It’s a relaxing September Sunday morning at AIS Colony, Lumsey, Tadong (5th Mile). There is a bit of chill accompanied by occasional drizzle. While I reluctantly agree to scribble the fantasies of my never say die hubby, old faithfuls Tommy & Baily and our friendly neighbor walk into the eco friendly and green sit out having two attractive yellow benches. Upon settling on a parapet, Tommy looks straight into the green valley downhill. RPG, on the contrary, is all set to flaunt his new haircut. What a pleasure it is to see a ‘young man’ of 65 years with semi jet black crowning glory. No doubt, it is not a match with the black colour of the office diary kept on the bench or for that matter, black Samsung held tightly by him or the black Bolero of one and only Y factor.
RPG, incidentally, on 9th of September, 2012 made up his mind to see the brighter side of life by resorting to have a close look at the fast flowing Rani Khola, almost at dusk. Accompanied by Als, two of them had a leisurely walk down the road under construction for 20 to 25 minutes. It was a welcome wind of change. Apart from exploring a new area, it also meant breaking the monotony. There was no question of any strain. Six or seven layers of road were taken care of without much difficulty. Once a green area, signs of rapid denudation were visible all over.
Very close to the destination, they saw a rivulet, mistaken initially to be the main Rani Khola. However, the sight of a large flat field rightly occupied by the teen agers playing football, changed the whole perception. ‘Shoot at sight’ followed instantaneously. Within a few minutes, it was a soothing walk to the meandering river. It was a mesmerizing sight to behold in all the directions. A bamboo bridge, precariously hung in the middle of river, perhaps, was the only link between two hamlets located on the either side. A piece of tiny drift brick was dutifully collected from the ‘beach’ to be carried as a memento. Though it was getting dark, the spirit of adventure was nowhere to wane.
During the retreat, the teen aged footballers were missing from the scene. Villagers in the nearby huts had, in the meanwhile, begun hectic preparations for their dinner. Subsequent to a gradual climb of 800 feet, a bunch of footballers were spotted. True to their generation habits, a few were fiddling with cell phones, others were glued to listening to music while the remainder spoke about the anticipated anxiety on the part of their parents (supposedly connected to their return). In no time, taking recourse to a short cut, they vanished into darkness.
Though Als kept walking up without any break, he would ask RPG every now and then, if latter needed any rest. While former had trekked along this stretch several times in the past during morning hours, including one round, this very day, for latter, it was a maiden opportunity. Though he avoided any halt or break for first 20 minutes, by the time it was 6.15 pm, he felt exhausted. For a moment, while wiping sweat off his face, it appeared as if he would not be in a position to proceed further. There was, however, a lot of spirit left in him. Sitting close to a miniature waterfall, for a moment, a foolish thought came which prompted him to believe as if the world was going to end. However, he was determined not to exhibit an element of abject surrender before his 54 years old friend.
Patience and silence together with slow and gradual breathing came as a welcome wind of change. Though it grew darker than before, the stamina supposedly lost could be regained in about 8 to 10 minutes. The climb to next 500 feet to the Mechanical Garage was a measured one. Since nothing was visible on the adjacent pitch road, old faithful and handy mobile came to rescue. Passing slowly by the side of a few dimly-lit huts and on encountering the errant dogs here and there, the duo slowly made it to their abode, located further up 500 feet.
Sipping leisurely his late evening peg, RPG was not in a gloomy mood, per se. He was, however, caught in a syndrome of decision/indecision. All the isolated evenings, often resulting into contemplation in isolation, were at the back of his mind. Looking at Joseph, his Man Friday (who had recently discovered his love for a chick apart from drinks), he decided to break the story of the evening, back home. All listened patiently but they also expressed concern. While everyone advised to exercise due precaution in the allegedly hostile hilly hinterland of
, no one, surprisingly boosted his morale. Sikkim
With due credence to the relaxing talk and counseling on the part of Usha, Dudul and Dimpy (both share the same birthday), RPG, somehow, felt deep within his heart that his spirit of adventure in the evening may have sounded alarming to his near and dear ones, it, nonetheless, gave him the indomitable bout of courage and confidence. Such a state of mind will see him through during the weeks that follow. Perhaps the moral that emanates is - hard work, positivism and optimism have to be inculcated, shared and adored. Age should not and must not be a hindering factor.