As cliché as it sounds, my story starts with gaping at the drab rotation of a ceiling fan. I pause, letting out a sigh of boredom, distractedly diverting my gaze to the cracks in the walls and the leftover stubs of double-sided tape. After what seems like a few million donkey’s years of lethargy, I force myself to recall how to use my glutei and lumber out of bed to the window.
A scenic sky salutes me, miles away from me both literally and metaphorically; as the portrayed vastness shrinks my house to the status akin to that of a prison. My legs begin to ache as they yearn to break out of jail, roam the earth and discover new seas. With an insatiable urge to quench my needs, I waltz out of my house with an umbrella (It IS the odd semester) and begin the journey to End Point.
No new land garland-greets an explorer. No journey is complete without stepping stones. As I near my hitherto destination, the cacophony of people – walking, running, laughing, talking – drones in my ear. Allergic as I am to population, I simply turn around and begin to retrace my steps. What was supposed to be End Point now funnily becomes the beginning of the trek and trip.
On the way back, I stare into the horizon where my building stands with its distasteful colours, making it look like it envelopes the sky; apparently calling me back to my cell to be banished for yet another eternity. As though I’d committed a crime. Being deftly deceptive, I start to make a miraculous escape onto another long winding road. Moments later, I realize how exhaustive the climb back would be if I wished to look twice upon jail. Ergo I take a short-lived detour to my basement, where I become one with my trusted two-wheeled companion. I squeeze my head into my helmet and split my legs across the seat even as the engine sputters to life. Together we elope, bailing out of confinement yet again.
The Columbus in me swells with pride as I turn onto a small road (under the pretence of being daring enough) – not worrying about where it might lead to. My little beast struggles to navigate the mountains and valleys the Indian road has mapped out. Soon, the exhilaration kicks in, and I start congratulating myself for venturing out of bed. Congratulations soon turn to chiding though, as I hit a dead end on the road.
His Explorer’s pride deflates as Columbus realizes he has not reached India; his ship ready to set sail once again. I pilot onto an alternate path, one seemingly less travelled (Robert Frost starts to swell with pride even as Columbus reinstates his trust in me). Riding on, something catches my eye – a break in the trees. A clear path stares at me, calling me to tread its muddy steps with my thin sandals.
I kill the engine, ready to measure the rest of the journey on foot. The tiny opening between the trees leads onto a clearing. Diametrically opposite, large smooth rocks await, and hiding behind them is a small trek and a breathtaking view (as I later find out). Finally realizing this to be the trek that could merit the title of ‘Destination’, I make my way up the maze of boulders, literally clutching at straws as the steps get slippery. Hence, feeling heroic (with Eye of the Tiger playing in my head), I rise to victory against laziness, lethargy and everything Manipal. The small hillock I ascended stands majestically encircled by greenery that spreads for as far as my eyes can see.
I soak in the beauty of the panorama with my knees weak, palms sweaty and increasingly thinking of Mom’s spaghetti. The gentle breeze pleasantly accompanies me in my solitary escapade. Introspection and contemplation warranted by nature treks now get the better of me.
Soon, the contemplation reflects on food, and my exhaustion comes out from its hitherto hiding behind excitement. I almost start wishing I hadn’t run away from the altar, where my bed seemed to promise me eternal love.
My love calls back to me. I must take your leave. However, I can’t leave you bereft of deep parting words (because I contemplated on life) nor of a conclusion (because the editor requires it).
Ergo, take note.
The urge to explore lies within all of us. While for some of us it’s an active volcano, for most it’s in the dormant, bed-hugging stage. What it never is, is extinct. Manipal is our treasure cove, dive into it and leave no end untouched.