Updated: Jul 30, 2020
A heartwarming account by an Indian armed forces officer who talks about his hero, Altaf - the roadster (as called by the officer). Altaf was performing duties of a porter and assisted the author in finding destination and some lessons of life, that were unseen. With a soul stirring narration , author makes us find extraordinary.
It was an official trip leading to an unimaginable journey, which not only dipped me into the mesmerizing solitude but also gave me an untold story of survival at the higher reaches. The beauty, the sense of ease and peace, the misty air and the varied landscapes were surely going to make my journey a memorable one. Something dissimilar and arresting were the snow-capped memories of the ‘sustenance makers’ which also reminds me of Altaf, a resident of Muri village in the Kalarooch block of Kashmir.
So, it all started after me and my team reached the last road-head of my journey and we were supposed to continue the journey ahead on foot. A place, where not only the temperature but the altitude also shows its might. Our final destination was somewhere over 12000 ft and was clearly visible from the base which geared us up during our acclimatization period. The landscape was phenomenal with enticing cold temperatures even in the month of June, while rest of the country was fighting with the scorching summers. We were left with an anxiety of reaching our destination to capture the panoramic view from the summit and interacted with the porters and asked them about the route.
Finally came the day to resume our move ahead. We loaded our stuff and handed it to the porters wherein I met this young Kashmiri individual, Altaf, one of the porters to assist us. The route was quite steep and demanded halts which made us understand the simplicity & natural beauty of the place. This also started my conversation and interaction with Altaf who was well versed with this & the nearby sectors. He helped me in some sort-of familiarisation of posts that were visible during our trek along with brief history associated with it. I have to say…...it was simpler & easy to grasp than any ‘landmark indication’. In a short interaction with him, I learned that he was a highly motivated fellow and had been working with army since he was 18 years old. I asked him about the factor which inspired him to assist the security forces to which he humbly replied…"Sahab…aap log to poore saal border par desh ki seva karte ho…itna to hum bhikarhi saktehain..." I was amazed by his response as he kept the journey lively till we reached our destination.After a climb of approximately four hours, we reached the forward post which was cut-off for last eight months. We were surprised to see the quantum of load that was brought along in a day. It will not be wrong to say that the porters play a vital role in the logistics management where no other mode is so continuous & favourable. It was a great day and nothing felt more soothing than holding a glass of hot tea which was like a reward for being there.
We stayed there for two days & realised that the weather at the higher reaches is an experience of its own. The sun rose somewhat earlier than five in the morning and set around eight at night giving you enough time to explore the beauty at that altitude. While you gaze at the mighty Himalayas and watch the sun-kissed & snow-capped mountains, you realize that it would really be difficult to survive at these heights without the support of the fellows like Altaf, who have made the survival easy and are also playing their part-towards the national cause.
It was an unimaginable journey to create brilliant memories on its own and one has to be here to experience it. It was much livelier, synchronizing with the nature at its best, away from the busy routine of today’s world and truly….’a mesmerizing solitude’.