..."I got my call."
Was it the magi-noodles or the raw apricots that I had pigged on? I really couldn’t care less to investigate. I knew I had to answer my call. My churning bowels would not negotiate with me. My brains, being oxygen-depleted already, had no will to fight back. I had to answer!
I asked my friends to go ahead as privacy is ever at a high premium on these barren slopes. As they accommodatingly vanished from my sight, solitude set in for me to make my move. I had to improvise a balance for my lumbering body on a near vertical rock face. The winds were still determined to dislodge me. I could hug the mountain and let the wind face the problem. Or, I could face the wind and dig in my fingers like pitons into the rock-face. I chose the second. Till this point, it was all an idea and now I have to execute the plan. The wind was relentless. The rush of cold air was intimidating. With a deep breath and focused concentration, I slowly moved in to strike a pose, carefully placing my feet on the surest footing. I didn’t want to tempt a free fall or an embarrassing slide on my back. A contortionist would marvel at how my muscles locked in to keep a steady position. Just when you think you have everything in order, Murphy slams you with one of his laws. The purification rites that would inevitably follow struck me before I could answer my call. The mountains around here could not be more barren especially when you are desperate. Where was the shrub that comes as a last resort? Even a stinging nettle wouldnt hurt but then again, this was above the tree line. We had just a bottle of water and I reckoned we would need it at the summit before our descent. Leaves were out of the equation. So was water. I had already started eyeing the pebbles with their raspy edges that were strewn around when ‘aha.’ Never one to carry a handkerchief, I found one in my pocket. Minor problems though; this was a gift with my initials woven on to it. How could I desecrate someone’s remembrance? Improvisation being the need of the hour, I ripped the monogrammed half putting it back into pocket hoping my benefactor would not take it personally. I did not have time to gauge the odds.
Like the Matrix-ian Trinity poised in suspended animation, I was splayed across the mountain face. I had firmly moved into position. My purification rite was in place. I was ready to answer my call.
There I was, perched on an unknown mountain somewhere in interior Ladakh, wind beating up my you-know-what, my muscles locked in without which I’d be free-falling. Though not to belittle the sacrosanct inclinations generally associated with a ‘call’, I see a Moses ascending Mt. Sinai or an Abraham heading out to Moriah, out there on that precarious ledge I was whistling a tune, oblivious to the strained muscles but acutely cognizant of the fine line between relief and a free-fall. I had answered my call.