Ragini Letitia Singh
I realised it this time after several toils before,
I am no hiker.
An easy climb or a gentle slope, yes.
A long stretch of steep uphill kills my lungs
A long stretch of steep downhill kills my toes.
Backpack weighing a ton doesn't help,
Neither does my pride in not allowing anybody else to share my complete burden.
I trudge higher, pushing myself, coaxing myself
As if I'm a donkey
"Just a little bit longer and I can stop to rest"
"Another 400 metres, that's all"
"Oh c'mon! Of course you can do this!"
It helps sometimes, this coaxing.
Sometimes I feel that it's more of mental strength
that gets you there, than the physical,
That's what helped me ascend Manimahesh the first time.
By the second round, I'd lost it.
And to tell you the truth,
There exists within me a slight fear of heights.
This is where I stop and ask myself,
"How in the world is a person like me going about,
saving the Himalayas when I'm not even an expert climber
and a little intimidated by its formidable appearance???"
I sit at a dhaba en route, catching my breath,
Stealing a few more moments of delicious rest,
The question revolving in my spinning head.
A dainty bird sings sweetly,
Gentle rain falls in a musical rhythm,
The mountains around me are draped in bright green velvet,
While a goat wrestles with a branch off a cliff,
And the river dances by.
For a second the question is lost,
As the fragrance of damp fir leaves takes over.
And I know the answer.
I smile to myself, drag myself off the stone bench,
Hurl on my burden, clutch my stick,
And hike on.
Ragini Letitia Singh is the Regional Communications Officer for WWF's Himalayan High Altitude Wetlands Programme & manages the Green Hiker campaign. email@example.com