I opened my eyes. It was like being punched in the face by a prize fighter. I could feel my teeth loose in my mouth. I felt like I was dipping my body under a polar ice sheet. Blood was pouring down my face. I could feel it because I could taste it as it ran down my face, from my nose, trickling down around my lips and dripping on the floor. I could taste it as it ran past my lips. Sweat was fogging my eyesight. Salty, grimy, mixed with my pain. My pulse was racing. My arms were shivering. It was cold, and yet I was sweating. I held my hands in front of my eyes. They were bandaged. Shaking. My legs were on fire. My thighs were aching. My calves were burning.
I tried to get up. My stomach was aching, I could barely breathe. I tried to breathe in, slow through my nose and push the air out through my nostrils. I couldn’t. I was hyperventilating. My mouth was gasping for air.
I was in a white room, just an upturned sense of direction and me. Lying on the pristine, sterile floor. I could see a door, with a metal handle. Steel. An eyehole in the door. I tried to get up again. This time I made it to my feet. My right eye hurt. I scratched my head, it hurt, and I realized I had no hair left on my head, I could feel my prickly scalp. It felt good. Who gave me a buzz cut?
Where was I? What the fuck was I doing here? I was thirsty. I passed out.
Then I woke up and realized it was all a dream. I hadn’t reached Leh yet. I was in Chennai.
Stok Kangri – here I come.