11. The Spiritual Trekking

@Malayattoor, Kerala, India.

What did Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay achieve in 1953? We all know that, but what I achieved on 24th May 2010 was my personal achievement. It is what I call ‘The Conquest of Malayattoor’. It is not a big deal for most of the people, but it was the first time I reached the top. I have started this journey upwards on many occasions, but never really completed the quest. On some occasions, I reach half the way and there are times when I don’t don’t even make it to a quarter of it. It was my unconquered territory and every time I play ‘Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War’ and it’s sequels, I remember this as one of the unclaimed territories in the game world map. There was that time when computer games used to be life; the time when I was an Eagle Warrior of Tenochtitlan, a trooper and defender of the galaxy, the Lord of the Undead Vampires, a Knight of the realm of magic, the resultant mutant of a failed experiment, a Colonel fighting enemies as well as aliens or a Necromancer who served an evil Lord.

Actually this happened after that age; the new age which left me with only the classic games; Age of Wonders 3, Age of Empires 2, Age of Mythology, Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 Arena. There was the Age of Wonders thirst for magic, the Age of Empires lust for conquests, the Age of Mythology desire for miracles, the Unreal Tournament attraction to action and adventure along with the Quake effect which was not to care that much for yourself. There was also Disciples 2, which was the symbol of my never giving up; it was a game which I lost so many times, but won it with ease in the end. Malayattoor was my failure at that moment; not just an ordinary case of failure; it was actually the symbol of not having tried at all. It had to change, as it was my stepping stone to whatever I was to achieve; it was a shame not to have visited that one church when I did visit most of the less known churches of Kerala. It was my spiritual quest and without it, my crown lacked a huge golden feather.

Being on top; being at Malayattoor Saint Thomas Church was like being on the top of the world for me. This church on the hilltop was going to make me believe that I am strong enough, both physically and mentally. Thus we started on the legendary motorbike and after taking many shortcuts, reached the place to start the saga. It was always supposed to be difficult for me as I was never much of a climber; I always lived on the level ground and even avoided steps to go just one floor up. On a day affected by the bloody rain, it was to be an even tougher journey with slippery rocks all around. The power of the tea was slowly leaving me and the other tea man was still going strong as if he is walking on a level road. I wished this was a Badminton match; I could have won it and rested in minutes, but the climbing wasn’t reaching anywhere. The nature was beautiful and people were praying; but I was concentrating like I never did before and therefore nothing really caught my senses; all that mattered was myself on my legs.

I have been trying not to look back downwards, but that was not going to happen. There is always some point when you look back at your life and it happened to me in that short time too; and that was bad. I was tired and not even half way through, but the distance covered seemed so much and the height downwards looked scary. I wanted to go back, but there was no point in it; if there was a time when I had to do it, that was it. I couldn’t let that laziness factor take control; I started running upwards, but it was still only a little faster than my friend and therefore I could run, stop for breathing and then run again. It kept me out of breath on many occasions, but it was effective in not making me look down again and it didn’t even give me an opportunity to think what I was doing. It was quick and it took a lot out of me, but in the end, it was a successful. When I was about to reach the top, panting and sweating like never before, people had started asking if I am okay; but I was certainly fine as I was in this condition right from the half-way mark. I did slip on many occasions, but in the end I reached there as myself.

That was my greatest conquest of fear and pessimism. We prayed and stayed at the top for a few minutes before we started coming down the hill. The church structures on the rock were small, but it is a very holy and historic place indeed, with the imprint of the feet of the Apostle St. Thomas on a rock and the very old chapel which has marks of elephant attacks. The spiritual atmosphere is maintained throughout the area and it combined with the natural beauty around. There is a well near the old chapel where St. Thomas is believed to have quenched his thirst and is believed to have healing powers. There is also the golden cross which is a major part of the spiritual history of the wonderful hill. As we went down from the most popular St. Thomas shrine, it was mission accomplished; for me it was my most important spiritual victory; a satisfaction of the soul which stayed with me, but I was still uncertain about me reaching the bottom in one piece. But that didn’t really matter for me as I have vanquished my fear and won the battle. After some slipping and precarious walking around the rocks, we finally finished the mission.

The journey home was to be quick, as there was a birthday party in progress and our presence there was much needed. Considering how tired I was, the journey back was quite slow, but we reached there when needed and that contributed to the happy ending on the day; it had to end happy as there was no place for sadness or failure in it. From there, life took a much straighter path; there were a few hiccups, but none of them really affected the direction; the journey of life increased and decreased in pace, but the core never really lost it’s value. It is like the time when I first played Badminton against a reasonably better player; I didn’t know how to smash, but I would run away when the opponent smashes. An uncle had asked me if that shuttlecock made of plastic is going to hurt you that much. A few years later, my new opponent was at the recieving end and I was the smasher. There is always the fear and once you are bigger than your fear, your mind will help you overcome most of your weaknesses. You might look smaller or weaker, but what you see in the mirror is never really you; it is just your covering.

Diving out —>