With laboured breaths, I dragged myself on this never ending slope, secretly working on the probability of reaching the peak on my own legs. They said if you mumbled Hanuman’s hymns, the ascent became smooth. But stubborn as I was, I chose to do it without any supernatural help. Plus, I believed Hanuman has better jobs to do than push people’s ass up the hill. I mean I could picture him having his brunch, sweet red berries on his plates, and suddenly the doorbell rings and millions of SOS calls trying to get through. If I were God, I’d probably resign soon and get myself a nice planet where I could fix my chair with supernatural cement and watch torrential rains over dense forests.
This junior behind me swore he could feel a heart attack creeping up his chest. I told him it was just gas and asked him to keep moving.
“I’d collapse. I had an operation a few months ago. “He pleaded. I chose not to believe him.
“Don’t lose heart, boy. Once you reach there, you’ll be reborn. ”
Let’s rewind to the moment we went to the temple, from where we watched the hills and the houses, planning honeymoons.
“If there were no condoms in this world and a couple lived in Shimla, at what rate do you think the population would escalate? “I quizzed.
“I just want to have a machine gun and shoot down those tiny people walking on the road. “Said the Military man, thus spoiling my erotic thought.
We took photos and then branched off into two groups, one behind healthy male teachers, the other behind diabetic female teachers. We went to Mall road, and Mr. Gabbar asked us to get over with the shopping quickly. We went in an elegant clothes store, where women with rosy cheeks sold swanky shawls.
“How much for this? “I picked one from the counter that had Pashmina written on a plate above. I could buy it for maa.
“Twenty Six thousand rupees only sir! “She said coolly, as if she were selling Kismi bars. The shawl dropped from my hand. People’s stare oscillated dramatically from my face to her face. I could hear Ekta Kapoor background music. Dhoom tana na na na….
“Ermmm…what’s the lowest price? ”
“Thirteen thousand for this one. “She showed me the dullest piece of clothing ever manufactured.
‘Does it come with superpowers? ‘I wanted to ask. But I just said hmm, and turned away, as if I was a ghost and nobody could see me. If I had twenty thousand rupees, I’d start a business in clothes rather than purchase a shawl.
We then moved on to the main street, and the guide told us that we could get to Jakhoo and watch the sunset. One of the teachers revolted against going on foot, so we left him and walked ahead. It was agoddamn race against time.
None of the girls came with us. They got a cab and Mr. Gabbar cited security reasons and sat with them while we the bravehearts walked on the slope, fighting gravity.
Saying that the walk was a backbreaking exercise would be a severe understatement. The muscles in my legs stiffened like cement. My heart pounded like those cheap DJ speakers they put on small scale marriages. I was gasping for breath. I was kind of convinced I’d not make it to the temple.
But I did it. I was the last guy to reach there. It baffled them. I mean I’m a fat guy, nobody expects me to climb mountains and stuffs. Mr Gabbar patted my back.
The girls were already there, without a hint of sweat on their brows, clicking selfies at the base of the sky-high statue of the monkey God. As we sat for a group selfie, one of the monkeys stole a girl’s specs. We had to give him a whole pack of roasted grams to get the soecs back. Monkeys are shrewd, I tell you.
We had missed the sunset, but the last smear of red was still there. We clicked photos and left the temple. Since gravity was now working downwards, girls and Mr. Gabbar joined us this time. Somebody dropped the idea of a bonfire, so we started collecting dead branches with some vigour.
I’d never felt so excited before, I must tell you. I mean who dreams of picking twigs in a foreign land. We got the flashlights and searched in the bushes. It was scary but exhilarating.
As I left Jakhoo, I made a secret vow to some day, get here with my…..alright, maybe I am too desperate. But when you have a beautiful experience, you add it to your bucket list.
to be contd….