“... After many hours of driving through the rugged terrain of the Himalayas we eventually reached the valley where lies the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu. My first sight of the city was glorious and exciting. Most of the excitement was probably from finally approaching a place where I would be able to eat and rest comfortably. Very little from the two-day trip was comforting aside from the gorgeous scenery and the long conversations that Kshitij and I would have.
I could see fields spanning for miles with farmers growing various crops to feed their families and make a living. Some of the farms had chimneys just like the ones back home and I could see children playing ball games, and running to the sound of their laughter.
Seeing children play brought back memories of my childhood when my brother and I would run the fields and forests pretending to be adventurers in search of uncharted treasures... If only he was here with me now, I thought...
A tear of sadness ran down my cheek, followed by one of joy; for I am the adventurer now, with our childhood memories as my treasure.
Kshitij and I took a moment before heading down into the valley to take in the sight.
I told him about how it reminded me of back home and how distance can sometimes bare many pains. However, I did not tell him about my fallen brother as I had always believed that sharing in sadness would only increase the pain.
I fell quiet for a moment, trying to harness the wave of emotions that were flowing through my body.
Kshitij, whilst keeping a strong look towards the mountainous horizons said to me - “Whoever it is that you lost, know that they still here, watching... and the pain you feel from their absence is only a reflection of the love that links you in your shared memories... Don’t be afraid to celebrate it.”. I knew not how he could tell that I was mourning, but I knew he understood my pain. I looked over to him and asked - “Have you lost someone too?”. He was still looking in front of him but I quickly realised that he was not looking at the mountains but a strip of the Bagmati River where lied a temple and a cloud of smoke coming from the banks. After a brief pause, he answered - “You see the smoke over there? That is Pashupatinath Temple. My brother’s body is waiting over there right now. His body will be cremated tomorrow.”.
Filled with compassion and empathy, I held Kshitij on the shoulder and I didn’t say a word. The silence that followed spoke a thousand words, and for the first time, I realised that sharing in pain was much less of a burden but a blessing.
Following our silence, Kshitij spoke again - “I would like you to come to my brother’s cremation tomorrow. You can also stay with us tonight and meet my family if you want.”.
The following day, his brother’s life was celebrated as his physical body joined the eternal path. The smoke from the cremation brought the ashes to the Bagmati river for Pashus, Lord of all living beings in the Universe, to welcome.
I gave a thought to my brother as I stood next to Kshitij in silence.
Kshitij showed me around Kathmandu during the few days he had before going back to Agra. I was amazed by the architecture and history that had shaped this amazing culture and although not a particularly religious man myself, I could not help but feel the spirituality that was deeply ingrained within the soul of this place and its people. I had never seen so many smiles, for everywhere I went came with a welcome warmer than the previous. If only it was like that at home, I thought, I probably wouldn’t have ever left!
I admired the peaceful beauty of the Swayambhunath temple overlooking the city and found amusement in witnessing food merchants chasing down thieving monkeys with nuts in their hands. The whole place was filled with life and I loved it. The same feeling came to me when walking around the beautiful historic site of Durbar Square.
Kathmandu’s charm was rapidly growing on me, and like the seed of a tree, I knew that the longer I stayed, the stronger my roots would be.
I wasn’t prepared to stop my adventure here, and when Kshitij had to leave for Agra, I took it as a sign that I should also depart. We said our goodbyes as I watched Kshitij drive back on the road that had made us like brothers.
I made my way North West, alone this time, on my way to Lhasa in Tibet.”