This post is a part of 24-day Marathon fiction called Yaariyan. To read from the beginning, click here.
The rains stop, the trekkers walk out of their small hideout to embrace the clear blue skies and rejenuvated surroundings! Kashmir is unpredictable, but unconditionally beautiful! It is already 3 PM and they are an hour away from Gangabal lake. Sun is shining bright. They start walking quickly to catch up with other trekkers.
They reach a point from where they can see Harmukh peak, but the lake is not yet visible. Raunak reminds them its the final hillock they’ll be ascending on the trek. Divyah is awed by the view – she plays her favourite childhood game with Ruhi and others join in – Guessing the shape of the cloud. Divyah sees a cartoon character with extended hands to reach out for a cookie in the clouds. It’s easy to interpret she is hungry. Everyone is hungry!
As they reach the top of the hillock, they catch up with the front runners. All of them are sitting there, observing the view and waiting for others to catch up. Sunrays melt the glaciers on the top of the mountain which lead to rivulets. These small rivulets slither through Mount Harmukh making their way to the fresh water lake. This process is slow and continuous. Sunrays shine like stars in the lake.
They see the orange tents laid in a semi circle right next to the edge of Gangbal lake. Dr Sudip sits down with the front runners; they’ve not reached the campsite, but the mere sight of it gives an assurance – he sits to capture the beauty of the lake in his memories forever.
Tarun is playing songs on the speaker. Soft songs which go with the mood.
Ude, khule aasaman mein khwabon ke parindey
Ude, dil ke jahaan main khaabon ke parinday
Oho, kya pata, jaayenge kahaan
Khule hain jo pal, kahe yeh nazar
Lagta hai ab hai jaage hum
Fiqrein jo thi, peechhe reh gayi
Nikle unse aage hum
Hawa mein beh rahi hai zindagi
Yeh hum se keh rahi hai zindagi
Oho, ab toh, jo bhi ho so ho
Kanishka lifts her scarf and holds it in her hands; it flutters with the winds – is it the view or the song or both, but she feels alive! As she loses herself in the melody of the song, Swami begins to sing along melodiously.
Ab raah mein hai ik dilkashi si barsi
Har khusi mili
Ab zindagi pe hai zindagi si barsi
Ab jeena hum ne seekha hai
Arpit looks towards Abhinav for the first time in the week. There are a lot of pent up emotions, he has to sort things out once and for all. Ruhi sits beside him holding his hand as the song continues…
Yaad rahe kal, aaya tha woh pal
Jisme jaadoo aisa tha
Hum ho gaye jaise naye
Woh pal jaane kaisa tha
Kahe yeh dil ke jaa udhar bhi tu
Jahaan bhi leke jaaye aarzoo
Oho, ab toh…
Jo bhi ho so ho
Slowly, everyone joins in humming the song together. Time seems to have frozen. Swami begins to jot down his best experience on the trek – He names it Song of Stars and Mountains!
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