I could have been anywhere else in the world or could have become someone else, yet I find myself here at Agua Azul. Of all the possibilities I had in my life, I ended up taking this route.
Like my elder brother, I might have been repairing tyres in Layyah right now. Or, I could have continued to be a lecturer at Punjab College Multan. Or, I could have tied knots to a woman who would have never allowed me to go anywhere, or had kids and felt too responsible to leave them alone. Or, I could have lost my both legs in an accident had I not seen the approaching platform at the last second when I was dozing off sitting at the door of a fast moving train. Or, I could have held my last job at Siemens and retired with benefits in Germany. Or what if my younger brother, who was 13 at that time, had not told me vaguely about a letter which my family had received a couple of weeks before but completely neglected simply because they couldn’t understand English? It turned out to be the acceptance letter from a German university which eventually brought me to Germany where I started a new life and was able to save enough for the bicycle touring. Long ago, I could have been forced to drop out of college because my family was not able to pay the tuition fee. Dad worked hard with his blistered hands to save money, mom sold her jewellery, and elder brother sold his motorcycle to pay for my education, and even class fellows raised donations for the final semester at the BZ University. Even going to Germany was not easy, it was all loans, which were paid off over the course of many years after a lot of hard work.
All this, to be in Agua Azul? To see these waterfalls?
The way river at Agua Azul takes several different courses, we too take many different paths in our lives after being born at the top and cascading our way to the ocean we call death. Melting ice in the mountain has no idea where it will end up, all it knows is that it is being pulled by gravity. I too don’t know how I came to be here and where will this path take me to. I began this journey because I was pulled into it by my inner-self. Such was this force of this call that I risked everything for it. Otherwise, I didn’t spend 23 years of education to live on the dusty roads away from family and friends. I never imagined that at this age, when people have settled in their carriers and lives, everything I own would reduce to what I am carrying on the bicycle right now. I just wanted to do one bicycle tour and that was from Germany to Pakistan. I did it. That should have been it. I should have gone back to Germany and resumed the office job. Why this tour? How can I continue this travel with so little money? Just a couple of years ago, even in my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have imagined that I would be leaving everything behind to be on a world tour. Today, when I have no job or a career I pretend to be a travel/documentary photographer. Yes, my family owned a polaroid and a Yashica camera like every other family did, but it never crossed my mind that photography and compiling photo essays would be the only things I would be doing at some point in my life.
But somehow, a bicycle and a camera entered in my life, as they do in everyone else’s life. Like a river, I kept going on my path bouncing around by a myriad of other things, unaware of what future held for me but eventually was diverted to take this path I am at right now. But I have no complaints. I am just wondering how it started and how it is going to end.
Just as water is not afraid to jump from the heights because all it wants is to descend, I am not afraid to fail because all I want is to live!