Recap : Gayatri, Satori and Jamshid are guided
by the Chief Monk to follow their dreams
and look for the valley of Shangri-La
and “other” Mansarovar Lake.
The gate to the valley would not open by normal attempts;
the three were specially chosen.
An inner search brought them closer to their answers.
Their hearts beat as one. They held their breath, stilled the bodies and lived every second as a millennia. Satori’s clasp and his fingers helped Gayatri and Jamshid to relax.
The Cave where their hearts led them was vast. In the darkness, with their headlamps switched off, the cave and its varied inhabitants felt like one big living substance. Slowly, as their lungs were heavy with holding of breath, Satori noticed the subtle changes in the bodies of the other two.
Gayatri and Jamshid had accepted the situation. In the countdown of final breath, there was no anxiety, no unfulfilled sadness and only the bliss of oneness with surrounding Nature. Every atom had life and they saw complete existence in each atom. The joy was in knowing that they were not alone. They were now seeing, feeling, communicating at the particle level. The path was clearly visible. The trail of welcoming particles spoke to the other particles from within. Holding breath at that level was no longer a task.
Hands clasped, the three moved in the direction of the light which seemed to trickle down from a small opening on the cave ceiling. This was their signal. Without hesitation the three reached the surface which opened into a deep crevice . They understood how this faint light remained hidden, missed, undiscovered and so the pursuit was abandoned by most. The crevice was an inverted cave and light had to struggle to reach the depths.
Maybe the science of such exotic structures was to be sensed by few, at the quantum level, but the actual realization and absorption could only happen through self-seeking, in the union of aligned hearts. The three had arrived as they were called by some nameless force. They were destined to reach this hidden door to the real Mansarovar.
The cold here was numbing. Their insulated outfits were barely adequate. They were mortals after all, though chosen for the unknown. Their bodies were flesh and muscles moulded for a specific environment, far different than at present. This was not Shangri-La, but more of a place like Hell, where death stalked at every step.
The real world needed real substances. They spread out their tent, rationed out precious food and drinks and held onto to each other for body warmth.
At this depth with a shifting floor and a daunting climb out of the crevice, they would have to summon all their mental and physical resources for sustenance. The path for deliverance, as the Monk smilingly put, would not be a cakewalk.
Many brave adventurers would sniff out countless such crevices and deep caves, unravelling their mysteries. Their journey now was of a different kind. No longer the themes of Shangri-La and the Swans drove them.
“Satori, why do I not yearn for the swans? That appeared to be just the initial inducement. Why does that craving no longer drive me? Why do Jamshid and I, now dream of a different role? An unexpected action over something terrible, herculean, sorrowful and eternal?” queried Gayatri, looking for guidance as they all looked for more signals in this directionless place.
“My visions have also altered. I have no answers. But I sense, our journey has just begun. The test before us now is, can we survive long enough to ask our questions?” Satori replied without his usual strength of conviction.
“Our anxieties have resurfaced. I don’t seem to feel any more messages or signals; it suddenly appears as if we are on our own. I’m sad as I think more about my body than your hearts.” Confessed Jamshid, as he struggled through the intense cold and continuous stressful navigation to the unknown.
The unpredictability of the treacherous ice, communication completely stopped with the outside world and relying on hope to seek answers made them realise the senseless existence of living creatures; especially the humans. Rudderless, what was the purpose of breathing?
The climb up was slow and extremely arduous. The crevice had become a snow whirlpool with momentous bursts of dangerous snowstorms. During periods of total invisibility they took shelters in the caves on their way up.
“Going up is hoping to see what is around and maybe get connected, be located and saved. Is that the plan?” asked Gayatri.
“That’s the sensible thing to do. We have a few days of supply left and there’s no sign of another Lake. No food, no life. Logical, hey?” Discussed Jamshid. “I say, we shouldn’t go up. We have not come here to be rescued. The answer has to be in this crevice. We’ll look for the real Lake. Satori, we need your help to meditate and align ourselves again.”
“Let me stay back. If you two find a way to the top, you can always return for me.” Satori believed there was no going back for him without an answer. He had already reduced his intakes to let the other two survive. The child that was delivered on the shore needed answers. .
“Satori, the journey so far has taught us that we need to be together in this.” Gayatri wasn’t convinced.
History had many names to pursuits of their kind. Some would refer to their path as penance, praying, giving-up for others; others would identify their determination as promises to their loved ones.
Jamshid had the metallic type key. Gayatri had her Grandma’s hand – bound book of swan tale. Satori had his childhood memory of being led. The three once again held their bodies together, surrendering to their inner callings and waited.
For a few hours and days, they would interrupt their deep concentration for their body chores. Then, the mind freed them of their duties for the body. On auto mode, the intakes slowly stopped and the brain took over the prioritisation of organ closures.
They held on to each other till they understood the end and showed no hesitation in following the chosen path. Sleep came to all and when they awoke, they found themselves in a warmer environment. A snow house of sorts and alongside their beds, sat a few Elders, nurturing them back to life.
“Thank you, children for coming to our rescue…” was the surprising response from the Elders of the presumed Shangri-La!