This post is a part of 24-day Marathon fiction called Yaariyan. To read from the beginning, click here.
Arjun pays attention to the sound of sheep grazing as they advance towards the blue house; with the keenness similar to listening Mozart’s compositions! A sound which was a part and parcel of life for a week becomes all the more precious the moment he realises he won’t be able to listen to it back home. He feels hugging them and chases them in vain.
The trail ahead is through a huge mountain with small ascents and huge descents. They are two hours away from the base and an hour away from Maggi point – a place where they’ll take a halt to eat snacks and also make some calls. Network is available there to some extent.
Shobana is walking patiently, ensuring she locks her legs and descends at a slow pace to avoid falling on the wet ground. The sticky soil has increased chances of slipping. As she weighs her trekking pole and takes it support, Tarun’s hoot from behind catches her unaware and she looses her grip, falling face down into the mud. Her expression is worth a million bucks. Tarun and Kartik cannot stop themselves from laughing. She throws mud towards them along with some abuses as they are busy clicking pics of her mud spa.
There is lightning in the sky which is followed by a downpour. The weather has suddenly become hostile and Vivian asks them to pace towards Maggi Point. Dashodh is leading the other half of the group and isn’t much behind the former group.
As they cross the slippery patch, they come across fallen tree trunks (200-350 feet high) due to heavy rains last month. Watching the trees on the floor sends a quiver down Kanishka’s heart – she realises everything, including nature has good and bad sides. One should learn to embrace both!
Exhausted, wet and worried; they reach Maggi Point. The hut is small but smells of coal and has an earthly feel to it. A sixty year old chacha serves hot maggi to them. There are cookies too. His warm smile makes them forget all their worries as they sit down to enjoy a bowl of hot maggi. It is one of the most tasty dishes Sandesh has ever tasted. Rains and hot food, what else would one need to enjoy the climate?
They proceed ahead towards Naranag as the hut cannot accomodate all trekkers together. Dashodh leads the other half of the group to the point.
Walking down towards Naranag, they are greeted by various patches of tall trees. Some of them have curved trunks as the roots make way to absorb water on the slopes. Some stretches are treacherous. Swami injures his elbow while trying to slide down a patch. The downpour has stopped, but the drizzle continues.
They stop to click some selfies as Niket sits down to remove dry fruits from his day pack. Small kids keep meeting them at every corner. They climb the mountains to beg for food and clothing from the trekkers – Dashodh explains how it is a con and how is it impacting tourism. Niket is disturbed by Dashodh’s thoughts and practicality and he gives away his poncho and some food to the kids.
They reach the last phase of the trek – the city can be seen at the foothill. There it is – buzzing with honks and noise of people. Madhu is confused whether he should be happy or sad about returning back; he chooses to be happy about it though!
They pass through a small rivulet running down the mountain. Arpit can see fellow trekkers waiting down waving towards them. The final slope is all there is between them and the city road. He prods the gang to have a final race together.
Excited and all set, they take their positions as Ruhi whistles. Everyone runs towards the road in full pace. Swami feels relieved, alive and jubilant at the same time!! The race concludes with a group hug and a ‘We Did It!’ smile on their faces. Niket’s eyes are moist as he realises he has accomplished what he had decided. Abhinav and Arpit hug him tightly.
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