We all want to avoid the term ‘heartbreak’ from our life like plague, but it happens! It’s inevitable. We prefer novels which have ‘happy endings’ and are obsessed with the bollywood’s fetish for stories which end when lovers re-unite after long periods of solitude and pain, or in other words the ‘DDLJ’ culture. However, real life follows its own set of rules. Seldom it gives us chances for our happy ending in the first, second or maybe even the third attempt.
When a relationship ends, a universe dies! All the events, moments and inexplicable experiences two people have been through together, are destroyed within seconds. And just like someone loses a limb or a hand which doesn’t grow back, one requires getting used to the absence. The pain of a relationship’s expiry has the same if not a more agonizing effect on one’s soul. Your insides burn and your energy depletes alarmingly, you have a million things to say but words can’t escape your mouth, you feel like crying can be a solution, but hold yourself back anyway. Old memories keep on coming back to tease and haunt you, but you PRETEND having strength. But we all know it’s a lost cause. There’s not much which can be done about it!
In those moments of gut-wrenching agony, we look for escape routes to fast-forward or numb the painful process of change. Some drown away in alcohol and other intoxicants, some become artists, musicians and writers and some look for the next person available for solace to their injured heart. In my case, it was a change of setting, a change of environment and a change of perspective in the serene town of Himachal; Mcleodgunj.
Distraught and broken, I sat in the first Volvo Bus I could find from Kashmiri Gate ISBT. The conductor told me that the bus was going to have two stops, namely Dharamshala and Mcleodgunj. After 12 hours of my rare and much desired slumber, I woke up and could smell the hills. The vibes had changed and I instantaneously felt better. I was away from Delhi’s noise, pollution, helter-skelter and more importantly, I was away from HER. As the cool breeze brushed against my forehead, I felt better.
After I reached Mcleodgunj, my only motive was to find cheap accommodation and food for my time there. I had no itinerary and didn’t know what I was doing there or how much time I would be spending there. As I walked through the feeble drizzle which refreshed my spirit, I could spot few foreign tourists walking away nonchalantly, with no worries of the world at a relaxed pace. Their psyche resonated equilibrium!
After a few attempts, I managed to find to find a room for myself at a small travel lodge, owned by a Tibetan couple for five hundred rupees a night. I relaxed for a while in the room and set out to have a late lunch-early supper at a café nearby. Post supper, I visited the Dalai Lama monastery and sat in silence amidst the beautiful view of the foggy green mountains all over the vicinity.
I came back to the room after dark, to find the other two rooms beside me, noisy and occupied. I put my boxers on and started sipping vodka from the bottle I had with me in the common balcony, when a beautiful girl with long blonde hair came and stood next to me.
“Do you want to share a jumbo J?” She asked, pointing towards the marijuana joint she had in her hand, rolled.
Her name was Katya, and she was in India all by herself to learn Hindustani classical music. No prizes for guessing, she was an Israeli who had come in search of some peace of mind in this euphoric town in the hills. She had accompanied a few contemporaries and was exploring the town with them. She offered me to join them in the trek to five hour long hiking segment to a peak called Triund. I had never seen or even heard the name of the place, but I agreed anyway to break free of my distress and monotony.
We started our trek at 9am sharp the next day and that’s where she introduced me to her friends cum roommates, Avec and Ramatilla. Avec was a psychedelic DJ and Ramatilla was his girlfriend since their naïve schooldays. Katya and I hiked together for most of the time and I couldn’t help not staring at her beautiful face like an idiot. We talked about the Palestinian war and why Israelis absolutely love India. She told me about her brief tenure as a stripper in a club and how much she loved travelling. I remained a silent listener throughout the conversation. That’s when she asked me;
“I barely know anything about you; tell me what brings you here?”
I told her that I didn’t know my reason for being in town, it was just destiny. Neither did I know why I agreed to accompany them for the trek. She gave me a look of intrigue (which by the way, made her look indescribably beautiful!). She said she loved how spontaneous I was and we continued walking amidst the silence, hearing faint sounds of exotic birds and waterfalls. The more we walked; it was as if I was steadily shifting into a trance. I just wanted to keep going as a voice inside me suggested that there was a consequence which awaited me. All the events which were taking place were not mere co-incidence.
We reached the peak of Triund after an entrancing strenuous journey. My trance hadn’t broken and everything appeared majestic in the moment. We found out that the only accommodation we had at the place was tent accommodation, which could be hired on a twin or triple sharing basis. Moreover, the place had no mobile network and washrooms. There were just three small tea-shops which would serve us food that night. We were now distant, cut off from the world.
After enduring the serenity and admiring the beauty of the mystic view of the hills the peak offered, we all sat down for supper together. We were joined by another group of hikers from Mumbai and a few more Israeli enthusiasts and decided on having a small party that night as we were loaded with tons of organic weed and hash. To compliment it, the ‘Mumbai’ group had got their bags loaded with stacks of alcohol.
Our party begun after dark and Avec played some ‘chiptune trance’ on his mini-console. Guys from the ‘Mumbai’ group played bartenders. The girls danced and drank. Non drinkers joined the pot smokers, who sang songs and played the guitar around the complementary bonfire lighted by our tea-shop owner in return for the supper contract for him that night. I stood far away from the limelight, sipping whisky and smoking my blunt joint in silence, looking at the innumerable starts that were gleaming. Yet again, I was joined by Katya, who also smoked in the mystifying silence.
“My four year long relationship ended two weeks ago!” I blurt out to her. A part of me regretted having told her that whereas another part convinced me that it was all in the flow and I would be wrong if I resist it.
I told her everything that there was to tell. As words finally escaped my mouth, I felt more and more aware of my being. I felt as if a lethal fire in me had just extinguished. I felt like a bird being freed from its cage, where it was captured and tortured for centuries. She embraced me and we stayed like that for a while. It was then I experienced a feeling so inexplicable, yet so right. As she looked at me with her eyes radiating abundant love, I found my solace.
We went back to my tent.
I woke up heavy headed next morning. I checked the time. 5.15 am. Katya’s sleeping bag was open and so was the tent zipper. I looked out to see an overcast symphony. The sun was nowhere in sight and it started drizzling as I got out. I could hear soft notes of music and I tried to follow where they were leading me. The tune was familiar, so was the song.
Jaise koi Kinara, deta ho sahara,
Mujhe wo mila kisi mod par..
I walked hysterically in all directions to figure out where the song was being played. I suspiciously checked Avec’s tent and found him sleeping with Ramatilla. I could not spot any person in the vicinity. I started walking towards the tea-shops.
Koi raat ka taara, Karta ho ujala,
Waise hi roshan kare, wo sheher..
As the song progressed rapidly and I didn’t want to miss it, I ran to the corner-most tea shop, the only one which was open. That’s where I saw a huge radio with almost a meter long transmitting wire, rightly tuned to a radio station. I saw Katya, sipping her morning coffee and having an animated discussion with the shop owner. He boasted about how he bought the radio for five thousand rupees and the transmission came in from a station in Amritsar. Katya looked at me and smiled and I sat next to her in the small shed accompanying the shop. The drizzle had now turned into rain and the song progressed to its second stanza. To make the shop owner shut up, I asked him to bring a cup of coffee. I held Katya’s hand and closed my eyes and became receptive the vibes of the song, which were turning out to be the elixir to my soul.
Muskata yeh chehra, deta hai jo pehra,
Jaane chupata kya dil ka, samandar..
Auron ko toh hardam, saaya deta hain
Woh dhoop me hai khada khud magar..
Me parinda besabar, Tha uda jo darbadar
Koi mujhko, yun mila hain
Jaise banjaare ko ghar..
It was then I had reached my nirvana. I opened my eyes and noticed them welling up. At that moment, I just merely existed but at the height of my awareness. I felt like I was the rain and I was the mountain. I had reunited with my true roots. I felt I was home. I was appreciative of the moment and I didn’t care about the next one. That’s when I realized, I had fallen in LOVE. With everything! With the old radio which played the song, with the warm cup of coffee in my hands, with the wonderful painting-like scenery which opened itself in front of me, with Mother Nature, thanking her for my nurturing and rejuvenation and with the old shop owner, who blabbered away in his quest for uninteresting conversation. Most importantly, I had fallen in love with the wonderful woman sitting beside me, who now rested her head on my shoulder.
I felt pure and exhilarated. It was as if all that I wanted from the universe, existed in that very moment. I had found my EQUILIBRIUM.
Koi mujhko, yun mila hai,
Jaise banjaare ko ghar…
Jaise banjaare ko ghar…
Jaise banjaare ko ghar…
Jaise banjaare ko ghar….