Rakaposhi astounded us in its beauty. As soon as the mountain loomed into view, we were stock stilled, silenced by the immense grandeur and absolute stillness of the landscape. I had never encountered such quiet grace. Asim nudged me, “Do you see that?” As if I could have missed something like that.
As the jeep halted, we froze a little and then remembered we were supposed to get off. We got our belongings, all the food and clothes, all the essentials that we’d brought. We weren’t very chatty that day. We were just observant. I was now silently thankful to Asim for badgering me with the plan until I relented. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
The three of us, Asim, Khizer and I were supposed to camp at Bekh Char Ghutam. It was a large cricket ground, which we had heard, was usually used for camping around this area. We comfortably settled in, after pitching our tent which took around an hour.
Our plan was to stay for 4 days, which I regretted fixing upon. We had plenty of food to last us more than a week (we had been diligent in planning out trip). We had fuel for fire, we had clothes. But after 3 days, we were exhausted. We had trekked and hiked around Rakaposhi to our fill. It took us an entire day to circle around our camping area, with a radius of 5 miles. Every day, we arrived after Maghrib, cold and sore to the bones, went to sleep as soon as we laid our heads on the pillows. But the most memorable part of the trip happened on the 4th day, our last one there. We had just returned back to the camp after quite a hike towards the top of the mountain, which we were unable to even reach near. Khizer had hurt his ankle slightly, slipping a few feet down, and we didn’t want to take any chances. It was just after Asr I presumed, the sun was fading in its intensity and casting a slightly orangey glow.
“I didn’t answer him, I merely got up and waved. There were three human figures, presumably three men, young, and they were herding their goats back to their home I thought.”
While Khizer settled in his sleeping bag, Asim and I went outside to sit and chat. As Asim recounted his various trips to Gilgit and Swat, I looked out, and suddenly saw shapes moving. I interrupted him midsentence.
“Hey, Who’s that?” I said, a little excitedly.
“What? Where? Asim asked, puzzled.
I didn’t answer him, I merely got up and waved. There were three human figures, presumably three men, young, and they were herding their goats back to their home I thought. At least half a mile out, I didn’t think they’d see me waving, but they did. They enthusiastically waved back. I smiled and waved a little more enthusiastically. Asim barked out a laugh. I laughed too.
Suddenly, the three men changed directions, now they were headed towards us. We waited for half an hour, barely talking and anticipating the meeting. Eventually they appeared in our view and smiled as they walked towards us. After a few hearty handshakes and laughs at our clothing style, they settled on the snow and discussed the weather. They were brothers and were just returning home when they spotted us. They thought it would be very rude to go straight home without saying hello, and here they were. I asked if they wanted tea and biscuits. They nervously laughed. They didn’t drink tea, they were too young they said. I laughed. But then, the oldest one rummaged in his small bag and took out a piece of cloth. He unfolded it and yielded fresh buns. I was surprised. I asked him what this was. It was a gift for his guests, he said. I explained to him that we had plenty of food and he must not give his own food to us. He was resilient though. He flat out refused. He told me that although this was their lunch, it was not their tradition to let any guest go without food or any other offering. He explained that since sunset was almost upon us, they would go home and have dinner nonetheless.
I was adamant at first but seeing as my refusal was agitating my young friend, I took the buns. The smile that he gave me that second is seared in my memory. It warmed my heart. They thanked us, wished us best of luck and went towards their home.
How strange that these young boys, who were too young to drink tea, were yet so deeply inspired by their traditions and so staunch in their approach that they wouldn’t let a guest go away empty handed. It wasn’t possible, it wasn’t an option for them.
While we returned back, I was again thoughtful. The young man had changed me a little. His values and character made me a little ashamed of my attachment to my video games, and new cars. It made me aware. And I have since strived to be a better human being.
Aawish Zahra Butt loves watching movies and reading fiction. She is a professional film maker and a graduate in Film making. She works as a content writer for Kluchit.com
24 Sep 2018
24 Jul 2018