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It was a cold and windy night when we started on our journey to Switzerland. Coming out of our apartment, we could feel the chill wind rattling our bones. My hubby looked into his watch n said, “It’s already 3 am and we are late.” So we hurried down the road to catch our night bus towards Heathrow airport. After a sleepy journey of nearly 2 hrs we reached the airport and found that check-in counters do not open before 6:00am. My hubby explained, in London, unlike in India flights do not take off before 7am and do not land after 11 pm. It’s due to the laws of this country so as to prevent disturbance of sleep of the people staying around the airport. I couldn’t help but compare the laws with my country where in there is no such concern about the public!
A journey of 2 hours with chit chat and talks all the way, we arrived at Geneva airport. A bright sunny and a beautiful morning greeted us at Switzerland. Coming out of the airport we took nearly half an hour to figure out how to go to the Geneva Lake. This was due to the language problem, all directions and train timings being written in local language. After a long walk along the spectacular Geneva Lake, we caught a Swiss rail to Montreux, for our first night stay. The journey in the train was so superb with such beautiful scenery around that it will never fade from my memories. We reached Montreux around 12:00 pm when my hubby asked me, after a sleepless night and such long journey whether I have energy left to go to Rochers-de-Naye, which is one of the beautiful peaks of the Swiss Alps. I was bubbling with energy and agreed to go at once.
We booked a two way ticket to the fateful Rochers-de-Naye on 22nd April at 12:15 pm, little knowing what was on store for us on the top there and little realising our happiness would soon be turning into a dreadful nightmare…
A beautiful journey with breathtaking sceneries took us up to the base of Rochers-de-Naye. Reaching there, seeing snow all round and the lovely Alps we started taking photos trying to capture the beauty in our camera as much as possible. Walking through the snow, we decided to trek further ahead towards the top of the peak where very few people were to be seen since most of them don’t climb up so much. Slowly following on my hubby’s trail I climbed up and we reached the top. We lost track of time seeing the beauty there and got engrossed in taking pics and enjoying the place. Further ahead towards the right side we saw two more accessible spots. By that time I was drained out of my energy completely and wanted to go back to the hotel for some rest. But my hubby promised we would go back just in half an hour. So we also went to the nearby accessible points as well, thus enjoying the place up to its full extent and finally decided to catch a train back to hotel.
Deciding that, we packed up the camera and all and lost no time in coming down to the base to catch the train. I was thirsty and wanted to have some water. By the time we came down, the base and the station was unusually quiet with hardly 2-3 people around and no train to be seen. My hubby noticed this and told me. I hardly concentrated on his words since I was so thirsty. Then we saw a cafe ahead and decided to sit and rest for some time, drink something before catching the train back.
Just as we were about to enter the cafe, my eyes fell on a notice stuck to the cafe door with big bold letters stating, “LAST TRAIN TO MONTREUX LEAVES AT 4:30PM”. Imagine my state of shock when I noticed the time on my watch which showed 5:00 pm. I immediately drew my hubby’s attention to this, and we literally froze for a moment!
My hubby immediately went inside and enquired, and found out that the notice stated the fact and we had really missed the last train! By this time my thirst had vanished and I almost fell down with shock when my hubby informed me that there was no place to stay the night there and we had to trek down the mountain for 3 and half hours to catch a train at 9:00pm from another place.
I was almost into tears cause I was so tired and in no condition to trek so much with my bag on my shoulders! My hubby bought some juice for me, calmed me down and made me understand that we had to climb down the steep slope as we had no other option. He said he would carry his as well as my bags only I had to follow him and we had to start quick. Cause if the sun sets we would get lost in the dark.With no other option, and my poor hubby loaded with his bag as well as mine, we start on the dangerous trek down the slope of Alps.
We asked some people for the proper directions to Caux, from where we could catch the last train at 9:00pm. We also found that at every bifurcation, proper directions were provided. Initially we found a well laid out thin path which was made by footsteps of people who had trekked or walked before us. At the beginning, apart from a few loose pebbles and steep slope there was not much difficulty in walking down, following my hubby. Until we came across a small stretch of snow beside a hut, which we crossed holding onto the walls of the hut. Crossing which bought us to a clearing, peeping down from there I lost my confidence. All I could see was a steep slope full of snow! I had my jogging shoes on, no trekking boots, without which my feet had no grip and it was slipping badly! I was also inexperienced on trekking unlike my hubby who is an experienced trekker. My hubby said, “it’s hardly 20 -25 steps of snow we should try to walk through it. So just follow my footsteps and don’t get scared.”
Putting our first steps into the snow, we realised that the snow was brittle, one step and the foot nearly sunk till knee depth, which scared me more. I was wondering what if either one of us sunk till waist level? Could the other one pull out? After few steps snow became so slippery that I almost slipped and fell down. Then I decided to slide down sitting on the snow. With my heart beating furiously I started sliding down the slope trying to manoeuvre myself with my bare hands on the snow. The pain of the snow felt like a bunch of sharp nails on my bare palms. The pain started increasing and my palms went numb by the time I crossed the stretch. My palms felt like I had burning fire on them! The pain being so dreadful which can never be understood till one feels it. The pain brought tears to my eyes. My hubby consoled me and sat beside me for some time. When I realised suddenly that my bag had a pair of gloves in it. I asked my hubby to take them out and give me. Wearing them I felt much better. The pain had numbed my senses so much that I never noticed what lay in front of us! What we had imagined to be just 25steps of snow now loomed in front of us like a dreadful endless stretch of snow and with a much worse slope than the previous one. We could not even see the end of the stretch neither we could understand what lay at the end of that limitless stretch of snow.
I completely lost confidence, felt very depressed and terribly scared. I told my hubby, “I can’t do it. I can’t go ahead.” To which he replied, “Get a hold on yourself Anwesha and just look behind you, we cannot go back again. Just hold me and move on. Follow me nothing will happen. I will show you how to walk and the way.”
I held his hands got up and realised immediately that my legs and knees were frozen and I could not balance myself and told him so. To which he replied, “Even my legs are frozen, so just put the weight on your thighs instead of knees and try to balance.” I followed his advice and holding him I climbed down few paces. But soon, the slope became so steep my hubby with two bags was not able to manage and my legs also gave way. So we decided to try to climb down sitting and sliding as before.
I followed my hubby trying not to look on my left, where just few inches away was death! Few inches left and we would go down the abyss into laps of death. To describe the place we were in, to our right was the huge steep side of the Alps and to our left was a deep abyss whose end couldn’t be seen and we were stuck somewhere in the midst of nowhere!
At this point, friction between my hands and snow and the friction between my legs and snow gave way and I lost all balance and toppled over. I was rolling over sliding, unable to grasp anything searching desperately to hold on to anything but unable to find. At that moment I felt I wish I could meet my parents at least once, my friends and my marriage all passed by my thoughts in those fleeting secs. While rolling over I pushed my hubby and he also lost his balance for some time. But he gained his balance quickly and held me by my hand just before I could roll over and go into the depths forever…
Slowly balancing himself from a rock by his left hand, he pulled me up using his right hand. Pulling me up slowly and lifting me, he made me sit just beside him… It was then that I broke down completely. With bruises and cuts all over my arms and numb legs I broke down crying like a baby. Seeing me cry so much my hubby became desperate. He just kept on telling “O mom! What will I do now??” It is truly said that, in such a situation if your partner is not strong enough you will also lose confidence however strong you are! I was not in a situation where logical senses work; I only knew one thing at the back of my mind and I knew it well, that, I couldn’t make it to the end. But I wanted my hubby to live. I wanted him to save himself I wanted him to leave me there and go…
I just told him one thing through my tears. “I cannot make it till the end. I cannot go any further. Please leave me here and go ahead. Please save yourself.” To which he replied just one phrase which rings in my mind till now. He said, “That is not at all possible. Neither will I leave you here and neither we will sit in this snow and freeze to death. We cannot die here. We will have to live Anwesha, and we will live. So compose yourself. Have faith. Get up and lets go home.”
To the people reading this, this sentence may not mean anything. But to me it meant the world. It gave me the courage to go on. It gave me the courage to want to live. It gave me the courage to fight death…
Then slowly sliding on my hands and using my shoes for friction tiny steps at time I started following my hubby to climb down again. Slowly we reached the end of the snow line, which bought us to even more dangerous situation. Snow had melt on the loose boulders and it had become so slippery that even using hands or legs no friction could be created. I could see my hubby few steps ahead of me struggling to keep his balance on the slope with two heavy bags weighing down his shoulders. Once he slipped and I wanted to hold him, but couldn’t manage my balance myself. He suggested I should get up and try to use my feet now otherwise it would be impossible to get a grip. Following which, I tried to get up and realised I had no sensation below my hips. I felt as if my legs do not exist. I felt they may have to cut off my legs and I got panicky. I told my hubby about the numbness. To which he replied even he was facing the same problem and that was because the blood circulation was not there. Once we start walking and the blood starts flowing, everything would be fine.
But he asked me to try climbing down while sitting using my hands for support as my legs were not helping me. I followed holding on to boulders and grasses on the way, till we reached a place where he pulled me up and asked me to stretch my legs. Gaining back a little bit of balance, I stood up.
One man, a lone professional trekker, met us on the way down and he offered to help us and give a lift in his car if we could reach his hotel with him. We were yet to decide on this offer. That person being so good he kept waiting for us at every step till we could reach up to him. Slowly but steadily we came to a bifurcation again when we had to decide whether we should follow the person towards right uphill for another 1 hour or walk downhill for another 1 and half hour to our station Caux. My hubby left the decision on to me. I didn’t have any energy remaining to climb up and I looked at my hubbys face. He wanted to go down more than following the other person. At this point I had learnt to trust my hubby’s instincts blindly. So bidding the other person good bye we continued on our way down.
Then we found a path with boulders and grasses. Though it was a very very narrow one but it was not slippery so we could walk on. My hubby noticed the time and said, “We have spent 2 hours till now. Sun will be setting very soon and we are entering the forest now. So if we don’t hurry we might get lost in the forest in the dark.” I had completely forgotten that we also had to cross over a forest before we could reach the small town! Whatever happens I decided, I didn’t want us to be eaten up alive by some wild animal! So I started walking faster and faster following my hubby even though my legs had no balancing power remaining. Suddenly I tripped over some loose boulders and fell down. It was just a few stones and no one would have tripped if only the legs were having grip. Falling down on my palms, I cut them. I bruised my knees also. Then my hubby said just hold on to the side of the mountain for support and walk. The path being so narrow, one had to follow the other and two people couldn’t walk side by side, so that I could hold him for support.
Slowly we started entering the forest. Bushes and branches were brushing against our faces cutting and scratching the cheeks. But we had no time to feel the pain. We kept on entering deeper and deeper in to the forest and walking at a good pace. Sometimes I could hear some animals’ sounds. I couldn’t make out which animal but some sounds floated through the air into our ears. The rustling noise of the dried up leaves following me, made me turn many a times towards my left or behind me, each time thinking we were being followed by something wild!
The sun had gone down by this time and with the remaining light we came over to a bifurcation again and looked out for the directions. But this time we found no directions! We decided to follow our instincts and take the path towards the right. My hubby got tensed thinking if we were on a wrong path then we may not have enough light remaining to come back to this place and take the other route again. So he started hurrying quickly asking me to follow him as fast as I could. After another 15mins, we literally jumped with joy when we saw a small concrete road beneath us. As soon as we spotted it, our joy knew no bounds and we followed that trail almost running on our way. We knew that it was a motor way no doubt and if we could see any car we could ask for a lift. Or if it was the Caux village, then we could still catch the train, as it was 8:00pm and we still had one hour to catch the last train.
On reaching the road, we spotted a house and walked towards it for proper directions as there were two ways and we didn’t know which way to take! Both of us knocked many a times on the door and I shouted as much as I could, “Hello! Is anyone there! Please help!” But no one answered and we realised that it was an empty house with no one living in it. So without any help we decided to follow the motorway downhill which seemed more logical instead of going uphill. Slowly we found the road broadening and we coming into civilisation. We were happy to realise that if we could not reach Caux at least we will get a place to spend the night there.
Again we decided to try out another house for help. Then we spotted a house where we could see people eating drinking and singing enjoying together. But the gate was locked outside. I kept on shouting for help but to no use since the music was so loud inside no one could hear us. Until I heard a dog barking from inside! I raised my voice and shouted again “please help! Hello is anyone there?” the dog heard us and kept on barking till its owner opened the door and saw us. We enquired about the caux village from him. Though he couldn’t understand English and neither could we understand his language, but through signs we understood we were on the right way.
Walking down the road we could see many cars passing by us and I asked my hubby whether we should ask for a lift. To which he replied, since we were already near the town lets try out for the station first if not we would ask. Finally we came down to a broad crossway but with no directions to the station. I could spot a restaurant nearby and told my hubby to go and enquire. Meanwhile I also noticed a free flowing water nearby formed like a basin, from the log of a tree and a seat nearby. My hubby left me sitting there and went to enquire about the directions. I quickly went up to the water, pulled up my sleeves, removed my specs and splashed the cold mountain water on my face. The cold water left like drops from heaven on my cut and wounded skin. I washed my face of the mud and dirt, cleaned my wounds and drank the water up to my fill. I relaxed for sometime on the bench when my hubby came, telling me he was unable to find the directions. Then I told him to wash his face and wait for me there. I would go into the restaurant and ask anyone I could find.
Leaving him there I entered the restaurant and found a party was going on. I went to the nearest table that I could find with people and asked for directions. The lady sitting was very kind enough to get up from her dinner table and point out the directions to me also mentioning 1 km ahead.
Thus we reach the station in time to catch our last train to Montreux. To no one’s surprise we also realised that we were the only passengers in the whole train! The train dropped us to Montreux and coming out of the station, we found out our place of night stay.
Entering the room, I felt grateful to god that we were still alive and had a cozy room to stay at night. After taking a hot water bath and having some light dinner, we both entered into the cozy bed pulling the quilts around us for the much required warmth! But to my hubbys surprise I started shivering once into the bed. Even though it was not so cold, I couldn’t stop shivering. My hubby held my head to check if I was having fever. And he felt I was normal. He massaged my neck and shoulders which were paining badly. It was then that I noticed my hubbys hands were equally cut and bruised badly and also bleeding. I asked him about pain but being man enough he never accepted that it was paining. He hugged me to make me stop shivering and slowly talking about our experience we dozed off to a deep deep sleep. I never remembered the last words that I spoke to him before sleeping off!
Thus ended our first day of honeymoon in Switzerland, giving us an experience which we can never forget in our life time!
The mental strength that my hubby had, the wisdom and care that he showed, the way he was able to save me, recollecting all that makes me wonder why we always praise the movie actors and heroes for showing some stunts and saving the heroines which they can never do in their real life. To me, from that day my hubby was my real life hero! May be I never told him, but when he reads this he will know…
The words that he had told me on the Alps to encourage me, to save me, will remain in my heart forever. I always used to wonder whether I will be able to find the love and care which I wanted from my husband, in an arranged marriage. But those words of my hubby made me realise maybe that’s the bonding which a wife and a husband has between them. The whole situation reminds me of how I wanted to die there and yet wanted to save him and how he saved me and would not leave me there at any cost. May be this was the beginning of a strong bond between us, may be this was to be a never ending love between us, which would last forever, may be this bond is what a marriage will need to go on… May be, and yet May be not…. who knows…! But whatever it is, this experience truly gave me is a set of unforgettable memories!