I wonder when the fascination for you began. Maybe when I had come to Manali at the age of 15? I got a brief glimpse into your magnificence and I was blown away by you. I encountered you several times over the years… at Shimla, Dharamsala, Dalhousie… and my fascination continued to grow. I remember the way you smelt, clean, fresh, you smelt of how I would imagine Life would smell. I remember the way the blood would rush to my cheeks in your presence. I felt light headed, giddy, giggly, happy. I had to know you better.
When I turned 30, I knew that the time had come for me to get intimate with you. I would have one passionate, clandestine affair for a fortnight, hopefully that would satisfy this curiosity that had been growing within for so many years.. Discovering more of you, sinking myself deeply into your presence. Save for a few close friends, nobody knew that I was coming to you alone. Your reputation preceded you. You are known to be savage, wild. You are not known to many and what is unknown will always be feared. But there was a strong faith within me that you would treat me well, you would treat me kind.
I had to travel all the way to Nepal for this to happen. And what a journey it turned out to be! There were days when your savagery made me fear for my life and from that fear was born a trust that I would always be safe with you. I was stripped off of every role that I play in my everyday life. I was no longer a sister, daughter or friend. I was naked when I was with you, I was me. I was alone in your midst and I felt the most secure, the most taken care of, the most cherished. When I sat with you, alone at night, staring at the misty moon and the silhouettes of old trees, I felt complete. The thing I cherish most about my time spent with you is the silence. With you, there is no need for tiresome small talk, the chatter of inane conversation. It is in your presence that I learnt to truly enjoy my own company.
What I thought would be a one time fling, ended up becoming the deepest relationship in my life. And I return to you. Every year. I yearn for you when I am away from you. I long for your embrace. I journey far to get to you every year and in covering this distance, I travel deeper within myself every time. Others come to you to seek adventure, the thrill, the rush of adrenaline. I come to you for love, sanity and silence. Others are filled with pride that they have been to The Himalayas, I am only filled with awe and humility.
Picture credit: SunRa Lambert-Baj
Annapurna Base Camp, Nov’ 2012