With the promise of a silent trek, we marched to the top. Not knowing how well I could adhere to the oath I had made mere moments ago, I hummed to myself, stared at the lush green patches of heaven beneath my feet, and on I marched with the rest.
At 9240 feet, we settled like a closely knit nest. We sat facing the cleansing blaze of the sun, a heat that fought through all the extra layers I wore, my skin pores, right down to core of my flesh and bones.
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath, inhale from your nose, and exhale through your mouth. Relax.
These were the words that entered my ears. I was not planning on taking them seriously, truth be told. So I played along, just sank my head and ogled at the grass that danced through the gaps of my fingers. The moments that followed began like the calming waves that beat on a careless shore, suddenly transforming into an unpredictable crash of heavy weights on the shoulders of a weak child.
Go back a few years, dig deeper into your past. See yourself sitting in a class room. The day is about to end. The awaited bell is about to break the thin walls that stand between you and the freedom that lies beyond. The bell rings. Your bag is packed, you throw it on your back, and you immerse yourself into the stampede that is rushing towards the exit.
I was smiling up until this point, but the words that came next were too heavy for the weak and guilty child that still breeds within, I suppose.
Now, imagine your mother or your father, waiting anxiously outside the high and mighty school gates. Waiting to hear the clumsy footsteps of you racing towards them grow louder with each passing second.
Writing about it now makes me chuckle, but the fact of the matter is, that it hit me. It hit many of us I’m sure, and it hit us hard. Never before this moment had I given an ounce of importance to such a joyous luxury that I was blessed with for most my life. The luxury of experiencing that pure and intimate moment where your parents greet you at the school gate. Our parents, who we take for granted many a times. Our parents who sincerely smiled at us the moment we crossed those gates, regardless of how difficult life had made the possibility of smiling for them. As they do, today. They smiled until we crushed into their open arms, they picked us up and carried our extra weight for us. As they continue to do, today.
This essay has become more than an entry for a competition, I believe. This is also an expression of sheer gratitude to my father. For the recognition that he deserved, the appreciation that I failed to declare. If it was not for him, I would not be sitting at 9240 feet on that sunny October day, realizing the value of the little things that were truly and always, the most valuable.