“There is no point in trying to make this person walk any further. He will only make others lag behind. I say, if they won’t wander off on their own, then we can leave them here. This is a safe point as other trekkers returning before us will see them here. But I warn you. We are not allowed to do this. If forest rangers get to know that I, being a guide, left two people in the middle of the jungle without any assistance, then they will slap a huge fine on my face and ban me from providing guidance to trekkers in future. Think about it and let me know what you want to do” saying this Abesh went to Srikanth, who was standing in a dilemma, and said “Don’t think too much. I know this is risky for both of us, but I don’t think that boy can even roll off the grass if we leave him and his girl here. His stamina is hopeless.”
Bewildered, Srikanth just nodded in agreement with Abesh and instructed Sudeep and Priyamvada to stay glued to the ground under a tree near water stream. An apprehensive group of trekkers decided to trek to the peak as soon as possible and return to the couple on the way back to fetch them. But as they moved forward, Abesh said “The way to go back is not the same. It is more like a detour. After we reach the peak, I will point you in the direction of a lonely blueberry tree which is quiet far from the peak, but if you keep descending in the same direction, you will reach the tree.” Everybody was staring at Abesh with narrowed eyes, questioning his intentions. Abesh said “Look, I know I told you that we would be returning by the same path. But had I not told like that, none of you would have agreed to leave them behind. I need to finish this trek and get back home too.” It seemed very obvious that nobody was buying his crap. The group was ready to go back the same way even if that meant not completing the trek.
“You don’t seem to be amateur trekkers. I know you will find your way through the grassland to the lonely tree and back to the stream which we crossed. We will meet there for lunch, along with Sudeep and Priyamvada. Once you guys start towards the lonely tree, I will go back to the couple and wait for you there. This is the only way by which you guys can complete the trek and I can take you all back safely without anybody noticing anything” said Abesh after a long duration of silence. They did not understand the logic Abesh gave, but nobody objected. They were concerned about the couple. He had suddenly become a shady guy who couldn’t be nudged off or refused. They finally agreed with him and continued their trek to the peak. They chose to trust him against their own will and moved at their own pace.
When they reached the peak, they dropped their backpacks and fell on the grass with clear sky above and unmowed lawn around them. They gulped water and munched on energy bars. The serene surrounding engulfed them and shunned their exhaustion as they stared into expanding horizon. Though it was sunny, none of them were in mood to go back. But they had to; at least for Sudeep and Priyamvada’s sake.