Trip leader Neeraj Narayanan a.k.a Captain Nero says:
There are some people’s love for you that you just can’t comprehend.
Once upon a November 2018 night, a girl texted me saying she would want to join my Kerala weekend trip. It was past midnight, but what I noticed what she was planning to fly all the way from Delhi to do a two day trip in Kerala! I asked her name. “Hi, this is Srishti. Haven’t been on a trip with you before, but would love to” was the answer.
I smiled then, but I did not know that every time we would talk, at the end of it I would always be smiling.
Srishti did not end up coming on that trip. But she turned up next month for a weekend trip near Mumbai. She did not speak all that much in a group, but she had the most pleasant vibe around her. She still does. She was graceful, soft spoken and helpful to all.
We hit it off from the first day itself. In January 2019, Niyati and I lead a trip to Tirthan Valley. We were returning from a trek, when our tempo traveller skidded in the snow and careened towards the cliff side, but stopped in time. I asked everyone to get down and stand by the edge of the road. I continued sitting with the driver, while he attempted to bring the vehicle back to the middle of the road. Without warning, an Innova that was behind us, skidded totally out of control, and rammed us badly taking our vehicle to the absolute edge of the cliff. If our tempo hadn’t hit a huge snow patch, the vehicle, the driver and me would have gone off the cliff. I got out of the vehicle gingerly. But when I got down, I saw Srishti fallen on the road. When the trippers had seen the Innova rush towards our vehicle, Srishti panicked so much thinking what could happen to me that she tried running behind the Innova and stopping it with her own hands.
Heh, of course she couldn’t and she just fell in the snow. Even when I reached to her, and picked her up, her face was ashen, and I kept smiling and telling her I was alright.
Over time, Srishti returned to do trips to Meghalaya, and more weekend trips. With every trip, I found her gaining more confidence in herself, and opening up a little more about herself. Her bias towards me became even more legendary. Friends usually tease other, and my friends always take my case, but you just can’t Srishti to come over to your side, not even jokes-wise. She will always take my side. I could literally kill someone, and Srishti would say “Bechara Neeraj, why did this person have to fall on his knife”. Haha!
In Srishti, I blindly trust. I asked her to be part of the team unofficially, even though she has a job. Mostly, I just wanted her to know that’s how important she is to me. It doesn’t matter if we give her any tasks or not, she is part of us.
A few months back, Srishti’s bank told her that she might get a promotion and could apply for a transfer to select cities. We spoke, and I stressed on how it could really help her, to leave home for the first time and stay in a different city, become more independent, and understand life a little more.
Two days back, she called me up and I asked her what the status on the same was. She said, “Neeraj, I might not take up the transfer offer.” I asked her why. “If I do go away, I’ll probably get leaves only twice a year. And then I’ll want to use those leaves to spend time with my family. How will I travel with you then?” I tried to reason with her, saying that it couldn’t be that important to travel with me and our group trips. “Neeraj, I was content when I used to solo travel also. But I have never laughed and been happy the way I am when I come on these trips. I would never have made all these friends if I hadn’t come with you. You guys are my source of happiness” .
Through the rest of the conversation, I was mostly quiet. I just did not know what to say to a girl who was putting so much of her faith, her decisions, her affection in me. It does not matter what she chooses to do, her saying or even feeling that for a minute was enough to move me.
Srishtu, its been one and a half years of knowing each other. But it feels like a dozen or more years. You are my kid, my girl, a very close friend and a lot more. You are loyal, you are respectful, I love that you never gossip and never have anything bad to say about anyone at all. I have always found you beautiful, not just cos you are pretty, but because of who you are from inside.
To forever beautiful times, here’s a hug.
p.s Don’t run behind a car. Neither are you that fast, nor strong. Leave that bit to Super-Nero