In a moment of panic…

Have you ever panicked? I mean really panicked, almost in a state of terror? I have, several times.

Not just in nightmares that seem real, when you are being chased by some horrible creature/thug or whatever and you can’t move your limbs. Normally I try to wake up and think of pleasant things to replace the horrifying dream and then go back to sleep. Then there are the times when you have misplaced some really important document and can’t find it for the life of you. The panic can only be experienced, not described. I am sure you must have all had some such incident to recall.

What I am going to tell you happened nearly two decades ago but the sense of panic bordering on terror is still fresh in my mind. I mean, it was a granddaddy of all panic.

I had gone to Pune to visit my parents with the two boys. The older one was about 14 and the younger one eight. My second oldest brother with whom my parents lived, had two daughters aged about 12 and four. We took the children sightseeing to the Kelkar museum, Appu Ghar and the like, but the older kids yearned for some adventure. So we decided to on a trek to the fort atop Sinhagad about 30 odd kms from Pune.

So off we set out, my bhabhi, the two older children and I. We took a bus to the foot of the hills. I don’t know how ‘developed’ it is today, but back then Sinhagad village still had a ‘village look’ and we could feel the excitement of other trekkers like us. We were a little late since trekkers are known to come back by 10-11 am after completing their trek. My bhabhi who is a diabetic was not sure she would be able to climb all the way and said that she would go as far as she could manage and then wait for us to come back.

The trek was not a difficult one but the paths were narrow at places and looked pretty dangerous at least to us mothers. The fort was situated at a height of over 3000 feet and we were told that it would take about an hour and a half to make it to the top. My bhabhi looked up a little uncertainly and then said, ‘Come let’s go!’ with a steely determination. She set the pace and we scrambled after her. We three were going great guns when we realized that we hadn’t heard my bhabhi’s voice for a while. When we looked back she was sitting on a rock a little way down. She had made nearly a quarter of the way! Voices carried far on mountains and she called out, ‘You carry on. I will wait here!’ We waved to her and set off. She had some snacks and water with her and we knew she would be fine.

The going was getting a little harder and steeper. At some places the path was really narrow. There were not many trekkers but locals were there aplenty. Some carried bundles of kindling on their heads and deftly negotiated the narrow paths, some of which led to their settlements en route and required them to walk on paths that bordered deep precipices.

As we neared the half way mark I began tiring too. The sun was up and it was getting hot though it was only January. After some time I noticed that the distance between the two teens and me was lengthening imperceptibly. I quickened my steps. After all what was a mere hill when I had climbed the seven hills of Tirupathi not once but twice – the first time when I had been just 10! I willed myself to keep up with them though I was getting short of breath.

At one point I sat down. ‘Wait!’ I called out.

The two stopped but didn’t come back to where I was sitting, engrossed in their conversation. They wanted to reach the top fast and here I was slowing them down! After a couple of minutes my boy came back, ‘Amma, you can come slowly. Let us go ahead.’ I looked at the fort at the top. It didn’t look too far off I could see dots of men, women and children making their way up like so many ants in colourful clothes (Back then I still had very good vision). It looked safe enough to let them go. After all the boy was nearly 14!

‘Okay,’ I allowed reluctantly. I idly wondered how far below my bhabhi was and what she was doing. We learnt about it later and were zapped for words. More about that later.

‘Bye ma!’ called the boy and ran on, with his cousin close at his heels. I relaxed a bit and then began walking again. The going was not so bad, maybe because of the rest. But then the path became rocky. By now the kids were way ahead and going fast. There was no way I could catch up with them. I was worried now. I looked behind me and couldn’t see another soul. What had happened to all the trekkers? Hadn’t so many of them started out with us?

I began hurrying, stumbling along, missing my step and falling in a heap. ‘Don’t worry. Keep the kids in sight and everything will be fine. They have to come back the same way. So relax,’ I told myself frantically and glanced up. My heart stopped. The kids had vanished!

‘Oh God, let them be ok. Let nothing have happened to them, please, please,’ I was sick with worry. Had they fallen into some ravine? Had they got hurt? How to find out? Whom to ask? I had been a fool to agree to let them go by themselves. How old is 14 anyway? He is not an adult and sending a younger child with a child! Had I lost my mind? What answer could I give her mother, father, my husband… myself?

My heart was beating so loudly I could swear that it echoed over the hills. But why were my legs not moving? Why couldn’t I walk straight? My throat was dry and my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth. I will wake up and then I will think of something pleasant before I fall asleep again, I decided and then stubbed my toe! I was not sleeping. This nightmare was real!

I stumbled blindly along till I came to one really steep rock and couldn’t climb over it. I tried all tricks – first with one leg and then the other; I tried to vault over it. Nothing. I looked for some big rock to use as a step to climb but couldn’t find a thing. That moment was one of sheer terror, folks.

Here I was, seemingly alone on a mountain crawling with trekkers who were nowhere near to help and my two wards vanished without a trace. Who would help me? I began chanting God’s name like a demented soul, for at that moment no one except God could have helped me.

Taak pinaar?’ (will you have some buttermilk?)

Uh? My numb mind couldn’t comprehend anything. Did someone speak? I must be hallucinating.

Masala taak ghya taai!’ (Have some masala buttermilk, sister) This time I saw the woman. She had a basket in which she had an earthen pot of cool buttermilk. She ladled some in a glass and handed it to me. I took it silently. Suddenly I felt like crying. It usually happens, doesn’t it? You are acting all brave when some kind word sets you howling.

But I swallowed the tears and gulped the cool buttermilk down. I told her in a teary voice about my missing children and how I had let them go alone. She assured me that they would be fine. She chatted for a while before going her way. I wanted to ask her to stay but didn’t. Once again all my fears came back to haunt me.

Desperately I scanned the mountain trails and there they were! I couldn’t mistake the long tresses of my neice and the tall boy next to her. They were my kids! They obviously had walked down a valley to ‘vanish’ and then became visible as they climbed again!

The relief was so overwhelming that I did something totally unexpected…..

Can you guess what I might have done? Put yourself in my place, think and tell me.

I will tell you what I did in the next post!

Image on top courtesy: en.wikipedia.org

40 comments

  1. Hey Z! I am kind of starting to love the template that you use for your blog. I tried the link at the footer of your blog, but could not relate that website with this template. Can I also get this template?

    Like

    1. Hey Mohit, I honestly don’t know anything about the template. today I got a call from the younger brat asking me to open my homepage and viola! I got a new look. He is the ‘blog manager.’ I only write the content, put up the pictures and reply comments. Talk of being catered to by one’s children 😀 Thank for the compliment. Do let me know if you like the new look.

      Like

  2. that was scary indeed…don’t tell me that you fainted!….

    Like

    1. Hah! You are talking about the Nag here!

      Like

  3. Enough.
    Post the sequel, before somebody files an FIR against you for mental torture.

    Like

    1. Coming up, Ma’am!

      Like

  4. You know, as soon I read the title of this post, I thought ‘this panic moment must be about kids’! And I was right- seems all mothers think the same way…

    I have no idea what you did, but can’t wait to read your next post! 😀

    Like

    1. Mothers will be mothers like R’s Mom said whether they worry, panic or scold, right? 😀

      Like

  5. Don’t tell me, that you were so ecstatic that instead of running towards the children, you ran down to your bhabhi.
    In your position, I would have howled in anger and relief both.

    Like

    1. Ha ha. That sounds quite plausible but my legs wouldn’t carry me anywhere. They were still in jelly form 😀

      Like

  6. The fear of unknown sometimes takes over the better senses. More so if it involves the loved ones.

    Like

    1. But then sanity returns too. That is when we should act. But sometimes that action can be really unexpected 🙂

      Like

  7. Yup, I can absolutely relate to it !
    Lovely post !

    Like

    1. You didn’t tell me what i did next? You will be proud of me if you knew 😀

      Like

      1. hmm….knowing you I’d say…burst out laughing with relief !!:D

        Like

        1. Read the second part…. 🙂

          Like

  8. I would have hugged the first person in sight or perhaps just screamed loudly. I have had a scary experience related to my kids, and I experienced panic that overwhelmed me. It was the scariest experience of my life. I think it was only my good karma that kept my kids safe.

    Like

    1. Oh, I am so sorry to hear about it. Like Purba says, the thought of losing one’s loved ones is the scariest thing in the world. We should most certainly thank our good karma that they are safe and sound.

      Like

  9. With tears streaming down your cheeks you ran toward the kids in slow-motion and hugged them and said,”mere bachhon, mere kaleje ke tukde ho tun dono. Kahan chale gaye the apni Maa se door?” the you proceeded to give them kisses all over their faces and muttered other motherly lines of TLC.

    or am I mixing this story up with a Nirupa Roy scene?

    Like

    1. You most certainly are mixing it up not only with Nirupa Roy’s histrionics, but also of sundry other screen moms. And if I had mouthed those words, at least he older one would have jumped off the nearest cliff 😀

      Like

      1. darn it!

        ok, so here’s my second guess:

        You tied them to youself somehow. If you were wearing a Saree or had a salwar kameez the you would have had the pallu or chunni.

        If you were wearing a dress or pants, then maybe you took out a cunni and tied them up.

        Maybe you tied them to their seats, though. Not too sure about this.

        Like

        1. Hey Rocky, you are watching too much TV. Get out of that room right now!

          Like

  10. I am calling you in the evening to hear rest of the story…. can’t wait till the next post!

    Like

    1. Do call, but you won’t get the story. I have even warned the three concerned people not to say anything. Actually they will be reading about this for the first time. I had not told a soul 🙂

      Like

  11. I am a worrier and panic easily….and I am not proud of the fact.
    But the sensible thing is to relax, take a deep breath, ask for help and think logically….When we panic there is no coherent thinking only fear.

    Like

    1. I don’t panic at all, at least I never used to all those years ago. But that had been a situation when I was alone on a mountain and my kids had vanished. Worse, I was not able to move! There was no one to turn for help, except the taak lady and she left as she came — mysteriously!

      Like

  12. I guess I’ve given my parents my set of “panic-to-death” experiences.Although I could never comprehend the depth of their relief when they saw me “alive” I guess the feeling sidelines anger.

    Did you sing at the top of your voice?

    Like

    1. Sunil already suggested that I would have danced, considering i was alone and without any audience. I didn’t!

      I guess all parents have their share of such scares and panic attacks. but the kids mostly are unaware of the depth as you have mentioned.

      Like

  13. Nothing is scarier than the thought of losing a loved one. Your senses go into a deep freeze. I could totally relate to it.

    And did you Yahooo and race to the top?

    Like

    1. It is scary beyond imagination, for sure. Nope; nyet; naa; nahiiiiiin!

      Like

  14. Screamed at the kiddos to wait for you, scampered to them, hugged them, scolded them (what a mother/aunt has to scold na…whats the fun otherwise?) and then came back to bhabhi with them…eh? thoda filmy ho gaya na 🙂

    Like

    1. I am with R’s mom! at least i think thats what i would do…

      Like

      1. See, the Nag is different! She didn’t do that but something entirely unexpected..

        Like

    2. Again, that was not what I did, though it sounds the most logical thing to have done! Yes, scolding is the prerogative of the mother/aunt, etc., etc. I didn’t scold them though for a completely different reason. Now wait for the second part…:)

      Like

  15. So buoyed by the joy of seeing the “vanished kids”, you leapt over the rock without difficultly and completed the trek? 🙂

    Like

    1. I wish I had done that! It sounds so good in hindsight. I bet I could have done it too 😦

      Like

  16. Hmmm.. You are right.. at times we do come across such a situation when we literally hear our heart beat and then feel as if it might come out any moment! I can give number of such instances… But one of the most horrible moment was when I was on bicycle at around 5.30AM, wearing dhoti, peddling towards my uncles house for a pooja… And the whole lot of stray dogs came after me… They were about 10 and all were running behind me as I peddled fast for my life screaming! Thanks god! There were some people at that time at the end of road! Who shooed them away!!!

    As far as your last question… 🙂 Considering that you were alone and nobody was in site, I think you danced when you saw those kids ?? 😛 🙂

    Like

    1. That must have been a scary thing, what with so many canines after your bike and to imagine your panic at being nipped at the dhoti! 🙂 Frankly, dogs scare me when they chase even the car I am sitting in! That was a good guess, but I am afraid it is not correct… 😀

      Like

  17. lovely post.Very evocative .
    Remember something like that too.And there is always some guardian angel like that Taak lady who comes to hold hands and give moral support.

    Like

    1. Thanks Varsha. But you haven’t told me what I did or what you would have done?

      Like

Enter the discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: