I was going to die.
I was sure of it. My left leg was broken, probably a couple of major injuries in both my arms. I had bruises all over my body from the prickly thorns and branches that had scraped my skin. I had hurt my forehead and back too. But most importantly, I was in a gorge, two hundred feet below, from where I had last seen my friends’ faces. I was not sure whether they were still there. I could not hear any voices. My own throat had gone sore from all the shouting and screaming for help. Over and hour had passed I was lying on a narrow piece of protruding earth, an area roughly six feet across, my only twig of hope before I fell into the valley hundreds of feet below. I was not able to stand, neither was I able to put any pressure on my hands. Even if I did not die from the fall, I was surely going to die of starvation. There was no way I was going to be able to get out of here.
Just when I had lost all hopes, I saw a hazy figure descend with the help of a rope. At first, I thought I was imagining things as my vision was slightly blurred and the sun was high up in the sky. But as he came closer, I knew he was an actual person and not any hallucination. He introduced himself as Pravin from Shivdurga and told me I need not worry, and he was going to get me out, safe.
I could not thank God enough. Whatever I say here in this story is not going to mirror the feelings that erupted at that very moment. I was blown. A ray of hope is sometimes the only thing you have and when you finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, the feeling is inexplicable. Pravin wrapped me in a stretcher he had brought with himself and tied it to a rope that was rigged at the top. I was crying. He spent a couple of minutes and talked me out at first. It was not possible for him to rescue me if I was in this constant state of panic, crying and shouting. He pacified me and then started pulling the stretcher up with him. He was pulling himself by the rope and then pulling my heavy body and then repeating this over and over again every time advancing for a feet or two in the upward direction. Lying on the stretcher, I could see his colossal efforts and I decided I was going to help him as much as I can by just shutting my mouth till we reach the top. That was the least help I could provide him and I was going to do it.
I closed my eyes and promised myself to be quiet. My silence for the next half an hour or so gave me time to think about the events that had led me to this state. A beautiful day with fun and frolic had transformed into a nightmare when I had stepped on loose mud accidentally in an attempt to pick my friend’s bag fallen a couple of feet away from me. I had ignored the calls of my friends saying leave it bro, there is nothing much valuable in it and it’s just a camera, it’s not worth the risk. One wrong step and nothing to hold on to! And the next thing I knew was I was crashing down bushes and rocks damaging every inch of my body as it rolled down. After the initial panic and hysteria, I reckon, someone might have called Shivdurga for help.
“That’s it, brother. I cannot pull you from here. You will have to stand on your feet.” I opened my eyes and saw a sweaty Pravin, red in the face, panting and puffing. I looked at the cliff. There was a huge boulder which needed to be crossed and he was not able to do it without some initiative from my end. With great effort, I climbed out of the stretcher and landed my right foot on the ground. And then, my left. A massive agony ran up my foot up to my brain, and I immediately lifted my foot and let out a loud scream. Pravin wrapped my left hand around his shoulder and held me by my waist. He tied a harness around my body and attached it to a rope.
“Come on, you can do it… You have to do it… It’s the only way out…” He was constantly motivating me. I kept my foot on the ground once again and pressed my upper and lower jaw together so tightly that I thought they might get fused together. Somehow we crossed that small patch of rock and within a few minutes, we were on the top. I crashed on the ground. In my scope of vision, I saw everything upside down. There were other team members of Shivdurga co-ordinating the rescue from above, a police van and two constables standing near it, my friends with tears in their eyes and in between all of them – a clean blue sky. I was saved. I had got a new life. And the entire credit goes to Shivdurga.
These guys work relentlessly without any expectation from anyone. They do not have any funding nor do they have any government support. In times of emergency, they do not charge a single dime from anyone, just work for the sake of humanity. And they are so skilled and dependable that many a times, even the local police seeks their help in rescue operations.
A month and a couple of surgeries later, I was able to stand on my own. Today, I can walk, run and do all the regular activities that I used to do earlier. And all of this is possible only because of Shivdurga. It is my sincere appeal to tourists and trekkers, please do enough research of the place you are visiting and take utmost care at places like waterfalls, dams, cliffs etc. Do not get driven away by excitement, always stay sober and think twice before you leap. You might not be as lucky as me, so why put yourself in that position in the first place?
—As told by Srikant Dange to Fitrangi.com