‘The Calling’ By Priya Kumar

“You got lost, so you could find yourself.”

The protagonist of this book, Arjun, is a man struggling with his career and marriage. His wife, Maya, has asked for a divorce and the custody of his two daughters, allowing him limited visiting hours in a week. His job was not how he had envisioned it. He was unable to achieve what he wanted and was getting tired of failures. Except for his blackberry, there was nothing he was paying attention to in life, health, relationships, self-development, and friends. While driving from Delhi to Shimla for a meeting, he meets with a fatal accident from which a Sadhu saves him miraculously. The Sadhu convinces him for a journey to the Himalayas if he wanted to undo the mess he had created in his life. “Regret is to life like termite is to wood. It will eat you up. Confusion is to life like a parasite is to its host. It will consume you.” Arjun, although was rational and not so religious, is amazed to have survived the grave accident and agrees to go for a soul-searching trip to the Himalayas. “I was the last person to believe in the occult or mysticism. But when you have a personal encounter with someone who enters your world and makes a prediction your soul has been yearning to create, then you become a believer.”

Chandu, a young and carefree porter, is his companion in this expedition. The sometimes innocent, sometimes wise conversations between the two show us the power of simplicity. Our problems often feel complicated to us and we assume their solutions to be equally complicated, whereas the certainty is otherwise. The answers to most questions are simple and well, within us! Arjun’s first rendezvous with those mountains is both difficult and time consuming, but oh so worth it! “If you have never been to the Himalayas, I cannot even begin to describe to you the sense of mystery and magic one feels there. The vast open skies seemed to open the gateway to another world through the low-lying clouds”

The transitions that the journey in this book talk about are the transitions of denial and acceptance we go through in the process of self- realisation. It’s only when you disconnect from the world outside can you connect to your deeper self. “The mobile phone can sometimes be an obsessive addiction. It captures attention and enslaves you by that virtue. Attention and intention are the domain of the spirit and when they are trapped in a small device, disaster strikes in both the worlds: the material and the spiritual.” Sitting and complaining is worthless, drowning yourself in technology is un-prioritised and meaningless. For you to be able to receive from the environment, you also need to take care of the environment. It is a give and take relationship. For this purpose, you need to pay attention to it. Look around and see how you can improve it. How you can create order, and nurture those around.

The beauty of a journey is in the realisations during and after its completion, because before that is anxiety and uncertainty. When we spend time alone without any distractions, our soul talks to us, and we not just hear it but also listen. We get annoyed or even aggressive when someone else tries to communicate the same things to us, but when it’s our own soul doing the talk, we are in the virtue of an agreement. We take responsibility to make good what had been a liability until then. Chandu’s and the Sadhu’s conversations are fulfilling a similar purpose.

While reading the end of this book, you also realise the role people play in your lives, including the wrong ones. Even those unworthy of your time had a purpose behind their presence. Whether it was distracting you from something much worse, helping you differentiate between good and bad, or to bring out your strength or positivism against their weakness or negativity, they help you evolve. And while they help you evolve, the evolved ones help you heal.

Some incidents, however, could have been reduced to mellow down the drama, for example, the number of accidents Arjun undergoes during the journey, to give the story a more realistic flow. Also, not every time Chandu said or did something, a reaction from Arjun had to be mentioned. They were repetitive and unnecessary. Some things are obvious and should be left to the reader’s imagination.

All in all, it’s a good read, especially if you feel stuck at any juncture in life. It clears your mind, and clarity can always make you see the solution. 🙂 It will also ignite the vagabond soul in you. If the wilderness in you had been napping since sometime, this book will be its cup of coffee. If you have never been to the Himalayas, it will be extremely sad if this fact doesn’t change before you die. I will sound unapologetically imposing, for I have spent so many summers there and lived in the foothills of those majestic peaks for a major part of my life. They heal you.

”The mountain calls you. It shares your soul.”