The fence was down, morning light was just beginning to set in. It had been raining all night and there was water all around. He was lying there face down covered in mud breathing heavily. “Shekhram” I yelled as I ran out to pick him up. Ruhi had woken up too by my voice. Shekhram slowly raised his head and looked up at me. He was wearing a bewildered look and trying to smile at the same time. He had walked straight into the fence and got entangled. The struggle lasted for over twenty minutes before he could break loose. Exhausted, he didn’t have the energy to get up and walk into the house. “Lets pick him up” Ruhi said as she reached for his legs. Frail as he was we hosted him to waist level and took him in.

The rain had tempered down. We sat there with hot cups of coffee. I kept wrapping my hands around the cup with an intention of fighting the cold breeze that had started to blow. My thoughts were distracted by the sight of morning suns rays kissing Ruhis beautiful skin. The tone of her already wheatish complex turned golden as the sun played games with its touch.

She occasionally looked straight at the sun almost like asking him to stop his games and in a few seconds gave up looking back at the trees nearby. As she looked into the sun her eyes glistened sharply. They looked like they were stained with the color of steaming hot coffee on a cold winter night that wraps around you like a blanket, engulfing you in its warmth and makes you feel warmly at home. Her look consisted of raw emotion that they will reveal to you the exact thought that crosses the maze of her ominous mind and chiseled thoughts. I kept loosing myself in her eyes as she kept moving locks of hair from her face. She looked straight at me and caught me staring back at her. I fumbled and dropped hot coffee on my feet. “Jesus Christ” I yelled as I ran to pour some cold water on the area.

Shekhram warned us about weather conditions that may prevail if we chose to continue our trek. I was unsure if Ruhi had other plans so I asked her “Would you be tagging along ?” She thought for a moment and nodded in affirmation. Thirty minutes later we had our backpacks packed and covered with raincovers, jackets tightly strapped, shoes pulled up to knee length and gators to prevent any water or snow from entering in. As I picked my trek pole I reached out into my pocket and handed over a roll of ten rupee bills to Shekhram sealing it with a tight hug to make sure he took good care of himself. I have always shared this wonderful relation with Shekhram. Elder to me by a few years he has always been my guide in this region since the day he had found me in a semi conscious state in the hills. I had wandered off my usual route and ended up with no food for three days in the chilly winter weather.

Ruhi walked in small medium paced steps slowly prodding her trek pole in between rocks just to ensure that there weren’t any loose rocks that could cause imbalance or make us slip. Her strides were confident and she paused once a while to take a deep breath. She looked composed and her posture was that of a professional hiker. I kept my distance from her, just about ten paces. It allowed me to dodge any loose rocks that she might dislodge and more truthfully it gave me a beautiful view of Ruhi pacing ahead of me with beautiful ranges in the backdrop. “Keep Up” she used to say in her metallic voice that I had secretly turned fond of. Her hair swayed to the tune of the mountain winds. Fragrance of her body filled my lungs made me feel she was closer than she actually was. She had a strong frame that sent shivers down my spine every time I saw her take a large step. I was lost amidst nature, admiring her beauty.

Suddenly the wind picked up. Ruhi stopped and looked up. I saw her looking westwards, the direction of the winds. The skies were turning dark grey from the subtle blue that they were when we left the log house. The rains had picked up and the winds were stronger. Ruhi was finding it difficult to find her footing against the wind. We decided to pause for a moment and let the clouds pass. We looked for a tree and scampered under it in hope of some respite. It was a tall tree just enough to protect us from this initial downpour. Just as we tried to save ourselves from the rain a huge bolt of lightning struck the tree next to us. It went up in flames and just before I could realize the huge tree began falling down on us with a loud creaking sound. Ruhi jumped in fear and panicked. Before I realized she lost her footing. I could see her large eyes fill up with fear as she toppled over in a split second and fell into the valley tumbling couple of times before disappearing into the bushes deep below. I feared the worst as the rain had just begun to come down in full force.

(to be continued)

“this story is an piece of fiction and recreation described by the author. There is no resemblance to any event of the past”. picture ownership belongs to the owners as they are not taken by the author and he takes no credit for it.

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