1 year ago
Pratik is a high school graduate from Trinity International College, Dilli Bazaar, Kathmandu.
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2 years ago
2 years ago
JOURNEY TO JHAPA
My heart was thundering with excitement at the prospect of escaping the inanimate and dull Kathmandu to a fresh, vibrant Jhapa My brother had bought a ticket for me which I tucked it into my jacket pocket and took it to bed with me, holding it as if it were the golden ticket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
I couldn’t sleep the night before the journey. I was restless, occupied with paralyzing thoughts mixed with a frenzy of excitement, I had spent the entire night twisting and curling in bed, staring at the shadows on the ceiling. As a result, my eyes felt heavy my body sloppy as I sank into my bus seat. But as soon as the bus moved, my eyes flung open and my body felt suddenly alive. I chuckled to myself softly and cracked my knuckles in anticipation.
The bus was old and rickety, and it squeaked and tilted every now and then. Its hard steel frame had turned my back to stone.
As we descended down the hills along whirling tornado of a road, a river approached at our right. The river was impossibly deep. A sickening dizziness swept over me at the sight of the river. In fear, my eyes shot up and rested on the hills. The hills looked like a vast sea of trees and rocks forming waves around you.
The dark cloud enveloped the bus and my heart leapfrogged to my throat. The clouds lifted and my heart calmed.
Throughout the journey, my back was straight as a ruler, my mind alert, eyes scanning the river, the hills and the gorges, the sky, and the clouds. The faster the bust moved more the excitement increased. The river was slowly being replaced by shops and tents on both sides, then we entered the sidewalks and I could see the forest approaching us at a distance. In the meantime, the tv flickered to life and a Bollywood movie materialized on the screen.
The blanket of trees looked at me dreamily as I approached their direction, beneath them shadows were dancing invitingly. As we entered the mouth of the forest, I could feel my stomach moving back and forth. The trees finally swallowed us and we plunged into darkness. All through the journey, my legs were crammed between the seats, and the back of my neck rigid.
Eventually, sunlight managed to beam at us, gliding between the crevices of the thick branches, spilling into the road, so I leaned on the window and closed my eyes, cherishing the warm sun on my face. The trees on both sides were blurred like inks and the wind was beginning to lash outside. The leaves clinging to the branches rustled as the bus flashed past. I slid the window shut quickly and the nape of my neck crackled. Meanwhile, outside, the wind frantically whipped the trees until they furiously sprang back to life.
Tiny beads of rainwater poured from the heavens and I felt as if it created a warm blanket around me. In the background, trees were swaying here and there producing a soft crashing sound. In minutes, I was deep asleep.
I was finally awakened by the pitter patter of the rain on the window. I was having the best dream and then suddenly…god. In my dream, I was clasping a latch and pushing it. It clicked and I threw open the door, light flooded into my face…and then suddenly all of my dreams evaporated, right behind my very eyes. The window materializes before me. And my mind was blank. But somewhere on the back of my head, I could feel the heavy dream looming. My tongue tasted bitter and body heavy. I gulped hard and gripped the weather strip and peered out the window. The soft waves of rain were washing the windows. Outside, the rain had soaked the trees and the earth had dampened. I slid open the window, cool clammy wind brushed my face. I was now wide awake.
As I craned my neck to take a closer look at the damp ground, the bus stopped, I lurched forward and almost fell out of the window. Few passengers shouted at the driver while others chatted in a muffled tone, while I quietly sank back to my seat, thanking God that I was still alive.
When the forest ended terai began. We skirted along gaudy shops after shops, houses after houses, at length I got bored and dozed off to sleep again. The scenes here were remarkably unremarkable. However, the unbearable heat woke me up. A finger of sweat was dripping down my chin and my body was drenched in sweat.I brushed it off with my hands and took off my jacket.
Finally, when the stop arrived, I took my bag and leaped from the door. As I jumped out of the bus, into the hot pavement, for a split second my legs were stiff then suddenly they felt wobbly and the world began to turn. I pressed my hand on the bus and took two labored breath. It felt as if a thousand ants were pinching my legs. When I entered my home, everything felt small. The walls felt close together now, people felt tiny, I felt huge.