|Part 1 |
While the other professional trekkers left, Anil stayed back. But after one hour, Anil decided to do a solo. There wasn’t anything to be worried of, but Tashi had observed the clumsiness and eagerness in Anil and which made him restless. Since morning he had a bizarre feeling of ‘Something’s gonna go wrong’ and his intuition was a thing that Tashi, like all Sherpas, trusted and reckoned on. Something wasn’t right!
Sun was shining bright in the sky. He had been walking since morning. He bit the last of the only energy bar left. The oxygen in air was depleting and so was his health, but not his spirit. He glanced his watch, altimeter read 5500 meters. He had surpassed 350 meters of distance and should have been on the way back to the camp. But he was in full spirit. Never had he felt so excited. The eagerness and excitement had kept him walking.
But now his body refused to co-operate. He dragged his legs and breathed heavily after every three steps he took. He need to climb down immediately. He looked at his watch. It was 1.40 pm. He still had time. He hoped that his team find him. Had he come the wrong way ?
If it gets dark then finding way back to the camp would not only be difficult but close to impossible. Tashi had told him to keep an eye on the watch and also warned him of the unpredictable weather of Himalayas. Keep up with the plan, he had warned. It could snow but if there’s a storm, survival in exposure can only be a dream.
He have to gather the energy and guts to make his way down, a task of couple of hours, possible only if his body supported him. He felt weak and his legs started shaking. The next moment he was down on the cold powdered snow. He lay on his back and gaped at the sky. Clouds traversing slowly. No indication of storm, but this was Everest, weather cannot be predicted. He was breathing heavily, coughing wildly. He needed medical attention, urgently.
He was scared now. Scared as hell. The sky was whirling. It went round and round. In seconds it started blurring. His stomach gurgled. He felt nauseated and then he threw up. Half an hour had passed and it was fifth time he had vomited. His eyelids were heavy. Body heavy and dead-like, Head swooning.
Where am I ? What is happening ? He tried to think. Oh yes. Expedition. I need to go back down. His brain was switching on and off.
He heard a sound. Sound means help. He needed help. He had lost track of time. He opened his eyes with effort. The sun was still up. There was still hope. He strained his eyes. A disfigured dark ball was above him. Dark ball ? He strained his eyes more. The blurry ball rectified into human figure. A human! Help was near. His lips curved into a crooked smile. He frowned, strained his eyes more and tried to figure who’s it ? He had seen this man. He knew him. His head hurt badly.
The more he thought, the more dizzy he felt. The man was now moving. Was he smiling ? Yes, he carried this wry smile. A hint of cruelty. He moved forward, hands stretching, towards his neck, as if to strangle him. Anil tried to inch back, but in vain. It’s danger, not help! His mind was sending red alert signals. The man was now close. His hand around Anil’s neck. His face so close, Anil identified him. It was Tashi. It was Tashi. Why is he killing me ? His throat hurt, and so did his head. He tried to scream. But he was choked. Tashi!
This is it! This is death! His eyes closed.
...to be continued