Monday, August 11, 2008

To the Silent Ascetics...

                                                                                                                   (Section 7: Impressionist)

Don’t remember the exact age when this happened. Guess those were the days of the primary school.

I was running across the rooms chasing my brother. That was the first day of our summer vacation. We had plans to go to Granny's place same week. We were playing and mummy was busy preparing 'gulab jamuns'.

The chase stopped soon. I had hit the center table of sofa.

That was perhaps a time to cry. But I was very happy, I didn't want to cry. I looked at the bruised toe and tried not to cry. It hurt badly but I decided I won't cry.

I started deceiving my pain. I tried to smile. I managed to smile and kept it.

My brother looked at me and he knew what exactly I was trying to do. 'It will be ok soon', he said slowly and stood beside. Mummy came running as she heard the thud. I saw her face, she was confused but without wasting any time she cleaned and did the bandage.

I could keep the brave face that day. And for that I got an extra gulab jamun. My brother also gave me one from his share.

That night, the pain returned. I 'watched' that my pain carefully. I tried to withstand it and finally slept. That night I had tamed my mind.

25 years have passed since. When I got up today morning, Adi came running to me, sat in my lap and closed his eyes. It was a bit strange.

Kuhoo rushed in the room. There was panic on her face. “He has hit the door chasing his car”, Kuhoo almost cried.

I looked at Adi. He had kept his eyes closed. I saw him fighting with the pain. I knew what he was doing but this time I felt that pain. It was unbearable. After 6 years, today, I could understand the pain those silent ascetics of the Doon valley have suffered over a number of decades.

It was 26th January 2002, a holiday for those on a project site at Dehradun. We had decided to trek to Mussourie.

We had hired a car to reach the start of the trekking point, known as "Shahenshahi Ashram" near Rajpur. It was an open morning after a rainy evening, day before. We had kept a pair of clothes, water, first aid, chocolates and chewing gums and a flask of tea.

After half an hour we were crossing the dense forest that surrounds Dehradun. I enjoyed those long 'bulbul' trees blooming with tiny yellow flowers, birds in their celebrative best and the early morning sun rising behind the hills and rays perforating through the trees.

We reached the ‘Shahenshahi Ashram’ and started our trek. Early morning mountain winds greeted us. The terrain was new to us.

Eventually we lost our way. But there was no hurry; we enjoyed being lost. I was, at home.

The climb got steeper and the trees denser. We were getting tired. We ate all the chocolates and finished all the water we had brought. It was when we were deciding to come down, we saw an old shepherd. We ran to him, asking about the trek-way to Mussourie.

That old shephard took us through a mountain stream. The sound of water echoed as we approached the more greener side of the valley. On the backdrop was a lovely range of the Shivalik hills.

We slowed down as few cemented steps came ahead. Among the scattered rocks and dense trees I quivered with a kind of presentiment and started watching around. I felt the silence of those trees and hills; as if they were trying to keep something within.

We went near to that shepherd and asked him about that place. And he told, "There was a limestone mine at that place a number of years back. Thousands of workers lived and worked there, almost cut off to the whole world. They were simple people and were totally dependent on the earnings from that mine. Those cemented steps were built by and for those workers to climb up to the mine".

"There was a massive landslide one day and a number of workers died that day". That old shepherd was one of those survived the tragedy.

We were numb as we looked around. I saw the remains of the mine, the water system, and old truck road, and the mark of the huge slide, everything.

Today, I felt how those trees and mountains felt. I understand their silence. We all have learnt to bear our pain, but bearing others pain has been so difficult.

May you have the love to feel others pain, and the strength to withstand it. God Bless.