This post is a part of 24-day Marathon fiction called Yaariyan.
Saturday, July 25, 2015
It is 12 AM. Arpit is on his way to Dadar Railway Station from home. He has signed up for Kalsubai trek and their bus departs from Dadar East at 12.30 AM. This weekend is going to be challenging, he contemplates; I’ll be able to check my readiness and get used to wearing the high ankle trekking shoes.
He meets the other participants, they are a total of 12. They board the mini bus and head towards Igatpuri from where they’ll be going to Bari village – the base camp for the trek. Its a drive of 5 hours and he immediately pulls his hood on – in order to avoid speaking to others; he’s tired and will soon go to sleep. He checks some articles on Kalsubai – going through facts and pictures and hopes they encounter rain showers as they trek up; else what’s the fun of a monsoon trek!
Arpit wakes up at 4 AM; the noise of antakshari has stopped suddenly. The group of super excited engineering students who played antakshari the entire way till now have moved to ghost stories. He chuckles in his mind as he recalls the same ghost stories he had listened to with his group. Things don’t change much, do they? They reach Bari village at 4.30 AM and the trek leader asks everyone to catch some sleep till breakfast at 7 AM.
After breakfast and a round of introduction, they start the trek. Arpit is excited to test his shoes and paces ahead of the group; later, moving past the trek leader. He takes riskier routes, amazed by the grip of his shoes – pacing up towards the mountain as rain drops start hitting him with force. He isn’t carrying a poncho, he enjoys getting wet in the rains – inhaling the fresh oxygen, listening to his beating heart and absorbing the greenery, he feels incredible.
They reach halfway to the trek. Rain shower has ceased and sun is shining bright creating a rainbow in the sky! The soothing wind whisks through green trees and roars as it crosses flat lands. They click some group pics with the rainbow and move ahead to the summit – it has a temple at the top and a view of various other trekking peaks surrounding it.
The soil has become wet and more slippery, fog has engulfed the view ahead. Arpit climbs the series of ladder – often just able to see a couple of steps ahead of him. He marches ahead with certainty, determined to make it through. By the time they reach the final phase of the climb, drizzle has stopped. But the top is covered by hovering fog. They won’t be able to see anything unless the fog gives way.
The winds storm creating a huge noise. He kneels before the temple and closes his eyes, hands folded – a lot of things are running through his mind; he observes them – unchallenging job, boring routine, loneliness, betrayal by best friend, distanced family, lack of willingness to meet new people, especially women – he wonders how is he living with so many worries. As he keeps kneeling for few more moments, his mind keeps getting clearer – one thought at a time; until all he can think of is the present moment he is in – the blasting winds and the thick layer of fog. He opens his eyes and gets up – he has found calmness after many years; he feels alive! The fog starts moving, allowing them to glimpse various peaks and the huge Igatpuri lake. Everything is covered in different shades of green. It is beautiful beyond imagination. ‘Fantastico!’, he exclaims.