As I entered the room, the chills of my bones quivered. Seated on the bed was a man dressed in long brown khakis. Rubbing his feet with his hands, he paused as I stepped in. With my parted lips and bated breath, we hung on a simple introduction. He was Korean and I, a Malaysian. Two worlds apart, we attempted to exchange thoughts. Language was a barrier so we resorted to sign language.
When the lights turned off, I sat on the bed, preparing myself to snooze the night away. Only the lights outside the little window was shining brightly. Cuddling under the blanket, I was seeking for warmth. Across my bed, the Korean man was still rubbing his feet, then it dawned upon me that he had no socks and he was cold. I remembered I had an extra pair, I took it out and handed to him. He looked at me with an unspoken gratitude. In exchanged, he handed me a packet of gel and he gestured to me, rubbing the sole of his feet. I took the packet and looked at it under the pale light. I did as he instructed, rubbed some wet gel against my feet. Mother would have something to say to this, never accept things from strangers. Naively, I would imagine this 66 year old man could do me no harm, as his eyes sparkled with only depth of kindness. He reminded me of my father. Moments later, my feet felt a sudden heat, the waves of energy flowed through my body and I felt warm. Whatever the gel was, it worked and I drifted away into slumber land.
The next morning came too fast too soon, 2:30 am my mobile beeped. I woke up and was greeted with a hot cup of chocolate and instant noodles, from Korea. That very moment, I felt a sudden sensation that I can only describe as an effect that might follow the rotating of kaleidoscope. The thoughtfulness over a pair of socks. I doubt, very much so. I had nothing else to offer. We bid goodbyes and I continued my journey up the mountain, while he hiked back down alone. 2 lone rangers cross paths, and I don’t even know his name. He shall remained the humble 66 year old man who has my socks.
The hike up was different from the day before. There was no greens, no wild animals, no birds to chirp my way. Just me, I, alone and Rob. Walking on hard rocks, I found my steps getting heavier. All I saw in front of me was just solid granite. Then, the unspeakable happened. I realized why my steps were dragging me down. My pants were falling off ! Thankfully, I wore 4 layers of clothings, the first layer gave way as the zip opened itself somehow. Mid range, it dropped to my knee and I couldn’t walk. I yelped like a rotten child. Rob, in front of me turned around and saw me in such disgrace. I wished by then the rocks could shallow me alive. Instead of helping me, Rob stood there and laughed his way. Hastily, I grabbed my disgrace and fasten it, not much dignity left in me, I continued walking. Throughout the journey up was shameful, I was teased but we giggled up instead of panting.
Reaching Sayat-Sayat checkpoint, I saw more rocks. The challenge was here. Rock climbing hanging on ropes. Composed I tried to be while pulling myself up, Rob said “Please don’t drop your pants here, or you’ll never get it back”. Funny guy indeed.
I believe the height was 3679 meter when my body started to give in. My hands and body was trembling far too much and Rob had this concerned look. “Let’s stop here, you are shivering” he beckons in a comforting voice. “No !” I defended myself. I reminded myself from time to time “this is it, walk and crawl if you must”. After ten more steps or so, I couldn’t feel my legs, my feet, my hands and my body. The only vibration pulsating inside me was just my heartbeat. I could almost hear the sounds of it now.. boob …boob ..boob .. Rob saw the fear in me and came next to me. I leaned on him and whispered, “Ok, I can’t walk anymore. I’m too cold. ” There are things even strong will power is not enough to sustain your body.
We walked back down to the hut near Sayat-Sayat checkpoint. The one hour lying on the cold, hard mattress, everything else that mattered to me didn’t matter anymore. It’s not the big important things that you remember when you come to that, not the plans of years, not the love or hopes you’ve worked so hard for. It’s the little things that you remember then, the little things you hadn’t noticed at the time. The hand that once held mine when I fall, the little inflection of voice I never really bothered to listen. That instance, quite suddenly I felt convinced of the existence of God as if I had only to put out my hand to touch him. I will see daylight, dawn.
When the sun came up behind the clouds, I could see the silver lining so clearly. That magical seconds, the sun shone onto my earthly soul.
People say when you see death in your eyes, you will appreciate life even more than ever. I received 20 missed calls from my parents and a few from my close friends. Decisions you make in life, it is not only you that need to be aware of the consequences but putting it bluntly, you do sometimes live your life for others.