It was my fourth day in Ladakh. As I was returning to my resort, dusk prevailed over the mystic valley of Kashmir. The sky was scintillating with the golden paroxysm of sheer delight which were reflected by the snow clad peaks of the mighty Himalayas. The evanescent sun rays were kissing the placid countenance of the Chenab whose ineluctable gurgling sound was singing the unspoken bonhomie of some rustic mountain girl, lost in the love of some anonymous poet sleeping under the eternal blanket of oblivion. The lush green conifers were a cynosure in that golden atmosphere, which was adding an element of ineffable enigma to Nature’s exuberant fiesta.
Drenched in the natural extravagance, I stood immobilized into that heavenly place for sometime, charmed by the ethereal magnificence of the place. But still the tranquil wine of beauty was unable to fill my prodigious vessel of solitude. My solitary mind was desperately yearning for someone, in front of who could tear my heart open and share all my burdens and emotions, someone who would help me to get over the precarious perils of life, a close companion for the heart’s most intimate affections. Infact human life is an unending quest for this ‘someone’. As I stood there lost in the melancholic delirium of thoughts, I suddenly heard a voice saying,” Hey, what are you doing?” This voice seemed to sunder the eerie silence of the place into juvenile fragments and took me out of my trance. I turned around and saw a remarkably handsome young man smiling amicably at me. He was tall, fair and muscular. His eyes were resplendent with an uncontrolled vitality. The army uniform adorning his muscular physique added an element of inexpressible charisma to his ineluctably attractive countenance and accentuated his youthful ardour. I greeted him back with a smile and introduced myself. He was Lt. Col. Rajeev Singh of 17 Grenadiers, presently posted in Ladakh. He offered to take me to their barracks but I was getting late. So I departed, promising to pay a visit the next day.
I work as an executive in a Delhi based travel agency and I was sent here to make a thorough survey of the place and prepare a detailed report on the prospects of Ladakh as a potential tourist hotspot.
Rajeev had left an unfathomable impression on my mind and I just could not stop thinking about him. I had dinner and went to sleep, intoxicated by the charm of this unforgettable acquaintance. I woke up the next morning and went out for a jog. As soon as I stepped outside the resort, I headed straight for the barracks. The overwhelming desire to have a glimpse of Rajeev was overpowering. He greeted me heartily at the entrance and courteously took me inside. It was early morning and the entire cantonment was bursting with activity. I was thrilled to see the chivalrous jawans enwrapped in their rigorous training. Later he took me to the military canteen and we had coffee.
As the chariot of time moved ahead, it converted this magnificent acquaintance into an intimate camaraderie. Those few days seemed to pass like ages and I never realized when I came so close to him, so close, that it seemed to me that the whole world and everything in it dwindled into oblivion, and it was only him and me and the inarticulate charm of our love, as the sole minstrels in nature’s eternal orchestra. I was so enwrapped in this subliminal dream that I remained oblivious to the fleeting march of time. Finally the cloud of illusion burst and rained in the form of sheer trepidation, which unmasked the grim countenance of realty. The time for departure had awfully arrived, wrenching all the happiness from my soul, to take me away from the romantic life of Kashmir, far away from Rajeev.
As dawn awfully sundered the elusive spell of night, Rajeev came with his jeep to drop me to the railway station. As the golden aura of dawn lit up the distant horizon where hatred meets love, I saw the exuberant water of the Chinab heaving like the Earth’s brimming tears. None of us spoke a word, as if neither of us dared to break the magic spell of silence, which had forcefully suppressed the inevitable flood of our consuming clandestine emotions. It was only the paroxysmal sound of the water of Chinab which was incessantly cutting through the doleful silence of the surroundings. We finally reached the railway station. The gormless train, epitomizing the awful carriage of departure was whistling and was on the verge of leaving. I looked into his eyes which were reflecting an intense vendetta of conflicting emotions. There was so much that I wanted to tell him, I wanted to tear my heart open and sway him in the prodigious flood of my profound emotions. I felt like as if I was in the inevitable process of losing something very precious. I wanted to cling to it with all my strength, embracing it with every scintilla of my elusive hope till it finally abandons me, ripping my veins and draining the blood of my heart. But all I could say to him was “good bye”. As the train started to move, I stood at the entrance and kept waving at him till I could see him no more.
Life is a journey from cradle to grave and this journey never keeps us oblivious to the inevitable process of losing. Six months had passed since I came back from Kashmir. One day, as dawn revealed a message hidden in the envelope of night through the morning newspaper, it indented a fresh scar on my six months old wound, partially healed by the passage of time. The headline read," Seven jawans of the Indian Army killed in a terrorist attack, including the Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Rajeev Singh, 17 Grenadiers.”
That night, as I looked up in the sky, not a single star could I behold, except one tiny bright star shining in the distant horizon, as the enticing light of the bygone days shining in the eternal horizon of time where life meets death.
- Sayoni Mukherjee
5 years ago