Last summer we had occasion to go to Shimla. My uncle was posted there. He had a beautiful government accommodation. There were two houses on both the sides of the road. In .front there was a small kitchen garden and a winding path beyond it. On the back there was a hilly slope ending in a valley. There was a narrow path leading to the valley by the side of the next house. The back room had big glass panes. It was rather a wall of glass. I would sometimes sit alone there looking at the beauty of the valley, the clouds that would enter through the window, the trees that bloomed with fruits and flowers. But I was attracted the most towards the narrow paths winding through the hilly forest. I saw local people moving friskily on these paths and wished to be one of them.

I used to go to the Ridge every evening to look at the Himalayan peaks. But the path was very long. My uncle, one day, told me that one of the foot paths in the valley was a short cut. But he advised me not to make an experiment. It was not safe to go alone. Contrary to his wish I decided to have an adventure in the hill. It was a clear day. Uncle had gone to the office. Papa and Mamma had gone to the Mall to make purchases. I gave a slip to aunt and dashed towards the valley.

For some time I was on a clean path. Then I saw a local man leaving the path and bending his way to a bushy track going up. I asked him where he was going. He told me the path led to the Ridge. But as I was not a local man he advised me not to go by that path. It was full of thorns. He had seen me coming from the direction of my uncle’s house. When he was out of sight I took the path. I wanted to enjoy the romance. But the romance did not last long. It was very difficult to climb the ascending narrow path. After five minutes I stumbled down and my right leg fell on a thorny plant. It seemed a scorpion had bit me. The pain was intolerable. I started crying. But who would listen to my cries in the wilderness.

Fortunately for me, the same man was coming down. Listening to my cries he hurried towards me. I cried ‘scorpion has bit me’. He smiled at me and ran towards a plant, picked some leaves, crushed them and applied the juice to the place where scorpion had bit. Within minutes the pain disappeared. But the leg had swollen so much that I could not stand. He took me on his back and reached my uncle’s house within minutes. On the way he told me it was not scorpion but the thorn of a bush of the same name. The plant near it was its antidote. We stayed for a fortnight more. But I always avoided these narrow valley paths.