Badrinath · Culture · India · Letters · Travel · World

Dear Badrinath,

The Climb

I was lying down on my back and my window curtains were open. It was one of the rare moments when I could see the sky and I could look at the moon. I could see the city lights even around 3am in the morning. I wondered when was the last time I saw the moon so big and clear in my mind. I remembered the night when we hiked to Badrinath; an avalanche, painful climb and then the arrival.

We were on our way to come to you when we saw a huge land slide and saw vehicles lined up. On enquiry we found out that it will take a day to clear up the land slide. We had two options: either to stay or turn our backs. I was lucky enough to have a family which never faced intransigence when it came to taking risks. We took our bag packs and headed up. We were a small group – the noisy family which was us, the sophisticated Tamil family, a monk with sunglasses and a small group of foreigners. We were not a mixture but a compound which kept us alive.

So as we walked up, we realized that we had to cross over a snow avalanche. The downside was if we slipped, we would fall into the cliff and then it would be goodbye forever. We had a choice and giving choice democratically to a group meant unavoidable rift. There was huge row where my father put his foot down and refused to cross over. The Tamil Family passively supported my father. The foreigners supported my uncle and my mother. Finally my father took a leap of faith and caught my hands closing my eyes. For the first time I was not scared of death because if I died, it would mean my father died with me. I would never be alone then which seemed quite blissful. But I was more scared of only my father falling. I looked down for a moment and it seemed like the river calling me. I leaned and the monk called me “Seems very easy and quick. Go ahead if you want to”. Stunned I took few steps back and held my father’s hand tightly.  Slowly each of us crossed the valley of snow.

It was 7pm by the time we reached your top. We had walked for over 5 hours. And there you were, a city lit in lanterns, hot water spring by our side and soft flakes of snow. Somehow, the moon shimmered bright with every beam touching the peaks of Himalayas. The whole city echoed with hymns of prayer.  All of us dropped out bags and dipped in the warm water and stayed quiet. The monk took off his shades. He had the gravest eyes I have ever seen, as if it could sink the ocean itself. He did not speak and just gave me the weirdest object- a sea shell. He gave me sea shell at 3133 meters above the sea level! The Tamil family prayed to the lord and my family for once did not talk much. My father whispered on my mother’s ears ‘Thank You’. We had our meal together at the ashram while looking at the sky. Clear endless sky and moon as big as the sun.

After spending a lot of time travelling around the world, I still search for a day where I will see civilization lit in lanterns blessed by moon and stars. I guess I need to make the climb again. That is the only way to find paradise lost.

One thought on “Dear Badrinath,

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