Kush first travelled with me to Sikkim in 2021. Over the days, he became close to Abhay and me. As the trip came to an end, we both felt he was “brother” material.
In Sep 2021, he joined me for my Kashmir trip. We had put up a new offbeat overnight trek (12 kms each way). Kush, this time, had lost quite a lot of weight. As we all trekked, he stayed in the front of the group. I was happy to see his progress. Over the first few days, as I saw him cling to the same people, I admonished him for not talking to the rest.
To my pleasant surprise, from the very next day he started hiking, walking, spending time with everyone. Late at nights, Harshit him and I would sit and laugh about all and sundry. He asked me if I thought he could do the Tarsar Marsar trek next year. Maybe he didn’t fully believe that he could, cos he was still overweight. Maybe some others didn’t think he could. But what I knew was what he was made of. I knew the steely resolve the boy had deep inside him, I knew how emotional he is and how much fire there is inside.
You never know what a little faith can do to people.
As promised, Kush came for the Tarsar trip. He had come down from 130 kgs to 105. A day before the trek was to start, cos of bad weather, a broken bridge and two deaths the trek was cancelled. And we decided to go for the Nafran Valley trek, that’s harder than Tarsar Marsar trek.
Every day, Kush went along at his own pace, in the middle of the group. He was never too tired, even sitting up with me and a few others late every night. And then came D-Day, the day we were supposed to cross a high pass and see the magical Harnag Lake. The section just before we get to the top of the mountain was tricky, challenging, had a steep ascent through a waterfall.
A few of us reached the top and gasped as we saw the lake below us, on the other side. When Kush came, he broke down. We hugged,& he kept sobbing. Maybe it was the exhilaration of the achievement, maybe the doubts, maybe something else, but he kept sobbing on my chest. It was my most emotional moment on the trek.
In Kush, I have found a brother who is as loyal as the word can be. Heh, a few times when some random person criticizes me, Kush loses it. He is the last person one should choose to rant about me. There is nothing that you could tell him, that wouldn’t reach me.
What is love, if not biased, irrational and completely loyal. One must always love people who love fiercely, and look out for you selflessly.
Kush, I am so proud of you. For how you trekked, for how you have blossomed into a fine young man finding more confidence with every trip, and mostly for being the person you are.
Brothers for life.