On the top of the world.
I have always wondered how that feels. Now I know.
I am on the top of a mountain. Embraced by a sleeping bag. Ensconced by the warmth of a small dark tent.
The adrenalin has just receded. And the heartbeats have calmed down. But the feeling of fear is still on my tongue. I wiggle my socks clad toes and try to relax. Not possible. Umpteen thoughts are flooding my mind, each in competition with the other, vying for my attention.
Vying for my attention? Suddenly I couldn’t but help grin at the ridiculousness of the thought. And then at the ridiculousness of the whole situation. I look across so that I could tell Mika about it. She is fast asleep and I decide against it. But I continue to grin. And think about the happenings of the evening.
We are halfway up the Chembra peak. The sky is lit with a grayish blue light. My companions are colorblind and can’t make out the blue tinge. But I am reminded so much of the song ‘Neela Raavilu Innu Ninte’ from the movie ‘Kudumba Sametham. The entire song is shot with the same kind of lighting. Am not sure dawn or dusk. But I remember the dark silhouettes, the shadows on the paths, the white light around the early bird moon, the glistening white sand. A movie, which I saw, but an atmosphere that I felt. The grainy feeling below your feet as your toes sink into the sand, the breeze that blows a strand of hair onto you eyes, the sound of the dark sea as it breaks on to your soul. I emerge from my reverie as I hear the laughter around me. And then go back to it:)
The mountains look strangely friendly. Each peak is outlined with clean straight lines, the work of an artist. Dark, but not menacing. Hasnt somebody said that mountains make you feel so insignificant, that you realize how small you are compared to their enormity and beauty? I don’t think so. I felt comforted by their size, but not humbled by them. I had these huge hulks all around me, and I felt cocooned. The sky is a huge blanket, a few angels in the sky wearing glass lit halos. The wind is rustling the grass and shrubs around the campground. Almost like a lullaby. And I feel – accepted. And content. I look around me. Mika, Amit and MF – Mika laying out the food on the ground, Amit collecting firewood, and MF fiddling with his camera. I grin, look at the mountains one more time, and *sigh* – get back to work. Amit had already given me a session on how to light a camp fire. Fortunately for us, some kind soul had already cut firewood and left it at the camp site. All we had to do was to go break it into different sizes – the small twigs which would be used to ignite the fire, the larger branches which would feed the fire, and finally the huge ones which would sustain the fire. We also need dry hay; seems it helps in starting the fire. Amit and me go searching for it. Dry hay in the middle of such dense greenery? All around us we had tall green grass – lots of it, shrubs and the odd vine. There was a grove up farther with lots of trees, but where could we find dry hay? Finally, I collected some dried leaves and we decided to make do with it. I watched Amit as he carefully arranged the leaves at the bottom of the pile, over the coal. Small twigs made a second layer. All of us crowd around the pile. Mika lights the candles and hands over one to me. It was almost ceremonial and I feel solemn as I light the twig:) The others are also doing their bit and we wait for the embers to catch the fire. MF manages to get one twig burning, but it soon dies out. I feel proud when my end of the pile suddenly catches fire and starts cackling. Silly ha?:) Soon we have a small blaze and we settle down comfortably on the mats laid out. The wind is blowing hard now and it is quite chilly. The warmth from the blaze slowly sinks into our bones.
The sparks kept blowing past us, and I played with the embers. The conversation kept flowing, and so did the booze. Was I intoxicated? Not on one glass of Bacardi. Not drugged, not drunk, but I did feel intoxicated. I laughed along with them, and I sang with them. And I laughed more – till it felt so natural and beautiful. I laughed for no reason, and I did not feel silly. And that’s when it happened….