The gravel cracked against the tyre as Raman stopped his scooter in front of the front door, it was afternoon. He clicked his key to the scooter to open the old rustic dickey of his father’s scooter. Although he owned a car but Raman drove the scooter as he felt a special bond existed between the scooter and him. The scooter’s dickey was overflowing with packets Raman had just bought from the market. He filled his hands with his shopping and went inside sweating profusely. Two small children ran towards screaming in joy at the sight of their father.
Raman smiled at them and handed them their share of chocolates. Just when he looked up he saw a tray with the world’s best lemonade waiting for him. He picked up the chilled steel glass and looked up at the lady with the tray. He could never decide how much he loved his wife. ‘You look beautiful today’, he said. Anjali turned a crimson shade of red and said, ‘Stop it, you lie everyday, what do you want to have for lunch? Something good today I guess!’. Raman pulled her close to him and planted a kiss on her cheeks.
Anjali struggled with the shopping bags Raman had just brought. They were going on a summer vacation to the snow clad mountains of Uttarakhand to escape the intolerable heat. This shopping was the last stage of their packing. They were leaving tomorrow.
At the crack of dawn the family left for paradise. Raman drove his blue Volkswagen past the green fields, the road side dhabas and villages. With his speed, everything was a blur until the family entered the mountain roads. The roads were narrow, the scene was breathtaking and the car stopped every now and then to take a picture. The air was purer and dense. They were loving every moment of the journey. The stars were visible in the dark sky when they reached their hotel.
The first day of the trip was memorable. With high boots and sweaters, the heat back home was unimaginable for them. The winds were cold and almost hurting. It was night when the sky thundered and almost instantly the stars disappeared behind the thick black clouds that now covered the sky. It began to rain.
The rain continued into the midnight and became heavier and heavier. Anjali and Raman got scared due to the noise and pulled their children closer. Raman assured them of their safety and ran outside to see what was happening. What he saw left him aghast. The whole place was close to flooded. He immediately thought of his car and ran to the parking to drive it some safe place.
But God had already made his plans. Landslides started happening, water from higher mountains started coming with a huge flow, almost like a river. Many hotels collapsed and many floated away with the water. Raman returned to see something he had never envisaged in his entire life.
The hotel where he was staying was half destroyed. The rocks from the mountains as big as his car were on the hotel with a high speed water flow, it was a landslide. He rushed to the first floor to see Anjali lying beneath a rock with only her face visible, she was dead. He screamed in agony to find his daughter crushed between two rocks. He was almost fainting when he saw his son, barely alive, but looking at him. He was clearly hit by a big mountain rock, he was bleeding extensively. His head was damaged but not broken.
Raman screamed for help, for his last ray of hope. He wanted a doctor, some one who could help his son come out of that place, now a grave. He pulled a blanket close to him and wrapped it around his child. He couldn’t carry his son in the pool of water outside, he needed help. The water flow was increasing by the minute, Raman ran outside to ask for help, to look for a soul who could help him save his son. But he couldn’t see a single creature in the dismal rain.
Raman ran further to seek some help. Finally he met and convinced a man to bring his son to a safe place. They ran together on the road, now a river. But Raman couldn’t find the hotel, they searched and searched. Finally the man asked him the name of the hotel, ‘Pristine’, Raman answered. The man shook his head in sorrow and told him with a heavy heart, ‘It was right here brother, its not, anymore. The water took the hotel in the valley, its no more.’
The man left Raman standing there in the rain when he refused to leave the place. Raman stood in the rain and watched the empty spot which some time ago, had his love, his life. He gave up fighting some men who dragged him to a safer place, to save his life, which was now no more.
More than 10,000+ have been dead, 7000+ pilgrims have been missing, 1,00,000+ people have been rescued from the havoc that happened in Uttarakhand. Extreme rains have wreaked havoc in the region, with the tenuousness of the Himalayan soil stability resulting in killer landslides.
Thousands of lives have been affected, hundreds of villages no longer exist as the land is now submerged in water, thousands of people are now homeless, families have lost their loved ones. While losing a relative is a big loss, imagine not knowing whether your loved one is alive or not, whether he/she will ever come back or not.