Sunday, March 12, 2017

To Dear Darjeeling!

It is always the same with mountains. Once you have lived with them for any length of time, you belong to them. There is no escape. – Ruskin Bond
One day there was a big hailstorm which went on and on for an hour. Hails like stones hit entire town and everything turned white. Shaking trees, squealing tin roofs and thickening layer of snow all around, looked petrifying. When it ended, a big crowd gathered at Chowrasta and they started playing with ice. There were kids throwing snowballs at each other, a big snowman standing in between and mesmerized tourists who could still not believe their fortune. I was standing wide eyed at a corner, awestruck and completely in love with Darjeeling.
I have left a part of me in that moment; a part of that day still lives within me!
Finally the day has come to bid adieu to the place we called home for almost two years. There is something about this place that made farewell so melancholic.
The journey till Sandakphu is as difficult as it can be. There is a collection of rolling stones which is sometimes called road. The scenery is breathtaking yet altitude of almost 12000 feet makes breathing heavy. When we finally reached, we forgot our aching body parts because we first needed to survive biting cold. That night was difficult and we swore thousand times that we will never again make such a mistake. In the early morning when we witnessed the Kanchejungha in all its
glory, we could not believe something could be so majestic. The rays of the sun first kissed its peak and then embraced entire mountains. All of us were sitting quietly imbibing we just witnessed something so mesmerizing.
I remember a night at Dello Guest house. It was somewhat cold with pleasant breeze blowing all across Kalimpong. I was the only one taking a walk in that big garden and caretakers probably knew I am a Ghazal aficionado. They played it in the background and I stayed in that moment for a long time relishing solitude. I can still feel that cool breeze caressing me.
Once we got up at three in the morning to see the sunrise at Tiger hills. We cursed the shivering cold and the crowd, and big serpentine traffic jam that snarled uphill. There was a group of youngsters who sang and danced, and I wondered what made them so jolly in this cold. When the sun peeped in and myriad colours danced on the morning sky, I could not help but feel how small we are in front of this beauty. The sharpest memory of that day is the first ray of sun hitting the horizon and how fast colours change in the sky. I also remember those happy youngsters dancing in the crowd.
Once some of our friends came down from

Kolkata and we stayed at a Tea Garden. The bungalow was one of the finest I had ever seen and was surrounded by lush green tea bushes spread across the valley. It had hills on all sides and the breeze made a continuous buzzing sound while knocking at gigantic trees. We sat in the open balcony and debated religion and politics. We fought and argued and almost reached the verge of tearing each other’s clothes. We stayed awake almost entire night and then our dear A played guitar, as he often did. I will always miss those heated debates and those songs that I heard in numerous such gatherings. How will parties look without his guitar strings?
Many other images have stayed on with me. The forest drive of Sukhna looked so pristine that one could find zillion shades of green in it. The vast bank of river was like a scene out of apocalypse. There were times when did breakfast in our garden and had Kanchenjungha’s view in front for company. One night a leopard crossed the road in front of my vehicle and looked at us with his shining eyes before disappearing. When I traveled to Kalimpong, Teesta flowed along and its emerald green water gushing with fast pace looked serene yet intimidating. There were clouds that came and embraced
entire town and the fog that made everything appear mystic. The rain once started poured together for days. There were stories of Ghosts which came back haunting whenever I was alone in my bungalow. Everything was so silent at that time of night that only those who have ever lived that silence can understand it.
And then there were people who were strangers before and became part of our life. We shared good times and sorrows, and cemented our relationship with those memories. They changed me in many ways and all those times of happiness or of melancholy, made life worth living. They took away a part of me and I often find them in my personality. They may always be in our life, or this might have been our last meeting but whenever I would look back in life, I would remember them fondly.
I remember sitting idle one night in a balcony watching myriads of twinkling lights on a hill in front of me, and a strong overpowering feeling came along with it; this is how life is meant to be. A sign of ageing perhaps, the feeling that I may not be able to relive all this is unnerving.
I loved you my dear house. You allowed us to call it home and gave us pleasant memories. I loved you
dear mountains, and your fog and your mist. I loved your serpentine roads that revealed your beauty from different perspectives. I miss you dear friends and maybe I will never get to say this, I would always love you. I always felt that I will never belong to any place but I was wrong; I belong to you, my Beloved Darjeeling!

No comments: