The diverse group of 15 people comprised mainly of first time trekkers and there excitement was palpable as they immediately pulled out their mobiles and cameras to click pictures at the very first sight of the beautiful mountains. The middle of the winter season manifested itself with sights of occasional milky peaks on top of the huge mountain ranges playing hide and seek as the tempo traveler meandered its way through curvy hill roads. At times, it looked like as if the peak is within a touching distance and the next moment as the vehicle moves away to another hill while circumambulating the mountain, would go out of sight to only to be seen again later as the tempo makes yet another revolution around the next mountain.
The early morning excitement had given way to mid-day lethargy as people put aside their phones and cameras to indulge in a chatter of their own. Some started listening to music, while others were in a world of their own unconsciously relieving the scenic views outside.
The calm environment inside the traveler however came to an abrupt end as the driver brought the vehicle to a sudden halt with a loud screeching of brakes leading to some of the occupants falling off their seats.
As everybody cried and shouted loudly, some of them, also cursing the driver for his act, a peep outside put everyone on their edges. Their heartbeat almost stopped as they saw the tempo just inches off the cliff. Everyone wanted to know what lead to all this, as the driver jumped off his seat quickly to see where his vehicle is. It was safe but precarious considering the distance between the cliff and the front tires, a few centimeters more and all the people would have fallen into the gorge. He saw the 5-year-old standing adjacent to his tempo, gazing at him with an innocent smile. He was not even probably aware of what he did, as to save him only; the driver had to push the brakes to the extreme. Others also came out to see what was going on as the driver reprimanded the young boy choosing the harshest of words. The boy could only understood being shouted at, but could not comprehend the language and continued staring at him blankly. He was about to hit him but one of the trekker stopped him just at the last moment. The little boy was now terrified and although he still held back his tears; the countenance was enough to reflect his vulnerability and helplessness.
The entire group was now out of the bus and began wandering around; some used the forced break to satisfy their urge to smoke and answer nature’s call after having endured a non-stop ride for the last 3 hours. Some of them gathered around the little kid and gently pushed the driver away, while others tried to console seeing him in a state of shock.
2-3 of them also went ahead on the road to click a few pictures and breathe some fresh air. Rest of the people waited for a while before walking back to the bus to resume their journey up the hills. Those 2-3 people were the only ones missing now as rest of the group was back in the bus again. As the driver requested if someone could call the missing ones, the loud shout of the returning trekker from a distance resolved the matter instantly.
As they reached the bus, there was anxious shouting from them exhorting everyone to come outside and see what they had witnessed. Just 100 meters ahead, the entire road was gone, after being washed away by the unseasonal rain. There was only a strip left, even difficult for a bicycle to negotiate. It happened just a while back and some of the villagers were shocked to see as the road was intact when they were going to collect the firewood early in the morning and now when they were returning to their home, everything has suddenly vanished.
The rest of the group got terrified as they saw the missing road. They all would have been in the gorge considering the speed of their tempo. The Driver who just a while back was harassing the kid was now thinking about him and his tears, which refused to fall from his little eyes.