It was during the trek down the Tunganath to the base camp Chopta. Having spend a horrible night and a failed attempt to trek the mere one kilometer from Tunganath to Chandrasila, I was walking slowly down, without any thought or feelings. I was like a cold piece of meat, emotionless, then. My friends, like yesterday, went far ahead of me.
Like a lonely, disillusioned dreamer striding through a lucid dream, my steps were small and slow, my heart heavy and silent.
Then came the scary hairy creature a bear? For a moment I was like Alexander Supertramp facing a bear in the movie Into the Wild . But it wasn’t. It was a large mountain dog, its eyes more intense and the face more frightening than the hound of the Baskervilles. For a moment I was glad that I missed the bear but afraid for I found the dog. Then came another one behind it, and a third too.
I mounted the hill nearby and walked forward avoiding a possible encounter and provocation for attack. But my safety was merely a few metres of nothingness, the dogs just had to climb a little to catch me, to inflict its sharp canines on to my leg.
But they didn’t. They just walked passing me through the rock paved path avoiding me completely. That small hut like shop from where we had tea while it rained yesterday, was nearby. I got in and had a hot tea in steel glass, paying with the only ten rupee note left in my pocket.
The light was low under the cloudy sky, the drizzles were happening, the flora and fauna were wet, and occasionally some pilgrims passed me on horse-backs and on foot, one of the ladies passing me an eye of interest. But nothing mattered. My body was stiff and week and my mind hardened, after that horrible night yesterday(Read here) and the failed attempt to trek towards Chandrasila. Actually my friends did take complete the trek, I was the one who got left behind.
The gang went out into another shop down the pavement and I walked past them all alone. The valley had reached, where I had hysterically undressed my sweater and danced out of joy while we trekked up yesterday. I got into valley. There was no one around in sight, except a buffalo grazing on the grass meadows/bugyals much further. I thought how peaceful are even the animals in the mountains, silently having its food without bothering anybody. I thought about the colony of monkeys on the way, that they had not disturbed at us at all the other day. I walked forward and almost reached the buffalo when lied empty beer bottles on the ground. How pity, I thought. Such a lovely place and how could someone leave empty beer bottles here. I got furious at the thought of the ones who did so.
And then I heard a sound. The buffalo was looking at me with furious eyes and making some sounds. I didn’t panic, instead just smiled at it and tried walking to the valley down. It got furious again. I namasted the buffalo and told it that I am a harmless person and walked around a tree to avoid it.
So I passed the animal and got down the valley, enjoying the landscape beauty and the fresh air. Breaking my peace, there came another sound. I turned back. The animal was looking at me and growling again. Now this is getting dangerous. This is an open valley and there is no tree to hide, and buffalo was blocking the way back to the pavement. Then, it growled again, much louder this time.
I looked around in panic. No stones and no twigs or sticks. Just grass. To my luck I found two very small rocks. I took them and held them tightly. The buffalo which got distracted for a moment eating the grass again, looked back at me and started making sounds again. Then I noticed it.
An empty old beer bottle near my leg. Without wasting a second I caught hold of the same and waited. A few metres ahead there is a slope and the animal stands there. It began to get immensely furious. Eye to eye. I waited. I knew its gonna run towards me. I calculated in mind the time it may take to reach me. There was a rock embedded in the field one metre ahead of me. I held the beer bottle tightly as if my whole life depended on it, while the buffalo ran towards me with its horns ready to strike. Everything around, all the beauty and the landscape, faded out. All I could see was the creature’s sharp horns fast approaching to kill me.
I counted ….one, two, three, four, five….on five I threw the bottle on the rock nearby in front of the animal hoping the breaking of the same would frighten the animal while I waited to throw the stone at it if it came forward again. I didn’t know why I did not throw the bottle on its face. And guess what happened – the bottle did not hit the rock, it just bounced around on the grass around.
But, the animal got frightened anyway and it ran sideways and stood there.
I didn’t run. I waited with the stones anticipating a possible re-attack. Then without taking the eyes off the thing I grabbed back the empty beer bottle and waited for a few seconds again. No movement. It was just standing there contemplating on the mountains and the horizon. Maybe it regretted on having attacked me.
I ran. And every few metres I turned back to see if it was following me. But luckily it was just standing there, watching the sky.
I ran again and the whole fear got wired in my stomach which began to ache out of panic. I reached the pavement and started walking briskly. On the way I found a moment to sit down and took giant panic breaths to calm myself.
And then came the colony of the monkeys, on either side of the way. I was alone, and the calm non-hurting monkeys of yesterday looked like potential attackers. I waited without passing them hoping some group of pilgrims may return and I could join them to walk past the monkeys. And the waiting continued for more than half an hour. One by one the number of the monkeys began to increase, from under the trees many popped up minute by minute and sat there watching me. I caught hold of a stick and waited while at the same time fearing whether the buffalo would reappear. No pilgrims came. Neither did the horned animal. But the rain did. As the showers gathered momentum the monkeys slowly disappeared into oblivion and I escaped from there. On the way I drank water from a small water stream.
Upon reaching the room my two friends were having a relaxing nap. I said nothing. While they slept, I took my diary and started writing my thoughts. The rain poured heavily. I poured all my heart and mind into the paper in hope that it may provide me with necessary solace…and it did….after finishing my scribblings I put the pen on to the open diary and watched the heavily pouring water and lightning outside…and wondered what the fuck am I doing here…