Tryst With Mountains
A unique experience worth sharing
Those were the times of ‘pure imagination’ - a child’s pure imagination when I ‘travelled in the world of my own creation’. The clouds in sky, assumed different forms, turned storytellers and narrated stories not told by grandmothers. The dotted pictures on my brother’s drawing notebook, that he skillfully filled with colors spoke to me and made me smile and laugh.
Those were the times when inanimate objects came to life - I loved their company, as I loved that of my siblings and playmates. Looking back, I remember that during those times of angelic innocence I had a great admiration for ‘Kaa’ne’ - spacious third floor of our house with its green and yellow terracotta tiles crisscrossing looking like a mega chessboard. The Kaa’ne, with its Taa’qs (windows) opening on three sides was no less than a playfield for my siblings and me. Instead of playing with my siblings, l loved looking at peaks of Mahadev and Zabarwan Mountains and long range of snowcapped mountains in the west that were distinctly visible from the windows. I believed, perhaps my siblings also believed angles, fairies, genies and ‘khu’ks lived in these mountains. The fearsome image of ‘Khu’ks had been etched on our minds by our mothers and grandmothers. If a child would not sleep or refuse a morsel of food, the mother would invoke the fear of khuk. For many years, even as an adult I believed that mothers invoked imaginary ‘khuk’ to make children behave not realizing that word ‘Khuk’ was a corruption of word Khahas a tribe that along with Bombas, another tribe, lived in continuous mountain ranges along with the Jhelum river flowing in between ferociously. Moreover, these two tribes in early nineteenth century had launched a movement against occupation of Kashmir by Ranjit Singh and joined Syed Ahmed of Bareilly along with many others warrior tribes in overthrowing the brutal rule. Perhaps to strengthen the then dominant discourse and to spread hatred amongst the people against these rebel tribes the word “Khuk” was added to our lexicon. This ‘fearsome’ word had continued to be part of our lingua franca during our childhood - and continued to cause dread amongst children.
I was attracted most towards the mountain ranges in the west. I often dreamt of trekking to these mountains. The reason for my attraction towards these mountains was more for my grandmother having told me many stories about the Afridis, Masud and other tribes from neighboring mountainous areas having descended into the Valley before my birth to fight against troops of Maharaja.
I am reminded of the first journey that I took as a boy along with my friends not to any of the peaks that often caught my imagination but to a high altitude lake Konsar Nag - perhaps 13ooo feet above sea level. We had very scant knowledge of mountains and peaks - that was perhaps story of all boys in our locality. Our school went for cannoning, boating, swimming and other sports but there was no tradition of mountaineering and trekking- that were preserve of two missionary schools.
I do not remember how, I and my friends learnt about this scenic spot but we had learnt that it is four to five days trekking. It was our maiden trip - independent of our teachers and parents. We had no idea about things including eatables to carry along with us. Items like haversacks and sports shoes were alien to us. The only best sports shoes we knew were the white or brown canvas shoes that we wore during the mass drill and P.T at school. The cost of canvas shoe was two to three rupees.
Two days, ahead of the date of journey we started making preparations for the journey - purchased two trukh (10 Kgs) of potatoes, a good quantity of rice, a bottleful of mustard oil, some spices and a canister of kerosene oil. Stitched these items in gunny bags and fixed ropes in a cross to these. Starting our journey in a bus from KMD bus stand at about ten in the morning it was by about eight or nine in the evening that we reached to a village near Aharabal- the area was then yet to be electrified. Walking through pitch darkness, whistling to ward off the fear we marched at every step fearing a bear may jump on us from vast maize tracts. With all wackiness at about ten we reached the old wooden hut… this was first stopover… this was a unique experience worth sharing.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 9 Feb 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 9 Feb 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 10 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST
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