veryone was stunned when Prakash announced his decision. There was utter disbelief in the room. His sister Priya was the first one to speak.
“Are you out of your mind? My marriage is in November. Are you even going to be back by that time? What if you don’t come back?”
“Priya, that is not appropriate. Prakash, do you think this is realistic?”, asked dad. There was genuine concern in his eyes.
“Appa, you know me. I have made up my mind about Annapurna. I will be away for the next six months. That is unavoidable.”
His mother walked up to him and said, “Prakash, you were born five weeks premature. Everyone said that you won’t make it. Your father used to feed you with a tube and syringe. Look at you now! You have made it this far. We trust you. We are not worried about you and Annapurna. Our wishes and prayers are always with you.”
Priya shook her head in disapproval. Prakash pulled her and kissed her on the forehead, “Hey, don’t worry. I will be back in time for your marriage.”
* * *
Prakash got down from the bus with his backpack and a hand luggage. The area was teeming with people. He walked up to the tent that was set up for registration.
The girl at the registration desk was wearing a lavender jacket. She looked up and removed her ear muffs.
“I am Prakash and part of the blue team.”
“Okay, let me see here…”
She ran her finger down the list of names on her clip pad. When she found his name she looked up and said, “Welcome to base camp! Do you have your gear?”
“Yes, I do! Have the other members of my team checked in?”
“Yes, they have. You are the last one to arrive. They should be in the blue tent that you see over there…”
She pointed in a direction where there were a cluster of tents. Behind the tents stood the majestic Mt. Annapurna, one of the most dangerous mountains for climbers.
“Thanks to our sponsors, we are offering a free pair of climber shoes for everyone who made it to base camp. What is your shoe size?”
“Well dear, I won’t be needing them… I always have them specially made for me!”
Prakash pulled up his trousers to reveal his pair of prosthetic limbs.