2nd December 2019
Crossing a plateau, my friends softly pointed towards what seemed a cliff on the right-hand side. Soon I stepped on a creaky platform and looked into the landscape.
“Is it functional?” I wondered whether the thing could slide down. A nod came as a reply. I could see some of the rock face we were standing on, and was thinking, also about getting out of the gorges before the dark. We were on the way to one place about which other locals advised the locals. Gayang had to remember many streams and forks in the jungle if we were to find it in time.
I looked down at the sort of the structure that plunged over 20 m down. “Good idea to have a look down, I think.” The first steps were tilted and the bamboo a little slippery but there was a railing to hold on to. First, it was some 15 m of almost vertical drop. “Good functional” sounded from behind.
When we returned, I noticed the man with the girl were also down and are now climbing back. The steps were nearly waist height of the kid, hands and legs stretched as she could. She even looked more agile at it than we did. Her father moved casually behind her but I could see through the lens he was watching her movements.
I was shooting until she got to the top. I put my knee to the ground and grabbed her hand: “Brave girl!” Feelinda saw me (and heard) photographing so she wasn’t that surprised. I would say she was quite pleased with the attention. Everyone was smiling and chatting, but the wide-open eyes were curious about the unusual appearances more than about the climbs she does every other day. There was something else in the air, too. We had some interesting conversations today, ones that contributed unexpectedly, and it was a high bar to reach to consider something a contribution in these special days. They sprang spontaneously. It happens when people feel close. This was also a reminder of how quickly it can happen. They were about the young generations. The vibration was felt there. At one occasion later, my friends were speaking Khasi but the father’s face showed unmistakeably the chord was stuck. I think I saw a hint of surprise too. Strange foreigners.