The land beyond

Our week end routine is to often go riding on Raj’s cruiser bike – his prized possession – a 2010, Harley Davidson Softail Heritage…..I could write pages and pages as to how this mean machine takes a place of pride in Raj’s life, the hours spent shining the chrome and ensuring the leather is still soft and supple and the list goes on…

The rides on Fridays could be as part of the HOG Dubai chapter, sometimes just a few bikes (friends and colleagues) and at other times, just the two of us – Raj riding and me as his pillion..

Its during one of these solo rides recently, that a thought crossed my mind….dawn was just breaking out and Raj and I had covered half the intended distance of the day’s ride. The mist was just clearing and the open roads were long and winding in front of us. The sun rays seemed to shine from far beyond and they sparkled brightly on the lonely stretch.

In the dawn colours, the purple hajjar mountains (Oman on the other side) looked sinister and almost like forbidden territory. The rugged mountains didn’t look like a terrain I would want to be in, however the majestic mountains seemed to say that they were my protector, standing tall against the wind, against unknown that lay on the other side. The barren mountains looked treacherous with no vegetation, no sight of water and yet forbidding.

On this ride, while Raj concentrated on the road ahead and the destination, as pillion, enjoying the ride and the rush of the wind on my face, my thoughts wandered to the very many I have heard of who had dared to seek the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (across these mountain ranges)!

As the sun came out stronger and the dial on my wrist showed a decent hour of the morning, I happened to take a closer look at the mountain ranges ahead….the purple seemed to turn yellow and barren brown as we approached, the rock face seemed to be just stones and loose rocks and the very thought of losing a foothold on this steep slope sent shivers down my spine.

My thoughts drifted towards the Pathans, who attempt the crossing only with dreams to provide for their near and dear ones. These desperate souls, who then aspire to earn living, herding livestock or in the farmhouses of the rich and famous or as helps to make a few bucks that they can then build the dreams of their loved ones.

The dangers of the crossing are well known, the illegal status is a risk they take, only to live in anticipation of a life beyond…

The flowing clothes of the Pathan, light coloured to help with the heat and yet dirty enough to camouflage in the mountains, fluttering in the breeze, the turban on his head, the only protection against the harsh scorching sun that beats down on him, a pair of slippers that has seen many a better days, worn down to the last stitch holding it together…dodging any suspicious activity, lying low waiting for the right time to make the move…The day was for resting in the crevices of the mountains, against the heat and sometimes taking that last morsel of food, in the hope that there will be a hot meal waiting for him on the other side. All this while, any movement within ear shot sends the heart racing, is it a wild fox or is it the gallop of the horses bearing the border guards – which could mean a fateful end to their quest for a life beyond…

They move in packs at times and other times, on their own to make that last ditch effort to cross borders – no passports, no identity papers, no visas and border control, its pure necessity and need that drives these few to take the risks they do. Risks at the cost of deportation or just languishing behind bars for the the rest of their lives in a far off country….none of these thoughts plague the ones attempting this journey… the middle of the scorching day, a few drops of water from a mountain spring to quench thirst and then a little slumber, while waiting for the dark, the only friend in this long and arduous path to financial freedom…

I’m home, I n the comfort of my surrounding and as dusk sets in, my thoughts wander back to the lonely Pathan, his eyes bright and his weary legs wobbly as he waits for the stars and the moon to shine bright. In darkness of the night, with the stars his GPS and the moonlight his guide through the tough terrain, he begins is voyage, clambering over the rocks as surefooted as a mountain goat, holding on to dear life and sometimes traversing a path no man has been on, all this, not knowing if it’s another night of walking or if there are many more, but in the hope that when he nears a settlement, a little town, a mate from some far flung village back home, will help him blend in and provide him the much needed shelter and work to get him back on his feet again…



2 thoughts on “The land beyond

  1. Wonderful and meaningful illustration with strong vocabulary. The paradigm and diction prmoted me to pen down to appreciate and encourage you for more writing. Scintillating and elucidated in professional manner and alluring. Keep going. Mohan.

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