The Himalayas at 13,420 feet. A woman, almost 58. What happens when they meet?
For the past 31 years, I had gotten tired of seeing my mother selflessly serving our family, but getting nothing in return. She silently wept at times, sitting in a corner. No one ever realized what amazing things she was capable of.
So I decided to help her break free, take care of all the odds, and take her to the Himalayas where she could fulfill her decade-long dream of hiking the mighty Himalayan mountains.
Watch her climb here
My mother had always been a traditional Indian woman. A painter, a singer, a thoroughbred artist when she was young. Then marriage happened. Her life, since then, revolved only around serving her husband and taking care of her children. Yet, the passion for adventure and love for the outdoors lay dormant within her, in a neat, hidden corner.
No one allowed her to break free. She thought she never will. Our family had always been overweight. Any intense physical activity like hiking, or climbing a mountain seemed distant. Until in 2013, I decided to break free off my rusted body.
My Mother getting ready for the midnight summit climb
After two years of rigorous workouts, I finally made it to the Himalayas, the home of the highest mountain ranges on the planet. What followed were many life-changing events on the distant trails in the mountains. Once hanging down a cliff, holding on to a branch, I realized the true meaning of life. A decision was taken. I would not merely survive. I would “live”. And I would bring my mother to these majestic places that I had seen. I would rekindle her dormant spirit for the great outdoors.
Twelve months of intense Yoga, ten-storey climbs, and vigorous brisk walking helped combat her arthritis and brought my mother back to shape. By September 2017, her lungs could hold enough air to sustain a twenty-storey climb, along with two hours of brisk walking on moderately steep paths. She felt confident. In November 2017, we finally left home for our Himalayan climb that would change our lives forever. My father thought she would not return alive.
Traversing the villages
Choosing an easy grade trail according to Himalayan standards, I decided to camp out at the Sari village, at about 6,500 feet, in the Garhwal Himalayas. I did not want to exert her excessively on the very first day. Later, a three-hour climb took her to the Deoriatal Lake, and from there she trekked through meadows and ridges to reach the Chandrashila Peak at 13,420 feet. This elevation is a little lower than the highest peak of the Alps, Mont Blanc, that stands at 15,780 feet.
Dawn breaks behind the distant peaks
The immense responsibility on my shoulders to ensure her safety, never brought me down. On sections that she could traverse by herself, I used to run upslope with all my equipments to shoot her footages. On sections that she needed my help, I still had to run far ahead to set up the camera, press record, and come back to pull her up the tricky patches. Her heavy rucksack did not make matters easier for us, but it gave her the true taste of hiking.
Behind the scenes, near the summit
In the following two months of our return, I made the song “Himalayan Mother and Son” that would serve as a backdrop to this saga of a mother and son meeting the mighty Himalayas. Rosemarie Gonzales, a poetess from the Philippines, extended great help by writing the lyrics.
I still remember when mother saw me editing the video, she exclaimed, “How did I climb so much?” I replied, “Divine intervention, maybe” and smiled. My heart felt contended.
Watch the video, read the lyrics, and let the willpower of a 58-year old woman be imparted unto you.
The sun is up
She is off to the mountains.
She has lived,
All of her life, as a wife.
She wants to live for herself.
So she is here,
In the mountains,
in the valleys.
Chasing the sun,
To climb all her fears.
All of the fears she has in her mind,
Will never make her blind
The night was cold,
The stars were out.
And in her mind,
she had no doubts.
In that thin air,
That took a toll
On her nerves.
Yet, through frozen paths,
And in lush land
Her son, her dear son,
Held her hands
Held her hands
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