A Chance Encounter In McLeod Ganj And The Musings Of A Wandering Mind
Woods are enchanting.They are partially the reason for my fixation with mountains. While reading Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood in my childhood, I had convinced myself that woods were magical. And somehow they held more of a sway over me, it seemed to be more potent than the magic of the toys which used to come alive in her other stories. Pixies, goblins, fairies, unicorns – all could be my friends if I lived in the woods.
As I grew up, I was faced with the strict logic of textbooks which declared Santa Claus to be nothing more than an impersonator (I think he is a phenomena). Anyway, the books were still there. The Forbidden Forest deepened my liking for the woods, grave as the dangers lurking there might be. So, I can safely say that I love the rank of trees, the smell of pine cones and sweet Earth, the little rocks which make great seats to sit and ponder life.
So much for my growing up. But this story isn’t about that.
My love for the woods often takes me to undiscovered realms in the mountains. And so it happened that I stumbled upon something beautiful (magical? maybe, you decide that) in one such place.
Walking on a roadin Mcleod Ganj where busy footsteps and loud chatter surrounded me, I decided to slip into the woods for shelter (It is like that great man Byron said ‘I love not Man the less, but Nature more‘). I ran down a slope to come to a clear place between the woods. There, I saw a throne-like structure.
Thinking it would make an ideal spot to have my picnic lunch, I moved towards it. And then this sight met my eyes.
A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown. Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth. And Melancholy marked him for her own.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
He gave to Mis’ry all he had, a tear, He gained from Heav’n (’twas all he wished) a friend. No farther seek his merits to disclose, Or draw his frailties from their dread abode, (There they alike in trembling hope repose,)
At the feet of Lord Buddha
May we be together in future lives, loving you beyond the grave G.C.,
your Yeti wife Theresa Rene Choephel.
My eyes raced over the rough letters, spelling out the epitaph I had known for long. Thomas Grey had written the Elegy in the 18th century and I had spent a considerable portion of my second year at college studying his works. Those very words adorned the grave of Genden Choephel. His wife had bid him goodbye thirteen years ago.
And then I started thinking. There was a graveyard at the outskirts of the town. Why was this lonely tombstone so sheltered amongst the woods away from all? Maybe this was their haven. The place they loved. Or was it something more sinister?
I thought I would sit on the stone and eat and think. And so I sat, loosened the knot of the bag and brought out the package of lunch. It was simple – aloo paranthas I had got packed at the home stay. And I started eating. And thinking.
Was it possible that this was a noble story? What if dangerous creatures lurked here? Did they fight before he succumbed to a fatal injury? And then she drew the veil of those eyes and laid him to rest here?
I found myself get up with a shudder. I thought there were hands behind me. I looked around, trying to find a sign. There was nothing I could have made out amongst the rustle of the leaves and the loud reprimands of the wind. Was the wind scolding me or the leaves which flew to the ground too fast?
I decided to move from the spot. And then the wind seemed to sit itself over there, on the cliff. All of a sudden a quiet surrounded me. I bowed and bid farewell to them, the Yeti and her love. Then I turned and left. No matter what their story was, their love was real. And you know what they say about true love? It lives on.
I had ventured into their realm, I now took my leave. Will I return, I don’t know. But let me tell you this. If you ever come across this place, it is of utmost importance that you tread with respect. For the sake of their love, and for yours.
The author served as a staff writer at Scoopwhoop and is a freelancer. Send her virtual chocolates on her Twitter and Facebook.