Never Be Wrong Again
Never Be Wrong Again
The “Himalayan Queen” was coming to its halt after a three and half hours of meandering narrow-gauge trail from the foothills of Raibagh to its destination Shankhnag.
No one could miss the two hallmarks of this mystical town upon arrival. The soul-quenching aroma infallibly was the prime characteristic. The air was thickly anointed with the mesmerizing odour of Guldar, a variant of cedarwood found exclusively in this small town. The myths attributed it to the puritan love between the forest god Vanasth and the ethereal beauty Bhoomi that once blossomed in the valleys.
The attire followed suit. The veiled headscarf with baggy-style multi-colored overalls, Pathan-style pajamas and wooden strapped shoes was the other one.
“The dumb village multitudes pass on unchanging” uttered a blonde, twenty-something lady sitting by the window. Arrogance of the voice was enforced with a shrug and a selfie with the “multitudes” in background and an enormous pout upfront.
“Sorry”, quizzed the well-groomed forty-something man in a shabby overcoat, sitting by the aisle. “That was a line by the great Shakespeare and I found it apt for this ambience” replied the lady with twice the arrogance, now evident with the flaring nostrils.
“Do you plan to take a trip downhill”, asked the man. It’s none of your business, thought the lady but replied with an assertive instead. “Good for you. It is life-changing” the man quipped.
As they de-boarded, the man smilingly added, “By the way, it was Yeats and not the Bard that you quoted dear and do not forget to read the Celtic Twilight.” You can never be wrong again. The words echoed loud and clear. “And do not forget- every man is himself a class; every hour carries its new challenge.”
As the man approached the exit, a pair of very soft hands clasped his steeled palm. “You seem to be well acquainted with the woods. I’m ready for a life-changing trip, if you could chauffeur”, it was the same lady. “I have some unfinished business out here and the last thing I need is a reporter’s company”, the man replied back in a grim voice. Spy eyes, thought the lady hiding her Dawn Times ID that was dangling down the back-pocket of her jeans.
“I won’t be a trouble…. promise”, she pleaded. After a moment of silence, he asked her to walk along mumbling, “you’ll get more than the story you want”. She gave a perplexed look but followed obediently saying “Sarah” while he moved away briskly, ignoring her introduction.
The down-hill walk was quite pleasant for Sarah with the path strewn with crimson and violet flowers and pleasant morning sun warming up gently. The aroma. Tongas and bullock carts were the other means of transportation discernible. “You wouldn’t like to miss the view atop the Pari atoll, would you?” asked the man with a twinkle in his eyes. “Of course, not”, Sarah replied back with enthusiasm in her voice and unsurety in mind.
Not really waiting for an affirmative, the man started climbing the adjacent steep cliff with Herculean energy and childish joy. Some 50 meters up the cliff he stopped and motioned Sarah to start climbing whose unsure mind was now clouded with unsure emotions. By the time she finished the 180-meter climb, the only aroma she could distinguish was that of her own sweat. She saw a dilapidated signboard reading something like “Pari tea stall” and wondered if she heard the man right for, she was in no mood to carry all her extra pounds way up for the sake of some tacky cup of tea. Her calf muscles were already revolting when he motioned towards another cliff. Life-changing or life-ending!! She followed trail very reluctantly and a bit scared as well.
Sarah finally managed to reach the summit some half an hour while the man stood at the summit, gazing searchingly into the horizon. “This ain’t the sort of trip I was….” she started complaining angrily but remained dumb-founded on catching the glimpse of the valley from the top. The entire town could be seen, basking in various hues of sunshine with the vibrant Guldar flowers giving it a montage finish.
The cloud-clad twin peaks of mount Vihang with the crimson sun shining in between reminded her of the maiden childhood drawings. Svadhini, the sparkling brook ran through the meadows, dividing the valley into two parts. To the east were the ancestral dwellings of the Dhanvantris, the native clan renowned for their humility, nature-love, sovereignty and fearlessness. So strong had been their pride and bonding to nature that they managed to resist every tyrant invasion that enslaved this country. To the other side of Svadhini was the market place, slowly rising from slumber. The entire canvas was spawned with gardens, ponds and cascades bestowing a heavenly aura upon entire Shankhnag.
Sarah was still absorbing all the seraphic beauty sprawled ahead when the man’s voice interrupted, “This is where it all began and this is where it should end”. “Sorry”, said Sarah. “This is where they first met…” the man was already lost in a trance with a cherished smile emanating from his stern face for the first time. Spy face, Sarah thought. The man continued “…Srishti and Samrat”. Okay, so we are dealing with humans here, nodded Sarah.
Samrat, fresh from his Harvard degree, was pretty enthusiastic to take up the challenging role of establishing a deodorant factory, “Caduceus”, in the valley. The legal formalities had been completed. The challenge was to convince the Dhanvantris and the Rogue in particular. The billion-dollar company had been trying to pursue the Dhanvantris with all its financial and political influences for the past 2 years.
They even managed to lure a fraction in their support but then out of nowhere surfaced the Rogue. The traditionally attired figure who made its presence felt in the valley with ghostly appearances every now and then.
Every time he tried to enforce his stand, the Rogue would appear. The figure would simply take a stoic stance at a vantage point in the hills which overlook the humming market area. Then, a recorded voice would emanate from Rogue’s aura. The sermon unmistakably started with the traditional eons long “Maatri-rakshak” song dedicated to the martyrs of the soil who sacrificed life not only for the country but also for protection of the nature. By the time the 90 second song would culminate, entire Sankhnag would be standing in unison hailing Rogue and looking up to the icon for command. On various occasions, Rogue’s deliberations would be so opiating that all and the sundry would reverberate with “no factories” slogan within minutes. No factories.
Samrat’s first encounter with Rogue’s charisma was on his maiden day at Shankhnag itself. It also happened to be his first encounter with Srishti. “What a contrast”, Samrat introspected in the middle of his first night in the valleys.
On alighting from his train journey, the Caduceus staff were there to receive him. As they embarked upon the tonga ride, he espied the “Pari tea stall”. He badly needed a cup of tea after his 48 hours non-stop journey. The company staff volunteered to stay in the tonga with his luggage as he started hopping up to the tea stall.
The tea looked interestingly different. Samrat was still contemplating whether devouring this potion would transform him into a fairy, befitting the name “Pari”, when a symphony of trinkets made him swirl behind.
For a moment, he thought that he saw a veiled silhouette behind the boulders on top of the climb. Still latching onto his “Pari tea”, he dashed towards the top of the hillock. Whether it was the musical trinkets or the urge to unveil the unknown, it was difficult to tell. But he infallibly was climbing fast. On reaching the top he found no one.
Just a mirage of mystical beauty, he sighed!
But then, something else left him speechless. The view from the top was breathtakingly beautiful. The lush valley with all shades and hues of colors, the Vihang, the Svadhini………admiring and absorbing the vast expanse of seamless beauty, he finally took a sip of tea and to his surprise, it tasted heavenly. Elixir. Nectar.
No wonder it’s called “Pari tea”. It does make you feel in heaven, but you need to be atop this hillock to savor it.
Holding up his glass of tea towards the horizon, he started stepping ahead proclaiming, “If there’s heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here, so rightly did Abu Fazal said, but for the wrong place”. “It was Jehangir…….” a chirpy feminine voice interrupted, “and he said it for the right place. It’s just that you are stepping towards the wrong place”.
Before he could turn back, a pair of very soft hands gripped his right hand and pulled him back. He found himself staring at the most beautiful and mysterious eyes he had ever seen in life. Even though the veiled scarf he could see the emerald blue eyes sparkling with innocence and hope.
He wanted to stay in this state of trance, but those eyes were darting sideways, signaling him to look that way. The place from where she pulled him was the end of the cliff, with broken dilapidated, ancient stairs. Somehow, he was so engrossed admiring nature’s marvel that he reached up to the end stair till this damsel saved him from the distress.
In an iota of a second, he had experienced near-death to nirvana. She’s my guardian angel, my life.
“guess, I deserve some thanks”, the lady broke the silence inquisitively. “oh…yes…. Sorry…. and a million thanks”, Samrat hurriedly mumbled, taking his eyes off her gaze.
“those stairs lead to heaven, you know”? “of course, you won’t be knowing”, she continued without expecting much of an answer from him. “but, now that you do know that that’s the path to salvation, would you still be thankful”?
“I would rather say that the steps would have taken me to hell”, Samrat muttered, not knowing how to carry on with the conversation.
“The stairs that go down are the same that climb up, just a matter of perception and relativity,” she said with defiance.
Courage, beauty, philosophy, literature, and physics embodied to perfection in a single spirit. Samrat was already overwhelmed with the knowledge and aura of this divinity he encountered.
“Just as Wordsworth said, what goes up must come down…” Samrat tried to impose his wisdom.
“Newton. please do not get your quotes wrong. I hate it. Never be wrong again”. Samrat nodded, feeling silly for the wrong quote and more so for nodding obediently.
“anyways, the sunset out here is ethereal…surreal…. I love it”. Hardly have I met this girl and already she has so authoritatively imposed her like and dislike to me. Samrat’s thought process was going topsy turvy. “bye”, she said and hurried down the slope towards the east. It was all so sudden.
As her silhouette started fainting in the woods, he yelled, “your name….”. she had already disappeared and he reluctantly started to take the downhill towards his tonga when he heard an echo “Srishti”. he somehow couldn’t resist smiling and the love-lorn look stayed on his face till he reached the guest house.
Somewhere in the middle of the night, he fell asleep and the only thing he remembered after this tiring sojourn was “Srishti”.
There were two rainbows intersecting each other and the sun was setting exactly in the middle of the intersecting bows. It looked as if the rainbows offered a hammock for the setting sun to sleep in peace.
For anyone else, this scene would have been a picture-perfect moment for a lifetime. but for Samrat, the shimmering face of the maiden sitting on the second last step of “stairs to heaven”, absorbing this scenic beauty, was the one to die for. There was no veil today. The emerald eyes were sparkling even more in the dying rays of Ra. Her velvety rich black hair, swaying and falling in pleats with every breeze. He really liked the two pleats that straddled her forehead like a wreath in a very elegant and cute manner. The perfectly chiseled face, with a sweet, symmetric nose, exquisite malar prominences and arched lips, all exuding unparalleled charm and beauty.
As she stood up with outstretched hands, as if to absorb all the ambience, he could admire her petite figurine and poise. He was about to reach for her hand, fearing she would fall when she turned back with a mocking grin,” it’s not my time for heavens yet”.
He could she her impacted upper molars on both sides. He wanted to say to her that he likes them but somehow, he didn’t. she was so expressive yesterday, even though it was their maiden rendezvous. And he was so hesitant.
“you see, I have to live up to my name before I take that path” again she expressed herself with so much of familiarity. Samrat had already forgotten all that he thought of speaking to her.
“so, what do you want to create, Srishti”, he asked. she smiled. “I’m Samrat, by the way”. She laughed at this time. It was awkward. What’s wrong with Samrat, he wondered.
“So, what do you intend to win Samrat, hearts or battles?” Samrat couldn’t gather whether it was a question or a sarcasm. “I want to win both. After all, everything’s fair in love and war, isn’t it?” he purposefully omitted the author’s name but her frowning and yet bewitching eyes demanded it.
“Elliot…” he said meekly. “John Lyly. Euphues, man!!…Never be wrong again,” “.and I categorically disagree with that quote”. “Be it love, be it war, if its sole goal is one’s own profit rather than that of the poorest of the poor and the entire land, it’s not fair at all”. Marxist, Samrat thought.
“You didn’t answer my question”. Again, she started for the eastern downhill, putting her veil in place. He sighed and started his descent, on the diagonally opposite slope. “Someday”, she echoed and that was enough to bring cheers on his face.
After that, it became a routine for both of them to meet over the hillock before dusk. He would narrate all his day’s events- the struggles, the brain-storming sessions, the tussles, the boiled, tasteless curry his cook would prepare for his lunch without fail…… she would only listen.
Her part of the conversation would always be about some naïve, abstract, idealistic world. He would try to agree with her thoughts but deep inside, he wasn’t in unison. Somedays he would think that she was not even listening to him but to his surprise, the very next day she would come up with a garnished palatable dish to make him forget the awful curry.
He would eagerly wait for the pleasant evenings. Those thirty or so odd minutes would render him all the solace he ever wanted to have. Her serene voice, caressing touch and the solitude would have a holistic healing effect on him. He would forget all the turmoil and lay calm, whispering sweet nothings. He would stand at the penultimate stair and hail “Veni, vidi, vici”, only to be chided later for attributing it to Alexander rather than Caesar.
One day he asked,” You are so wise and well-read, why don’t you give me suggestions to settle all this mess”? she laughed it away saying,” you are the Samrat. Remember, I told you that it’s for you to decide and choose between love and war.” He didn’t get what she conveyed and then they talked about the love ballads. Samrat got wrapped up twice for misquoting the Bard.
Their encounters would be puritan save for a brief occasion. She seemed very happy that day. Even Samrat had a relatively less tormenting day as he had convinced his occidental seniors that the matter of Rogue would be solved within a week. He had arranged for a personal meeting with rogue through the Dhanvantri insiders. As usual, he was narrating his heroics and brilliance when suddenly she pecked him on forehead. The silken touch of her lips was ethereal. He never ever had such aphrodisiacal sensations. He drew her up to him and kissed her supplant lips. She cupped his face in her palms and reciprocated.
A minute or so apart, their eyes met and very reluctantly they refrained from further kissing as if obeying some unsaid rule. they simply sat there, speechlessly gazing into the abysmal. Then, she left, hopping merrily down the eastern slopes. It echoed “Love you”.
Next morning was a crucial one for Samrat. Encounter with Rogue.
He was supposed to meet Rogue near the clock tower by afternoon. The meeting place had been decided by Rogue.
Rogue’s demeanor was overpowering. The black swaying robe with the scarf, head held high, hands crossed, the palms resting upon the hilts of the two Drona swords hanging around the waist. The armamentarium also consisted of a score of Karna arrows and a very ornate Eklavya Bow.
The Rogue was accompanied by a Dhanvantri. He had eagle eyes, very sharp features and was very attentive to even the minute ruffles around. Even in this era of trans-continental missiles, they believed in those orthodox weapons. But then, entry of any automated weapons was strictly prohibited in these lands.
It was very difficult for Samrat to start the conversation sans eye contact. Whenever he talked with anyone without reading his eyes, it felt as if it’s a soliloquy.
He started nonetheless. He described in detail the plans of the company. He tried to sound convincing regarding the future goals like setting up of school, hospital and training centers for local youth. Rogue listened patiently as he went on to describe the ambitions of diversification of company products. He emphasized how backward this place was, aloof of what’s happening around the globe and what all people have achieved due to the advent of science, technology, and industry. He was very articulate and utilized all his communication skills to pitch his cause. Rogue listened.
Half an hour elapsed. Samrat spoke without a break. Finally, he rested his cause. He looked up towards Rouge’s scarfed face, directing his glance to where the yes was supposed to be. He could sense that Rogue was already staring at him, gauzing him. After a moment of silence, Rogue whispered something to the aide. He nodded, turned towards the clock tower and gestured something. Samrat could now see another armored fellow Dhanvantri perched atop the tower. A chill ran down his spine. This rendezvous is so dangerous. One mistake on his part and he could be history.
He waited. No words were spoken. He didn’t know what to expect. Whether he should leave, whether the meeting is over or whether they are making arrangement for his funeral. He didn’t know.
Some five minutes later, the on guard Dhanvantri signaled Samrat to step back a little. He obeyed instantly. To his surprise, one Dhanvantri appeared from a hidden trap-door that sprung up from the place he was standing. So well camouflaged!
He carried two cups which he placed on the flat-topped rock next to Samrat. He then vanished as mysteriously as he appeared. Rouge nodded to the aide. He asked Samrat,” Tea or coffee”?
Samrat had a pot pourri of emotions emanating at the same instant- surprise, anger, aghast. I have been talking incessantly for an hour or so and they are asking me “tea or coffee”, and that too with these fancied pirate-attired armored guards hovering around the entire place. Give me some answers instead. Come on. And this fellow sprang up from nowhere from some dudgeon where they might plan to keep me after offering this hospitality.
He was contemplating to say “No thanks” but already the two cups had been filled and served to him.
One had the unmistakable aroma of the espresso coffee which used to be in his hourly routine before he landed here. He couldn’t believe that it’s been almost a month and he didn’t have this coffee and yet he has been on his toes. The aroma was irresistible and he yearned to devour it.
Then he saw the other cup. It had the native tea, the elixir Samrat has been so fond of lately. Unmistakably, the azure colored tea with saffron-rose aroma, had been the best potion he ever had in his life. Though the lust for his favorite coffee was irresistible, he wanted to go for the native tea only.
He picked both the cups and offered the coffee to Rogue. The Dhanvantri stopped him mid-way,” Both are for you, whichever suits you.” Poisoned, Samrat thought. Whichever suits me! He had tea.
He waited for some conversation. Silence prevailed.
He finished his tea, rejoicing every sip. As soon he was done, Rogue and the Dhanvantri started to leave.
“Give me some answers, please,” Samrat demanded, a bit confused over the entire chain of events. Rogue looked over to Dhanvantri and he asked,” Why did you go for the tea”? Samrat was irritated. Okay, the tea is heavenly, but why are they hung up on it. They are offering me tea and questions. I want some concrete answers to explain to my seniors god damn it! He wanted to yell this out but responded with a hapless gesture instead.
“think over, you will have your answers.” The old man gave a wizened glance and they left. Not poisoned.
His bosses at Caduceus were very furious. He convinced them that he will get the job done.
Over the next three months he managed to get face to scarf with Rogue thrice. The venues changed and so did the endings but in between everything remained the same. Samrat did all the talking and Rogue was the patient listener. In the end, apart from the tea he would be offered native delicacies with burgers and sandwiches to choose from as well. The Dhanvantri also applied a lotion for his bruise he harbored due to fall last night. He was also given a traditional riddle to solve. He thought it is naïve but the more he tried to compute it, the more complex it got, invoking the occult theorems of calculus and relativity.
It had been 4 months since his arrival. The ordeal at Caduceus followed by the solace with Srishti was his routine.
This evening was tense. Early morning, he received a confidential file from the Caduceus head office. The contents left him high and dry. He kept reading the one-line message over and over again. Even now, when he was with Srishti, he was pacing back and forth, over-hearing whatever she was saying.
“you know, one day of over-walking won’t really help you burn those calories they have been feeding you at Caduceus” she proclaimed as if passing a verdict. He stopped, smiled wryly, and then sat beside her. “you need to help me out. I’m hapless, totally devastated.” She was all ears. “they have asked me to take Rogue out of the equation”.
She looked perplexed. He withdrew the letter from his back pocket and asked her to read. She read the message and the accessory file attached to it. He could see her expressions getting grim, just as he himself felt when he read it for the first time. It said “eliminate Rogue”.
The rest of the documents mentioned that they would be sending in an ace marine sniper to take her off and Samrat had to arrange another meeting to make that happen.
She was silent. He said,” in our training, we are taught to get the job done, by hook or by crook.” “But”, he continued,” snatching someone’s life is a different ball game all together. Yes, tycoons do indulge into such shady, forbidden acts but I can’t be an accomplice to it.”
“but, wouldn’t this thing catapult you to all the fame and Samrat-ish wealth you so desire. It’s one life after all and it’s not like you are doing the killing, right.”
“what nonsense”, Samrat was infuriated,” and whose side are you really on?” “I’m asking you to help me out of the situation….”
“I was just gauzing as to whose side you really are” she interrupted. “And besides, if you do not get this done, it would mean losing the job and be counted as a failure in your realm, I guess”. Yes, Samrat knew that a failure on first assignment and that too with these filthy conglomerates will blacklist him forever.
“look Samrat, I know you well enough to guess that you have already decided as to what you would be doing. So, why the dilemma?”
She was right. Afternoon itself, he reverted back to the Caduceus guys with his own plan. He said that he would arrange for the meeting but the sniper will only fire a narcotic laced dart at Rogue. He revealed the whereabouts of all the Dhanvantris who would be at Rogue’s disposal so that they could be overpowered as well. Once Rogue and the Dhanvantris are in shackles, they could be held captive in the trap-doors of clock tower where no one would ever find them. Then, getting the establishment in action and enforcing authority over the valley would be cake walk. Once the Caduceus gets legal authority over the lands and its assets, they can free the Rogue and company. This way, no one gets hurt and Caduceus owns the valley. The company agreed to his improvisation.
He narrated it all to Srishti. Deep within, he knew that he was still very wrong but relatively it was the lesser of the two evils which would also be his saving grace. But he wanted affirmation from her.
“Am I doing the right thing?
“you have to decide, Samrat”.
“Look, I know, it is sinister, but I’m left with no other option. If I do not get the deal done, I’ll be fired.no options.
“you always have options. You are Samrat, remember”.
“oh, come on please abstain from this name- justifying game. I’m in the middle of a swamp Srishti. Please help me out and say this is the right thing to do.” They remained silent for a moment.
“Remember, you once asked me what I wanted to create”? Samrat was so entangled in his thoughts and plans for tomorrow that he couldn’t remember. She continued,” All I want is, to create you.”
Samrat was all the more perplexed. She kissed him on the forehead and alighted her eastern slopes as usual. Samrat went the other way.
There was no echo.
Next morning, Samrat was nervous as hell. Everything had been planned. The Sniper, the political and muscle power to silence the mob. All in place. But there was no intimation regarding the rendezvous point till afternoon. One o’ clock. No information. Two o’ clock. Still, no message from Rouge’s aides. Three o’ clock. None. Samrat was getting agitated. Someone must have informed Rogue regarding the plan. A mole in our team. The clock struck four and with it came an arrow swirling past Samrat’s right ear and dashing into the wall. He was startled and terrified at the same time. There was a note attached to it. The content of this note made him feel sick. It read “Pari” hillock and bore the cult “R” symbol of Rogue.
He hurried towards the directed place, informing the sniper and the rest of the team regarding the place. He was so well versed with that place that he told the team all the vantage points and all the possible hiding places out there which could be used by the Dhanvantris. They would always be prepared, having time on their side. But information can circumvent time. The firing must mingle with the clock tower’s gong at five. They made a quick debriefing left instantly.
“Why, Pari”, the question kept haunting him till he reached there.
It was almost dusk when he reached there. For a second, he was worried if Srishti would be there but then he knew that the Dhanvantris are meticulous in their planning and keep the lay public away from such meeting points. So, they would have taken care of that anyhow.
He climbed by his daily route. It was depressingly silent out there this evening, in stark contrast to the life and energy he used to witness every day. He reached the top without espying any Dhanwantri. On reaching the top he saw the majestic silhouette of Rogue perched on the penultimate stair. No sign of Dhanvantris. Somehow, the absence of Dhanvantris was making him uncomfortable. He could sense some impending doom, but couldn’t apprehend it.
He was silent this time around. No pitching. But, to his surprise, a recorded voice from Rogue’s end broke the ice. “you preferred our tea, got healed by our herbs and as of yet you haven’t been able to solve our riddle which is nothing else but the modified version of the theory of relativity”, the voice sighed,” and still you say your conglomerate wants to bring education, health and prosperity to us”!! “How ridiculous?”
“you found love in this valley.” Okay, so they know, Samrat thought.
“You found happiness. And anyhow, do you see any unhappy faces out here in the valleys”? he answered in a negative. “so, what actually do have to offer Mr. Samrat”? “A cipher. Nothing else but a cipher” he couldn’t agree more and was feeling guilty as hell.
At that very moment, the sniper, camouflaged atop the Guldar tree overlooking the hillock, made the final adjustments to his rifle. He took out the small note that was handed over to him by the Caduceus’ boss in person when he left for Shankhnag. He was directed to follow the orders under all circumstances. So, it came out as a surprise when Samrat did the debriefing. Samrat mentioned only sedating Rogue, while the note clearly read “Terminate Rogue”.
Rogue’s recording continued, “you are a far better man than what you seek to become. Don’t be a slave to parochial monopolies. Be the Aesculapius, not a Caduceus. Be Samrat.”
The recording silenced with “Be the change you want to see in others.”
“Gandhi”, Samrat said. There was a chuckle from Rogue’s end.
The very same moment, the clock tower struck five, dousing the bullet’s recoil that emanated full throttle from the sniper’s rifle. The shot was aimed perfectly at Rogue’s left bosom. The impact pushed Rogue to the final stair. The scarf and veil flung away. Samrat was aghast. Srishti’s face was staring at him. He dashed to get hold of her. He could barely manage to touch her fingers before her final descent to the Stairs of heaven. She was still smiling when she said, “you can never be wrong again.”
Sarah was all tears. Finally, she said, “And then you single-handedly axed down the entire Caduceus establishment and they got you jailed. Don’t you think this story could have had a better ending if she could have had revealed her identity to you earlier.”
She had always been there for me. I couldn’t gather the subtle hints she gave. She lived up to her name. Srishti. She tried to create a better me without opinionating me. And she vanished for this land, the nature, these people…. you couldn’t expect a greater sacrifice. Yes, it could have been done differently, but then life is not as you wish it to be. If wishes were horses, even beggars would ride. He paused. “dickens” Sarah guessed. “Camden”, he said, a wry smile emanating from his face, his eyes fixated towards the horizon. Now, you had your story. It’s time that you move ahead. I have some unfinished business here.
He directed her to go downhill and started moving towards the stairs. On reaching the penultimate stair, he stopped. With outstretched hands, he embraced the valleys. He then closed his eyes and stepped towards the fathomless path of salvation. “you know, you can never be wrong again, Samrat”, a familiar voice stopped him from stepping further. He saw Sarah nodding to him. He nodded. He looked up to the skies, prayed silently and then took the eastern slopes. “Srishti”, it echoed.