story. It will be fun, and if you can do this with me, I am sure you will be happy as well. For example, when I had started writing this piece, I wasn’t smiling but now I am because I see how much was pent up in my mind that I have already put down in less than five minutes since I sat down. That is how the mind works right? So many cluttered thoughts rambling up, racing to reach the end, so that other thoughts might come up. Often we suppress some of the unimportant thoughts to give space to other ones which we think are more important, but this is exactly what we shouldn’t do. We should let them all run parallel and see where each of them ends. Let them all be free birds, free of the cages. But then the mind is only that big, and how much can we do at once? That is what I wish to test in this series. Welcome to my life.

[2]

Now that I have started pouring out a lot of words which might seem incoherent now, let me tell you why I am doing this. I want to realize why I think the way I think, and exactly what all things I actually think about. When I read these posts later, maybe a couple of years from now, I would like to smile and think of this initiative as one that made me a happier person by letting my inner self open up to my outer self. Sometimes I feel that I am a multitude of people, and not a single entity. I feel there is this person in me who wants to shout and tell everyone what he feels about this world and how he wants to change it and how he wants to change himself to fit into the things that he cannot change. And simultaneously, there is this second person in me who does not care a bit about this world. For him, everything is okay as long as it does not affect him. He wants to be silent, he does not want to fight the world, he wants peace. And when the first person tries to fight this second person, he shouts at him and tells him he needs to change, but the second person just remains quiet and waits for all the energy to drain out from the other. And that is precisely what is going on right now. There is this first person who is urging me to write right now, and the second person who tells me I would probably be better off sleeping, and that this is a waste of time and that I should probably never make this public because it would make me seem insane. But that is exactly what I need to fight. This tumult of inner self is what I need to get beyond. And I think somehow since I have given the first person preference over the second, I now know which one I am more inclined towards.

Yesterday I saw a dream. It was a very funny dream. I don’t remember anything about it right now but I remember I was very happy when I had woken up; but by the time I reached the washroom I had already forgotten the entire dream. That made me sad. There was one reason that I was happy, the dream; and now I had completely forgotten what it showed me. The dream definitely had a girl, that much I remember. Anyway, since I have forgotten about it, there is no point talking much about it, is there? Today is my last day in office. From tomorrow I will not have to go to work anymore. Samsung will be in the past for me. The thing that pains me is this. It is not the fact that I will never have to walk in through those doors anymore, or the fact that I will not sit on that chair anymore, nor the coffee that the machine vended out to me whenever I stood in front of it. (That reminds me of a joke, when a friend was on a phone and asked the coffee-machine guy to pour her a cappuccino, and the person on the other side of the phone thought the coffee-machine could recognize voices. It doesn’t sound funny on paper, but it was really funny back then.) No, this is not why I am sad or why I am awake now. It is the people who I am going to miss, and not really all the people, but only some of them who were really close to me; so close that I cannot imagine that I won’t see them from tomorrow, because it was almost a habit of being around them. When I wrote “The Parting” earlier today, I was still thinking about this, and the strange thing is I have never given so much thought to this as much as I am giving it right now. Maybe I am overreacting, but anyways, I do not care what others think about it. There are sometimes some unachievable things in life which you already know are out of your reach but you still try to reach them. Like a small child, trying to reach the cookie jar kept on the top shelf. He brings in a stool and gets up on it and what not, and still is unable to reach the shelf. When finally after a long time he does reach the shelf, he sweeps his hand against the jar and it falls down on the floor and smashes to pieces, much like what would happen to our relation had I pursued it further; so thank God I did not; not that I wanted to, but sometimes people say things and that gets into your head.

The people saying things getting into my head is not something new. I remember now the first time I fell in love. It was just a hoax that I had started, when my cousins pestered me to tell the name of the girl I loved, I just picked up the first name on my contacts list. But this continued for a while, and I kept telling them that I love her, and one day I suddenly realized that I do in fact love her. It was a pure induction; you need to believe me that I did not feel anything for her and suddenly out of the blue, my love for her had crossed all limits, I couldn’t think of a life where she was not present; and when I finally told her about this, she shun me out of her life as we shun street dogs when they come to our doorstep. But anyways this was over eight years back and we have both come a long way, but that is how the thought works I think, it joins different threads where even a small connection, however unrealistic it might be, is found. Thus sometimes it happens with my friends that we start talking about politics and somehow reach about why our dinner is not healthy, and then we sit and ponder for a while where our conversation had started from. Only yesterday, one of them cracked a joke about one of us not paying our taxes and somehow the conversation steered away to Scandinavian countries, I don’t remember how.

[3]

Lots of problems in my life; the most important one now being that my phone does not have enough internal memory to store songs and my SD card is corrupted so I cannot use it on my phone. It all started way back last year when one day I carried the SD card in my old phone to work. Now officially since it is an R&D center, we are not allowed to carry SD cards, but I had forgotten that and carried it inside anyways, and then when I was checking out, I saw the security checking the phones for memory cards and then I suddenly remembered about it and I popped out my SD card in a hurry without ejecting it first and that corrupted it I think; I am not really sure that that was exactly what happened but I think it was. Anyways now I am stuck with no songs on my phone. I bought a new phone, a Samsung one, so it has the customary “Over the Horizon” already in it, which I absolutely hate.

My fingers hurt now. I think I have written much for today and that I should stop now. Maybe I should go and continue reading my book or I should go and catch up with some sleep. Whatever it is, good-bye for now. Let me see if I decide to post this on the blog. I think I will in fact post this on the blog and see what kind of response it gets. If the response is okay, I might consider putting up the rest of them which I am going to write regularly from now on. If it is not, well then this will serve as my personal diary where I can vent out everything I want without fearing the prying eyes of people who are involved in my stories. Earlier it has happened that I did once long back (maybe six years ago), published a post of a dear friend of mine and had talked about how he met up with his girlfriend. My friend was infuriated; how dare I publicize his personal life? Had I taken his permission? Why was I using him to increase my publicity? It was a sour affair, and he had severed all contacts with me for almost three years. And though I had deleted that post there and then, I have always kept this at the back of my mind since then that I should never write about anyone publicly or at least use their names unless I have been given permission. But to be honest, I was new back then. My blog was just months old and I had no idea how to go about things. I had thought it would be fun to let people know who were the people I was hanging out with, and why they were so awesome. After I pulled that post down, I scrapped the entire idea of talking about my life, and resorted to writing fictitious poems instead. It worked well, for I got my friends back.

That much for today. See you tomorrow again. I am not going to make any commitments of writing on a daily basis because I know how that works. I keep the promise for a day or two but then invariably I have some other work to do and I cannot complete my resolutions. So I will write when I have the chance, and this section will remain the most treasured section for me. But for now, I must go. My eyes have become red and if I do not sleep off now, I will not be able to reach my office on time, and that is the last thing I want to do on my last day at office. Bye-bye.

You

And I kept thinking
Foolishly,
That I had successfully
Forgotten you,
When all the time,
The only thing
At the back of my mind,
Was you.

So here’s a toast,
To all those times
When we were.
To all those times
That we spent
In each other’s arms,
Thinking that this,
This is it,
This is what
We always wanted.

And now I must stop.
It’s a new year,
And I have made,
Much like others,
A resolution.
I will not be
Foolish anymore,
And that this,
This is the last time,
I write about
You.

Winter

I just finished reading ‘The Lord of the Rings‘. I have posted on this blog rarely because I was really trying hard to finish the novels. It is cumbersome sometimes to concentrate on reading when you have so much of other work going on in your mind. I feel that the fact that our brains can multitask is sometimes a bane for us. For some nights, I used to have the book in front of me, and I knew I was reading it, yet my thoughts were focused on completely different paths. But anyway, the books are done, and so in eleven months of this year I have finished with A Dance With Dragons (the last part of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin), the entire Shiva Trilogy by Amish, A Prisoner Of Birth by Jeffrey Archer, Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, Deception Point by Dan Brown, and Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy by Tolkien. That is a lot of reading, per se, and it perhaps explains why I have posted almost only half of what I posted last year, but to be fair, I had read only four books last year (the first four parts of A Song of Ice and Fire.) For now, I am done with the genre of fantasy for the time being, and I do not intend to return to it soon.

That being said, December is almost round the corner, and winter is slowing creeping its way up trees onto frosted leaves, spreading its fangs around snowy streets, and making ice flakes out of waterfalls in the misty mornings. I have written really less this year, and looking back, I think the write-up that is closest to my heart would be the most recent ‘Call of the Mountains‘. I had initially thought of naming it ‘And the Mountains Echoed‘, inspired by Hosseini’s poignant novel by the same name, but it seemed too much of a plagiarism more than an inspiration, and so I changed my mind, though I did include the title in a sentence, because it was too dear to let go off. That’s the problem with me; I cannot let go of things easily. But it is okay, I am learning, and this year has been a lot of learning for me. If you’ve followed me this year, you would have noticed I have repeatedly hovered around the idea of dreams in my posts. Though somewhere at the back of my mind I might have done that intentionally, I think it is just that I have been intrigued by them lately, and probably that is the reason I’ve been writing about it. I finished watching the last season of ‘Da Vinci’s Demons’ this year, that was the only television show I followed apart from the regular ‘Game of Thrones‘. But then since the latter is slowly deviating from the novel, I am slightly disheartened and am not as excited about it as I used to be. For example, earlier this week they released their poster for next season, yet I had almost expected the exact thing to be. The show was about unexpected twists, but sadly it has failed to offer that of late.

Let me get back for a moment to the ‘Lord of the Rings‘. If any of you out here are yet to read the books, go grab a copy today. Tolkien has created a magnificent world, with extraordinary character development and spell-bounding chapters. At the end, I could only wish that there were yet another instalment of the book that I had yet to read. But then, all good things come to an end, and so with this. But now that I have done a lot of reading, and will probably read only a little more this year, I intend to write a little more in December. I am going on a one-month trip to Suwon, so the next time I post, it would be from Korea. I hope I can take out some time during the weekends to keep this blog updated, for the last thing I want is to kill this blog out of inactivity. I already have the next book on my mind. I am going to start reading ‘To Kill A Mockingbird‘ soon, but not today, not just now. I need some time to absorb Frodo and Bilbo, and Sam and Pippin, and Aragorn and Gandalf, and the Fellowship, and Lothorien and Mount Doom, and Gondor and the Shire, and Saruman and Sauron. I wish there was more about Sauron in the text; I had expected at least half a chapter where he would be in first person or at least in third, so that was a little disappointment, but then, it is a classic book and is a legend, and probably I am not fit, not yet, to critique Tolkien, and would probably never be.

In verses, I have tried to go back to square one, spending time writing more of love tales than fantasy, and the last three poems do exactly that. When I wrote ‘For I Will Walk‘, I was not sure I was doing the correct thing; it felt as if undoing years of trying to overcome an obstacle and finally banging it head on, and not crossing it at all; but in the end it all turned out good. You have liked it, and that is all I care about. In case you’ve missed out on some of my latest posts, I did manage to wrap up with the ‘Return‘ series that I had started last year. It took me more than a year to finish it, owing to several distractions, but somehow I joined the strings at the end.

So much for now. Let’s join over a cup of coffee sometime later, when you and I can wrap ourselves in a quilt and sing a song of dreams and love. Good bye!

Return – Chapter 8 – Finale

Losses are what make us what we are. A lost cause this was. There could be no good ending to this, not even a satisfactory one. For I had thought of something and it turned out completely different, though in a way it had all been my fault. But so be it. I had learned to cope with myself, with the problems that I created for myself, and then never solved them for I was ever too afraid to face them. As I sat silently at Irtiqa’s grave, someone patted me on my back. I turned around. It was Shaena. I looked at her teary-eyed. She looked at me silently. No words were exchanged. But we did speak. Our silence had given words to thoughts in our minds. And we both knew what the other was thinking. And yet we kept quiet, waiting for the other to start speaking. I knew I should have begun, but somehow I had made up my mind to never strike a conversation by starting it on my own. And so I pretended to be dumb, looking at one’s grave now, while the other stood behind me.

When I turned back to look at her, I was spellbound for a moment. For it was not Shaena who stood, but Irtiqa. And she looked poignantly at me. “Irtiqa,” I gasped for words. But none came. For now was not the time for words. “Do not make a decision in haste,” she said. I asked, “What do you mean?” but by then the moment was gone. The face had now changed. Now stood my mother in front of me. It was as if someone had plotted to show me my entire past through her. “Come back, home,” she whispered. I knew it was a lie, a dream, a manifestation of my wishes and a by-product of my dreams, for the same woman had shut her doors on me only a while back. I rubbed my eyes. It was Shaena again.

“Here’s the key,” she said, “to your home. It’s yours now.”

For a while, I stared blankly at her. Only when it hit me like a rock on the head that I fumbled on the ground. “You do not mean what I understand, right?” I asked. I felt like shouting loud and hitting my head against the ground, but now was not the time for foolishness. “Give speech to tongue,” I shouted, “What do you mean?” She looked at me teary-eyed now. “She said you should come back home. Those were her last words.” And throwing the key at me, she ran across the street and I saw her changing into a silhouette and then only a shadow of the past. No, another death was not something I could handle at this moment. Not now. What had happened of my life? Was this the way it was supposed to end? Hadn’t I better plans when I first started? My head was throbbing now, and I fell to the ground. As the world around me started to fade, there was only one thing I repented about. This return.

Call of the Mountains – [4]

Read the previous part in Part 3.

[7]

After a long drive that seemed to go on forever, we finally reached Chandratal. Among lush green fields we walked bare-footed, and shouted loud and clear and there was no reply, for there were only us there. We lied down on the grass now, which was slightly moist with last night’s dew, yet it felt refreshing to lie down, the sun’s rays beaming upon my face, a warmth long wished for, and the breeze slowly making its way across the valley, streaming through my hair, I could have fallen asleep and never got up again. A bit later, we walked down towards the lake. On my left was a cirque, going on for miles and miles. On the right loomed high mountains. And in front stood magnificently the Moon Lake. A crescent shaped lake, half of it reflected green of the mountains and the other half reflected the blue of the sky. It was one of the most picturesque moments I have ever had in my life. It was enthralling to imagine that we would be here the entire day, though I had no clue what we would do, since there was absolutely nothing else to do here. We climbed up a hill and walked down a dale, and then we lay flat for a while again. High above in the sky a lark made rounds, persistent enough, yet never swooping down.

Earphones in my ears, the song now playing was ‘Stairway to Heaven’ by Led Zeppelin. The guy said, ‘There’s a lady who’s sure, all that glitters is gold’, and I dreamt of her again. She came ever so frequently in my dreams in this trip. Never had I known that she would overpower my thoughts so much, but there she was again, clinging to my dreams, like a spider to its web. “There’s a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure, ’cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.” As I lay there thinking about the times I had misinterpreted what she said, as she my words, thoughts took shape of reality. It was as if each incident re-enacted itself in my mind, with ever so slightly a change, showing alternate endings. Yet the line that has always gripped me would be, “there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.” How many times must I change my road? How many times must I switch between the two alternates, never able to see where it takes me, the end forever taking different forms and figures, such that I must always be in darkness, never knowing which path I should have always stuck to.

We started walking back now. Ahead lay our tents, though we had to look for them awhile. The rest of the day went pretty much uneventful. We had a meagre lunch of rice, pulses and some boiled potatoes. I slept for a while but it was too cold. I came out. My friend had gone down to the river beside. I did not feel like going, not even laze about there. I went and sat in the bigger tent, the one which was warm, but only because the guy constantly burned some coal in there. Already I could see the sun hiding behind the clouds. It would rain soon, I thought. No, the guy in the tent replied. It never rains here. Too cold. Only snows. Great, I thought. That was probably the last thing I wanted on this trip. It had been great till now, but now I was a bit frustrated. Probably it was the lack of communication, perhaps it was just sheer homesickness, or perhaps the wind was too cold and my brain had stopped working. The latter seemed the most plausible, because my head was already bursting, as if someone hammered on it from the inside. I was told it was because at this height, oxygen does not reach the brains sufficiently, causing the excruciating pain and also a numbness. Great again, I thought. Exactly what I needed to top my anxieties.

We also met some other travellers out here. A French who had been here for a couple of days now wanted tips whether to go to Kaza or Kalpa. He had started the trip in the opposite direction, and so we knew what he anticipated and he knew where we were going. He was a friendly guy, though he talked really less. He had a map where he had marked all the places he wanted to visit and all those he had already been to. As we sat around the heater warming ourselves and sipping tea in plastic cups, the manager-cum-cook narrated the famous Spitian folklore about Chandratal. The story goes back to more than a hundred years ago, when a lazy shepherd in the village of Rangrik decided to go to Chandratal as he had heard a lot about its beauty. It was far from where he lived and a difficult trek but he thought it would be excellent to escape his wife and her nagging. So he left and walked for many days over mountains and passes. Finally when he was almost worn out he caught sight of the lake. It was indeed beautiful and he was so moved he sat down to play his flute and was soon lost in its music. When he opened his eyes a fairy stood before him. She said, “Hello, Gangrup, I am the Chandra Tal fairy.” She told him how his music drew her to the shores of the lake, and that she had fallen in love with him. She asked him to come and live with her in her kingdom under the lake. “I will love you and keep you happy, if you play your flute for me and love me,” she said. So Gangrup went with her to her underwater kingdom and they were very happy there through summer. Then as winter came the fairy asked Gangrup to go back home. He was unhappy and didn’t want to go as he knew he would miss her. The love he had received was everything for him, and he knew his life would never be the same at home. But she said he would have to go, but he could come back next summer. She would miss him too and await his return. But she warned him not to tell anyone about them else they would never be able to be together again.

Gangrup’s family was overjoyed to see him as they had thought he had perished on the way when he did not return for months. Winter set in and Gangrup drank and slept as always, doing nothing else. One night when he was really drunk his wife was nagging him about some work she wanted done, he turned to her and said: “Shut up woman, don’t nag me else I will go away to the Chandratal fairy. She loves me.” Saying so, he downed his drink and passed out. The next morning he remembered what had happened and started to wail out loud. Everyone was concerned and kept asking him what happened but he just kept weeping. He passed the rest of the winter in mad grief and as soon as summer set in he left for the lake.

When he finally got there he took out his flute and started to play. Soon enough the fairy emerged. She said, “Good bye Gangrup. You’ve broken your promise, and in doing so, my heart.” So saying she left. Gangrup fell to his knees and called after her. A while later she emerged holding a bundle. Gangrup was overjoyed thinking she had forgiven him, but she said “This is our daughter, born of our love. Take her back with you.” Gangrup looked down at his daughter and gasped. She was the ugliest thing he had ever set eyes on, covered in warts and boils and was very ill. He didn’t want to touch her but then filial love won and he took her along. However she died on the way. Broken hearted, Gangrup took her all the way home. His family was stunned when he told them she was his daughter from the Chandratal fairy. He buried her and built a memorial for her in the house. From then on his luck changed and his family became rich. After all, the little girl was also a Nortin (fairy). His line is still alive today though they have moved to a new house (the old house still stands in ruins). They moved the memorial to the new house too and it can be still seen today.

As he finished narrating the folklore, the cook slowly stood up, and now we went back to our tents to sleep. The night was cold. Minus five degrees was the temperature and we were almost freezing. My head was pounding ever more and to sleep was very difficult. Still somehow we snatched a few hours of sleep for tomorrow our going would be tougher. When I woke up next, it was early in the morning and the clock had just struck four. We packed our bags and got ready to leave. We were going to have a long day ahead, and hopefully we would reach home if we could somehow make good time. But our journey had not seen its end, and more places lay ahead before we’d finally sleep comfortably on our beds.

[8]

We started our descent now. The road was bad, and our car moved slowly. At many places we had to get out and push the car so that it reached level ground. At many places, the waterfalls intersected the roads, and being early morning, we stepped over ice-flakes made by the waterfalls. My socks were wet, and I had to remove them, and they instantaneously became numb because of the cold. After a long while, we finally came to the intersection of the Chandratal route with the Kaza-Keylong route. Here we took a U-turn just before the Kunzum pass. Our next destination – Lahaul Valley.

Across the Lahaul Valley we sped, though the road was still stony and the going was nonetheless difficult. It would be so until the next mountain pass, after which the road would get better. Lahaul is greener than Spiti, and a bit more populated. Now and then we spotted travellers. These travellers usually preferred cycling on these routes, and all of them either had high-tech bicycles or heavy motorbikes. After a couple of hours or more, we finally reached the Rohtang Pass. The road would be better here onwards, they said. I could hardly have wished for anything else in the world. Rohtang actually means a pile of corpses in the local language, and the name was so given due to the number of people dying in bad weather trying to cross the pass. The pass provides a natural divide between the humid Kullu Valley with a primarily Hindu culture (in the south), and the arid high-altitude Lahaul and Spiti valleys with a Buddhist culture (in the north). The pass lies on the watershed between the Chenab and Beas basins. We had now left the Sutlej in its course and had joined to follow the course of the Beas. It is said that the Mahabharata, a great Indian epic, was written on the banks of the Beas river. A diversion of the road takes one to Leh, though that was not the road that any of us save one really sought to pursue. And pursue it we didn’t. We would now make our way down to Manali, pass through Kulu and finally cross Chandigarh on our way back home to Delhi.

At Manali, we stopped finally, because no more could we stay hungry. Nestled in the Beas River Valley, which had followed us all the way from the Rohtang, this small town is the beginning of an ancient trade route to Ladakh and from there over the Karakoram Pass on to Yarkand and Khotan in the Tarim Basin. Once we were full and I had got back into the car, instantaneously I fell asleep. The journey had been tiring and we were ever so close to the end, and yet my eyes would not stay open for it had now not rested for over a day. I slept and dreams clouded my mind. I was now in a shackle, legs and hands tied. A hookah lay in front of me, but it appeared to have been used up long ago; the coal was not burning anymore. I looked up to see a small window, which allowed a tiny amount of light to come in, but only enough that I could see the walls of my room. It was a tiny one, the walls of broken cement, and the floor was only dust. I tried to stand up, but the weight of the cuffs held me down. I appeared to be hungry, and there was some food in a plate beside, but flies hovered on it, it seemed the plate had been here for a long time. I tried dozing off, but sleep would not come. I heard shouts outside, some ceremony was being held, or maybe a battle-cry? I did not know what it was, for I had no idea where I was. Then I heard the sounds of my door opening. Looking up, I saw his face. It was him. All these years I had been looking for him, and here he was. So he wasn’t dead after all. In this strange country, I finally found him again. “Where are we?” I asked him. “Hell,” he said. I smiled. The years had turned his sense of humor to a sour satirical one. The day was growing old now, and we sat inside the cell. He had brought some pieces of coal, and we smoked the hookah until we were both very high. I knew he was dead, I saw him dying, seven years ago it was, but he was here, maybe I was dreaming? I pinched myself and it did not hurt, so I knew I was. But I could not get out of the dream. My eyes would not open. What kind of sorcery was this? I asked him, and he only smiled. “You’ve been defeated,” he said. “You have been defeated, my friend”. I did not understand, and he did not want to explain, so I just let it be. Then the doors opened again and two soldiers came in. Now they held me tight, and asked me how I came here. I told them I did not know, and one of them held me tight and started shaking me with all his might. Bam, the dream was gone. I was awake now, and we had crossed Kulu already.

The rest of the evening was pretty uneventful, we stopped once for tea, and another time for dinner. It was late night when we finally reached Chandigarh. Here we changed our cab, and hailed one for Delhi. Home would be a reality soon. Only yesterday it seemed a distant possibility. It was four in the morning when I finally reached home. I laid eyes on my precious. It had been waiting all this while for me. I jumped upon it, my precious bed. For years now, I would remember this trip. Sometimes moments are created when you least expect them to. I honestly had far lesser expectations from this trip than what it provided. The walk-man was playing ‘Leaving on a Jet-plane’ now, and I welcomed the lullaby as I dozed off to sleep.

Well that was all about my trip. I did overshoot the length I had thought I would limit it to, but sometimes less is not enough. I will be back with more posts soon, and till then, keep reading! Bye.