Sunday, July 17, 2016

Lost in the woods: A brief but tense ordeal

Photo of twilight. Image courtesy:

It was a cool winter evening in Samtse. The busy day was coming to a rest and the world was sinking into the west. The birds were chirping from the bushes and treetops as they prepared to settle down in their nests. From the distance, I could hear people calling out for their goats and cattle as they gathered them for the night. I was on my winter vacation and I was living with my uncle and aunt since my late father was living with them at the time. As the world was closing its door on us, I was still at the village spring to fetch water. The spring was not so far from my uncle’s house but the path ran through some bushy areas across a narrow gorge. I think it took me over 20 minutes to make a round trip and I had to do that several times a day since we didn’t have regular water supply at home.

At the spring, there was a young girl washing cloths. As I stood waiting for a chance to fill up my jar cans, she saw me and volunteered to help me. I had two jar cans measuring 10 and 5 liters, and since I was so familiar with the path, I didn’t have to use my white cane to navigate through my path. So I was comfortable walking with one can at each hand. Moreover, that helped me save my time and energy as people at home didn’t have to keep waiting for me for water. Initially I was able to carry only one jar can because I had to hold my white cane with the other hand, but that kept me always on the move to ensure the constant supply of water at home. So I decided to let go my cane.

After filling my cans to the brim, I headed uphill towards my house. The path ran slightly steep along the belly of a small ridge towards the right, turned left for a short distance and turned right to the foot of the fields on the top of the ridge from which it led straight to my house. Everything went smoothly as usual until the final turn. I don’t know how I missed the landmark that usually helped me turn to the right towards the edge of the fields. I thought I had not reached that point and kept walking until I got into a thicket of bushes. Still I was not convinced that I had actually overshot my path. So I kept forcing my way forward with the hope of getting back to my path. But with every step I made forward, I got deeper into the bushes. Soon I found myself stuck in the middle of the woods surrounded by thick bushes and shrubs. I could neither move back to my original path nor continue forward. I was completely disoriented with no sense of direction at all. The two heavy cans I was carrying soon became unnecessary burdens and I emptied them to make my move easier and lighter. I then kept climbing upward cutting my way through the dense shrubs and bushes. I picked up a wooden stick to grope my way through the bushes. I felt as though I had reached a forbidden land where no human voice could be heard. I began to get worried more as I struggled to find my way. I became concerned if I would be able to make it home before dark. After several minutes of climbing upward, I finally got to the top of the hill and stepped on what looked like a paddy field. I could hear my uncle yelling at goats at a distance and feeling embarrassed to shout for help, I plunged back into the woods. I groped my way down, carefully planning each step forward. At one point, I reached a steep cliff and while negotiating to climb down, I stretched down the stick I was carrying to find its height. To my disappointment, the stick could not touch the base even when I stretched my arm to the farthest length. So I decided not to risk myself by climbing down the cliff. So I walked sideways to the right and continued on. Suddenly I landed up at an open space. I explored the area for sometime and soon I realized it was a path used by people. I then followed the path not knowing where it might lead me. Soon I heard the sound of a waterfall. I immediately realized I was at the same spring where I had walked off a couple of hours earlier, but I had landed up on the opposite side of the village. I didn’t know there were two paths leading to the spring from two different directions.

I refilled my cans and trailed my usual path. This time I didn’t miss my landmarks and got home safely. Everybody questioned me why I was late but when I explained what happened, all laughed. It was really a terrible experience for me although the ordeal did not take long. That was the first time I got lost. I lost my way twice when I was in Australia but that will be a story for the future. I must have been 17 or 18 years old when this incident happened but the experience has been clinging to my memory even to this day.

1 comment:

  1. You are so brave and would not easily give up when you got lost. I would have panicked and screamed for help.