Life breezes past in a blur of activity. Projects to manage, deadlines to meet, clients to please….a zillion To-dos....but the list is not endless..... for it stops at drop dead. So it ends…oh yes, it definitely ends.
And sometimes you are enjoying the journeys of life in the course of you work, others, you are mechanically striving towards them. All this while, the mind..(.aah the mind!)…by virtue of it having a mind of its own, is having a merry time..snatching at bits and pieces of sanity …which we seem have disconnected from. They abruptly and painstakingly bring you to ground zero.
It is beyond me to imagine how (S)HE orchestrates it so well. Just when you seem derailed from the groove, S(HE) gets you to touch base….and how!
Let’s call him K. He is roughly my age, give or take a couple years. The gym we worked out at was the only common thing we shared. Our timings were vastly different and therefore we never met. There was one other common interest I shared with K due to which I had a chance to interact with him later.
I met K for the first time when we were making our way up the Torna fort. We briefly interacted during this arduous trek in the Sahyadris. That he was my trek mate and a fairly amicable person to talk to was beside the point. His sister younger was accompanying him on this trek. We interacted more with her.
After that, our interaction was limited to ‘HIs’ and ‘Hellos’. In time we found out preliminary detail about each other; schooling, college, interests, workouts and of course, treks. Eventually K let on that he was keen on rock climbing and was taking training for the same. His love for the sport was very obvious. This became a topic of discussion between us on and off. He used to tell me all the local places he had been to in search of challenges and the various techniques he was mastering to be able to make it big in rock climbing.
One day K announced his intention to go to Jaipur and climb the rocky ranges situated thereabouts. Those ranges beckon every rock climber worth his/her salt and are considered a real challenge. K had some friends who would go along and it was going to be a 20 day expedition. I wished him luck and insisted that he share his photos when he came back. We parted on this note.
Thereafter I did not see K for a couple of months. I guessed he was keeping himself busy in his father business which he had recently started looking into or he had changed gyms. Inquiries at my gym’s office confirmed that he was not working out here any more. Eventually, K slipped from my mind. We did not have common friends, so to speak of, and our interaction was not thick enough for me to request a search warrant.
Six months after K had left the gym, I heard that he had met with an accident while rock climbing in Jaipur and had been comatose ever since. The person who passed this information on to me only had this much news to share.
It was a shock to me. I could only image the plight of K’s family. There he was, a lad about my age, lying in a vegetative state with no hopes of recovery. His most favourite sport in the world had extracted a huge cost. Unfortunately, that was the last I heard about him and did not know whether he had survived the ordeal or died fighting.
Strange are HIS(ER) ways though, for when you least expect it, a hard, nail biting finish comes your way and thrills you to the very core.
A week ago, I though I saw a healthy apparition of K running towards me at the gym. I blamed it on my drowsiness. I had been especially sleepy that night and just about managed to drag myself out of bed. The apparition was for real though and I was wide awake in an instant. Stunned actually! It was SUCH a pleasure to see him!
As soon as he reached my side, he held out his hand for a handshake. He recognized me????? I had lost the ability to respond for a while. Not before he said my name a couple of times did I recover enough to return the handshake and ask his well being.
K has made an astounding recovery after his mishap. He remained comatose and in therapy for more than a year. Now, he is quite unscathed physically. The head injury in the accident has permanently affected his ability to carry out a logical conversation and there are major disconnects in his thoughts and expressions. Remarkably, he has excellent long term memory and recalls our trek with fondness. He works out regularly now with the gym instructors understanding his limitations and accommodating his needs. He wants to grow his hair long and wants to visit his sister in Australia, where she has settled after marriage. Rock climbing remains his one and only favourite activity to this day.
How long and well did I know K? How much did having or not having in my life matter? The answer to both questions is — very little. Then why did it make such a difference to my day? Why did it get me thinking about where I was going?
I think I know the answers to that.