(Inspired by ‘My Last Himalayan Trek’. We Miss Sneha( in story, she’s referred as Ruth) – a lady who lived the longest in the shortest life span. She would stay in my heart, forever as the sweetest inspiring memory of my life).
It’s a story that happened during last summer when each leaf was turning into a beautiful flower, when she was free from her wilderness. She used to set herself open to the enchantress nature, like a drop of free water, that belongs to no man or no city. Her heart was a secret garden and the walls were very high. The garden, that was full of alluring dreams like, dancing with little spires, jumping at once and catching the moon and chasing a unicorn in a dense forest. She was Ruth, like the butterfly who counts not months or years but the moments and always had enough time. I looked at her almost all the time during the days she was around me, sometimes she was aware but most of the times she didn’t know of it. I saw her often dwelling on the beauty of life, watching the stars and found myself running towards her inside my subconscious mind. I wasn’t lost in lust or any of such human desires but I was surely lost somewhere and constantly struggled to bring myself back, each time I saw her. Ruth wasn’t a love story of mine but she was the story of love for me.
They say angels fall from heaven on mountains. I met Ruth on the very first day of my trek to Himalayas. She was in her winter cloths, prepared for the trek, standing and waiting for her friends to join her. She got the eyes of innocence, the face of an angle, a personality of a dreamer and a smile that could hide more pain than one can imagine. And since then till the end of the journey, she was there, around. Soon she found a friend in me and I probably found a whole universe inside her. Just like an open book, Ruth kept on talking about her life, work, family, friends, broken relationships, dreams and some dumb decisions and like an obedient reader, I kept reading and memorising her. I never knew, walking through the rocky hills and dense forest could turn into a walk worth remembering. One fine evening, Ruth curiously asked, “Do you think loosing something or someone does really hurt?”
I was surprised to hear this from her. For a moment I thought she might have known about me otherwise how she thought to ask a question, I never got an answer for. When I was with Tiara, I failed to know her at all. Sometimes I convinced myself saying that women are hard to understand. In a bad marriage, friends are the invisible glue. If we have enough friends, we may go on for years, intending to leave, talking about leaving – instead of actually getting up and leaving. I felt later that I should have let her go years ago. Tiara was a history after our divorce. She was just like her name, dazzling and high. It was me who was uncertain. I replied, “Yes. It probably does.”
Within a fraction of time, she turned her head towards me, looked deeply into my eyes, which was least expected from her, and asked, ” Then All the trees are loosing their leaves and not one of them is worried. Why is that?” Well, I had no answer to her questions. It was me now, while walking after jumping-crazy Ruth, listening to her continuous blabber and anonymous questions, I was confused again about women. Ruth might have answers to all her questions even before she asked me.
Ruth was quite different. In fact she was different from rest of the girls I had ever come across. For her, destroyed shorts and crop tops were too old fashioned. If you ask her, she would walk steps ahead of u, block your way and would scream saying, “I win and I’m gonna steal this sun shine, snow and air while going back.”
Sometimes she left her friends back and used to walk with me. She was super energetic and would always choose to walk one step ahead of me and would act like achieving a milestone. While walking ahead of me, I felt like chasing her inspite of tiredness. I would feel like running after a beautiful ringlet, to catch her. I would keep on talking to her throughout the trek. While climbing ascending chain of rocks, I asked Ruth if she needed a hand. She gently denied and said, “It’s my road and mine only. You may help me cross it with you but no-one would walk it for me. If it would turn out to be the last journey of my life, I would like to cross each and every mountain on my own and would enjoy the pain.” And the very next moment, she turned her face away from me. She seemed less like a common girl, I met on a trek but more like everything beyond seeing and experiencing. Sometimes she was like the fair white snow, each time you want to hold, it melts on your palm. Sometimes she was like chilling rain drops, that falls hard into your eyes and rolls down to your lips, pretending to be a drop of tear. When I looked at the vast mountains and the very next moment I saw her, facing towards the sky, lost in her thoughts, she seemed to be the scariest and most unpredictable snow caped mountain. She was less like herself and more like the nature – lively and mysterious.
To the questions about her prince charming, she would laugh and answer, “I must go find him. He might be stuck in a tree or freezing on the top of those highest peaks. Here I come Prince Charming. Wait for me!” and that would make everyone smile. Soon she became the closest companion to me during those days.
That evening I spent with Ruth was different from other evenings. We reached the peak and the sky seemed to be closer to us. That was the last sunset I experienced with her. I saw the orange sky above us, the earth below us and the fire of life wither her – my soulful companion for a beautiful evening. She brought her violin and started playing a soothing tune. People say they need a picture together to keep the memories alive but with her, the tune she was playing was a picture that would never fade away from my heart and brain. I remembered, I wanted to end this life after Tiara left me but the moments, while sitting on a peak of one tallest mountain – watching the vast setting sun and waiting for the moon to come out, I realised, sometimes angles are the ordinary people we come across, that help us to believe in miracles again. She was silent that day. I intended to initiate a conversation but kept myself shut until she spoke a word from her side. And then she stopped playing violin, pointing towards the moon she said, “This is the night. The wolves are silent and it’s the moon who is howling. Isn’t it?”
It was pleasant listening to Ruth. The way she was starring at the moon, it seemed it was the moon that was all she had. “I would fly to the moon. Would you miss me if I won’t walk with u anymore?” She asked looking at me. I was nervous to her questions always but this time, I sincerely had no answer. I kept on looking into her eyes and constantly searched for the answers to her question.
“I would watch you every night and would imagine you, chasing and winning a race with clouds.” I said. I realised, I never noticed but she became an important part to my life. The last six days with her were the best days of my life. I started imagining a growing friendship with Ruth, even after we complete the trek.
The next morning after submitting, while walking through a descending narrow root, that incident happened. For one moment, I couldn’t believe the happening when Ruth slipped on an icy rock and fell nearly 1000 feet down. Nobody expected this to happen. Walking only few steps behind her, I still failed to hold her hand. I watched her leaving me. They found her body hours later. Ruth was gone. I realised, the last journey of a beautiful soul met an end. Everyone was shocked and sad. Her friends were crying louder but I was calm. Though eyes were shading tears and legs were numb, I wasn’t broken. I saw her gone right in front of me but I couldn’t feel her absence. She was with me, beside me, with a giggling smile. Ruth was there. It was not a figment of my own imaginations. I saw her chasing me and winning, right after she fell down. I held her violin close to my heart and I saw her quenching her eyes and asking me for it, as she used to do. Her giggles, her loudest laugh on weird jokes, the way she poses for a picture – each time after crossing a huddle, turned into unforgettable memories for life. No-one was smiling anymore. Our lives turned into silence after storm for many days. And I was lost completely, not because she was long gone but because I could still feel her, see her jumping – wearing her pink monkey-cap.
They say I see her, feel her all because I got way too attached to her. I tried hard to believe that she was gone. Then I remembered her words. I stole the sunshine, moon light, snow and the fresh air and captivated them inside my heart where I kept Ruth’s memories. Months later, one evening while watching the same moon, I smiled and imagined Ruth must have fled to the moon and now she would have set a race as she always does. After all she isn’t an ordinary girl. She’s Ruth. On one last journey of her life, she taught me to live again. When I asked myself that why I wasn’t sad even after loosing her, then I found the answer to her question, why trees aren’t sad even though they loose their leaves. Because even after falling from trees, they never got separated. Ruth remained forever, around me. Sometimes to play a soothing melody to let my soul sleep for a while when I become tired. Sometimes to walk steps ahead of me to lead me towards a beautiful life.