In a moment of panic…enroute to Sinhagad Fort – 2

Continued from the previous post In a moment of panic… –1

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

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

….I called them back!

Read on and you will know why I did such a weird thing.

For a while after sighting the kids, all I could do was say, ‘Thank you God, oh, thank you God,’ like a wound up toy. The place where I was sitting was flat, about ten feet square. So once I sighted them, I did what my friends have all suggested — I shouted, laughed, sang, danced and screamed.

At that time my mind had raced over the options of my next action, my faculties having returned. Could I catch up with them if I hurried? How long would it take for me to reach them and then the top? They were nearly three quarters of the way, within sight of the massive gate. It had been more than an hour and half since we had left bhabhi behind. We had been told that the entire trek would take an hour and half and we had added another half an hour and told her we would be back by two hours. It looked like the estimates were by people who were regular trekkers and not one-off trekkers like us.

I had two options. To take a chance and let the kids complete the trek by themselves; to take another chance and assume that bhabhi won’t worry about us and try to catch up with them. If I let them go on, could I go through another scare or even the anticipation of a scare? Also, I was not feeling as fresh as when I had set out and might not make good time if I pushed on.

I must tell you that even Chacha Choudhary, whose mind works faster than a computer would have to beg some brains from the Cybernag. For all these thoughts had literally raced through my mind seemingly in the fraction of a second.

I knew what I had to do.

I cupped my hand to my mouth and hollered, ‘Vikki!’ Again and again till my voice reached them and they looked back. ‘I waved my arms and shouted, ‘Come back!’

He was saying something but I couldn’t make out what. He pointed to the gate and gestured. He was obviously saying that they were so close and should go all the way up. I was adamant. ‘Come back!’ I shouted again. They talked among themselves and finally began descending. I heaved a sigh of relief. This time though I was prepared for their disappearing from sight when they came to the dip in the mountain. Their figures grew larger as they came down.

I felt rotten, mean, crummy and all the other damning adjectives that one could think of to describe the feeling of snatching away something within reach from one’s kids. But I felt helpless and…weak….or did I? I didn’t have time enough to ponder over my action because they were standing in front of me.

‘Why did you call us back?’ demanded the boy. My niece added, ‘We could have reached the top in another half an hour, max.’

Mami is waiting for us and it would have got very late had you gone up. She might have worried and we don’t even know how or where she is.’

Mami wouldn’t have minded. You are the one who worries so much,’ accused the boy, anger dripping from each word.

If I had had even the tiniest idea of confessing to them the things that had transpired at that spot a while ago, it evaporated in that instant. And all the tension and terror of the last hour finally snapped what little self control I had. I began doing what mothers do – I started scolding them for being so inconsiderate about other’s feelings, not thinking about their condition, carefully skirting over mine. Had I told them, they would have perhaps laughed or even been angrier for allowing imagined fears stop them from reaching their goal.

It was time to find bhabhi. It was nearly three hours since we left her. We climbed down carefully. She was nowhere in the normal path. Then we spotted her; she was sitting under a lone tree off the trekkers’ path, the tree close to a precipice! She had climbed quite some distance from where we had left her. We didn’t call out, for fear of startling her. It was a sight to freeze one’s blood.

(Representative image)

She told us how she had taken the path she saw the villagers take and had come to the place where she was then sitting. She didn’t seem to be scared or at least didn’t show it. She was always the cool one. So what was she doing as she waited?

‘Throwing pebbles down the mountain to see how far they fell.’ She said simply. Wow!

It was now time for the kids, especially my niece, to begin hyperventilating. I realised suddenly that they were glad that I had called them back! I could have hugged them then, except the older one would have either thrown me down the precipice or have jumped himself!

Then it struck me. When you are unaware of any danger, you don’t panic. Also you don’t panic so much when it concerns yourself. You only panic big time if it involves a loved one. Like we worried about bhabhi before finding her and when we saw her sitting on the edge of a precipice; or when I saw the kids disappear on the mountain.

Over the years the memory of not completing the trek must have first rankled and then softened in the minds of the kids, for when I asked them about the trek before writing these posts, the older one said something to this effect: ‘I remember Kavita and me not able to (or not wanting to) make it the whole way up and coming back at some stage.’

My niece said: ‘We were given a time limit of two hours, not distance but time; so we had to come back.’

Neither of them remembers my hollering for them to come back, though my niece remembers me scolding them!

But I have not been able to get over the shock of having them disappear and none of us have forgotten the scary sight of bhabhi sitting there alone under the tree at the cliff’s edge.

Bahbhi’s memories? ‘I would feel scared now. But at that time I was much fitter and younger and didn’t feel any sense of fear or panic. But after coming down, I did feel the jitters when I looked up and saw the lone tree under which I was sitting.’ Well so much for aftershock!

I am not going to ask if what I did was right because it had been the right thing to do at that time and doesn’t seem wrong in hindsight either.

I had not talked about this to anyone all these years but since the two kids are now parents themselves, I knew that they would understand the reasoning behind my decision. The niece has left a comment to that effect too, about mothers and their anxieties about their kids.

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40 comments

  1. As I read this piece, I was simultaneously experiencing your anxiety. I was imagining this happening to me. One of my sons was going to make his first mountain climb in South America. My insides were like a bowl of jello, trembling at the thought. I sent him off with a small gold-gilded Ganesh that someone had surprisingly gifted to me, quite unexpectedly. I took it as a good sign (what we mothers do) and put it in his backpack. For 10 days I longed to hear from him. Finally he did write after his return to base camp. I was so happy for him seeing him so happy! I had planned to advise him to not make any more such climbs but could not. So, I have lived through more climbs but no more. He is married with children and stopped the day he got married. But yes, we do feel guilty for feeling the fear, sometimes anger as to why they attempt these daring feats. Glad your children and Bhabi were all safe. I love Bhabi and how her safety was uppermost in your mind while she chose to sit under this tree at the precipice and casually throwing stones down the mountainside! Got a big laugh out of that. Keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Attai !!!
    We did it . 28 years after you called us back we completed the trek today with our kids. I missed Vikki but had vibha and the boys with us today. We reached the top and walked down too. And I dedicate this hike to you and Amma . And yes we warned the boys not to go out of our sight even for a minute !! Parents !!

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    1. That is most wonderful, Kavita! So happy you could do it. So at least 50% of my guilt and regret has reduced. If and when Vikki completes the hike, I will heave a sigh of relief. Vibha told me how the younger boys disappeared from time to time and gave you anxious moments! Yes, parents!! And thanks for the dedication. It is most generous of you, considering I was the one who made you return from within hailing distance of the summit!

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  3. […] I will tell you what I did in the next post! […]

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  4. Even though I trek with my friends, I can relate to the feeling of being worried for your loved ones, who happen to be friends in my case 🙂
    For a number of treks, there are sections of the peak/fort that are too dangerous to access without climbing equipments and it is at times like these that I have to hold back my ever-eager friends from attempting them. More out of sheer concern for the probable danger than their skill-set.
    Lastly, another gem of a post! 🙂
    Did you visit Sinhagad post this incident? I haven’t been there as yet but it has been restored a fair bit in the recent years from what my Pune based friends tell me 🙂

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    1. I can imagine you taking responsibility of the team and restraining enthu (foolhardy??) friends from attempting something dangerous. The kids told me that the trek was easy and that I had been too anxious because I wasn’t able to go with them!! But while I still agonise over the fact that I prevented their final lap, they both seem to have forgotten their disappointment 🙂 So much for childhood trauma scares 😛

      No, we haven’t gone to Sinhagad since and so have no idea about it. The younger brat goes on Ashtavinayak rides every year – by bike or car. I haven’t even gone to Mahad, the closest to Thane 😦

      And thanks for liking even a non-hiking post on hiking 😀

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  5. My dad/mom would’ve done the same thing. It happens 🙂

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    1. All parents react the same way I guess in such moments. And most of the time they don’t let on how scared they were 🙂

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  6. Interesting- finally ” all is well”[aamirKhan’s style]

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    1. But only I could say ‘all is well’ since the kids had blamed me for being a worry-wart and also spoiling their fun 🙂

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  7. just an unprovoked diversion….nice name for a blog ‘Cyber Nag’. keep up the nag 🙂

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    1. Thank you Ravi. Provoked or not, a compliment is always music to the ears, right? 😀

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  8. You did use your magical belan on the kids .

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    1. Who, me? The Zephyr? Perish the thought. It was just a tongue lashing 🙂

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  9. I would have done the same thing you did, I think. 🙂 And as someone commented, all’s well that ends well!

    And the kids don’t remember the event the same way you do? That’s funny, isn’t it? I’ve noticed the same thing when I occasionally talk with my childen about events which happened years ago.

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    1. the best thing about kids’ memories is that they don’t remember the scoldings or the no’es they hear from us when they are growing up. I guess that unless the disciplining is really severe and harsh, they understand that the parents were right in hindsight. What does that make us? Ideal parents or what 😀

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      1. When my son was growing up, he ‘once’ told me that ‘no’ was my favourite sentence. It really made me think.
        And just the other day, he asked me, “How did you teach us that ‘no’ meant NO?”
        I guess he has grown up.

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        1. So like another great mother, you agree with my decision that day? I thought so. The no’es are the ones that shape the kids’ strength of character. And yes, he has grown up 😀

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  10. Really interesting story…glad everyone ended safe and sound 🙂

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    1. All is well that ends well, right?

      Just came back from your blog. Do read my latest post too.

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  11. One always tends to assume the worst in a panic situation, specially when it involves your loved ones ! But all in all you did maintain your outwardly cool Zephyr hence the kids didn’t appear to give it any thought…. ! Good for you !

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    1. I might have, but with the pair of them glaring at me for having called them back, I dared not. It was easy to hide fear in anger 😀

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  12. At least remembered something! I can barely remember what I had for breakfast.

    So, you’re sure there was no filmi scene? I’m still hoping.

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    1. No. Remember I had decided not to tell them about my ordeal? Unless of course you choose to think of the ‘scolding’ scene as being filmy 😀

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  13. We always try to justify our actions with excuses. You haven’t. You were worried sick and wanted the comfort of familiarity.

    But I have to admit your kids are very well brought up, they didn’t waste your time in endless arguments.

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    1. …and scared 🙂 You put it perfectly. I must have so wanted the comfort of familiarity and togetherness, for all our sakes. They might have, but I scolded them, remember? 😀

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  14. In panicky moments like these, bad and horrifying thoughts are the first to plague our minds especially if the situation involves someone so close and dear. I guess, even my mother would have done the same thing.

    But as I read through the post, I found myself saying ‘Nooo… wait!!, please don’t call them back, please let them complete it!’ If they had completed it, then today their versions would also certainly have made for interesting reads too, on thoughts about you and bhabhi, provided they had one that is 😛

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    1. Didn’t I tell you how i felt about taking away the glory from the kids? In fact that is the other thing that I always remember about this incident. But children are very forgiving when it concerns such things, where they realise that there must have been some better reason for me to have called back, even though they don’t acknowledge it 😀 At least that’s what I have experienced.

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  15. So you showed amazing presence of mind and courage.Such incidents leave an indelible mark though…I am sure you remember every detail even though the kids do not.

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    1. Curiously I felt that I was showing some measure of weakness when I called them back 🙂 Thanks for terming it as courage. I do so remember every detail especially the moment of terror.

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  16. Aiyo! that was super scary…you called them back..hmpf! no wonder they were bugged…please keep this post a secret when R grows up and reads about people I admire (meaning you!) if she knows that I advocate mothers scolding children..mera kya hoga!

    Hugs Cybernag…I think it was very brave..of all four of you…I would have certainly gone crazy!

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    1. Don’t worry R’s Mom! I can nag her into believing that scolding is good for her especially if it is her mother who is doing the scolding 😀

      I went crazy too. But another thing about humans is that when they are all alone, they find the strength to become good decision makers. they have to. So you would have too. 🙂

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  17. I loved the way you finished it, why bother with whether it was right or wrong from other’s perspective – you did what you thought (and still do) was right and I appreciate your conviction. My dad is the kind of person who gets tensed and I remember him jumping onto the kayak – it is not like he enjoys these things – when we went on one as he didn’t want to let us go alone and out of his eyesight. His additional reasoning was that he didn’t want to let us go alone, if god forbid, the kayak capsized in the 4 feet deep water. 😉 Parents, I tell you!

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    1. As I mentioned at the end, only if you become a parent can you really understand the feelings of insecurity concerning one’s offspring. So I can perfectly understand your father getting into a kayak despite his misgivings 😀 Besides, you never know what kind of mishap (other than drowning) can occur in such a trip! 🙂

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  18. Perception of risk is different with different people. It is probably a result of experience, ignorance and faith on one’s own abilities among other things.

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    1. No Tanmay. It also involves other people’s feelings, safety etc. But you are right in that one has to have faith in one’s own abilities, (in this case, the ability to take the right decision) which is what I did when I called those kids back.

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      1. I agree with you 100%. I’m just tried to step back and understand what happened and why. What I said is that each person (in this case you and the kids) has a different perception of the risk (because of various factors I mentioned), and hence they behave differently. When in a group, the collective perception is what should decide what the group does.

        Rule no.1 in any adventure trek: never split up individually. Even seasoned mountaineers climb only in pairs.

        Cheers!

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        1. Wow! That is a mini thesis on perceptions! It is very true that as individuals we can afford to have a variety of perceptions but need a collective perspective when in a group. Psst, have you thought of applying for the post of advisor to the government on this? We could do with a collective perspective in a lot of things that they do (and don’t do!)

          Thanks for the tip on trekking. I will pass it on to the Brats, since I have stopped doing such foolhardy things long ago 🙂

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  19. It was the right thing to do in that situation. One is responsible for the safety of one’s kids; adventure comes second. You are right; I am much more worried about any danger coming to my family. For my own health and safety, I am not that worried :). I guess they worry :).

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    1. So the bottomline is that we worry for our loved ones. We have to draw the line somewhere about worrying too, else we will do nothing except that, with so many things to worry about 🙂 Didn’t you see the best part in the post, where the two concerned kids have forgotten the disappointment of not reaching the fort, but remember the worry about their mother/bhabhi, and that too because it was a tangible and visible danger?

      Liked by 1 person

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