Tuesday, August 30, 2016


I was wavering between REM and wakefulness and abruptly my eyes opened. The curtains to the French window in front of me were open and the light of dawn was filling the room. I looked out and was startled out of my bed – there right in front of me was the snow-clad peak in its full and complete glory – the knife blade of the summit etched like a stark drawing with a Rotring pen. There wasn’t a speck of cloud, nor any haze anywhere. The mountain had decided to show the little Alpine village of Zermatt every contour on its face. The sky was a pale blue – as it is before sunrise. And etched on the sky was the crowning glory of the canton of Valais – the Matterhorn. Mont Cervin. Monte Cervino.

We had been waiting ever since our arrival at Zermatt to get an unobstructed glimpse of the majestic peak of the mountain. My father told me on phone –“I had skied above Zermatt years ago but the thing to see there is the knife edged peak of the Matterhorn.” So everyday, between various alpine activities, our eyes would turn to the mountain and there would always be wisps of cloud hiding the horn. Today was the last morning before we were to leave Zermatt and suddenly we were blessed with this spectacular view.

I stood in the balcony quietly clicking pictures and thinking how none of these photographs would do justice to the real thing.

And then, like a curtain going up on a wonder, the next part of the show began.

The peak turned a light shade of pink. The sun was rising!

I had read of this amazing sight. “If you are lucky, you will see the peak of the Matterhorn catching the first rays of sunrise and then it will slowly spread down the mountain face” said the guidebooks. And there it was. In a breathtaking show over the next one hour, the mountain was slowly bathed in the light of the rising sun.

Pouring molten gold down its glaciers, the sun slowly rose. It seemed as though today the sun had decided that the only reason it would awaken was to pour yellow metal on the mountain. It did not matter if the meadows caught the sun. Or if the edelweiss opened its petals that morning. Or if the Vispa river sparkled. Nobody noticed if the stained glass windows in the church reflected its multicoloured panes on the stone floors. The Stellisee lake reflecting the mountains was forgotten. For those minutes the Matterhorn was all that mattered – metamorphosing from a geological mass of rock to something other-worldly.

In an hour the Matterhorn had turned a glistening silver as the sun became brighter and the valley was filled with light.

The light of that sunrise entered my heart and filled it with joy. It was as if I had experienced these lines written a century back

How have the sun’s rays in my heart entered this morning!
How have the songs of the morning birds into the dark cave broken!
Who knows why, after long, my soul has woken

Nirjharer Swapnabhango/Awakening of the Waterfall

Returning to the mountains with my family after several years, I could not have asked for a better gift from forces which I consider divine. Maybe these were blessings. Maybe these were just particles of light scattering through the atmosphere and spreading life-giving energy. Whether sacred or profane, in that beautiful valley, in that morning light, the Matterhorn showed us the magic that’s there in living.


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