As the alarm rang at 6.40 am, on this cold January morning, I did not want to get up for the planned hike. Then, I tried to visualize what a wonderful experience it would be – walking up the mountain, on a beautiful sunny winter morning! How nice it will be to see the distant ranges of adjacent Himachal! And the snow on the higher ranges- gleaming like a silver line! The trick finally worked. Carried by the sharp sunny images in my head, I rolled out of the bed, got dressed and got into the taxi, which was to drive me 14 km, to the starting point.
Now, this was the sudden anticlimax...
Everything was wrapped in a thick mist outside! Visibility was poor. The mist had condensed as dew drops on the gate outside and everything else besides. Should I cancel the trek? What fun could it possibly be to walk alone in a freezing drizzling mist like that?
I checked again the weather applet on my cellphone. It had shown a clear weather on the previous night. It still did! Applets can make mistake – cant they? But am I not supposed to use my own discretion, as a thinking human being? Of course Sharad will be very upset if I send his taxi back empty now!
I decided to take the chance...
We drove quietly through the mist – driver focusing on the treacherous road and myself, thinking of ITBP exercises in bad weather since long past... As we arrived Peshta village, it seemed, as if the car had climbed out of the ocean: we stood in clear sunny weather! As I climbed towards Bhadraj temple on the pinnacle (2100 meters), I looked back: The entire valley was still hidden in the thick mist. Herbertpur, my home, neighbours, Marian – everyone back was still buried under a thick white layer.
Since, it was a solo trek- I had almost six hours to think my own thoughts- undisturbed by sms, ping or a buzz. I steadily climbed through a mixed forest. Nature was just a witness. It made no attempts to intrude on my inner world. I felt as if my early life too was like that valley, left behind: buried in a mist: disoriented, unhappy, cold – and meaningless to rest of the world! -while the bright sunny morning lay just a little walk away. Why did I not do at 14 what I did at 44?
Looking back, I realized that as a child, I would have been helped the most, if some adult had stammered openly and told me that it was OK to stammer! End of chapter, end of verse. That would have been the best therapy! But may be I myself was not ready to believe that answer could be so direct and simple.
Since, my stammering kept coming and going for no rhyme or reason, I believed that something could be done so that it will go once for all and never ever return! And till then, I just need to hide it, deny it, forget it, keep it under wraps. If it goes away without doing anything, it would certainly go away permanently, if I DID something about it : that was my childish logic. So, I tried many things- using starter sounds, breathing out a little, looking away, using a gesture (hand or head), blinking etc etc. At psychological plane- I tried many compensatory mechanisms: contempt for the world (!), indifference, “dump them before they dump you!” kind of attitude etc. Nothing worked in the long run.
Then, in my twenties, I came across in a news paper: Best answer for stammering is to stammer more openly. I think this was the best advice I had come across- but being the smart ass (!), I said: How can that be? There has got to be a better and “cleaner” way..
Many inquiries coming to TISA today remind me so much of my youth. I was not open to possibilities. I had already made up my mind as to what a technique should be like and what should it actually achieve over x days or weeks. I was not willing to listen to anything else. I was not willing to risk anything. Twenty years passed. I had suffered, got mellowed and was willing to check out the risky and the “messy” solutions. I was willing to leave my warm bed and take a walk outside. I was willing to climb a mountain alone.
Things began to change.
Had I failed, I could simply go back to my bed- metaphorically speaking! What did I stand to lose- except my stammering? Now, at 57, I realize, that truth is simple but world wont tell you that, since no body will believe it. Simple truths make no business sense.
You can always find it out on your own, if you are willing to get out of the bed and start walking – just on trust. Remember, you have nothing to lose – except your stammer, some ego and lot of borrowed but useless wisdom..
PS: Bhadraj is a small temple (white dot in Google earth: 30°28'49.68" N 77°57'08.40" E), in the Himalayan range, extending westward from Mussoorie. Many communication workshop participants have done this day trek. The view to the north is great!