The train chuffed from New Jalpaiguri with a long chuuu, and Akriti felt twitchy. She was astonished at Manas. How come he had planned a surprise holiday just for two of them, leaving behind everyone else. An otherwise withdrawn husband suddenly wanted to be with her?
For Manas Akriti only existed though he ensured to take care of her. He was never a romantic man who’d bring flowers to turn the air rosy. There was a calm silence amongst them and Akriti wordlessly acknowledged it.
The train took turns around the switchbacks, and Akriti’s heart pounded. While Manas adored the sap green view of valleys in widespread tea estates, Akriti felt dizzy. The mesmerising scene couldn’t calm her restlessness. At last, she exchanged her window seat with Manas.
After 7 hours of chu, chug, and chuff, the train halted at the Darjeeling station transducing Akriti’s vibes into the low-rise clouds, damp air, and soft breeze. She apprehensively walked behind Manas to the taxi. Within an hour they reached the resort which was located on the top of the hill beyond the town.
While Manas scratched a few pages with ink to possess the room key, she waited quietly at the sofa in the reception area. All she could feel was fwoosh, swoosh, flutters, and clinks through the thick glass panes at her back but she didn’t dare to look behind. Manas turned at her and she immediately stood up like an obedient child.
As the capsule elevator lifted them to the top floor, her heart sank.
“You know I am scared of heights Manas” she hesitantly said.
“That’s why we are here.
Be ready at 7 tomorrow morning.”
The next morning, Akriti woke up to the tweets, shrieks, and chirps in the air. The sun shone brightly in the sky and Manas was ready in his new sneakers and track pants.
“How can he wake up so early? He was awake till late last night chatting online. Is it another woman?” She contemplated while she got ready.
Amidst a few sharp screeches, they reached a foothill.
“We have to trek 5 kms uphill” said Manas.
Akriti sighed and quietly trekked up, holding his palm tightly with both her hands. She could feel the grinding and creaking in her body until they reached the butte.
There were two more men near the cliff and Manas rushed to them excitedly leaving her behind. Akriti saw him paying money to them. Soon, one of them started to strap Akriti from wrists and waist. Akriti quavered, pleaded Manas with folded hands, but it fell on deaf ears as he dragged her to the edge. Swisshhh….and he pushed her off the cliff.
Akriti closed her eyes as tears escaped. A few moments later she wafted the cold air and opened her eyes amidst the plain blue sky and serene green earth. She never knew paragliding would be so much fun. Manas followed her as she landed safely on the ground!
Note: The cover picture used is owned by the author and may not be used without prior permission.
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