house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Boots On, Ready, Fly

Wet weekend in Islamabad. It starts pouring on Saturday morning. Starts, stops. Starts, stops. Yawn. It stays battleground-grey until Sunday night. Everyone idles in cafes and DVD shops. Every outdoor activity cancelled.

BUT NOT OUR WALK. Lightning, doors banging shut in the wind, wet breakfast bench, thunder - throughout it all, we still believe in our walk. THE WALK IS STILL ON. Three o'clock strikes and because we've just had breakfast (!) and it happens to be dry outside right this minute, and no one's chickened out yet, we set off.

(Jill, I'm wearing your boots.)

We walk. We walk against the wind, and there's something about the wild-hills-and-storm-on-the-horizon that fills the chest with quiet daring. Three steps into this march and it's not 'walking along Trail 5' as much as 'carving Trail 5 out of the jungle'. Subsequently, as the trail goes all steep and slippery, the same chest fills with small choking sounds and it's way hot inside the cagoule.

(Jill, your boots slip a little on these rocks.)

It's not until the way back (and still no rain) that I start getting worried about the one-false-step-and-slide-down-to-car-park scenario. Moona's somewhere ahead and this descent feels like wearing ice-skates down a vertical ice-rink. The path crunches and changes underfoot without warning, step-slide, step-slide, each enough to inflict a tiny heart-jolt. I'm a wreck. I grasp onto wet branches and give myself tree-showers. I clutch onto rocks and they crumble and roll in morose piles. I crouch and lunge as if I were walking under lasers. I grab Kira's shoulder and step like an arthritic flamingo from flat rock to dry patch to muddy manure.

It goes like this forever. I pretend to be normal only when we pass people. I might as well not try - by 'people' I mean 'walkers, male, Pakistani' and they look at us as if we'd crawled from under a purple rock on Planet Other. Two white females, walking? Gori, whooo. Alone? Whooooa. Wearing trousers and raincoats? Whoooooah. And those boots? (joke, Jill).

At some point we pass two black-and-white rabbits. A monkey on a boulder. A brown bird with a tail so long it looks like a paper plane. Then Kira and I look left and see a wild boar grunting in the leaves, next to the path. Our chatter dies down to such silence that we can hear some of the smaller rain clouds stretch and pop in the sky above. (I managed to tiptoe in your boots, Jill!)


And managed not to fall, people! Almost home. It's getting dark, we're loud and full of stories (the boar, remember?!!! hah, the pun). We walk fast along a flat, concrete path. A random step and my feet fly from under my body. There I am, suspended horizontal above the path for a mini-second, empty of all pain, fear or heartbeat. Can I stay like this? Please?

Aaaaitchh. Slam. Apparently not. Surprise on Moona's face and Kira's (before the smirks, before the Awww-s, before the little hugs and nuzzlings and offerings which are: a red flower, semi-squashed, and a eucalyptus branch.

(The boots are OK, Jill).


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