How Getting Lost On That Trek Changed My Life

Anonymous Anonymous in Let's Face It on 3 October, 2017

I am a calm person, well as calm as a person can be these days, what with traffic jams, the hot sun, and meagre salaries. I have the potential to be Buddha, if it weren't for the most irritating person born as my sibling. From the get-go, we have always clutched the opposite poles tightly to our chests and as nature would have it, never quite been in sync with each other. I was not born to be her opposite but I chose to be. I have my reasons too, you know, she is everything I want to be, what with that height, that personality, that brain and that smile, she, infuriating though it may seem, is a vision of perfection. So, I took the only way out, instead of being the perpetual, unnoticed second to everything, I thought of being the first at everything opposite.

One such staunch point of argument in our household is travel. She likes it and I say I don't. I reasoned travelling would mean packing bags with zips that scream in protest, suffer insomnia due to uncomfortable beds, bowel movement that never happens to make friends with another toilet, eat food that neither your tongue nor stomach agrees with, and pose for those 850 selfies with a single backdrop. I mean, rejuvenate in any other way for God's sake.

So one day, she comes, my sister, to tell that people at her office were planning a trip to Munnar for 3 days that included a trek to Edakkal caves. Without stopping to think, I said, "No thank you."
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"I am not asking you I am telling you, you are coming. I have spoken to Dad and he is fine with it. You are coming because a colleague of mine dropped out and we need another person to share the cost," she said.

See what I mean about being the calm-wrecker? I protested, shouted, blackmailed, cried, reasoned but she would not have it. I decided that going would mean departing with the little self-respect I had left. So no, I told her.

A week later, I found myself in the back of a car seated amongst 6 others I didn't know, with my arms firmly folded across my chest. I barely spoke, had that frown firmly on my face and gladly returned my sister's dirty glances. It was the first day, so our first stop according to the itinerary was Eddakal caves. Still angry with my sister, I chose to walk deliberately slowly and soon, I was left behind.

I climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed and climbed. The peak felt like an oasis in a large desert that never came. I soon began suspecting that this was a one-way trip to heaven. Sweat drenching from my body, I walked.
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At one point, my legs warned me that if I go another step, it will commit suicide. Damn it, I thought and sat down on a rock. Closing my eyes and cursing my sister, I rested. Just, then I heard a peculiar sound. Opening my eyes, I found this bird on a branch above. It was a fascinating sight.

Purple was its coat, that gleamed in the sun rays, black was its beak, with the colour yellow for its underbelly and it sat on that branch with not a worry in the world.

What intrigued me was its eyes, they seemed far more wise and intelligent than any human eyes I had known. It lifted its head skywards and I thought it was telling me that there is much more ground to cover before resting, so get up. As though, hit by an electric charge, I got up. I started walking, to find the mundane voices of fellow travellers to cease. I came alive. The different shades of green danced before my eyes. The thick brown and red tree trunks gave out an amazing smell.

There was a quiet dignity to nature. It stood there, hundreds of years, waiting to welcome wanderers to put on a tremendous show.

At times, there was slight drizzle to calm your burning body and then there would be sunlight to dry you off. On and on, these rocks stood bearing testimony to the centuries past, seeing that endless circle of time, being those kind guardians who knew more secrets than the entire human race but had kept that quiet. They knew better than to blurt it out.

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Steeper those caves became, gasping for breath I climbed. The hairs on my body stood up when I touched those caves which are those rare old species with no fear of becoming extinct. Just as I felt that I need this to continue more, I reached that peak.

There I saw drawings as old as 5,000 BC to 1,000 BC on those caves. The drawings are considered the most important discovery relating to the Indus Valley civilization. These drawings were not familiar or beautiful. They were breathtaking.

Can you imagine men climbing these caves that long ago and carving these drawings on them? I felt I could see those men, donning unfamiliar clothes, huddled over a fire and exchanging stories in a foreign tongue. These men might have gone there often or not, known losses or not, loved or not, wise or not, but the drawings were proof that men lived, that life sustained and existed so long ago.

These caves did not offer a view that the rest of the peaks could. But they passed on wisdom, that just in that moment the new met the old, there in that moment, time stood still. These thoughts made me overcome with emotion. As I cried, I wondered if that beautiful purple bird led those men too, did they wonder like I did, that if nature was the miracle or miracle was the nature.

Drenched, exhausted as I walked down hand in hand with my beloved calm-wrecker, I thought of Robert Frost and his words "The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep".
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