Haji Malang was a small mountain standing alone on the gently rolling plains north of Mumbai. Poised like a crouching lion, it proudly overlooked the sprawling industrial mass of Kalyan.
In this subtly rarified air, the P.M. slowly followed Pierre along the stone path as it wound endlessly up the steep slope. At every turn a sadhu sat alone or as part of a small group, silently encouraging his ascent. The sadhus didn’t appear in the least surprised to see him, just happy – very happy – and excited, as though they’d been waiting all their lives to see him coming up the mountain – like it was a dream come true.
The P.M. was also excited. With every step he couldn’t help notice feeling a tiny boost of… what was it… enthusiasm? Hope? Perhaps even madness? It was definitely a lift, and one quite unlike the cheap injection of ego he received in the cabinet room. This was subtle, silent, implied – almost imaginary. He wondered, was it simply a lift of confidence?
No – not confidence – definitely not.
What you feel is simply hope – a small fragment of hope.
Hope that at the end of the day, Shard knows what he is doing.
But no matter how he defined this feeling, the higher the P.M. climbed the more enlivened he became, willed on as he was by this wonderful wave of welcome from the sadhus.
“This would want to be worth it,” he said, just joking.
It was a steep walk.
“Don’t worry – it will be,” Pierre said, doing it easily.
Eventually the P.M. stopped, exhausted, and finally took a moment to look up from the tricks of the track. The sky was reddening, priming itself in soft shades of pink. Small puffs of cloud hovered in the ether, white and pure, like silent witnesses to the play below – a play in which the P.M. could feel himself becoming increasingly immersed.
He looked around to see Pierre chatting with an old sadhu -
“Let’s just stay here for a while,” Pierre suggested.
Purring like a cat, the old sadhu joined in the invitation, beckoning the P.M. to come and sit with him.
“No, no. I really…”
The P.M. hesitated – he still felt a real resistance of some kind.
“Come on –relax,” Pierre said. “We’ve got plenty of time.”
“Well – you have.”
“Come on -just indulge yourself for a change. Have a bit of fun with this old man. He tells me he’s been waiting a long time for this.”