the black parade

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Eleanor Roosevelt once said that

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the things which you think you cannot do."

I've always love jungle trekking and camping but I've never imagined myself being left alone in the jungle at night. If given the ability to choose, I would never have chosen to stand alone surrounded by the eerie silence of the jungle. But my preference didn't matter when my group of twelve first-year female students were sent out in the middle of the darkest of nights carrying only a map, a torch light and a compass. We were to find our way through the darkness and look for Osama Laden in the form of a twelve-inch bamboo in an empty, abandoned house.

Despite being the youngest of the group, I have to lead them through this whole program. Their health and performance were my responsibilities. But they were all very cooperative and considerate enough to make things easier for me.

A group was sent off every 30 minutes and our group was the sixth of ten. We started our 'Osama' hunt at exactly 1.45 am. With the map as our sole guide, we headed into the darkness. We were walking cautiously in 6 rows - two in each row. It was like a mini exodus, a black parade. The path was gravelly for the first 10 minutes. There was no sound except for the silent zikr each of us was citing. As we reached the edge of the jungle I was getting more and more anxious. I couldn't wait to get it over with. The dual line form we were in became a single one as the path was too narrow and fit for only one person at a time. I was in front of the line. Holding the torch light firmly in one hand and the map in another, I carefully led the group into the blindness of the jungle. Teamwork and tolerance kept us on the right route although we need to turn back every time we were off track.

Through teamwork and tolerance did we manage to reach the empty house on time. It was lit with dim lights. We couldn't find the twelve-inch bamboo after searching the parameter of the house for an hour. Only after that did we realize we were searching the wrong house. It was supposed to be the other house that we missed because there was absolutely no light whatsoever in that area. We had to go back to into the absolute darkness again. I was about to give up as I was already at my limits. But thinking of the other members of the team, giving up was not my choice. As said by Hannah Arendt : Fear is an emotion indispensable for survival. I knew I have to finish this dreadful journey.

We got to the creepy abandoned house and started searching for 'Osama'. This time we were able to get inside of the building. There were lots of old furniture, drawers and cupboards. There was a calendar still hanging on the wall which stated the year 1887. After circling the building countless times we were grateful to finally found the so-called 'Osama' and headed to the base camp. It was 4.00 am when we reported to the commander. It was so late and the hunt took a long time - not to mention a lot of energy - but it was so worth it when we finally held the twelve-inch bamboo.

I couldn't sleep for the rest of the morning. Before heading back to UMP we took our chance to visit the museum nearby and had a blast of air batu campur and keropok lekor before hopping on the bus. Thinking back, I realized that the 'journey through darkness' has opened my eyes to a whole new level of capabilities. As I have once stated in my previous post:

'It is only when you're tested that you discover who you truly are and who you can be.'