We set off for our journey to Kashmir on 30th June 2019. Our first stop was the village of Aru. After resting for a day at a homestay there, we started our 14 km trek to Lidderwat. We set off with two horses, two large tents and other necessary equipment. It was my first time trekking and I was exhausted. At noon, we stopped at a place that was no less than a paradise. It was peaceful and quiet there and a lovely smell of dry lavender filled the atmosphere.
After another three hours of trekking, we finally reached Lidderwat. As we kept our luggage in the trekker’s hut and the cook served us piping hot tea and noodles. We rested until evening and at 6 pm, we went for a walk. After a few minutes into our evening stroll, I realized that I was left behind.
I was distracted by a snap and looking around I noticed someone or something moving behind a wild, overgrown bush just near me. I stood there for a minute, scared, then ran ahead and joined my parents.
Later that night, we lit a bonfire in a clearing near the hut. We sat in a circle with a few locals and barbequed some chicken. We started talking to the local people about their lifestyle, language and customs. They started singing in their local dialect.
I played my guitar and everyone sang with me. We were having a fairly great time when suddenly, a strong wind blew the well-lit bonfire in one sweep. It was dark and the little ashes blinded my eyes. I saw my father get up and run back to the cottage. He came back with our cook who was holding a huge lit log of fire. As they neared us, I noticed the locals were nowhere near. I looked around, but couldn’t figure out where they could have gone. I asked the cook about them but he was shocked to hear that there were other people in this mountain when no one else other than our family was seen heading up from the camp. He tried to convince us that we were mistaken, to which my father laughed and said, “We have been talking to them for almost an hour now. How could we possibly have mistaken that?”. “I don’t know but I was watching the kid play from my porch and I didn’t see anyone with your family then”, said the cook and left. We all were shocked by what the cook told us.
Completely horrified, we silently went to our beds that night as we had an early start the next day. But we never sat down to discuss what happened at the bonfire that day. That evening at Lidderwat is still a mystery to us.