Wednesday, May 12, 2010

White Desert : Part 4

 
 
Tashi looked dumbfounded. Why wouldn’t he ? He had not expected him alive.
 
Anil glared at him with eyes wide. His hand holding the knife, shaking as if set on vibration. Tashi moved forward. His gaze fixed on Anil. But instead of anger, a smile was carved on his face. Why did he look happy ? Anil sleuthed him. He was puzzled. His brain refused to cooperate. The next moment he couldn’t believe what he saw. Tashi folded hands and thanked God.
 
“Why did you try to kill me, Tashi ?” No answer.
 
“What do you want ?” No answer.
 
Anil saw amazement on Tashi’s face. Anil was now shaking, with anger.
 
What does he think ? He will easily get away ?
 
“Kill?” Tashi uttered, visibly astonished. He stood in silence trying to comprehend the questions Anil was shooting at him. He stood with mouth open, loss of words, dazed.
 
“No. Tashi did not kill you” said a voice. Both the faces turned to the tent door. A man was standing at the door. Both men stood silent staring at him, still muddling in the mystery of events that past few minutes ago. Few seconds passed in silence, staring at the face.
 
The man was still standing crouched at the door. His face glowed with some unknown, but positive aura. He walked slowly to Anil, as if he had all answers and will untangle the situation and salve both the men from the events. He was now standing before Anil, hand stretched for a handshake.
 
“Impossible!”, there was uneasiness in Anil’s voice as his voice sniped escalating the tension in the tent.
 
“Relax Anil”, he requested Anil.
 
He stood before Anil, taking the control of the situation, as of ready for a treaty. “I am Doctor Mak. I was with you from past few days, trying to help improve your condition. You’ve recovered real fast”, he said with a smile, trying to neutralize the high-strung situation. His strategy was working. Anil’s mind was diverted for the moment, trying to listen what this strange man with this strange smile wanted to say.
 
He signalled Tashi, and Tashi left. Anil moved in resistance but the man who called himself doctor signed Anil to relax. It worked, again.
 
He came close to Anil and sat beside him, legs folded. “Now”. Silence. “Can you help me understand what happened with you ?” Whatever technique Mak was using, worked on Anil. Anil started at him. He could see assurance in this man’s eyes, which somehow cooled him further. He iterated the events as they occurred to him.
 
Anil was watching him, without expressions. Did he make sense ? No He don’t! Mak placed his hand on Anil’s shoulder. He looked in Anil’s eyes, let the words sink in and then continued.
 
“Anil, do you know how much you travelled up ? more than 350 meters. Which was too much for you. A professional expeditor has to take care of his health at the same time has to control his desires. High up there, one tends to get carried away and pushes himself to go further and further. But what are plans for ? Always keep up with the plan”

Anil showed frustration. He wasn't interested in any lecture now.

“Believe me Anil, you are back from death’s grip. You should thank God. It’s a miracle. And another man whom you should thank is Tashi”

They were too bitter words for Anil. Mak smiled and continued. “I don't know how long you were lying there”

“1.45. It was 1.45 pm. I remember”, Anil contributed.

“Ok. Then you were lying in there for precisely 45 minutes". Tashi entered with two cups of tea and left leaving them behind. Anil went back to the memory of the high altitude, him lying, sick and nauseating, frightened and praying. He felt the chill by just the thought of it.

Mak handed the tea to Anil. "You were lucky, really lucky. A storm was anticipated. You could have disappeared as if you never existed." Storm ? Anil gulped hard. The hot tea helped him stay a little warm.

“Around 7 am, a few hours after you left, Tashi made a call to meteorology and learnt of sudden change in weather conditions. A storm or heavy snowfall after a few hours was a distinct possibility. He was worried” “We should commend him for his far-sightedness. He immediately made right calls and contacted me” “He decided he would wait one hour for the team to be back, if not back then set out for a search. But fortunately the team stuck to the plan and were back on time. But only one person wasn't back, You."

"Tashi was worried. He pulled together few other Sherpas and set out a search camp. In such times, there are different possibilities” “Either they would find you while they climb up. If not, either you are lost or you would be lying down somewhere tired or unconscious or buried or..some unfortunate accident had happened and have fallen into some crevasses...in that case there’s no hope"

He heaved a sigh. Anil was waiting. He realised how much pain these people had taken so that he would be safe. He felt guilty. All the anger and fury was gone and his face blushed with shame. He kept the empty cup down, folding his legs up, buried his face.

Mak continued "Tashi wanted to go. But they somehow convinced him to stay back and look after himself. The group then parted in small teams and set out, calling your name, looking for anything that looked human-like. They dug heaps randomly, searching, looking down the crevasses. Tashi was in constant contact with them through  satellite phones. A long time had passed, and hopes were dwindling. Tashi informed the group about the lack of time. They had to hurry. The storm was probable. If they couldn't find you in 15 minutes, they’d have to terminate the search and come down without loosing time"

He took a sip and let the words settle down. "But ..WOW...they actually found you. They gathered together and dragged you down. Man, you owe them big."

Anil looked up. His face looked wilted, eyes red. He had troubled a lot of souls with his stupidity. But the question still remains. “Yes. I owe them my life…But...Tashi strangled me”

“Man, you are on Everest, at altitude you've never been before, walking more than 300 meters without rest, without caring about anything. Have you heard of HACE ?”

HACE ? “Yes. Know some stuff”

“HACE is High altitude cerebral edema. It's highly fatal altitude sickness. There’s swelling of brain tissue due to fluid leakage. One feels nauseated/vomiting, insomnia, weakness, dizziness, headache, loss of coordination and decreased levels of consciousness and sometimes even enters coma”. Anil weighed the words. He was indeed blessed to escape death. He could related all of it to the strange condition he suffered up there.

Anil was indebted but wasn’t ready to give in. His sickness doesn't make Tashi innocent. Tashi was there, strangling him. He was the witness, he was the victim. "So ?" Anil questioned with stern voice with a hint of anger. Mak smiled which added to Anil’s confusion.

Mak continued "Another symptom of HACE is disorientation, irrational behaviour… and hallucination! Your mind fooled you, man" He chuckled.

”Hallucination ? You mean my mind made up all that ?” Anil, visibly surprised. Mak grinned ear to ear.

It was unbelievable for Anil, He shook head incessantly. Laughing to himself. He pulled himself out the bag, and hugged Mak. “Thanks”, He sounded relaxed. He got up and exited the tent. It was a bit dark, affirming the past storm. Tashi was standing facing the steep edge, lost in thought.

“So buddy when can we summit ?”, Anil jested Tashi. Tashi turned.

“Never”, Tashi replied with a poker face. Anil’s grin disappeared.

“I would never summit with a mad man”, Tashi laughed. Anil sighed and hugged Tashi hard.

*** The End ***

P.S : I know that the last part is a bit too long. But dividing it would have taken away it’s essence. So kept the entire stuff together. I know I raised curiosity in the first part. I hope I could satisfy with this concluding part. I would be glad to hear your comments good or bad, let them come. And finally, thanks for reading :)

10 comments:

  1. I found the ending unexpected, but I didn't exactly believe the hallucinations part. I don't know if I were Anil I wouldn't believe that at all!

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  2. For me there was element of surprise, so it really worked for me. I like how you are trying different stories with different endings.

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  3. Hey that was nice. I liked that little surprise in the end. :)

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  4. @Tarun
    :D yea...u had already guessed Himanav, so i edited the ending ;)

    @Mia
    Actually Mia, u r right , but at such high altitude, the strongest of men can act strange, coz if the brain doesn't get enough oxygen, it behaves irrationally, and hallucinations are not unusual. It's fact.

    If you like to read adventure novels then try for Into Thin Air, it's an account of Everest tragedy. But it is at times very technical. So not for everyone.

    Thanks for sharing your views.

    @Nethra
    Thanks dear :)

    The last part was indeed long. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

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  5. hey.. i expected much more.. i thought the last part was just a mere explanation.. though other parts were quite great.. :-)

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  6. ohh... thanks for that honest comment :) Wish I could have made the end better ...will think over it :)

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  7. yea....area of improvement :) thanks for sharing ur honest views

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  8. Frankly speaking, this din seems the usual 'megha' stuff that we enjoy. The story line could've been tighter. Narration part was well executed. But a Law professor breaking rules and climbing everest seems a little far fetched to me. Plus the hallucination part felt weird.

    Tula samajtay na mala kay mhanaychay te...

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  9. haa....i understand...but I think readers mostly gets uncomfortable to read what he/she differs or what he/she is not known to..I am not defending..just understand, mi asa bolli ki taap alyavar doka dukta, then you'll accept right ? Coz that is known fact. But if I say that mind works haphazardly in absence of oxygen, then people tend to doubt it. Coz that's unknown to many, but the fact still remains true. Mind can hallucinate in absence of oxygen, coz it is not in any control..just wanted to pass my point. Will work on the other suggestions :)

    What do u think ?

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