Under a thatch roof by the bend uphill, he sat across an acquaintance made a while ago by dint of the colour of his skin. A group of guys from Delhi sprawled on the next table fixing a chillum every now and then. Mirek had been sitting there since dawn. When one of them asked him to share some of his hash, he fished out an ornate, little box and gave them a stick.

After so many years, I still do not trust people, he said. It’s too fleeting a trust on myself I cling onto.

Across the edge loom green hills of the Parvati Valley warm under the afternoon sun. Lapos is still far away. The breeze is cold but pleasant; the kettle constantly on the boil. Wafts of smoke surround them. Every now and then, a shepherd or a cow herder passes them headed toward a small village a few hours along the trek. Horses carry grocery supplies to the seasonal tents at the top of the hill who charge the travelers three, or often, four times the price.

‘This is a beautiful country with the most abhorrent people. But it’s different in the hills. The hills don’t retain any traces.’

What to speak of this nomadic existence dimmed by years of trawling through distant lands, returning seemingly to inhabit the same vacuous space one could not call home?

His head bowed towards his feet, he says, ‘I have changed, I believe I have. But people just don’t see it.’


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