“Would the mighty goddess forgive me, if I swore at this Sage?” This was the exact thought that came to my mind then!
Blistered toes. Legs that felt like they had iron shackles on them. My sling-purse accruing 5 kg with every step I took.
Although my smile was more like a grimace, I thanked the Sage, prayed his reply was the truth and walked ahead.
“The glacier is only 2kms ahead, child” he promised. “Hail Mother Ganga, may her strength be with you!” he added, as we crossed our paths on the slim and steep track that is the trek from Gangotri to Gaumukh – the source of the sacred river, Ganga.
There I was, in the heavenly Himalayan state of India, Uttarakhand walking to one of the most holy pilgrimage sites to a Hindu, taking in the cool fresh air, so unlike what is otherwise inhaled by an urban Indian in the month of May; and yet I was on the verge of tears!
You see, it was only the previous day that I came to know that I was required to “walk to Gaumukh.” We were to reach the glacier that evening and head back the next day. But, I had come packed for a 45°C Delhi summer. Six layers of clothing, a stick and a small purse carrying boiled sweets was all the gear available for what is otherwise, “a three day trek of 38km (return)” according to Lonely Planet.
But then came the moment when I finally closed my eyes and listened to the gentle wind above and the gurgling, reverberating Ganga below. She breathed the kiss-of-life into ‘all’ around her – the snow-capped peaks, the wisps of sunshine through the ominous clouds, boulders abound and… me.
“Keep walking and have Faith.” I made it.
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