I am writing in my 17th hour of the day one. My eyes close and I open them but I must write. Else tomorrow, today will be gone.
I was ready to observe this. This journey, which was almost defunct before even it started, found a calling when Yagya landed at my home. A divine landing. In last 19 years of knowing each other he had never come to my home. But he was here. Begging almost, requesting. It had to happen.
A decade ago, this month, this time Yagya and I along with three other were the first ever civilians and teachers visiting the border village of Baltistan, Turtuk; to teach almost 250 higher secondary school students. And more would come if teachers were any good, and more came once the news found them, from all over state, so many that we had to take classes even after our school.
Three months ago the village head Rehmatuallah ji called each one of us inviting us to come for a week, like before live and stay with the village people but this time to not teach but observe, talk with the village children, elderly to see how things have shaped for the village in last ten years since we initiated. It was an exciting news then but in no time it faded like color, like an ageing cloth and like all old memories that are slowly being consumed by this killer Pandemic. In just one month the time felt like a different era, rather it still is an ongoing life.
For I called it off as I was in pain, but with me other three denied. Yagya and wife were left alone wanting, desiring to go at any cost. As he wanted to show her, his valuable past. But After a prolonged silence from my side with the certainty of the trip being called off, he from nowhere unannounced arrived at my home.
Yagya and I both had some beautiful memories in the village, and all these years we have had numerous occasions when we had even slept talking about the days and nights spent in the Balti villages, teaching kids, teaching them questioning the views, even learning their ways of life, learning their language like calling water tresha, i still say this name, or the time spent at the last Tibetian monastery of the Gilgit-Baltistan region, looking over the snakelike angry river Shyok.
Where did these ten years go, no one knows? And after three hours of yes and no, he convinced me to not just go by any flight but to drive 1300 kilometers starting tomorrow morning. And what a morning to leave, arrived! One that felt like becoming one with the smell of earth, like mother’s home even while at home. The first rain of the monsoons, heavy black clouds curling, ganging up without a sound, dawn that looked like night long after darkness had left, drizzle that asks for your hand, allures your heart, your face to feel wetness, drizzle that you know is going to become a downpour soon. But while all this was the background. I left, Leaving mother’s eyes wet.
Only I know how much effort it has taken for me to make this journey possible, right now in pain, the journey began. And for the first time with one tooth less.
The car moved.
I felt excited to hold the steering, to see myself on the road again and driving, realising that this time its not just for two hours or two states, it is a drive towards the northern Indian end; I was driving, and driving with an old friend during this modern day killer pandemic, driving when roads are bereft of everyday chirp or any extra seller, driving like Abbas Kirostami and his one camera crew did in 1990 while filming “And life goes on”, but above all it is enticing because the car is Omni.
Omni! How much ever you go faster Omni will go at her own pace, and well so will I.
Internet in the Himalayas is as unstable as this car i am driving is, yet i will try posting whatever little and whenever i can.
: ँ :
If you like to share your stories or ever feel like saying a hello, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org