Apurva was feeling a bit chilly as she was encountering the hostility of a cold breeze which was constantly maneuvering across the stunningly picturesque Kasol valley enshrouded by the mighty snow-capped Himalayan Mountains. Apurva and her batchmates had come to this beautiful valley for a geological excursion organized by their university. A couple of professors had also accompanied them and the students were busy collecting various rock samples for their respective assignments. Apurva had already collected a handful of samples and was aimlessly gazing at the rapidly flowing Parvati River.
“Hey Apu, where have you been so long. I have been looking for you all this while. You know, honey, I cannot stay away from you. I have finished collecting samples. What about you?” Arka asked her with a resplendent smile.
Apurva now turned towards Arka, “Yes, I am also done; I was just standing here and thinking about us Arka… what a great couple we are. You are so understanding and caring, Arka. I am quite blessed to have you in my life’’.
“Yes Apu, you are right, honey. We make a great couple. I often wonder about the endless happiness which is in store for us. We will just finish our studies and then look for a job and get settled after seeking our parents’ permission. It all seems like a dream, Apurva. And this excursion, we are having a time of our lives, with all these friends around and such a beautiful place”, Arka replied and then clasped Apurva’s hands tightly.
They then decided to go for a romantic stroll around the banks of the river. The professors were far off and nobody seemed to bother their privacy.
Arka was the blue-eyed boy of the batch. He was strikingly handsome, great in studies, athlete and a champion swimmer. Apurva was smitten by Arka’s demeanor. Arka was also captivated by the beauty and grace of Apurva. They had been assigned a group project, which brought them closer and ultimately culminated in the initiation of their relationship. They were sauntering along the banks of the river. Suddenly they became conscious about someone’s presence.
“Hey lovebirds, the professors are telling everyone to assemble in the lounge of our hotel. They have something to discuss our assignments. Please do come’’, a lanky boy said with a wry smile and left the place.
Arka commented, “This Anupam is so annoying. He is always having an eye on us; to be precise on you, honey. I know he has a crush on you, Apurva. No wonder he dislikes me.’’
Apurva nodded, “Yes I know dear. He even expressed his feelings, but I bluntly refused. He is not at all suitable for me. And then I found you, Arka, my perfect soul mate. But I am quite aware that he is always watching me and is quite eager to help me. He came to inform this only because he did not want me to get into any trouble’’.
Arka smirked, “Yes, so thoughtful of him. You possess a devoted admirer, I must say. But, Prof. Roy would have created a ruckus if he did not find us. Your admirer has saved us”.
Arka started laughing and Apurva also joined him. They soon assembled in the lounge and an hour-long serious discussion took place about the assignments and what other rock samples they are looking for. Apurva was diligently taking down notes while Anupam’s prying eyes were constantly set on her. They were soon given a break for their lunch. They also learned that they would visit Manikaran tomorrow morning for some sample collections. They were free to roam around Kasol by themselves this evening.
They finished their lunch and went out in groups. Apurva and Arka were accompanied by a few other students including Anupam. Kasol was a tiny Himalayan town primarily infested with tourists coming across the globe. There were few shops selling souvenirs which were mainly handicrafts prepared by local women. Apurva bought some beautiful handicrafts and coming out of the shop, she said: “Let’s go near the river guys and take some snaps, the scenery is wonderful over there”. Arka, Anupam, and others followed her. Apurva was hardly taking notice of anyone and she was engrossed in constantly taking snaps of the river amidst the breathtaking backdrop of lush green valleys and Himalayan ranges. The embankment was dotted with boulders that were dispersed along the Parvati River. Apurva was inching quite closer towards the river by crossing these boulders for taking the perfect snap.
Arka alerted her, “Hey Apurva, come back, do not go so close to the river. These boulders are a bit slippery. Be cautious’’.
She was well ahead of others and suddenly Apurva slipped and in a split second, she was entrapped within the torrential flow of the river. She was struggling to stay afloat since she was a novice swimmer and the current was too strong for her to combat. She started yelling for help and was gasping for breath. The others were flabbergasted for a few seconds and suddenly one of the students said.
“Hey, Arka you are a great swimmer. Jump and rescue her, what are you waiting for?’’
Arka replied, “The current seems to be too strong and…’’
They were startled by a sudden sound of a splash, Anupam had jumped into the river. He was trying his best to combat the current and reach Apurva.