At 4:30 in the morning or so, I woke up with abdominal cramps. If it was any other, time and place and situation, I would have stayed in bed. But not that day. I would scale the hill until I saw Everest and some more.
Half way up, as the panoramic view became beautiful, the pain became unbearable. I wished, oh how I wished, that I could simply lie down there.
It was cold. As I took out the half full bottle of water from my pocket, I realized it was turning into ice, and the liquid I managed to gulp was very cold.
I trudged on, one step at a time, like a soldier who had been shot, turning back nevertheless to look at the beautiful surreal blanket of clouds that had covered the valley below, to look at Everest that was now rising into our field of view from between its two neighbouring peaks, to look again and again at a ray of sunlight that snapped into two at the summit of Everest.
Nandu’s Ibuprofane (Brufin) saved my life that day. Nandu and Ravi deposited me on a rock and moved on, exacting word from me that I wouldn’t move. I sat crouched, talking to Krishna (my then favourite God), pleading with him to let me go, let me climb higher, please. He heard me. After 20 minutes of resting, I got up feeling much better and climbed up.
The unrelenting Nandu was up above, hands folded before him, looking down at me like an angry schoolmaster, and delivered his speech of admonishment as he saw that I hadn’t kept my word.
He asked me in all seriousness to make a commitment to him that I would not move from my station. Too weak to protest, I said yes. After that I had to walk slowly ahead like a spy trying his best to follow someone without arousing suspicion.
Its amazing how hot it became as the sun rose higher and higher. The light was blinding and I could feel the heat scalding my skin.
I climbed higher. By this time, several people, now on their way down from the summit, confirmed that beyond a certain point, the view was not to change.
For those of us who had chosen to climb Kala Patthar, the day ahead was going to be longer than for the rest. So I decided after much dilemma, to stop climbing. Half of us or more had chosen to stay back and not climb Kala Pathhar.
I turned around and stood facing Everest. The mountain just behind us, Pumori, diametrically opposite to Everest, I saw was more beautiful.
In fact, of all the peaks in the panorama, Everest was the least beautiful. How ironical, I thought.
But then, that one before me, beautiful or no, was the tallest on earth and I was standing before it, beholding it; being one among the very few people in this world who get to do that.
We were told that we were lucky. Those who had climbed Kala Patthar a day before us, two and three days too, had only see a veil of clouds where Everest should have been and waited for the veil to part, in vain.
Yes. The bunch of us were lucky. Not everyone who reaches base camp chooses to climb Kala Patthar and not everyone who climbs it gets to see Everest.
The mission had been accomplished.
But I wished then as I wish now I had been able to summit Kala Patthar. But then, there was a writ. And it had to be honoured.
The last one is a panorama I have created with much difficulty, by stitching together using MS Paint, separate pictures I took with much care, turning on my heels, from right to left, trying to keep the camera at one level.
Thats Everest in the centre, coming into view...
Everest...look what its doing to light...deflection...
Peach coloured Pumori. I heard this one is actually more difficult to climb than Everest.
These black stones, rocks are why Kala Patthar is called so...
Kumbhu Glacier...incredible geological formations...
Wow...looks like a loving hand smeared its face with cream...
Here is the my panorama...do click on it...