It wasn’t the love at first sight, nor was it at the second. It was love growing with every time I saw her, talk to her and understood her. She was so predictable towards happiness and so confused towards sadness. A childlike person, who I was surrendering myself.
I made every attempt to be with her, understand her and prove to myself, that yes, I am in love with her. I wanted to do every possible thing that was never done before to grab her attention and thereby impress her. At college I wanted to study with her, wanted to go out with her, at parties dance with her and ensure she keeps smiling.
I didn’t want to be friendzoned with her, hence after a few talks I had expressed my feelings to her and told her that I don’t want to be friendzoned, yes I took that risk. She took it with a straight face and didn’t react. The answer was not yes, but was not NO either, that kept my hopes alive. There were many things that we did together – group studies, movies, nightout with friends etc. but one of the toughest was the one I want to mention here, it was our trek to Roopkund.
Our group was always enthusiastic about trekking and we had been planning for a while now, but like most plans, these too were only limited to talks and never materialized. During those days of planning our trek, she came across articles explaining relationships between travelling, trekking and staying together. One of them was about a couple who wanted to know each others extreme behavior before they take a decision to get married. She shared one of them with me, I took it as an opportunity to know her closely. Hence, It was an immediate YES! for the trek.
The group got an unconditional YES!, None of us knew what was being planned and how is it gonna come out, except her and another friend of ours. The only consideration which was put while deciding roopkund as a trek was the availability of more sites (Forest, Mountain, Meadows and Snow) all in one trek, which readily fits into our budget and leaves available. From plans to action, everything felt in place, we got bookings and slots that suited all our requirements, we hunted all places in Mumbai to be geared together, being gujjus we took 5 kgs of snacks each and a bottle of brandy, just incase.
I and my friends made sure that I get a seat besides her all through the journey. We were six of us, With great enthusiasm we reached Katkodham, a railway station which will connect us to Lohajung. The drive in a SUV, had taken a toll on all of us since it was a hilly area. We could now sense, what it takes to trek and we were just getting started.
On the first day we were asked to carry only 5-7Kgs of backpack, well that was less than the weight of snacks I was carrying, well that disappointed us, and we kept most of our snacks in the locker room. None of us had any idea what was waiting for us. We started our journey with a picnic mood, atleast I did. My motto was to get the love of my life.
The first day of ascend, I was trying to keep pace with her, but she was quicker than I thought. I almost was crawling and had kept aside my idea of going any further on the first day itself, but had to complete the first day. Our trek leader helped me with my backpack since I was not able to take it any further, a few meters away was our first halt, She couldn’t manage it either, but finally we all made it to Gharoli Patal.
I told my trek leader that I don’t think I will be able to make it, by this time my love had disappeared with my stamina to survive. He told me that this was the toughest part of the trek and the journey ahead was very beautiful and not so difficult. By this time she had slept, we all woke up for evening snacks and clicked a few pics.
The next day, on our way to Bedni bugyal, Her hands were swollen after a couple of hours of trek, I had loaded my backpack upon a mule since one of the straps of the backpack had broken. There were minimum talks, only heavy breathing, occasional selfies and pics. As usual I was the last one to travel and couldn’t keep my pace with others. I was quick when it came to descend and straight ways. Perhaps purposely, she made sure that I can catch up with her on the way so she was walking slowly.
Our next stop was Bedni, My love was not progressing, infact it was coming up to a trek adventure, which is what it was meant to be for everyone else unlike me. Her health was deteriorating in terms of oxygen level but was above the threshold suggested by the trek leader, hence we continued. We reached Patal Nachni, This is where an anti allergic medicine had taken a toll on her, She slept outside the tent on our arrival, we all were worried what next ? while she was advised to rest, I was resting besides her. Even I wasn’t in my senses, but now when my friends describe it, this was the most loving act of my life towards anyone, I didn’t budge from the place and was there till she opened her eyes.
Her health started deteriorating further, the oxygen level went down, I was not sure what was to be done. I requested the trek leader for permission to share the tent with her, another friend didn’t mind we three in one tent.
It was cold and stormy outside the tent, while others were having fun looking at their first snowfall, I was sitting besides her. Making sure that she gets whatever she needs, adjusting her cap to cover her ears, bringing warm bournvita for her, bringing her food, taking her to the washroom and making sure she drinks adequate water. In the night she started shivering more, while at dinner, trek leader expressed her concern that she would not be going any further since the oxygen levels were too low. With this news I had to pass the whole night, she was not told this until morning.
She took this decision with tears and bid me good bye. We moved on, as usual I struggled at every place we did an ascend but was happy to reach the final destination. It did delight me to finish the trek, but was more eager to meet her again. I expressed my feelings with a message on the snow stating MISS YOU TEJAL.
I am not sure how much was my eagerness to see her again, my descend was the fastest, I was beating everyone, including pradhanji who was leading all of us. Was advised to go slow else would miss the path, ofcourse I had to wait. Finally, the journey from Wan to lohajung was full of day dreaming, to tell her stories about the journey she missed, the stories of what I felt with out her.
My castle of dreams crumbled when I got a cold handshake from her congratulating me for completing my trek. I was expecting an exciting hug and smile. Unknowingly she was ignorant to my excitement and it hurt a lot. It was not a long wait, until she came to my room and spoke to me, kind of a personal gesture.
I knew this was their first trek for others but to me it was more of a test of relationship, my patience to handle her and take care of her in the toughest of condition, I was happy with my behavior in the extremes and the darkest hours. I am sure she too appreciated the efforts. It wasn’t easy, but it had to be done, This was not an adhoc effort to make sure I was taking care of the lady, this was my effort to understand my own feelings towards a person whom I was planning to live my entire life.
We all behave in the righteous manner when the mind is in control, however, it is a test of our nature and the innate feelings which would be expressed when the body and mind have given up. That extra ounce of the soft corner towards a person is what I had named LOVE.
We returned to the base and reached Katkodham the next day. The trek mountain days was over and I had finished my aim of experiencing my actual feelings towards this girl. We may have different paths and destinations, but at the end I love her.
The struggle was not over, Jat andolan had hit Delhi and the trains schedule was disrupted. We did our best to catch the train we had reservations for, but missed it due to delay. We took a cab to Jaipur because Delhi was not very kind in terms of hospitality and airfares.
The journey to Jaipur airport was also an adventure in itself, the mountains seemed smaller, the world seemed crowded and dhabe ka khana was heaven. Since our tickets were for the next day, we were stranded outside the Jaipur airport. We slept outside the airport for 3-4 hours and then security allowed us to enter inside, and then we slept inside till our flights arrived.
Soon after arriving Mumbai, we parted. After a month of silence, She answered a YES! to my proposal, and invited me to her house to talk to her parents. We got engaged on 15th of August 2015 and got married on 16th Feb 2016.