In my search for something strange, I uncovered memories of places so bizarre and beautiful, I would define them as Blessings of God. In the spirit of the moment, I pursued other memories too, like pages in a book, which at first hid in plain sight, but with a little effort, gradually revealed themselves.
I thought back about thirty years, while traveling in a remote part of Nepal I discovered a hidden treasure I’ll never forget. On the banks of Foksundo Lake sat a Buddhist Monarchy, beautifully constructed, it complimented the clear and blue waters it faced. I could still, even thirty years later, feel a sense of serenity as I watched the water cascade over the cliff. A tall waterfall that created a picture of milky white water colliding with blacks of blue.
I asked myself if this is a blessing of God. Answer quickly came from inside, “No, it is not, all peace of nature is gorgeous unless it is polluted by people or overseen. Hence, I thought, I need to find something else that fits to use the phrase ‘blessing of the God’.
On another occasion, at about the same time, I was traveling in another remote place with some friends. They were local people and knew the way. On our journey, we came to a point along the bank of the treacherous Karnalie River where flooding from the last monsoon washed away a temporary ladder made for crossing the river.
My guides were distraught. “We can cross this point but it may not be possible for you sir. The river is deep and flowing with the high current. It is very dangerous. If you fall, you will be completely lost. It would not be possible to save you.”
They continued, “The alternate route goes back, around and crosses through a very high pass and could take as long as two hours.”
I wasn’t sure if they were warning me or daring me. I pondered my options. Take the risky route and cross in a minute or play it safe and add two hours to our trip. I was very young at that time and morally unable to take the second option so I took the risk. Picking the safer route was not an option as I could not allow myself to look weak and inferior in the face of these complete strangers.
Hence I said, “No, no. I will cross it, you just go forward and I will follow you. I observed carefully what they did and where they stopped and tried it myself. I found that if I pressed my stomach against the rock and used my feet to feel for foot-holds, and used certain protruding rocks above me as handholds, slowly but surely I inched along following the others forward along the rocks, above the chasm to the other side. It sounds incredible but it really happened. Knowingly or unknowingly, I had become reckless in that moment, risking everything and succeeding.
I asked myself, “Is that a blessing of God?”
A voice came from my own mind, “No, that was not. There are so many points in life we need to take risks, and life goes on as long as it has because we are lucky.”
This reminded me of another occasion traveling in the eastern mountain region. After an arduous five days walk, we reached a village on the Chinese border. On the very first day of the return journey, I began to feel weak and tired. We were low on food and I was exhausted. The climate was such that it was almost impossible to see the surrounding scenery through the dense fog. I happened to place my foot on a loose stone at the edge of the road, lost my balance and tumbled over the edge. It was a very steep slope and my friend only had time to gasp and swear to in the name of God. I was able to grab a bush and stop my fall, he extended his umbrella and I pulled myself up.
I asked myself if this was not a blessing of God. And a Voice came to me saying, “No, it happens often for the people in that area. They live as long as they don’t die.”
Which brings me to my point. I was traveling in the eastern hills during the rainy season. My first. I could see landslides in several places as I was walking on a foot trail on the contour of the hill just below the ridge overlooking a valley. On the other side was another hill and a river flowing between them. A landslide point appeared ahead of us slightly below our trail that covered an area so large it diverted the flow of the river to the other side of the small valley.
One of my friends explained to me what happened. “There was a small community,” he said. “Maybe about ten houses. It was night and the land started to slide from the hillside. In one freak moment the entire hill where the community stood started to slide.”
“What happened to the people?” I asked with curiosity.
“They were caught by surprise, in their sleep, and unable to save themselves.”
“No. All dead except one infant.”
I asked with excitement. “One infant? How did that happen?”
“The bed the boy was sleeping on floated on top of the mass of debris. As if by some magical or supernatural power, the river became blocked by the debris, the flood changed course leaving the boy stranded but alive.”
“How was he saved?”
“No one could reach the point from either side. Everyone just watched with fear and hoped that the boy stayed put until something could be done. After some time had passed, a helicopter came, picked up the boy and took him to Katmandu.”
“What happened to him?” I asked.
“Because of the flood he had no family and no community to return to, so he was handed over to an orphanage run by an NGO.”
I took a deep breath at that point and asked myself, “Is that a blessing of God?” A voice from inside me said, “Yes, that is indeed a blessing of God.”
It fits. It’s completely bizarre, uncanny and weird that it fits the theme and the title. I wanted to add the present status of the boy but did not find any linked news on the Internet. Maybe it was too soon.
I close the story in the same way I close the book of my life.