A student in the mountains, returns home, and falls in the pit of an injury. Bed-ridden, he receives his certificate from mountaineering school, urging him to conquer the big mountains. However, his returns to reality was the shortest travel he’s had. After a surgery, with a broken tendon, stitches, and plaster, the shattered confidence in self will poses as the mountain that is intimidating, but must be conquered. A mountain that’ll be the biggest summit in life. How I pine to return to the big mountains.
MOUNTAIN OF TROUBLES
It was quite a tragic turn of events. A couple of days after my birthday last year, and a day before our court marriage, I had an accident that put me in the operation theatre. A heavy glasstop dislodged itself from the side table I was shifting and fell to split the tendon in my left foot. When the doctor suggested I underwent a surgery at the earliest, I had no choice. I was to be bed-ridden, my stitches and plaster to come off just a day before flying to Odisha for my wedding. Time was of the essence, thus, I agreed.
AT THE HOSPITAL
Sitting in the hospital room, waiting for my surgery call, I was under the cloud of a complex concoction of emotions. I was just back from my month-long Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC) in October, was living in the hangover of a different lifestyle, and was in obvious high spirits. I had plans of scaling some big mountains in a few months with my Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) instructors. Having received compliments on my rock climbing style at the course, I was determined on practising it religiously, and for this I even went on to register with the Indian Mountaineering Federation (IMF), a bourgeoning hotspot for all rock, ice, snow, and mountain lovers. Amongst others, scaling the technical Bhagirathi III in May-end was where I had my mind stuck on.
RETURN TO TRAVELS, OR NOT
The 2019 calendar already looked quite colourful with all these travel and climbing plans, featuring a bike trip to Spiti, work trips to Italy and Spain, leisure trips to Germany, Bhutan, and Iran, about 4-5 treks, finishing my paragliding pilot program, and many such adventures. All this was going on even though I knew the surgery might not allow me to actually follow any of them. And then was the ambiguous monster of marriage, who knows how that turns out? Would the travel-loving wife agree to all these plans and offer her support? Would we really be able to make amicable plans and get offs on mutually agreed schedules? While the adventure-seeking mind was at work, nurses kept marching in and out sporadically, taking samples, speaking in jargons beyond comprehension, rendering no real answers to my questions.
They were just breaking my rhythm and harmony of thoughts, thoughts invested in sincere and diligent planning. So rude!
FIX ME FOR THE MOUNTAINS
The surgery went well, though the OT was bitterly cold. I remember the sensation of them stitching my foot back. There was no real pain, my first surgery wasn’t a sour experience. I thought the surgery hasn’t sit me too far from my plans, I could still seeing them shaping up and transpiring, there were still hopes of meeting them big mountains, rough terrains, imbibing the play of clouds and sun on unmeasured roads and paths, making new acquaintances, embarking on new journeys, and much more.
All that’s planned doesn’t necessarily go as planned, only fools don’t know that. Most disappointments are a manifestation of our expectations and free-spirited thinking. My ‘no-nonsense’ moment had arrived.
FACING THE REALITY
The day after the surgery I returned home, something transpired that broke my spirit. The doctor’s files clearly instructed complete bedrest and least movement of the foot, let alone even attempting thinking about walking without a walker. I was to comply but not madly, I’d walk, go up and down the stairs ten times a day to take account of the masonry work in progress, and set it up for my beautiful wife to come to a home, not a house. There was much to be done.
Coming back to the moment, even while holding this rather restricting medical document, I was rebelling with self. I wasn’t ready to give up on the travel calendar, I was to be brave and out-do my body in healing my foot, gather strength, and return to the discipline I had just added an accolade to. While the confidence and rebellion was peaking, there was a knock on the door.
YOU’RE A MOUNTAINEER, YAY!
Came in an envelope, dressed in white, with the insignia of the Government of India, the mere sight of which dented my confidence. It was my BMC completion certificate. Its words instructed me to go, explore, climb, and stand up-top the sky-kissing peaks. It’s the most gratifying feeling, a piece of paper for most, but a medal on my chest. I’ve not chased and successfully receive accolades in fields that are driven by passions and not profession. Now my hands were full, holding two very different documents. One instructing me to not move, other to go mad on dusty tracks. One asked to be rebellious, other to be just the opposite. One demanded breaking rules, other punishing me with orders. But, no matter how much the spirit and heart flies, it has to accept the realities and let sensibilities prevail.
A YEAR LATER NOW
I’ve been a good boy, it’s been nearly a year now. For one who’d run 5kms each day, I haven’t even jogged a 50 meters. I’d pick riding my bike over car. But hadn’t even washed my Royal Enfield once. For one who’d deny stepping foot in the Delhi Metro is its avid client now. But now the itch is getting stronger.
I wish to get away, away from this concrete jungle and sleep on a makeshift bed over cold and moist grass. What’s the fun in turning off the AC when I wake, It’s in putting on a pullover and witness the skies fill up with colours of the rising sun. I don’t wish to turn on the geyser and have a comfy shower, I wish to rather wipe myself off sporadicly for a month and let water be the liquid gold it is and utilise it as a priced possession.
My eyes refuse being glued to black mirrors now, they want to be set on the summit. The steam of the morning coffee needs to be replaced by the pinnacle’s plume. Not an official laptop bag but a rucksack is what my shoulders want to wear on now. Not a comfy car or a metro ride, but a dusty Trax or Bolero on broken roads is what I wish to travel in. I’m itching to be back where I belong, be raw, be thrown in an unexplored territory, not stay in a controlled environment and call a small progress a career enhancement. No more running the rat race, and boasting how well I can describe how that Cabernet tastes. No more competition, it’s time for camaraderie. It is time to be in the wilderness, and breathe. It’s time to be in the mountains.
A PROMISE TO RETURN TO THE MOUNTAINS
Goechela tested me differently in 2016, it denied letting me conquer it, it needs to be silenced. And that’s where I’m headed. I want to look the monstrous imposer of Kanchenjunga in the eye and rejoice. Let there be a challenge, only that will satiate this itch. I’ll be celebrating my 33rd birthday, and the first anniversary of our legal wedding away, alone. I’ll celebrate the anniversary of this accident not by sitting on a sofa in despair, but by looking it in the eye and shattering its confidence the way it did for mine the year before. I need to do something that’ll forever change the way I look at this event. I’ll defeat my mind, my body, my inhibitions, my past, and the demon Goechela has been for three nagging years. I ain’t backing down, and I won’t let myself down either.
Mountains are calling and I must go? Na, mountains is where I belong, and I’m returning home. Don’t be surprised if I get a speeding ticket en route. This needs be done, the itch needs be silenced.