This post is a part of 24-day Marathon fiction called Yaariyan.
The view of the lake was right from a child’s sketchbook. Snow-clad mountain ranges with a huge lake beneath them followed by green meadows where their tents were set up. It was simply amazing. They didn’t get a glimpse of the lake till they reached the campsite. The lake was half kilometre hike from there. Flinging their backpacks into the tents available, they proceeded to see Kishansar Lake.
Arpit and Madhu raced their way to the top, disturbing some flocks of sheep on their way. As they reached the top, they could see the magnanimity of the huge water body. They felt like pirates who had discovered priceless treasure. Everyone else was already there. The water was still and deep. Their trek leader had given specific instructions not to dive into the lake. ‘Who would be freak enough to jump in icy water?’ thought Niket. And he saw Kanishka near a small rivulet joining the lake – she was shampooing her hair! Talk about taking the trekking experience to a different level!
Abhinav felt the lake to be bound – although it had fresh-water from the ice meting from Himalayan ranges; it appeared to be trapped by its boundaries. It can be much more bigger – maybe an ocean. But will it be able to retain its purity and beauty then?
As they walked back to the campsite before the sun set, they were rewarded with chow mien today! After playing some games, having dinner and filling their bottles with hot water from the kitchen, they all retired to their tents at 9 PM; exhausted.
Arpit gets an urge to pee at midnight. He feels lazy to get out of his comfortable sleeping bag and brave the strong winds, but it is urgent. He wears an additional sweater, unzips the tent curtain and wears Swami’s sandals which are right outside the tent. A cold chill engulfs his lungs. He moves towards the washroom with the help of his head lamp and pees in ease. On his way back to the tent, he gets present to the stunning view of the milky way! He is able to see the entire trail as the sky is clear.
Awestruck by the view, he breaks into a jig as he croons to Counting Stars, his favourite song! He gets lost in the moment; happy to be a part of this wonderful date night with stars. There is no moon in the sky, making the stars appear brighter! Suddenly, a flashlight hits his eyes. He follows the source of the light to find Ruhi gripping her stomach with laughter.
Embarrassed, Arpit walks towards her; smiling as he realises what just happened. He asks her how long has she been watching him dance like a nomad. ‘You don’t dance that bad, give yourself some credit!’ ‘What are you doing so late in the night? That too alone!’ ‘Trying to click the stars on my DSLR like Sandesh explained. Not able to get much, but I captured you on my DSLR! Have a look’ They both laugh at the picture. ‘I got up to drink water and couldn’t help but get out of the tent once I saw the milky way. After setting the lens to infinity, I tried getting the stars with a 30 second bulb, but unfortunately, you came in the frame and I decided to cover you instead of the stars! When I first heard a sound I thought it was an animal; but no-one can sing Counting Stars in such a bad way!!”Aren’t you afraid of venturing out in the night alone?’ I don’t fear darkness – I love its free spirit’ It took time for Arpit to register the impact of that sentence. It was similar to what Latika had told him four years ago.
They both kept talking about photography as Ruhi readjusted the frame and tried different approaches. She asked Arpit to get into his tent and keep his head lamp on so that atleast there is some light for the camera to focus on. The outcome was amazing.
They sat on a huge rock, switching off their lights and observing the star-studded sky. After some time, Ruhi saw a shooting star – ‘Make a wish Arpit and it’ll come true!’ Arpit lay there dumbfounded on what he should wish. God was playing pranks on him.
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