Had to climb a notoriously dangerous peak on the Siachen Glacier
Was the call off duty.
Hell, I was afraid. (But officers were not allowed to show / reveal / manifest … their fears)
B’cos I didn’t trust the strength in my arms to climb a 400 ft rope, on a vertical climb,
That too a climb on a moonless night, with ambient temperature Minus Forty degrees Celsius
And wind speeds of 80 kmph on the mountain face.
We all knew we had to cross 2 large crevasses at the foot of the climb
There were no ropes tied to other men …each man's life was as precious as the next
You slip...you fall into one or the other crevasse ...you perish
Normally, they never found the bodies
I was so afraid!
Scared shitless !
300 ft high …someone …sneezed …out loud
Someone shouted loud…’shut up!’
The enemy opened fire experimentally….inviting return fire …
so that they could locate us …the targets to shoot at.
The sounds echoed…reverberated in the valley
Then…there was what sounded like ‘a cosmic …cough’
From the peak above …the avalanche set loose!
In a fraction-of-a-second … a whole mountain-face full-of-snow
Picked us up like dust …
I was like ‘This it it …here it comes … Oh shit!’
(Believe me …my life’s favourite moments did NOT flash thru my mind)
My brain had shut down …!
When I came to … after a million years …
I was being pulled out of the snow
I was buried upside down …just upto my neck
My torso … my body was on the surface
I had been carried almost 400 metres …RIGHT ACROSS THE 2 CREVASSES
The sheer speed of the Avalanche was so much.
We found the bodies of 2 of our men in the link patrol after 2 weeks …when the sun melted the top-snow
I never did make it up that peak
Another Doctor had appendicitis on another outpost
I was air-lifted by chopper to relieve him
But …those moments haunted me …for years
I remembered someone saying …
“Cowards die a thousand deaths …in anticipation
The brave die but once … ‘cos death never figures in their thoughts”
I wrote this piece on death …in the early 90’s, I think
It looms like a shadow
Laughs at you, flirts with you
An eternal coquette
The ultimate threat, the final refuge
The absolute escape
Starts at birth, Lives everyday
Happens in a moment,
Dreaded, feared, remembered, honoured,
Singular .. Death!
You don’t ask for it, you cant ignore it,
not even experience it
you wont …escape it,
talk or write about … your own
Absolves the sinner,
Martyrs the soldier,
Humbles the mighty,
The Kiss …..Of Death!
Death is …
So progeny … must be.
Opens the gates of Heaven … and Hell
Recruits souls for Satan & God
The Final Judge’s last nod