a very emotional parting it was - Aug 06 2008
i didn't want them to leave - Kamila and Nafeesah didn't want to go yet, Nafeesha wanted to trek to boesum with me, - Nargis was ready to leave, her feet were done, but wanted me to travel with everyone, nadir was somewhere between all of this. Mirzaw was escorting them to Islamabad.
we all hugged and kissed and parted. as the loaded car pulled out, it was as if they were leaving me behind on the moon. i kept waving till i could see them no more, and then began to cry. i suddenly felt so alone, like a child left behind when the parents take off.
the villagers began dispersing, going off to their homes and other chores. the circus had left town -
i couldn't possibly let the villagers see this, actually i couldn't believe i was so distraught. it was what i had decided to do - no one had coerced me, on the contrary they would have all been happier if i had gone with them, yet it didn't feel good, or exciting, or important to get to Boesum or any other pass any more.
for a long while i sat in the dinning room of our hotel glad to be chatting with another visitor - a young Pakistani from Islamabad on his way to yazghill sar - all the mountain talk, peaks, passes, routes, people, previous treks, future plans, took my mind off the loneliness for a while. but at some point i had to get going - as in, leave for Guls family home - which was a two minute walk from the hotel - and stay with them for a day to rest up and reorganize for the next leg. zulfiqar, Guls younger brother, walked me into a quiet house, just his parents and Zarar in his cot. Maha, Guls wife, made us all some tea and stayed for a while, then she too took off for some chore or the other - i awkwardly just sat not knowing what to say, except miss every one. i began to cry again - making it even more awkward. the parents consoling me - "it was ok, they too would feel like this when their kids would leave, ill be with my own family soon, this was my home, just have some tea, sit with us you'll be OK" - i felt so foolish - 50 year old adult behaving like a child, this tough mountain trekker in tears because she was going to be by herself for a few days. but i just couldn't stop the tears, and the poor parents felt more and more uncomfortable not knowing how to console me other than make me sit there and give me more tea.
after an hour, or so it seemed, i excused myself and walked to my room - behind the main house. a kettle of warm water was waiting for me to bathe with - it felt good to have that bath and somehow wash all the emotions away. i had laundry to do, so once Samina, Guls sister showed up, we set out. she insisted on helping me wash my clothes - in fact washing them all herself, except i wouldn't hear of it. we both took off for a section of the stream closer to the bridge that goes over the Shimshal river. in the mid afternoon sun on a wonderfully clear day we both sat down to washing clothes. it was extremely relaxing, as if Samina and i were two old friends who did this all the time. there isn't an activity that gets done in solitude, there is always someone to share everything with - when you're lonely and depressed there's nothing better than that. it turned out that most people were doing just that - keeping the newly bereaved families of the two porters who'd died on K2. company. that's why the place suddenly seemed so empty.
yet once we were done washing i couldn't go back to sitting in the family house till dinner time - i needed to be alone. i walked about the fields and finally settled under the two apricot trees where wed been given a rock climbing 101 lesson by Gul when we had first arrived. i lay down and read some, then decided to take a nap under the filtered late afternoon light. i just covered myself head to toe so no one would talk to me - i was in no mood for conversation with anyone - and lay there for a long while. i was awakened by gentle girlish laughter, sounds of things falling from the sky. i peeked from under my chadar - it was two young girls shaking the apricot trees, eating apricots, laughing and joking about who knows what, perhaps this strange woman lying on the ground all covered up like a corpse - their entertainment for the afternoon. that soft gentle innocent laughter somehow lifted my spirits - i poked my head out from under the chadar and began to chat with them - one of them turned out to be Imrans younger sister. it was 6 pm by now - Gul and his uncle - Imrans father- were walking towards me - they had borrowed a satellite phone (ours had gone kaput again) from a pair of Italian mountaineers who were in town, so i could call home if i wanted. i called Syed Mohd in LA. waking him up at 6 am on Aug 7, our 23 wedding anniversary- I'm no phone person, but that day it was the best, albeit short phone conversation I've had with Sayed Mohd in many a years. i finally snapped out of the depression and loneliness, and was ready to sit with and talk to whomever.
Boesum began to feel like a good idea after all.