This post is a part of 24-day Marathon fiction called Yaariyan.
The pine and bhoj trees are enormous and grand – in their height as well as their width. Enchanted, Stuti tries to hug a tree but cannot cover the trunk in entirety; her husband Sahil is quick to help her, together they hug the tall pine tree. Looking beneath, the distance they covered doesn’t seem much. The sherpas are on their way with the donkeys to overtake them.
The patch of pine trees provide a much required break from the sun; Kanishka is recording videos in her Iphone – till the battery would last. Little does she know that all the engineers are carrying a stock of power banks! Dr. Sudip is just surprised to find something so beautiful yet unexplored – the view of the huge mountains on their way up beckons him. Excited, he keeps walking ahead with his brother-in-law Dr. Karan. Karan had just completed his M.B.B.S. and has got a well-deserved two month break from studies.
Tarun and Karthik are the energy house of the group; they can’t stop themselves from walking on more difficult trails, often getting lost and having to come back – they love exploring the place, leaving their own mark. Annoyed by their adventures, Shobana sticks to the route – often walking alone.
As they cross the patch of pine trees, they are again greeted by enormous meadows. Alone stands a fallen tree trunk – it is curved and trekkers walk underneath it – Sandesh is on the other side of the imaginative door, welcoming them to paradise! Pawan and Ravi have climbed on the top of the tree trunk, they sit there mesmerised – taking in the view. ‘If there is paradise on earth, it has to be Kashmir!’
After walking ahead in the scorching sun, they reach half way at Table Top; the last point where locals stay – the shop offers masala chai, maggi, omlette and of course, kahwah. Kahwah is more authentic and tasty here. It’s their official halt to eat their packed lunch. Chris, Sara, Arjun and Nisha are the first ones to reach and are followed by various other groups. Small children are playing by, amused by the trekkers – it is difficult to imagine how hard the lives of these innocent kids is.
Pawan, Sandesh, Nikita, Siddharth, Ravi, Ruhi, Divyah and Kanishka are walking together playing antakshari and recollecting their memoirs of their previous trek together to Roopkund.
The moment she reaches Table Top, Ruhi hurriedly open her shoes and sleeps on the grass out of exhaustion; she drifts into her own thoughts as she observes the clouds move slowly above her. Divyah joins her and they let their imagination run wild – guessing which shape does each cloud look like and making stories out of it. Ruhi stops her trained mind from interpreting these stories and linking it to what’s happening in Divyah’s life; she is on a vacation she reminds herself. Ruhi moved to Delhi from Bhubaneshwar in order to pursue M.A. in psychology. Presently, she offers services as a shrink and awaits result for her application to do Phd in child psychology from Toronto, Canada.
Arpit, Niket, Madhu, Swami and Abhinav are one of the last groups to reach Table Top. Niket is feeling out of breath and drained. As they sit down to relax, people who have already completed their lunch move ahead after taking the navigation from Vivian.
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