It was again so silent except for the nonstop thudding sound of rain droplets hitting against the windshield and muddy water splashing all over. Suddenly I heard, “Charo, may I sit in front? Three fatties at rear are suffocating!” I turned back promptly and it was Jigme smiling at me with his, “I did something naughty” face and that made me burst into a loud giggle. The whole crew joined me, “Hahahahaha!!” Only then did I realize I was the tiniest of all and again I was taking the queen size seat but, who put me there? I don’t remember; I just occupied the empty seat. “Come on, zai, you should have told me before only, hahaha.” “I am the fattest I will come in front.” Jigme sounded like a little baby with a huge grin. “Asha, asha driver, please stop; let this fat guy come in front.” “Hahahaha, yaya,”asha driver pulled over looking for a safe side, so altogether others can go out and relieve. We switched our seats. Folks all relieved.
I woke up to a rainy 12th morning. It was 6.30am. My mood was all set to fine, but worried a little about the road condition. After a hurried breakfast took a cab straight to the Walnut Tree where fellow trekkers started coming in one by one and the sky continued crying again and again. As we waited for the hired pickup truck to come, ashim Chimi Zangmo a core member of Trekker 360 who is also the proprietor of Dorji Elements and a lovely sister had scrumptious breakfast served for all of us. That was my second breakfast within the span of 30 minutes. My stomach can do wonders sometimes. No sooner did I finish my second breakfast than the pickup truck arrived, with this all our four vehicles laid in the parking with their mouths open to be loaded. What and who all will go where it was all worked out days before. So, within a few minutes we were all done with loading and ready to hit the road.
We wished ourselves all the best and a successful trek to Laya. Deep inside I said some prayers for a safe passage for all of us as I and my colleague Dorji Phuntsho and other two staffs of Sabah Bhutan Jigme and Singye climbed onto the bolero pickup truck. We were to start at least ten to fifteen minutes early as per our team leader’s suggestion, since we got all the loads and don’t want to lag behind, which we obliged. My clock read exactly 9 O’ clock, when we set forth to Gasa from our favorite place the Walnut Tree. I stuck out my head from the window to watch the Walnut tree fade into distance. I had mixed feelings: happy, worried and positive.
Heaven didn’t seem to be so pleased with us, because it never stopped breaking down even for a moment, while we didn’t share a single word to one another inside the pickup truck. Everyone appeared to be so shy. It rained hard and we were more silent. To this moment I really don’t know what actually kept us all so silent. It was until we reached Dochula when I tried to break the silence, “We are pilot, our folks are far behind and there is no trace of them following us any closer!” Everyone poked their heads out, “Oh, yeah, I don’t see them.” then settled back.