On This Mountain

Entry by: daddy

3rd April 2015

It was already late, thought Mrs. Esmeralda; she must get ready soon as Vallejo would be here to pick her up for a drive to Vikingsholm at Emerald bay. She was staying at a senior’s vacation home in South Lake Tahoe, a place she had started visiting since a couple of years, in fact, after Hammond died in coma 12 years ago. For seven years thereafter, she was mourning and then her grandson Vallejo brought her to the very same city where Hammond had breathed his last. She had been very confused and mechanical it was Vallejo who kept coaxing her to go on small drives round Lake Tahoe. It took her a couple of days to realize that the scenic beauty and sitting by the lake calmed her and reinforced her memories of Hammond in a pleasant way. Thereafter she came every year in April to South Lake Tahoe and stayed for a couple of weeks in a senior’s vacation home. She seemed to sense clouds and heavy breeze but the leaves failed to stir. Vallejo would take her for drives on weekends. He lived nearby in Sacramento and managed the Esmeralda Café opened by Hammond in the late nineties.
She put on a light blue shirt, a long skirt with motifs of Virginia bluebell flowers, a warm jacket, and a woolen scarf as an afterthought. She looked at the lake from her window so blue and blissful, almost like the heavenly mountain lake Issyk Kul in Kyrgystan. The road was a black dragon coiling on itself for miles on end she rubbed her eyes.
Vallejo entered and remarked that she looked very fit today she gave him a warm hug and took his help to get in to the car. The drive to Emerald bay was breath taking; she was amazed how beautiful the lake looked in its pristine purity. With every vista point highlighting a different aspect of the beautiful lake and surrounding mountains to look at, she thought that it would be nice to just keep driving and driving till the sun set. A fleeting image of Hammond skiing at 'Heavenly Ski Resort' and then the stretcher bearing his mangled comatose body cast a very dark shadow across her face but she recovered when she saw a mother with two small boys drawing their attention to Fannette, the only island in Lake Tahoe.
Today her daughter Krista would be coming in the evening to sit with her, maybe she would bring her cinnamon cake, and then they would have it with coffee sitting by the setting sun next to the lake.
She was anxious to get to Vikingsholm castle soon as she had been invited to lunch by Valencia, who is a tour guide at Vikingsholm. She comes and stays at the Vikingsholm castle every summer. Vikingsholm is noted for its outstanding architectural and scenic location, it was designed by Lennart Palme and represents finest of Scandinavian architecture. Helen had been her friend since past fifty years. If her health permitted, she would go to Fannette Island by boat and have tea there in the afternoon with Veronica.
She liked the Vikingsholm castle; its location was majestic with Lake Tahoe on one side and huge mountains with ski slopes behind. The mountains received plenty of snow and remained a favorite for ski lovers until end April, there after the water sports in the lake took over until it was time for skiing again. She felt she was looking at Bosphorus strait from a drive point in Istanbul. All these cars were merging in to streaking lights and appeared like phosphorescent anacondas she rubbed her eyes. However, she would never come here in winters it reminded her of Hammond and his accident on ski slopes, a memory which will never fade. What if she had been with him skiing that day may be she could have saved him some how? Why did he have to take the dangerous ski slope to the other side? The ski tracks were like huge earthworms churning snow in to mud.
Krista had been listening for a while to the monologue of her mother regarding her trip to Lake Tahoe and her lunch appointment with Valencia. Her mother had been bedridden for the last three years and confined to a hospital in Chicago since a month. Last she had visited Lake Tahoe was six years ago when she was eighty-two, and that too in a wheelchair, thereafter her memory had been playing games.
Krista did not know who Vallejo, Valencia and Hammond were, her father was Fredrick. Krista did not have a son in fact she had not married. Krista called the doctor as she had a premonition that her mother was fast slipping with her breath coming in gasps and bursts.
Why is Vallejo not opening the car doors? Why there are so many people and hooting of the train engine, who are these semi naked people? So much noise and this station? Why has Vallejo brought me to Kolkata? Krista……..come back, why these snakes in my brain? Why such a medley of feelings and sensations…who is baking cinnamon cake… Hammond look where Krista is going she is a child..Hammond come back.. Hammond please don’t ski on the mountain….Hammond help me get these millipedes off my feet….why couldn't she rub her eyes? Rope ways of centipedes from mountain top to mountain top?