So, the day after that last entry of mine, we set out for Kedarnath. A drive of about 10- 15 minutes brought us to the base camp from which one had to proceed by walk or pony. We chose the pony since we had to cover about 14 kilometers each way. As we climbed higher, it got chillier and foggier. The light but stingingly cold drizzle that had begun didn't help matters. We were freezing by the time we reached the top. The kids had begun to cry since the oxygen level had also dropped. Thankfully, we had had the foresight to carry a tiny oxygen cylinder with us. The kids began to feel better after a few puffs of pure oxygen. We stripped off our wet clothes for the fear of catching a cold and got into bed. Although having gotten under two really thick blankets hadn't stopped my teeth from chattering, I managed to fall asleep.
We woke up in the evening in order to go to the temple for a darshan of Lord Shiva. Since the people who lead the ponies had told us not to get too much luggage, I had taken only an extra t- shirt planning to wear it with the same jeans. But the jeans hadn't dried during my nap and putting on those wet, ice cold jeans again was the hardest thing I've done in my life ever. But my trials for the day were not over yet. It is forbidden to enter a Hindu temple with footwear on. So, we had to walk into the temple barefoot in the freezing night. Dinner however was served hot right to our beds and we fell asleep completely swaddled in sheets and blankets.
The next morning, having washed our faces with ice cold water, we began the descent. The saddle on my pony was rather hard and the guy leading it refused to get me an extra blanket. It was agony to stay in that saddle and finally with just two kilometers to go, I could take it no more. I asked the guy leading the pony to let me get off. As I was getting off that stupid pony, it moved so that I no longer had a foothold. I was now half off the pony and half on it. I tightened my grip on the hoop that is provided for the rider to hold on to, so that I may not fall. The guy leading the pony behind mine came running to help me which I guess frightened the horse. The horse took off at top speed. I felt myself slipping off the horse and was dragged along for a good ten meters before the horse was stopped. The next thing I knew was sitting on the ground looking at my right thumb which had a gash halfway around it with the broken bone showing.
I was made to sit on a different pony and taken to the First Aid station which was 15- 20 minutes ride away. The gash was stitched up and I was told to go to the nearest hospital which was 76 kilometers away. On those winding mountain roads, that would take nearly three hours to cover. If this had happened in my home town, I would have received the best medical care in the country within 20 minutes. 76 kilometers to receive basic medical attention? It was ridiculous but we had no other option. Three hours of agony, anxiety and 'what ifs' somehow passed and we arrived at the clinic of an Orthopedician who set the bone and put the thumb in a cast but warned me to get home within 48 hours as the thumb would have to be operated upon.
We reached our hotel three hours later and had to stay there for the night as the fog made it impossible to travel that day. We set out early next day bound for Delhi, which we reached at two in the night. The next available flight was at nine in the morning. We took it and reached within 48 hours to have the bone set once again (The orthopedician hadn't done it right and no operation was necessary- the guy must've been an idiot) in my home town. And that is the story of how my wish to sleep in my own bed was granted within 48 hours..