How would I feel, if I suddenly find myself all alone, deserted, and not know my way home?
Those carefree days, when I was hippying around near Dharamshala, in Himachal Pradesh. The rainbow camp, where we cooked our own food and slept in tents. I forget the name of the hot springs, but I remember the light colors of stones in the clear waters. The river flowing down from the not so distant Himalayas, the smell of fresh wild flowers. The chanting of the gayatri mantra with fellow devotees, while we were clearing up the mess, burning the waste.
'Om Bhu Bhuvaswaha. Tat savitur Varenyam. Bhargodevasya dhimahi. Diyo yonah Prachodayat.'
Somehow, the crowd dispersed, somehow I landed on a footpath in the late afternoon, my shoes wet from the river, the backpack heavy with the woolens. How could they go off without me? There were more than three groups, and each must have thought I am with the other.
I was all alone in the middle of God knows where, there was not a soul in sight, not even a stray dog. It was around four, which gave me a couple of hours to find civilization. I had two choices. To walk up the road or down. Down was the camp we had just vacated, up I could see the glorious Himalayan peaks.
It was scary, to be lost in such a vast space. But I was also thrilled, this was a first in life moment. This is something every person must experience at least once in her life. To be lost in nature.
I started walking up. No sound, other than the breaking twigs under my feet. A silence throbbing with itself. A silence lovelier than music. The entire universe was so silent, so aware, so enlightened.
After a few minutes, the fear left as the awareness enveloped me. All the trees, the sunlight, the valley below, the mountains above, the very air, were showering on me something that felt very protective. I realized that I had never felt so free and so safe in my entire life.
After a couple of hours the landscape opened up, the road widened, the trees receded and as the sun turned crimson, the fear came back. Alone and lonely interchanged, as the angels went off duty, for a tea break.
Angels have a bird eye view, and must have seen the approaching Bus from the other side of the mountain. Can any other sound be as heartening to a woman lost on an unlit highway? And how beautiful to hear it's low grr at first, and slowly the volume goes up and two stars appear in the distance and become bigger like moons and then blazing suns.
The Bus stopped and I hopped on. A combination of emotions flooded me. One was relief, thank God, and a vague sense of regret for end of the intimate adventure with silence.