With midnight descended a strange ambience—an uncomfortable stillness, a mind numbing silence. In the quietness of the moment, I could sense the sound of their sleep.
Her head felt heavy on my shoulder, and for some reason I stayed unmoved, not to break her quite slumber. But her locks tickling under my nose made me sneeze so hard that she woke up! She rolled herself into a gesture of modesty, followed by a soft apology. I wanted to ask her more about life in Tokyo, but maybe this was not a good time.
Soon I drifted into a wakeful stupor, my eyes trying to fathom the eternal darkness that spread around us like the mighty Erebus, and my mind deadened by the constant revving of the car, whose bleak headlights illuminated a part of the road as it tore through the night.
The backpacker in the backseat soon started snoring sharply, setting up a disquiet in the air. He had had a near-death experience in the morning when his bike almost toppled off the crag, rolling and falling until sojourning at a flat upland. It was then when he decided to end his bike trip and awaited at the roadside for a haul up. Luckily he found us.
Her head alighted on my shoulder again. I stayed still, awaiting another needless apology, trying to keep my nose away from her hairs lest they should make me sneeze again. I had started to feel affectionate towards her. Her touch was magical – almost like an analgesic, for I had forgotten all my aches from the day long trek the moment I saw her. There was something compelling about her presence which ran deeper than her skin. It was her courage to travel across Himalayas solo all the way from Japan that made her so irresistible in my eyes.
The yellow lights in distance appeared like a patch of autumn daffodil—it was a village*. I could see a glimpse of joy on the face of the driver, who had been fighting off the dreadful sleep for so long. Finally he gets to rest for a little while. Finally we get to eat the much awaited food. Finally the Korean girl in the front seat gets to take a leak. A happy moment for all of us.
*I don’t know the name of the place where we halted that night, but I will talk about my stay there a little more in my next blog.