If there’s one solid lesson the mountain life has taught me, it is to cherish the sun. So much so, that the mood of an entire village depends on sunshine. There are days when I wake up and peep out of three layers of blanket to check if there’s any sun. If there is, then the sun itself becomes a reason to wake up with a smile. If there is no sunlight, we wake up grumpy and shivering, running to build a fire. Hours of wintertime had found us in the garden– making a snowman, shoving snow from the stairway, sitting by the tandoor oftentimes doing nothing, and a deep longing for the sun.
However, when the sun arrives, it arrives in blazing glory. Blessed are the days we spend like lazy cats, basking in the sun happily. Random strangers and village folks smile at each other brighter than the sunlight. Ah! What a relief sunshine is!
7. Leopards are no joke
The whole village woke up to the rumour of a Himalayan leopard, taking a leisurely stroll in Old Manali. It’s a small place, you see, rumours catch up real fast. Soon, people started calling up people to check if everything’s okay. We were quick to realise that we must be living more than a random rumour. A couple of hours later, it was all over the local news channel and social media. The leopard was near the old Manali bridge. It attacked a local and the forest department guys showed up only after the village folks had lethally jabbed the beast. But there’s more, another one was seen a few yards away from my cottage at a grazing ground. This one had killed a few sheep and set the whole village in a wild frenzy. It’s obvious that there mustn’t have been any food up in the jungles and hunger drove them to Old Manali.
It got me thinking. Circumstantially, it happened so that I was walking home alone that night. The road bathe in snow. The snow bathe in moonlight– as if a thousand silver fireflies lay silently, frozen on my path. How beautiful is the village life, but we are not the only ones to pay the price for this. While walking I realised how we’ve stolen their home.