Picture by-Ahmer Quereshi,Pexels.com
Hearing the deafening sound of the blast, Baibhav, Kamran and Hafiz also got a chill through his spines. It left the Pakistani duos in great disaster because they had their Nepali guests with them. The three of them ran and hid behind a tree while witnessing the things going on around. Though the dark cloud of fear overcast everyone’s mind, its effect was seen upon Yubaraj to a very deep extent.
Those guys in pathani approached Baibhav and picked him up. He tried to free himself from their clutches while weeping continuously.
“Have mercy upon me, please!I wont think of your country’s name even in my imagination from today onwards!Please,spare me!”
Those guys in Pathani were totally perplexed such reaction and one of them asked, “Ate you all right ,bhai(brother)?”
He shook Yubaraj ferociously, and this made him open his eyes, but he continued crying as he didn’t heed to what that guy had asked him.
“Are you all right, bhai?” He repeated.
Then Yubaraj opened his eyes in utmost surprise and fired a series of questions.
“Didn’t you make this blast? Aren’t you here to capture me? Will I be let to go? It…it mea…means my life isn’t at stake here, is it?”
Every one of them gazed at him in surprise hearing such bombardment of strange questions. The remaining friends of Yubaraj also came out after hearing such remarks of those guys and marched towards them. Once again, another guy of that pathani group responded.
“The tire of that car blasted and then you lay on the ground, babbling and weeping. So we thought that something was wrong with you and here to be sure about it.”
Yubaraj saw that car and really it was so. The thoughts in his mind about Pakistan had created psychological effect and that was the reason behind such an unusual reaction.
“Are you serious?” Yubaraj asked again.
Those burst out in laughter and it spread in everyone’s face. The Nepali duos looked smaller in comparison to those guys in pathani. They shook hands, hugged each other and then the team marched towards their destination, that is Murree, Rawalpindi.Though Yubaraj was temporarily relieved, he felt that the danger hadn’t averted.
Their destination, Murree, has got its own historical significance. Hafiz told them that Murree is one of the most developed and popular hill stations at an altitude of 6000-7000 feet above the sea level. Murree is a derivation of the word ‘Marium’ or ‘Mary.’ In local term, it’s known as ‘Ma Mari da Asthan’, which means ‘Resting Place of Mother Mary.’ It carries its significance back from the time of British as it was founded by them in 1851.They also got to know that Murree witnesses a heavy snowfall from January to February every year. The Nepali duos kept on observing the beauty of Murree being totally enthralled as there was literally no difference between the description made by Hafiz and what they saw there. Coming out of the taxi, they headed towards Hafiz’s house, a cottage style on. That gave it the most beautiful looks. A woman in her sixties, probably Hafiz’s mom, was working in the garden. Another man of the same age, probably his father, seemed to be reading a newspaper, sitting on the verandah that faced the road. As Hafiz reached there with the team, he called his parents since their arrival was unnoticed.
“Ammi, Abbu,I have arrived,” he summoned them as they put down the luggage.
The oldies were immensely delighted at his arrival. All of them greeted Hafiz’s parents.
Seeing the new faces crated curiosity and the mother inquired, “But who are they?”
“I think you know them,” he replied.
“After straining her brain cells, looking through her glasses that was worn a bit below the eyes, she said, “I think you’re the same Nepalese guys, with whom I’d a call last time. Am I right?”
“You’ve nailed it, ammi.”
“I’d never thought that I would get to see you here someday,” further she added.
“Oh, wow! Those amiable Nepali duos whom I’d talked a few months back,” his father also expressed his interest. “You’re welcome here, my sons.”
Meanwhile, Yubaraj was still covered in doubt and fear, and he thought to himself, “I’ve also never expected that I’ll go alive from Pakistan.”
Then came Hafiz’s sons and his wife. She was covering her head with a shawl and greeted them. His sons had also talked with them in the video call and upon meeting them, they greeted.
“Namaste(Greetings),uncle. How are you?”
Yubaraj and Baibhav were surprised as those kids were still remembering those Nepali words that were taught to them a few months back.
“Namaste, kiddos,” the Nepali duos replied ,being overjoyed.
Yubaraj further added, “Do you still recall it?”
They shook their heads in affirmation. After a few moments of chitchats, they were shown their room and then they retired while Kamran went towards his home, which was just four blocks away from there, promising to see them shortly. The rustic atmosphere with the with a serene vibes was creating a feeling of affinity with their motherland for those Nepali duos. In their room, they made a clean breast of those ditched thoughts in their mind.
“Yubaraj,are you still in doubts?” Baibhav inquired seeing the gleam in Yubaraj’s face.
Sometimes silence is the best answer and the gleam on Yubaraj’s face reflected it clearly. Those grudges were slowly being transformed into an assured mind.
“Maybe I’ll enjoy each and every moment here. My intuition is telling me.” He replied after some moments of grave thoughts
They freshened up and then Kamran appeared. He informed them that his parents were also expecting for them.
“Kamran let them be here today. They’ll go there tomorrow,” said Hafiz’s mother.
“Chachi ji(auntie),don’t worry. They’ll come back after a while. My ammi wishes to meet them now. Your opportunity to give them a warm hospitality won’t be seized. They’ll stay here tonight, not at my home. I’ll take them tomorrow.”
Hearing this, everyone agreed and they moved towards Kamran’s house. His house was identical to Hafiz’s, with the only difference in its size. It was a bit smaller as there were only three members-Kamran, his mom, and dad. He was the only son and unmarried as well. Though his parents had been telling him to get married, he wanted to settle only after earning a good amount of money. Also the size of the home was not sufficient to accommodate four members and the would-be children too. This year he had managed it ,and now he was giving a thought about it.
He got the Nepali duos introduced to his patents and after a while his mom appeared with some typical Pakistani sweets like bread pudding, sheer khorma etc.They got prepared them as soon as Kamran had informed her about their arrival. They made their debut in enjoying those Pakistani sweets and hence, were in confusion to ask any info about it.Kamran,who probably noticed that confusion in their face about those sweets, explained about those sweet dishes. Getting done with the sweets, they had some chit-chats and then went back to Hafiz’s home. It was already night and the beauty of Murre was intensified by the lights and the cold atmosphere of October was adding a new level of excitement. Upon reaching Hafiz’s home, food was already prepared. The food typically consisted of cooked mustard leaf, flat bread,lentil,yogurt, chicken tikka.Those varieties of dishes quenched their hunger with a great chow.
“Mom, we’re planning for Fairy Meadow day after tomorrow,” Hafiz said while pulling the bowl of lentil.
“Fairy Meadow? But why so early?”
“It’s because we don’t have much days for vacation. My Nepali friends want to explore the beauty of Pakistan. And I think nothing can be as amazing as the ‘Fairy Meadow’ though there are many places with unmatched beauty. From there, we’ll probably return back in a couple of days after enjoying other places in its proximity as well.”
His parents agreed to the plan as he had been there previously too. Hearing about the plan, Yubaraj started gaining fear though he didn’t show it so openly.
“Hafiz”, Yubaraj said, “you’ve already given us a very warm hospitality at your home. What could be more delightful than this? I think you’re bothering too much about our joy and hospitality. This is more than enough, my buddy. We’ll roam in the proximity of Murree, and make our stay a memorable one. What do you say, Baibhav?”
Baibhav didn’t say anything, except , “Yes, you’re right.” It was because he was sensing the fear and doubt in Yubaraj’s mind though the latter had committed to enjoy each and every moment in Pakistan. On the other hand, Baibhav wanted to go there because his fear had almost gone nil witnessing everything after their arrival. He had said so just to keep the word of his friend, but deep inside he desired to explore more.
“Yubaraj, your stay in Pakistan is useless if you don’t visit Fairy Meadow. And how can I be so selfish not to take you there?” Yubaraj nodded his head on hearing this, while Hafiz continued. “Still the memories and images of Mustang are in my mind. You both were so generous to us and it’s the time to payback that generosity. Don’t worry. We’ll manage everything.”
Yubaraj’s strategy didn’t work as he was speechless after hearing the genuine reply from Hafiz. Then he again recalled everything from Islamabad Airport to Hafiz’s house, the people he had met on the way, and about Hafiz’s and Kamran’s family.Now,he finally got the vibes and decided to go with the flow as he thought that he would really miss something if he didn’t go to visit Fairy Meadow. The next day, they had some more chitchats with Kamran’s family and a few neighbors had also gathered there to meet those Nepali duos. They had a great gusto in talking with Baibhav and Yubaraj. Those Pakistani neighbors also expressed their gusto to visit Nepal as they had witnessed its unmatched beauty in the internet. Their special interest was conquering Mount Everest, the highest peak of the world. The same evening they set out for Fairy Meadow, which is 356.4km away from Murree long drive of 1o hours and 59 minutes approximately. The bus was a luxurious and cozy one with spongy sofa seat, internet and USB charging facility.
It was filled mainly with international tourists and one of them, who was from the USA,was making a vlog. On knowing that Baibahav and Yubaraj were from Nepal, he asked them in Nepali ‘K chha khabar,dai?’(How are you ,brother?) to which they replied ‘Ekdum thik chha,vai’ (I’m absolutely fine).They were further informed that he had been to Nepal too and showed them a vlog of that time, which was back in 2018.He had stayed there for a month in Lamjung.That way he had learnt Nepali language also. It was only a week back that he arrived in Pakistan and was busy there as well in making vlogs.The presence of other foreigners shot the excitement of the Nepali duos, specially Yubaraj, and they began to go with the flow. They sang songs, talked about each others’ countries and did everything to make the travel as jolly as they could.
At about 9 pm,the bus stopped at a dhaba for food. There was helter and skelter of people, both national and international. Hafiz and Kamran got their food taken to the table. It was tandoori roti,mustard leaf spicy vegetable and a glass of lassi.In fact, that was the signature dish though other varieties were available as well. The spicy mustard leaf vegetable was the hotpot of onion, garlic cloves and many other mouth watering ingredients. One bite of tandoori, dipped in the spicy mustard, brought a gleaming satisfaction on the mouth of Baibhav and Yubaraj. The latter was craving for more, but controlled himself as he had already taken more than required. He was getting vibes identical to the one that he got when he was in the rustic periphery of his country. Fear was no more and issue for him and Baibhav happy to see that being reflected in his face.
Getting done with the food, everyone boarded on the bus, and the journey was resumed. It was already past 10 pm and everyone dozed off. Their eyes opened only the next day at 6 am at Rajkot Bridge. Though jeep could be taken from there, they decided to hike the steep road, two hours approximately. The spicy food of the previous night had already been digested and they had a breakfast in the hotel found in that vicinity.
“Why don’t we take a jeep? It will be much easier to reach the destination?” Yubaraj asked.
“It’s because you’ll regret your whole life thinking why you didn’t hike,” Hafiz replied.
The journey started in the company of many other people. It was such a place where even mobile didn’t work, except one or two, but not properly.However,that was the real blessing. Talking with each other, developing affinity, and exploring the place on own effort rather than let the GPS tracker do the work, bestowed a unique experience. That two hours of steep climb got its destination in the blink of the eyes. Having reached there,everyone,including the Nepali duos, gazed the place with an open mouth and bulged eyes.
“Bravo! Is this Pakistan’s hidden beauty that media has failed to cover?” Baibhav spoke.
“I think I’ll make a permanent stay here,” Yubaraj added.
The Pakistani duos just listened to them with a glistening visage, accompanied by a big smile.Eveyone was spellbound by such a mesmerizing delicacy of Fairy Meadow. There were cottages for a comfortable stay. A small hut was in the middle of the river and everyone thought it to be a place for stay. But it was a small power house with a turbine that produced electricity for those cottages as no any electricity line ran up to there. As the evening veiled Fairy Meadow, there was rise in chillness and therefore, a fire camp was started.
“Pitch dearkness,chill weather, camp fire and the open nature with the company of amazing people. This is the real heaven,” Yubaraj murmured.
An unprecedented emotion of belongingness to that place sprouted in his mind and that of Baibhav as well. Like a carnival that brings everyone together, people from around the globe mixed together regardless of nationality and familiarity. Probably such joyful moments were out of media coverage and such place had never been a hot pot for the world. That vlogger from the USA was busy in capturing the beauty in his lens. The only hot potato that the media had cashed in was the clash,generalising it to all the people of the country. The night passed amidst the flow of joyous atmosphere, but the desire to cherish the beauty wasn’t quenched. The four of them wanted to stay there for a few more days, but because of the limited holiday, they decided to return back to Murree the very next day.
“Hafiz, aren’t we doing injustice to Fairy Meadow by staying only for a day?” Baibhav asked.
“Yes, we are. But our job will do us more injustice if we don’t appear in front of our boss on the designated day,” Hafiz replied humorously.
With this reply, the group broke out into a great laughter. They boarded on the bus to Murree the next evening and reached home in the early morning. For the next two days, Hafiz and Kamran took their friends to different other places of Murree.Finally,the day to leave Pakistan came, and they packed everything. Hafiz’s and Kamran’s family gifted the Nepali duos some Pakistani gifts like shawls, some pottery items and a personalized key chain. At the airport, while waiting for the boarding pass, the news about high school shooting and such other inhuman activities was being broadcast.Coincidently,some people of those countries were also in the same plane.
“See these extremists,” Baibhav whispered to Yubaraj. “They belong to these countries where inhuman activities like high school shooting and bombarding is common. Isn’t it disgusting to get on board with them?”
Yubaraj looked at those people, but he found no any authenticity in what Baibhav had told and gave his views.
“Bro,what’s their fault if that has happened in their country? Are they responsible for it? You can’t generalize everyone that way just because they belong to that country.”
“Really? I think you’re right,” Baibhav looked at him with sardonic remarks.
Yubaraj understood what Baibhav intended to make him realise and responded with a smile.
Meanwhile, Hafiz and Kamran were noticing their activities.
“Is there anything secret?Please,share it with us too,” Hafiz said getting interested in their conversation.
“Yes, I’m also dying to hear it. What’s that?” Kamran added.
Yubaraj told that the secret was related to the secret beauty of Pakistan that hadn’t become media sensation. The plane took off this time none of the Nepali duos had fear in their mind. It wasn’t because they were out of Pakistan safely, but because they got to witness and enjoy once in a life time experience in Pakistan. And this beauty, they knew, would never become a news for any media because media sees and shows only the mud, not the beautifully bloomed lotus, except by some of the vloggers and the travelers.