Sunday, August 30, 2015

By the River Rangeet, I threw back my head and laughed!

Happiness is a strange thing. Bliss is even stranger. You think you’re far, far away from anything remotely close to these feelings, weighed down by the weight of the world, and there they come sneaking up on to you at times you least expect them to.
Mt. Kanchendzonga

Chugging down the remainder of the lemon tea in my cup in a hurry, just about managing not to scald my tongue, I rushed out of the hotel entrance on to the street outside, away from the direction we’d come in the night before. I quickly broke into a fast jog, aided by the steep descent from the ridge on which the hotel was located. It was a crisp, cool September morning in town of Geyzing in West Sikkim. I followed the road as it made its way out of the town, into the unknown.

It had been an unusual start to the run. Running is an activity that makes me happy beyond measure, even if it is my standard 5 laps around Lodhi gardens in Delhi. As I passed the first bend and the hotel disappeared behind the folds of the mountain, I felt heavy, an immense weariness weighing me down. I was plodding, my head down, eyes scanning the ground to avoid anything unpleasant that might makes its presence felt through my thin-soled, not-meant-for-running canvas sneakers. It had been just a couple of kilometres when the voice inside me got to work. Let’s go back. This isn’t working out. You could catch another hour of sleep before the meeting starts. Not today. Come on. Let’s get back into that warm bed and switch back into the other world. Escape.

I plodded on. With a stiff neck, a slightly sore back and a badly battered heart, I continued. As fast as it was, every step required effort, a conscious attempt to continue and go on and not look back. One step at a time, I told myself. The road curved around the side of the mountain, crossing streams small and large and past tiny villages. Sunlight filtered in through the trees, slowly warming up the cold mountain air. It was stunningly beautiful a sight. I crossed yet another mountain stream, gurgling and bouncing along the slope of the mountain, as if laughing aloud, and suddenly a sob escaped my lips. It had been a rough few months, and it was all coming out now. I plodded on. The stunning vistas around me looked clouded and misshaped, as if I was looking at them through a wet window.
Along the way

The descent ended abruptly, and the road moved upwards. The effort involved in ascending the slope and breathing with a rhythm distracted me from my troubles. A few hundred metres and the canopy opened out, as the road turned around the mountain. A small shop stood at the edge, between the road and the sharp drop below. Wisps of steam escaped from the counter. The stiff climb had me winded, and I stopped to catch my breath. A cup of tea felt like a good idea.

Cupping my hands around the warm mug, I ascended the flight of stairs next to the counter to reach the roof of the shop and peered down over the edge. And then, I threw my head back my head and laughed. And laughed and laughed. A wide grin spread across my face, incongruous with my still beady eyes, as I looked down into the valley, bathed in the first rays of the sun, towering above the waters of the Rangeet at its base.

Finishing off my chai, I continued upwards with a foolish smile on my face, humming the happy song that was playing in my head. The crick in the neck was a thing of the past, and the heaviness in my heart a distant memory. By the river Rangeet, I threw back my head and laughed!