Saturday, April 2, 2016


Hania looked out into the canyon and took a deep breath. “He is standing right in front of you, my friend. And no, he is not famous. Nobody knows about him. Never knew!” For the first time, a shiver went down Jordan’s spine.

“I was one of those who didn’t fit in anywhere. I refused to accept the fact that this world has become incompatible to us. I tried very hard to prove guys like you wrong. I wanted to prove that this world is as much ours as it is yours. And in trying to do so, somewhere I started becoming one of you. I drifted away from my people, travelled the world, made new friends and embraced the new world I was seeing and feeling with open arms. I became a wanderer and in the end I forgot what I was searching for. In my attempt to study and understand and imbibe different cultures of the world, I slowly forgot mine; until I came back here to scale the mountain that had cradled my childhood!” Hania’s reminiscence filled Jordan with awe and intrigue. “So you came here and never went back?”

“Well, I almost did. I got through the Death Gorge. It took me 5 days. There was very little life left when I got to Hullu point. There I saw a mule. A lonely mule! It was freezing, hungry and dying. It had been abandoned by a hiking group as it was wounded and couldn’t carry them anymore. We were company to each other for the next 2 days. I nursed its wounds and fed her my food and left with a promise to come back. I returned with food and medicines after 3 days. She kept her promise and held her life for me. She died the next day. I never went back. Did you know every year nearly 10-15 mules are abandoned here to die in the cold. Now they have a friend to take care of them. They don’t deserve to die because of you people!” There were flames of anger and pain in Hania’s eyes.

“So it is you who makes these little dresses for these animals and birds! Very sweet indeed.” Jordan murmured. He looked at Hania’s little abode. “You seem pretty well stocked up, eh?”

“Well, I still visit your world once in a while my friend. Go up to the town and eat your food and try your new drinks, learn about the latest fashion trends, breathe your polluted air and come back amused. I always wonder how much longer will nature accommodate mankind! So I am trying to compensate for the sins you guys commit by helping these creatures as much as I can. Trust me, they are the best companions you can ever get.” Jordan smiled from his heart for the first time as a bird came and sat on Hania’s shoulder. Life was teaching Jordan an important lesson through Hania.

“Well.. you must get going now, my friend! Someone must be desperately waiting for you!” Hania patted Jordan’s shoulder in a fatherly affection.

“What do you mean desperately waiting?” Jordan was a little surprised.

“You will find out my friend. Well.. let me tell you a short cut to get to the top. You see that bush right there and a small alley behind it. Go through that, you will have to pass a tunnel and then cut through a sharp canyon turn and it will take you back to the trail and you will be in Hopi point in an hour. Now get going before the snow storm gets worse! It was nice seeing you, my boy!” Hania gave Jordan a huge bear hug.

Jordan’s mind was completely preoccupied during his mechanical trail back to the top of the canyon. Hania’s visage and his electric voice captivated and mystified him profoundly. He didn’t even realize that he was at Hopi point and all his friends were running towards him. Radhika jumped upon him and hugged him tightly as if she was never going to let him go. There were tears in his eyes. Hania’s words flashed through Jordan’s mind once again.

Hopi Point – Hermit’s Rest:
There was no doubt it was one hell of an adventure. But they were sad it was coming to an end. Jordan was calming his senses and resting his sore legs at Hermit’s rest as he recounted his adventures to Steven and Ming. He was scared to mention about Hania though. Meanwhile Radhika was looking for keepsakes in the gift shop. Soon she came back with a bag full of goodies and started flaunting them off. “Here take a look at this bird here. This is vintage Hopi art work! Isn’t it cute?”

“What is it in its wings?” Ming was curious. Radhika was worked up. “Oh.. this is the hand made replica of the famous fashion bird that has been spotted occasionally in the canyon. How it gets its dress has been an unsolved mystery! There are several stories around it. You see that lady over there. She knows a few such stories if you are interested!” The lady looked real spooky! Ming said he would rather pass.

Radhika turned her attention to Jordan who was already looking bewildered. “Hey.. check out this new book I got. I am sure you would love reading this one. It is about the Death Gorge. You must have been somewhere close to this for sure, right. Am so glad you didn’t find it. Otherwise they might have had to revise this book again to accommodate you as well!” She gave him a naughty wink and everyone burst out into laughter.

Jordan grabbed the book from here hand. “Oh.. wow.. Sounds fascinating! what is it about?”

“Well, it is an exclusive account about the hitherto never ventured and suicidal stretch from Skeleton Point through the Death Gorge up to the safety zone near the Hullu Point. Apparently 10 people have ventured into this death trap and none of them ever returned.” Radhika rolled her eyes in fear.

This was getting very interesting for Jordan now. “Are you sure none of them returned?”

“Well, they say that they found the bodies of 9 of them down in the Canyon; 4 of whom washed up on the shores the Colorado River. Nothing was ever found about the tenth guy. Here take a look at his picture here. The guy went to Harvard, can you believe that! Seems like a damn interesting fellow! He was a scholar and a world traveler apparently!” Radhika was going on and on while Jordan’s eyes were fixated on the picture of Hania. Yes, it was him. Only he was much younger!

Then, at that moment, he saw something written at the bottom of the picture that brought his heartbeat to a stand still and drove a shiver through his spine.


                                                                                                              - A SHORT STORY BY RAJ
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