As always, I was reluctant to go. Mother wanted to get out and go to a different hill town. Last time mother had such outing was last year, when me, my brother and mum went to a 10 day trip to Leh, Ladakh. It’s an awfully long gap to not have a getaway in. I mean, we did keep going to Chandigarh (closest city) to see movies and meet our relatives and eat junk and stuff. But nothing beats the whiff of cold mountain air in tropical June’s summer heat.
Not that it matters to anybody, but it’s fun to see the route, so here it is —
A perk of being a kid of a seemingly high ranked government official (especially of the one who works in Public Works Department, which has rest houses at every place in the state), accommodation is never a problem. We got a room better than the most 3-4 star hotels, and that too in a small town in Himachal Pradesh, whose population couldn’t be more than 3000 max.
We unloaded, and went for a long walk. Upon reaching the end of the first half of our walk, we saw a flattened cricket pitch, a bunch of people playing enthusiastically. My mother said —
Only if I knew how to play cricket, and only if I wasn’t tired from yesterday’s playing hockey mistake…
We went up to a helipad that was nearby and saw tiny kids playing. Mum couldn’t control it any further. If it wasn’t going to be cricket, it was going to be corner corner, dun dun and race. So it was! While she played, I overlooked at a stretch of the mountains at the far side of the helipad. At the near side of the helipad were those cricket children seen playing from the top. I kept staring at mountain peaks and deodar trees in front of me, like they were having an acoustic concert.
When mum got tired we started our walk back. We kept fooling around singing parody songs. Mum kept showing me how good the photographs were that she was clicking (they weren’t 😛). I kept requesting her to stop talking for a while to enjoy the lovely breeze that was flowing. She wouldn’t shut up because she was happy, which was good. She forced me to take photographs —
Then over one particular turn, we saw the sun setting. The sun was in front of us, with a complete panorama angle vacant from its sight to our right. To our left were mountains’ ridges. Mum shut up. We both stopped talking and walking, and stood there. Mum’s initial instinct was to keep clicking photographs of the sun, but it would come very bright in the mediocre camera mobile phone. So she stopped and joined in silence together, watching the sun, going down and down and down. The tranquility that it gave us setting down is beyond words. It’s funny, we keep trying to explain which is inexplicable. I think that is something that makes us human — to continue to keep striving for perfection, inching bit by bit, even after knowing that there is no absolute perfection.
After a while, some thoughts started popping in my head, more like questions — how come a burning star is giving me such peace? Should I not long for more such evenings and instead serve people? Am I selfish? And then such questions faded away again, as a dark orange streak of dying light embellished the clouds. That is when I knew a decent photograph could be taken.
I looked down, after having looked at the sun for a long time, and saw a man giving manure to his crops, one of them was Pea —
We started walking again, this time not talking, as the hangover of the setting sun was still grappling. Walking some yards, I looked towards the right and a tree with really short and light green leaves took my attention. I stopped. The now all pervading reddish orange light reflecting from the fluttering leaves, like the leaves were water droplets straight out of a big lake, was so ethereal, I was fixed, couldn’t move as if I was in sleep paralysis, but without any fear or irritation. They were swaying and dancing so effortlessly it felt like it wasn’t the air that was stroking them, but as if they were waving voluntarily. Imagine waving hands in a European football match, or in a Coldplay concert, the leaves were waving and dancing like that.
We came back to the rest house and kept looking at the mountains as if they were going to go extinct soon. For the first time in a long time, I felt like clicking a picture of myself for no reason —
and then I looked across the horizon to this pink horizontal line made, a silver lining turned upside down —
We came back to our room, with the intent to still become more intoxicated with even cooler air that swept the valley in the night. That is what I did all night. I sat and stared at the nothingness, and wondered… nothing.