Meaningless Ascent

by Awais Leghari

A few minutes ago, I was climbing up the stairs to the first floor of my house. The endeavor is banal and meaningless, but it oddly resembles standing in a hot shower with lots of time on your hands. Thoughts pour in as a new altitude is broken every second until the mind becomes fixated on just one, and today, my thoughts got stuck on my experience (or the lack of it) in hiking up to a mountain. It’s not fitting, to say the least. The comparison appears to be shoddy at best. Climbing a stairway should not remind you of climbing a dangerous mountain capable of terraforming its own weather. The allure, however, is too leechy to pass away.

I remember the winds that made me think of frostbites. I remember being acutely suffocated by the smoke and facing a paradox between freezing in the cryo atmosphere and choking myself to unconsciousness. My friends were playing antakshari: two teams take turns to sing a few verses of a song that has to start with the letter with which the previous song had ended. My enthusiasm had peaked at the commencement of our long, tiring journey up to the base-summit, but now it was failing me miserably in a game of singing silly songs. I was thinking about home while staring at the moonlit Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest peak in the world. The sight was surreal. It was worth every penny a man could make and yet, I wanted to feel the comfort, the warmth of my hot hometown Lahore, which at that time, was baking in a 45 degree Celsius Sun. My mind, at that instant, had made the journey completely meaningless, purposeless and unremarkable. When I think about this now, climbing up the stairs, I pity myself for missing out on enjoying a moment that only lasted for so long. Not many people get to see the sights I had seen. Not many people get anywhere close to the killer mountain. Nothing made me feel more meaningless.

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