Appa's I was old enough to remember clearly, perhaps the wild, cold beauty of the mountains appealed to something in my impressionable ten-year-old soul, but I have always known that some day I will return there.
We lived in a house on the side of a mountain. A road wound in lazy spirals around the entire girth of that mountain, hedged by wild honeysuckle that bloomed in giant sprays of pink and yellow. The valley was almost a sheer drop from the side our house was on, with only one steep gravel path leading down. A stream flowed in that valley- icy cold in the winters and angry red in the monsoons. The sound of that stream was a constant in our lives, I came to associate the sound of running water with silence. The view from our terrace was breathtaking. There were giant mountains all around. the nearest one was just across the valley- terraced mustard fields dotted with yellow farmhouses. Behind it were dark green mountains covered with fuzzy pine trees. And further behind was a giant, craggy peak always covered in white, even in the summer.
One winter Appa, Ken and I set off in quest of snow that we could see on that faraway peak. But the further we trudged, the more distant that elusive snow capped peak seemed. We walked through the pine forest and discovered a forgotten pool in its heart. We imagined leopard treads and collected pine cones to take home for Amma to exclaim over. We kept expecting snow, just after that next peak we'd cross. We stood in the middle of a cloud on a mountain peak and looked at the mountains around us, in the winter sunshine.
We never did find that snow- the fog rolled over and we had to turn back.
When I was writing that article on life in the Army, Appa hunted out a few photos of the Kangra valley for me. They reassure me that the valley is indeed as beautiful as I remember it.