In the course of time, sometimes, it seems that the trails which we have left behind got effaced.
It’s just a sweet illusion, nothing can efface them. It is time which never let anything or anyone to tamper with it; there is no about-turn. Time has not granted this privilege to us that we could autopsy our own past and apply some modification to our doings. Nobody knows how vehemently the wave of time may hit and dig up what we think we have buried on the quiet.
In later part of summer 2018, during a trek in a remote piece of rugged land, situated somewhere in North America, full of dells, lakes, cliffs and of course mountains. The entire land was broken into many pieces by plenty of deep chasms and many torrents. During our march, we chanced upon a marvy spot, adjoining a deep valley, at the height of approximate 3800 meter. Experiencing the sheer amazement, we all decided in unison to take the first halt of our tour at that spot only.
We were hiking in a group of nine, belong to various part of USA baring me; I was the only Indian in the group. However it’s been years I had been dwelling in USA, and now I own the citizenship too but I never miss a chance to hint upon my ethnicity. It is always a great pleasure mentioning INDIA over and again.
As for this group, there was a time when each of us would coddiwomple severally. We all had been suffering from farsickness which resulted into a traveler band later on. This one common notion brought all of us together.
We all were taken aback by the flawless collision of cloudlets with mountains, they were scattered all over. Pristine beauty of Nature put up a stupendous view when the heavy breaths of mountain breeze made the ivory cloudlets scud in circle above the valley right in front of us.
How magnificent it was!
Above the horizon, the big round sun was glowing like hot amber; its dying beams had brushed the entire space crimson.
I removed my bag; put it down and, exhaled with a noisy awkward sound, quite audible to everyone. An exciting thrill ran down my spine like I was hit by lightening and got charged, as I took a few steps ahead to absorb the mesmerizing view created by the natural elements all over the deep valley. I couldn’t help gawking at the picturesque view, right in front of my eyes, wide dale filled with snowy clouds as if there laid the heaven.
Out of irrepressible excitement, a kind of frenzy in my body got triggered and took over me.
I shouted.“whoa….”, at the top of my pitch. The mountains threw back the piercing sound of echo which caught everyone attention.
Natalie, one of the travelers barged into my daydream, “Calm down, there is deep dell, we don’t want you to ruin this trip”, she quipped and giggled.
She cared for me for sure. We spent a lot of seasons alfresco together, while away all around like vagabonds not because that we are helpless when it comes to travelling, “She is my wife”.
“Well, this is how I got the citizenship”
“I proposed her”, “No! She proposed me”, let me correct myself.
I was a kind of nerd and she, I don’t know how, fell for me. A sudden proposal and we got marry immediately. The most awkward marriage ceremony I ever witnessed was actually mine.
The evening began to encircle, before it’s late, we speedily pitched a number of camps for everyone and furnished all of them with the basic necessities we had. Following the serene evening, the waxing moon slowly appeared and filled the space with its mild shine. Myriads of stars accompanied him. Slowly, a stellar night came in the view.
It usually gets cold in the mountains at night, even in the summer season; hence, we ignited a small open-air bonfire to warm up the surroundings and, comforted ourselves around it in the circle. Passing quip, jokes, sharing experience with everyone and all, beautiful memories were being piled up.
Then I noticed one member of the band was sitting alone on a big flat rock near the slop, face towards the valley, he was glaring at noting, sitting totally engrossed in thoughts.
However, we all were of sage age but he was the youngest traveler among us, aged barely 27, slender body, ideal height, black hair; they named him ‘Blue’ because he had slightly blue & sharp eyes. He had recently joined the band. He had camped with the band many times though; I came across him for the first time.
I silently went there and sit next to him on the rock.
“What’s on”, I broke into his thought.
He passed a winsome smile without seeing at me, and pointed towards the sky, tinged with sheer gloss. I looked up, tried to dissolve into the feelings, Aaron was beset with.
“Inexplicable”, I mumbled softly.
Aaron sparked again with a smile; simultaneously tears began to flow voluntarily from his eyes in a stream. The way Aaron reacted left me baffled. I grew silent, unable to speak even a single word.
I plucked my courage, “lighten your heart, get the pain off your chest, what happened”, I urged him.
He turned his face towards me our eyes shared a blazing look, and he replied in a grim tone, “Don’t you know what happened”
His voice reminded me of someone at once.
I stood up in a sudden force; our eyes were still entangled with constant stare’. The way he uttered those words slammed me hard. I was so perplexed that couldn’t abide with the situation and left immediately to my camp without saying anything.
It’s 01:45 AM, I was laying in my camp. After that unexpected encounter with Aaron, I found it tough to go to sleep. A kind of pain oozing out of my body, peerless stress had swallowed me.
I closed my eyes forcefully and tried to recall whence it got started.
It was the first week of May 13; I was on a hike all alone in Joshua Tree National Park, Southern California. No one was around, only me and my rucksack. That night, I decided not to go back to the motel and camped in the park at a safe place. However it was not allowed, but I stayed.
At around 11:30 PM, I was laying supine on a flat rock, counting the stars. Then, I received a call from an unknown number. I was wondering, my cell was working smoothly even in that remotest part. I picked, a vague voice tuned in, I couldn’t get to know what he was talking about as the man didn’t take even a single pause.
I immediately sensed, “somebody is drunk and has dialed a wrong number”.
He was not even ready to listening me, kept on babbling endlessly under the influence of something intoxicating. I turned the speaker on, set my cell aside and lay back again, tried to figure out what he was saying.
He was a young boy for sure; I got to know of his soft voice, his pitch was akin to a woman’s. He seemed real desperate, the way he was talking.
In the process, I came to know that he made this call to someone who is his confidante but mistakenly he dialed a wrong number, as his voice slowly turned rather serious and, he began to confide the things which are usually confided to someone trustworthy only. The kind of topic he brought up had a connotation that represented him as someone of different kind.
His tone and sincerity wrapped with profoundness of truth pricked my ear. At that part, I seriously felt that I had made a mistake; I should have disconnected the line in time. I had accidentally gotten into someone’s privacy.
In a kind of bewilderment, I disconnect the phone without saying anything.
He rang me back right away. I disconnected again and put my cell on airplane mode to avoid it.
On the following day, I packed up early in the morning and moved on. I wandered all the day long across the mountains, glades, lowland, highland and somehow managed to get back to the motel before the dusk.
As soon as I reached my room, I collapsed in my bed awkwardly out of fatigue, drenched all over in stinky sweat. I closed my eyes to soothe the burn then the annoying cell buzzed again, it was the same number.
I had almost forgotten what happened last night but, when I saw that number again on my screen, a flux of guilt washed me up. I stood up in a fit, couldn’t make out how to respond and cut the line. It rang up again, I got into flap. I closed my eyes with clenched fist, braced myself and picked the call.
I started to plead guilty as soon as I heard that thin voice again.
Well, in passing, we somehow managed to lead that conversation to normality, he forgave me. And this is how; I accidentally got in touch with a stranger who was a QUEER, he finally gave away his secret.
From that day forth, we developed a kind of strange relationship. Without asking each other names, we went on talking wireless endlessly. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, we were on talking for more than two years never seeing each other in person, hard to believe but it happened. Once I asked his name, then he mentioned “Aaron Brown”. I couldn’t feed this name “Aaron” to my brain because he insisted to call him “Eon”. “Aaron Brown” had escaped my mind soon after, only “Eon” was there.
He shared everything with me which belongs to him without any reserve; the pain, the suffering, how he fell in love, fell from grace, social dilemma of being DIFFERENT, and everything, he had been going through, he shared with me. He was like an open book, every chapter of his life he got me mugged up.
He loved someone very much but couldn’t get love in return. For this reason, his life was in a state of turbulence; he was finding it tough to maintain a steady pace in his life.
Whenever he found himself downcast, he would call me. Once he mentioned how it soothes him talking to me.
It is weird cum unbelievable, be on talking terms with someone, having conversation for hours on anything, but never came to know each other in person – who are you talking to.
Two years ago, Natalie came to my life, we got married and I deliberately disconnected myself from Eon. That time, the reason of that abrupt separation stood genuine to me. How could I let anyone or anything create any type of misunderstanding between Natalie and I. However, I had told him about Natalie but he wanted to keep whatever relationship we had in motion. It couldn’t go down well with me, my fear began to brim over, and I left him behind.
I remember, once he mentioned that he always wanted to travel the world, perhaps he wanted me to invite him on a trip, wanted to meet at last. But I couldn’t come out of the zone in which we both were at that period of time.
I just disappeared from his life.
I took a deep sigh. Natalie was snoring gently next to me; she was in the state of sound sleep. I quietly came out of the camp without disturbing her. I looked around; it was a glowing night merged with relaxing calmness. I somehow discerned in which camp Eon was. I stealthy got close to his camp, bend over, and slowly gave a touch to his feet, which were sticking out of his blanket.
He woke up in daze, dumbfound. He looked at me, his face had turned pale; I looked at him with the same expressions, but couldn’t say anything. We both were gawking at each other with eyes wide open.
I stepped back and went to sit on the same round-shaped rock, face towards the valley.
With a sullen face, I was staring at the stars. Eon came to me and sits by. We both were staring at nowhere in deep silence.
Eon had noticed me – full of repentance.
He gently asked in a low voice, “what happened”
I cracked a so-called smile with extreme difficulty and pointed towards the sky, illuminating with celestial diamonds.
“Inexplicable”, Eon mumbled.
I smiled again, this time quiet genuinely. I turned my face towards him; we both share a compassionate look.
Eon asked like a naive, “lighten your heart”, “what happened”,
“Don’t you know what happened” I replied.
Continuous stare, eyes entangled, lips trembling, tears threatening”