In the Valley of Shadows
By Abhay Narayan Sapru
Date of Publication: 2011
Publisher: Wisdom Tree
A MASSIVE STORM was raging on the mountain. There was relentless rain and thunder, and forked lightning split the sky from end to end so often, that it charged the atmosphere with static electricity – the kind that made your hair stand on end to end and suddenly converted an innocently exposed iron surface, into a conductor. There was a ominous hiss in the air because of the highly charged particles and it was one of those nights when umbrellas, rifle barrels and radio antennae needed to be covered, or the owner ran the risk of grievous harm. It was Nature at its destructive best. A sensible man, on such an occasion, seeks the comfort and safety of home. But sense and soldiering often don’t go hand in hand; in fact, in a Special Force outfit, it is taught that it is precisely this kind of bad weather that is ideal for surprise and one often hears the remark that ‘ a dark night and inclement weather is a commando’s best friend’…
Somewhere on a mountain in Lolab Valley in north Kashmir. As we crested the three thousand-metre high top sometime during first light, the rain had exhausted itself and it promised to be a crisp, clear day. I called for a halt. As I sat wet and shivering, munching my puri and gazing over the valley across Zulu Gali (as it was called by the army), my sight was held by a range of very high snow clad mountains. Puffs of white clouds floated on their shoulders and the tops glowed pink in the early morning light. From amongest them, rose a towering gaint, head and shoulder above the rest.
“Nanga Parbat, jebab’, the local Gujjar guide said, reading my thoughts…..
I allowed my soul to briefly rise and soar over the valley and mountains, for the distance to the big mountain did not look too much…..
About the author.
Abhay Narayan Sapru : graduated from Delhi University and subsequently joined the prestigious Indian Military Academy. Commissioned in 1988, he volunteered for the elite Special Forces. During his decade long stint with the Indian Army, he served extensively in almost all the insurgency ridden areas in the subcontinent – Sri Lanka, Kashmir and the north-east of India. He is recipient of the Sena Medal awarded for gallantry in operations in Sri Lanka, and of the Army Chief’s Commendation Card.
He is now settled in Gurgaon and work in the private sector. Besides writing, he has a keen interest in distance running, trekking and sketching. This is his first book.