Bharti Bansal’s essay is a heartwarming walk down memory lane as she talks about the cities, she lived in that shaped her in various ways.
I was in class 4 when I was introduced to mountain life. By this, I mean traveling for 12 hours just to reach Shimla which was 100 km away from where I lived, a small village called Hatkoti. The curves of the nonexistent roads would frighten me because there weren’t any milestones to look at and console my naïve heart that we were close to our destination. My father would only say,” Keep counting the cars, girls”. I and my sister would keep counting the trucks that passed by. It became our little ritual or perhaps a distraction.
When we reached Hatkoti for the first time, my father told me about my new school. It was frightening, to say the least. I had left all my friends and the cozy life of Panarasa (Mandi), everything I remembered would soon be a memory that I would find difficult to recall, but the charm of this place was its simplicity. Just a little valley surrounded by mountains and a temple that stood proud at the center of it. There was nothing to count. Just a silence that loomed over like sullen clouds, but everyone seemed to accept it. Every evening at six, we could hear the chanting and ringing of bells in the temple and the entire valley seemed to echo it.