Fiction: Dreamers From The Haze

August 22, 2017 Fiction , Literature , POETRY / FICTION

Andy Kerr photo

 

By

Saru Pokharel

 

 

CHAPTER-I

 

“The government has finally passed permit to climb the mountain, Chomolungma, yesterday.” A fine radio rested on the wall near the house spoke.

“Look it’s snowing!” Tensing heard his friend Nima shout out of the house.

“The Mountain’s gonna look so pretty.” It had snowed after a long time. Those two little kids ran out from the stone house, towards the backyard to feel snow pass through their fingers. In front of them, was a huge white mountain standing, sparkling it’s beam to the surrounding. Few kilometers below the base of the mountain, Tensing had his two storied stone house with red tin roof. The huge mountain stood in front of them like a roof under the sky. Chomolungma, they used to call her, a goddess, mother of the world and would worship her on various occasions. So was she for people who had always relied on her for their daily wages. Tensing, however always had felt like she was a friend, looking after his family and someday he would like to kiss her peaks. But, Tensing had not known anyone who had set foot on her body. They said, she was fierce when it came to landing on her territory. Those who had tried to doing so were badly defeated by her fury. Tensing and his little friends had visited her till her base to get a closer view but there was no way the little kids would dare to climb the mountain. However, Tensing was confident that someday, in the future, he would conquer her, she was her pal after all. Tensing’s father, Kshiring, was a trader who used to trade grains for salt with other traders past the mountain. He also used to guide visitors who used to come, view the beautiful village lying at the lap of the mountain, every year. While, Tensing’s mother used to carry out her house hold works during morning and evening hours and rear sheep and yaks during the day time.

Today, none of his parents were out for work. They were at home. It was snowing as if the weather also celebrated their stay at home. In fact, his house was a little crowded than before. Some older ladies of the village had taken his mother into a room and other male members including his father were waiting outside. Tensing wanted to be with his mom, but, his neighbor uncle Norbu, father of Nima, had dragged him outside the room. The eleven year old was upset but again the snowfall had cheered him up.

Tensing and his best friend Nima jumped at the backyard, as they felt snow falling over their body. They had worn their warm boots made up of sheep’s fur which finally seemed to be beneficial to these little kids. The sky looked rough as cottony snow started pouring heavily towards the ground.

“It’s getting heavy!” shouted Nima as she pulled Tensing towards an old apple tree where two little kids stayed to save themselves from the heavy snowfall.

“Aaaaaaaaaa!” Tensing heard a shrill noise from inside of the house. “Mom!” Tensing ran towards the house. Soon, it was then followed by the sound of a child cry. The pitch echoed all over the surrounding. He entered the house, after him, ran little Nima and they stood on the passage near a door of the backyard.

“It’s a girl!” An old woman wearing Bakkhu and thick trousers exited the room, to the passage holding a little infant wrapped on a warm blanket and looked into eager eyes of his father. Everyone in the passage started humming.

“Oh! No! It’s a girl. It’s a girl! ”

Tensing could see faint faces of people, the superiors of the village. He had seen the same look at his grandfather’s funeral, last year. Little Tensing got confused. No one had died this time, why was everyone so sad? Or it must be the cold. But with all that thick Bakkhu and Docha and those thick caps over their head, the cold seemed to be immersing from somewhere deep inside their heart.

“Oh god! They had a baby girl.” He heard from a corner.

“Now she has to be protected all her life, should get married. Dowry and all. Such a burden.”

Tensing heard voice of his neighbor uncle, Norbu from the crowd. Norbu always had been a negative person. Threatening kids on the surrounding; fighting for no reasons, this had become his identity. Some people in the village told he used to be a nice person once but then he got plunged into the ocean of debts after his folk of sheep died out of a strange disease. He wanted to bear a boy who would help him on trades but again in hope of bearing the boy, he already had three daughters. Nima was the elder one. And all that frustration had made him a bitter guy.

Tensing didn’t like Norbu making comments on his new born baby sister. He looked towards his father, Kshiring. He seemed to remain untouched from the gloom lingering into the house. He extended his loving arms towards the baby and smiled.

“It’s good that it’s a daughter. I already have a son to help me on my trade. She’s going to help her mother. I am going to raise her like a princess and get her married to a rich boy.” Said Kshiring.

“Yaa! But no matter how much you love her, she has to be sent away someday. It’s like raising someone else’s property.” Said Uncle Norbu. Other people in the crowd seemed to be agreeing to Uncle Norbu. “Yes! He has got a point.” He could hear the humming.

“What are you saying Norbu? Goddess has sent her part to us. She will brighten up any home she sets her foot into. Look at her face, it’s sparkling. It’s my duty to take her care till then.” Kshiring said as he stared out of the door of backyard, to the mountain standing in front of them. He seemed happy and kissed forehead of the baby girl. After all, the approval of family meant the most.

The faint shadows in the faces of people gathered had now started fading away and were then replaced by the bright smiles.

A few moments after that, Tensing saw the critics turn into admirers who had started congratulating his father on birth of a beautiful baby daughter.

“Boy, she’s lucky!” He heard little Nima mumble from behind. He saw the expression with both happiness and suppressed sadness.

The fact was, Tensing had never seen her father kiss her. He had not even seen him holding her hands. He felt sorry for his little friend. His face turned pale.

“Tensing!” Kshiring holding the baby girl took a peek towards Tensing and nodded his head as if he was calling him near. Tensing had stood far from the crowd near the door of the backward. He got near to his father leaving his friend.

“Look! She’s so beautiful.” said Kshring. Little Tensing nodded and smiled at him. His father slowly lowered his arms to let Tensing look at his baby sister. Indeed, the baby girl was tiny yet beautiful. She was so white like the cottony snow flake falling outside. She barely had any eyebrow on that tiny face. Tensing ran his index finger through her pretty little fingers. They were so soft and red. He could feel the grasp on his finger and the baby girl yawned showing her toothless jaw. She was incredibly pretty.

“You can go meet your mom now.” The old lady in Bakkhu turned towards Tensing and said. Tensing left his baby sister on the arms of his father and ran inside the room where his mother laid on a big wooden bed. He ran through concrete floor, opened his furred boots and jumped right on the bed.

“You’re okay?” Asked little Tensing and wiped off her sweats by his fuzzy sweater. “Were you hurt? I heard you scream.”

“No! I am okay.” She pulled him near and kissed his forehead.

Tensing felt warm inside. He always liked to stay close to his mother as he would feel that magnificent smell coming from her. His mother had worn polka dotted bakkhu on her body and a tight belt around her waist which was referred as patuka by locals.

Tensing always felt his mother looked the most beautiful in that polka dotted bakkhu when she tied her long silky hair in pony tail.

Today it was all scattered. He could feel her long hair over his face as he cuddled with his mother.

“Tensing, your mom needs to get rest.” He heard his father as he entered the room with his baby sister on his arms. Tensing got off the bed to the cold concrete floor as his father placed the infant on the bed near Mom. Suddenly, the little girl seemed to be bringing a distance between Tensing and his mother. A slight feeling of hatred towards the new born baby sprouted into his heart.

“Son, step on the mattress. You may catch cold.” His mother said, seeing Tensing stand on the cold concrete floor. He was a little relived that his baby sister had not taken all their parent’s attention yet. He kissed his mother and ran towards the passage.

The humming of all those old people had now faded away. The old fellows of the village who had gathered to see the new born child had left. From the door of backyard, at a distance, he could see Nima, running behind her father who seemed to be heading towards their home. On the passage, he felt swirling wind of the cold snowfall on that dusk. He got near the door of the passage, the white mountain had started turning orange by the color of setting sun. He tried to close the door. Snow was full on the threshold of the door that it won’t close. He tried to pull the door harder but the snow had jammed it. The noise of unsuccessful attempts of the little lad to close the backyard’s door nudged his father. He got out of the room.

“Let me do it.” He said. He moved Tensing aside and removed the snow by the broom nearby. He then closed the door.

Tensing watched the snow fall from small glass window in the door. The fall was slowly receding. The sun had set and a dark night was approaching, blurring the image of the huge mountain, Chomolungma, standing in front of him. He could hear a shrill yet beautiful cry of his little baby sister from the room. Her shrilled voice brought a kind of warm feeling inside Tensing though he had that slight former feeling of hatred towards her. The sound echoed all over the house. The wind bells on the door chimed by a rush of the wind on that falling dusk as the celebration of welcome to the little member in their family.

 

 

CHAPTER-II

 

Tensing’s family used to trade grains occasionally with people past the mountain and the people would pay them off with pennies or give them back some other stuffs. It was one of those days.

“Ding! Dong!” rang the bells of Yaks. Tensing stopped and wheezed for a moment as he followed his father on the steep hill.

They were climbing a hill near the base of the mountain. The warm sun of noon was sparkling bright. He could feel the rays of light striking back and forth to the mountain nearby. Below his feet was the brown grass and the rocky gravelled pathway. The path was little dampen by the melting of snow that had fallen, a day before. Traces of snow were still present on the sideways at that sunny noon. He looked up to the clear blue sky. He could see eagles moving around. Tensing, as a kid was always terrified of eagles. He had heard these stories of huge eagles grabbing and flying away with those nasty little kids who would not finish their dinner and later throw them into the huge oceans, from his late grandfather. Tensing believed now his old man would be resting somewhere far beneath that blue sky. Tensing’s eyes were however fixed on one eagle. The way it played with the wind in the clear blue sky. Pretended to fall for a while but again catch it’s pace in no time. His continuous glare might have given the bird a signal of invitation. This time, the bird fell from it’s pace but didn’t rise up and flew against the wind. It approached Tensing.

He could see size of the eagle grow larger and larger and largerwith every passing second. It seemed like the eagle was probably coming to pick him up.

“Father!” Tensing ran towards his father to clutch his hand.

Kshiring was guiding their two Yaks, Grey and Brown. Jhuma and Milli, Tensing used to call them.

The ding dong of the little bells hung around the neck of Yak continued to ring as they walked on the steep lawn. There were brown jute sacks on the back of the yaks. Tensing could see strands of hay peeking out of some pores of the sack.

“How long should we walk?” Asked Tensing as he stumbled on a little rock on the path.

“We are almost there. Just couple of minutes more.” Said Kshiring as he hit the nearest Yak by a tiny twin of a tree.

After few minutes of the walk, they reached to the top of the hill. It was more like a plateau sitting on the lap of the white mountain. Unlike the path, grasses here were all green and fresh where numbers of Yaks were feeding on. Tensing’s yaks too started grazing on the green grass, while Kshiring unloaded the sacks from their back.

“What are those?” Little Tensing ran towards his dad, pointed at the sacs and asked.

“These are sacks of grains.” Said Kshiring as he straightened the sacks lying on ground. “We are here to trade them for salt.”

“Salt? That we put on the vegetables?”

“Yes!” said Kshiring and tapped the head of little Tensing.

The bonding of son and father was being observed by divine Chomolungma who was standing in front of them.

“I am going to climb her someday.” Said Tensing as she pointed at her.

“Sure, you will.” Smiled Kshiring on how a little kid suddenly changes his subject of conversation.

“Why hasn’t any one else set foot on her?” Asked Tensing.

“She’s fierce!”

“Fierce?”

“Yes! She is a goddess and has been standing there for so many years. Your grandfather, his father and many of our ancestors have been living here for ages but no one has ever conquered her.”

“Why is so?”

“She has powers. They say that she won’t let anyone unworthy set foot on her peaks.”

“Really?”

“Yes! May be she’s waiting for someone worthy and fierce like you.”

Tensing’s heart fluttered in happiness. It was like the corners of his lips were automatically attracted towards his ears as he smiled and dreamt of conquering her.

“I even have a small flag which I’ll set on her peaks, after I climb her.”

“Really! Very good.” Kshiring tapped Tensing’s shoulder.

“How can anyone be fierce enough to climb her?” Asked Tensing as he looked his father with curious eyes.

“It means you have to be very strong and very brave.”

“Really! Am I strong?”

“Of course, you are my son.” Kshiring replied.

“Do you know? I once tried to reach the base camp with my friends.”

“Oh! That must be adventurous.”

“Yes, it was. But some of my friends started getting headaches on the way. ”

“Oh!”

“You know Nima right?”

“Yes! Norbu’s girl.”

“Yes, she is better than all other friends of mine. She knows so much about the mountain. And she even didn’t get any headache while going the base? Does this mean she is also fierce?”

“She too might be fierce.” Smiled Kshiring. “And! How did she get to know that much about the mountain?”

“She has books with so many pictures of mountain in it. Some visitors who had stayed in her home gifted them to her.”

“Oh! That’s nice.”

“If any visitor would come in our place can I have a book too.”

“Sure, you can.” Kshiring smiled.

The conversation of the little lad and his father got interrupted after they saw a shaggy image of a person approaching them.

Tensing saw a fat, middle aged man waving towards them from a distance. He could tell the man had climbed the hill from another base of the mountain. His flat yet thick nose was peeking from a finely woven cap, he was wearing over his head. His Bakkhu and Docha were decorative unlike the dull colored Tensing’s clothes.

He looked at his belt. Wait, it was very shiny, he had not seen any shiny belts like that before. He got quite excited to talk to this interesting stranger from the base of the mountain and gave him a wide grin.

“Namaskaar! Solti” The fat man bawled from a distance as a greeting to Kshring. Kshiring responded his greetings by joining his two hands. The fat man came to him and said.

“Okay! So how much did you bring?”

“These four sacks of grains, Sahu.” Kshiring showed the sacks of grains sitting on the ground.

“Only four sacks.” The face of the man shrunk and a strange line on his forehead appeared. His expression showed how pissed off he got.

“We could not grow much grains this time. Most of the crops were destroyed by untimely rainfall. I have kept some to feed ourselves for this year, though, I am sure they won’t be sufficient. We could save only this much for the trade.”

“Really! All the grains got destroyed by rainfall?”

“Yes! The rain is pouring wrong time these years so the grains do not get chance to grow properly.” He looked towards the mountain.

“You made the same excuse last time and traded six sacks of the grains. Now, there are only four. I too have a family, I have to do the trade of profit for them. I think I should find someone else to trade with.”

“No, I’ll make sure this won’t happen again. I hope you understand.”

Tensing heard his father pleading. His father was a hero to him and he didn’t like the way he was pleading to that fat man.

“Of course, I do understand so despite all this I am trading with you.”

Sahu’s voice raised as if he was doing a great favor to them. Tensing did not like the tone of his voice. The interesting stranger from base of the mountain suddenly turned to this evil beast who lived under the caves of a huge mountain and eat the passersby. His fat nose and chubby cheeks resembled to that of beasts. His huge round belly made him feel, god knows how many little children were trapped inside it.

“Kancha!” The man shouted. A lean man wearing dull Docha waved to the fat man and approached them along with a Brown Yak with a sac on it’s back. Tensing looked at the Yak. He saw some bits of dung attached to its thick fur and it was definitely not beautiful than Mili. The little boy got a bit satisfied that they beat that beast on at least one thing.

“Kancha! Give me the sack!” The fat old man bellowed. The skinny lad handed him an empty jute sack that was stuck between the bulge sack and the back of that brown dirty Yak. He unloaded the sack took out a sharp knife from his pocket. Little Tensing got a bit terrified and clutched to the pant of his father. The man made a hole to the sac as he drilled the sharp knife into it and tore the jute sack. There was a white crystalline thing Tensing could see. He soon recognized.

“Salt!” He shouted. All the three men looked at Tensing for a moment and then continued the business. They didn’t realize why it was so exciting to see the salt. There was a steel bowl in the sack. Tensing had plenty of them in his home. He again felt the  sense of victory over that fat jerk. The man started filling the bowl and pouring it to another empty sack until the sack was half filled. He made the knot in former sack and tossed it towards Kshiring. The heavy sack almost got Tensing’s feet but he hopped and saved himself from that beast.

“So! You get half of the sack of salt this time.”

“Only half?” Kshiring face shrunk in disappointment.

“Look! You have given me these four sacks of grains. With all those husk and hay, god knows it would even fill a sack or not. So what I am giving you in return is far more than you deserve.” He pulled out the hay immerging from a pore of the sack.

The fat man got near Kshiring and tapped him to the shoulder.

“Come on! Be happy!” Kshiring pretended to smile but Tensing knew, his father was sad inside.

“And pray your goddess that it would rain more the next year.”

Then the thin lad loaded all the sacks on back of that ugly Yak. The Yak seemed to get tiered from the load. However, the fat man flung a huge stick towards the Yak and made it walk away.

Tensing and Kshiring stood there watching two men walk away with their grain. Kshiring sadly loaded the half empty sack on the back of Jhuma.

“Father! Don’t trade with him from the next time.” Tensing looked at his father. “I didn’t like him.”

“I didn’t too.”

“Can’t we go past the mountain to the main market, by ourselves? I’ll carry the loads if you want?”

“They are brokers.”

“We can be brokers.” Kshiring smiled to Tensing and slowly led the Yaks to the steep way to their home. Tensing followed his father. The snow that was left on the path had now all melted away. The path seemed pretty damp as they were climbing down the steep hill. The warm sun of the noon melted pearls from the forehead of Tensing. He took the cap off and wiped the sweat. The cool breeze from the mountain blew his hair as he walked towards the valley of his hometown.

 

 

CHAPTER-III

 

Tensing was hastily running down the steep lawn of the hill. “Catch the thief! Catch the thief!” He heard some people scream from a distance. He looked backwards, couple of people in rage were swinging towards him.

“Help! Help!” He started shouting for help as he speeded down the cliff. The speed was increasing and even if he wanted to stop and change the direction, he was unable to do so. “Theie! Catch the thief!” People were calling out to him but he had no idea what he had stolen. However, his right hand felt quite heavy. The half sack of the salt, he saw in his hand. Before him, he saw the fat person approaching in a terrific speed and after him was Kancha.

“He is the one. Catch the boy!” The fat man screamed as he pointed at Tensing. Tensing could not stop running on the steep lawn. He knew he was heading towards the cruel fat man.

“This belongs to us. It’s not stealing.” He shouted. He looked backwards, a group of angry people were hustling towards him.

Tensing realized, now there was no way to save himself from those angry people. He looked at the huge mountain, his only pal  standing behind him, with the eyes full of tears. The sun was setting, the mountain had started losing its spark.

“Save me Chomolungma.” He mumbled. He could feel deep inside his heart, Chomolungma could hear him.

Suddenly, he saw a giant ball of snow rolling towards them. The snow ball rolled towards the angry people. In no time, it swept the furious people chasing him. Tensing still could hear the screams. “Thief! Thief!” from the snowball. He turned towards the fat man. The fat man and his loyal Kancha were running down the hill, away from the rolling giant snow. He felt happy to see them run away but then he realized the snowball was approaching in a terrific speed, to get him too.

“Oh No! NO!” “Don’t hit me! Don’t hit me! I am not a bad person!”

The scream of angry people was increasing. The heart of little Tensing was racing high as he screamed “Don’t hit me! Don’t hit me!”. He jerked as the sack of the salt fell from his hand.

“What happened Tensing? Tensing? It’s okay!” He heard the soothing voice of his mother. She had stayed beside his bed. It was a dream. The light of sun had scattered all over his room. It seemed like a noon to him. “I saw a dream. A very bad dream.”

Tensing hugged his mother pressing his little chest against her belly. He still could feel his heart racing hard.

“Sussh.. It’s okay! It was just a dream.” Told his mother with that beautiful voice as she hugged him tighter. Tensing felt a little alleviated. After a while, it got a little harder for him to get air  inside her hug. He pulled himself a bit farther and looked at her.

She had tied her hair in a pony and was looking gorgeous like always. He smiled as he felt her affection. After a while, he heard the sharp sound of his baby sister crying from a cradle opposite to the bed. His mother got up from the bed and went to the cradle to rock it. Again the little one had stolen his mother’s attention.

“Why is she in my room?” He bawled in anger. Tensing had his little cute room on the first floor of the house. The beautiful red tinned ceiling and a window, from which he could see his pal, Chomolungma.

“I am going to stay with her in your room. Won’t that be okay?” Smiled his mother, as she rocked the cradle.

“But, she will disturb me. Why can’t she stay in the room, below?”

“She is little, she’s going to be alone. She needs me, here. You don’t know, how much you used to cry when you were a little kid.”

“Really! More than her?”

“Way too more than her.” Even the memory of that seemed to make his mother look exhausted.

He got a little relived. If what his mother told was a truth, he would have certainly got more attention than his little sister.

But, he still wanted more of her affection which the little one seemed to be stealing away.

“I wish you’d get lost.” Tensing thought to himself.

“But, what happened to the room below?” He asked after a moment.

“Well, there are some visitors in the village. Some of them are staying in the room below.”

“Visitors?” He looked at some pieces of arts made by himself which were stuck to the walls in his room. He remembered a visitor with a blonde hair, who had gifted him a box of imported crayons from which he had created his master pieces. On the light of sun, the pictures looked more enhanced.Tensing soon got off the bed and ran towards the ground floor.

He was bare footed as he ran across the cold concrete, over the wooden stairs and hustled towards the room. From the passage, he could hear mumbling of some people inside the room. He put his ear on the door. Even on listening carefully, Tensing could not understand one bit of the conversation. They were speaking some other language. He peeped through the door, from a small opening at a side and all he could see were three people, two with blonde hair like the one who had gifted him crayons and one with black hair. Unlike the Bakkhu and Docha that the people in his area usually used to wear, the visitors used to wear these kind of thick jackets. Only few people who had relatives or who were favorite of these visitors would get to wear these kinds of clothes as gifts. He remembered the color of jacket of visitor with crayons.

It was exactly same as one in the Green.

“What are you looking at?” Tensing shuddered as his observation broke off by the sudden voice of Kshiring behind him. Kshiring pushed the door open and waved towards the visitors. The people waved back.

“My friend has found out, you can start trekking tomorrow.” Said Kshiring. Tensing entered the room after Kshiring.

“Well! Then that’s good. It means we have to stay here today.”

“Yes!” replied Kshiring.

“One of my visitor friend had told me there are various specialties’ in your place. We’d like to visit the cultural sites over here.”

Tensing was amazed by the ability of that different looking visitor to communicate in their mother tongue.

“Sure, why not? In fact today, around noon we are going to have this blood eating ceremony.”

“Blood eating ceremony? What’s that like?”

“It’s… you drink the blood of yaks for nutrition.”

“For nutrition?”

“Yes, Yaks in our region graze on the medicinal herbs and people in our area believe that you would get nutrition from their blood.”

“Fascinating! I am looking forward to it.” Said one of the visitors.

Tensing had also heard about this festival before but had never been on one. Some people used to tell this festival can be  horrifying for the little kids. Tensing however felt he could go with his father this time. He had started feeling like a real grown up after his baby sister was born.

“Can I go with you dad?” Tensing hiding behind his father said in a breath.

“I guess you are a grown up now. You even went to trade grains with me. You can go with us, my boy.”

Tensing jumped out of happiness. It was a matter of pride to Tensing. Finally, He was about to go to a ceremony where grownups were allowed.

“Oh! Who’s this little one?” asked the visitor. Tensing giggled behind his father’s back.

“He’s my elder son. He helps me in some trade works.” His father pulled him forward and proudly introduced him to the visitors. He finally realized going to the trade with his father was a great deal of work.

“Oh! So you are a strong young man huh?” The visitor came near and gently punched his arm. “Which grade do you study? Huh, young pal!!”

“Well! He used to go to a school nearby but since last year the school has been shut. They ran out of teachers.” Interrupted Kshiring.

“Really?” The visitor looked surprised. Kshiring nodded to him.

“They say the climate here is not favorable for the teachers and most of them have moved to the city areas.”

“Oh! That’s bad.” The visitor made the face as it was a very bad thing that happened. However, Tensing was liking the way things were going.

“Tensing! Tensing!” The conversation got interrupted as Tensing heard some kids calling from the backyard. Leaving the grownups along with their conversations in the room, he got out. There were his friends Pasang, Pema, Kavin and Sonam, who was more like a brother than a friend. But Tensing’s eyes were searching for someone else. The day was shining. Gust of wind hit the hair of Tensing, far from the Gumba as he heard monks chanting the holy morning prayers. The chiming of the wind-bell over his head made a shrill noise as he saw his beautiful friend Nima walking beneath the colorful flag painted with holy chants.

“Nima!” Tensing’s heart fluttered in happiness as he saw his best friend.

“Tensing! You are always last to join the group. Always late.” She shouted back.

“I am going to the blood drinking ceremony.” Boasted Tensing as he jumped towards his little friends.

“Blood drinking ceremony?” Mumbled everyone. They looked Tensing as he was some warrior heading for the war. “But only grownups are allowed in the ceremony.” said Sonam.

“Yaa ! My father just told I’m a grown up.” Smirked Tensing.

“Really!” Everyone in the ground looked Tensing in amaze.

“My father would never let me go there.” Said Nima as the smile in her face faded.

“Yes, because you are still a little girl.”

“What?”

“Yes, that’s what you are.” Mocked Tensing.

“No, I am same as your age.” She gave him a side eye.

“Look!” Tensing got near her and measured their height. Unfortunately, she was few inches smaller than Tensing. “You are so tiny!”

“Little girl! Little girl!” All the children started mocking Nima as they jumped on the backyard.

“Little girl! Little girl! Nima is a little girl.” The mocking of the children echoed all over the surrounding. Tensing pulled a strand of Nima’s braid and smiled. He always liked to tease her. He could feel that weird tickle inside his belly whenever he was around her and he really liked that.

“You call me a little girl? Did you forget the way you got frozen to the way of the base camp. I saved you.” Smirked Nima. Kids being the fan of climbing the mountain had tried reaching the base of the mountain to get the closer view of her but there were times when some kids felt difficulty in breathing and even nausea. Luckily, when Tensing had felt one of those, Nima had some medicinal herbs that her mother had packed up to the trek and that way she had saved Tensing from the sickness.

“That was something else. I am talking about going to the blood drinking ceremony.”

“Yaa! Girls get weaker than boys when they grow up. So, you better leave that mountain climbing dream.” Added Sonam.

“What? What did you say?” Nima gave Sonam a side eye, as he giggled. “I’ll too go there someday.”

“Yaa! I’ll take you there when you grow up.” Tensing booed his little friend.

“You’re such a little girl.” He pulled her neat braid again and jumped.

“Little girl! Little girl!” Again the kids on the backyard shouted.

Nima got upset and sat below the apple tree, getting a little distance from the mocking kids. Tensing realized that the kids were crossing their limits and it had started bothering his best friend. He reached near her and sat, tried to look into her eyes but she turned away. All other kids were looking at the attempts of Tensing to make it up with Nima.

“Tensing! Why don’t you marry this little girl when you grow up?

She ‘ll prepare you meal every day.” Again Sonam spoke.

“Why would I marry this little girl? She’s so little. Tiny!”

Everyone in the group giggled.

“Little girl! Little girl! “And the mocking continued.

“I don’t know anything! If there’s no boy this time. Better pray for your life.” A sharp noise shunned the screaming happy kids jumping on the backyard. It came from the one storied house of Nima. And the person who was yelling was non other than uncle Norbu. Then a gentle hum of someone sobbing was heard.

“Oh my god! Here we go, tears again. I ‘ve had enough of your drama. I cannot take this anymore and I won’t settle for anything less than I want. This is all I’ve asked you to do and you cannot even do this for me.”

A sound of something that had been hit to the wall was heard. The poor kids on the backyard shuddered, they could not do anything else but stare at Nima to know what that was going on. The brightness in the face of Nima faded away.

“What’s going on?” Tensing turned towards Nima and slowly asked her.

“Father wants a baby brother this time.” Nima looked towards him. “I am so scared. He beat mother at the morning.”

“Really?” All the kids in the group felt sorry for Nima. Tensing had been hearing constant yelling and shouting at times from few months but had never realized this was the reason. He had never liked uncle Norbu anyway but beating someone who had a baby inside her. That, made Norbu sink lower in eyes of the little kid.

”It’s going to be okay. You’re too stronger than any boy, my father had told that you are a fierce girl.” Said Tensing as he got near to relive little Nima.

“Really!”

“Yes! To climb the mountain you need to be fierce, strong and brave and he told you are those things. You can achieve great things in life then your father won’t cry about son.”

“I will.” She rested her head on his shoulder.

“Tensing, It’s time for the ceremony, son.” He heard his father shouting from the house. “Hurry up!”

“I am coming father.” He shouted back. He stood up and waved bye to his little friends on the backyard then entered the house. Kshiring along with his visitor friends was all set to head for the ceremony. They got out of the house and Kshiring reached the stable to untie two Yaks, Mili and Jhuma. Now, Tensing got scared, what he was up to? What was going to happen with his favorite yaks? Kshiring flung a little stick and guided the Yaks to the nearest field.

 

 

CHAPTER-IV

 

The buzz from the field had started hitting ears of Tensing as they were approaching the ground. From a distance, Tensing could see numbers of people hustling here and there and the strange sounds made by yaks that had made the whole environment quite dreary. The cankering of the bells hung on necks of Yaks had echoed all around the place. The environment looked uncanny.

One thing about the ceremony that Tensing loved was the stand of swinging, rotating paper fans by the cold breeze coming through the mountain, nearby. Pink and white fan with that zigzag texture of blue, which reminded him of the one his father had brought from the same ceremony last year. The seller didn’t seem familiar either, he must have arrived from the valley beneath all he could think of. Pink, white and blue, the paper fan swirled faster as the gust of breeze rushed towards the crowd. After a while, Tensing shifted his vision from the fan and he realized that he had lost his father and his visitor friends. He saw his father and the visitors move a long way along with Mili and Jhuma. He could see their shapes descending in the crowd. Tensing, as soon as he realized this, ran on his tiny feet, bumping against and pushing the people in the crowd making the passage for himself to meet the speed of his father.

On the way, he suddenly felt like something dripping on his arms, when he looked towards it, indeed it was blood that someone had spilled out of their drinking glass. This only seemed to be a trailer when he saw the blood patches spilling here and there all around the place after that. The next thing he saw was some people boring holes in nearest Yak’s body to suck out the blood. It was bizarre, a complete blood bath. Tensing got terrified with all that bloody feast and the dreary sounds of yaks who seemed to be crying in pain all around him. He started getting his vision blurred. In his ear, he felt like the fluid filled inside the gaps as a strange ringing sensation he felt into his head.

“Tensing! Tensing!”

In the insane murmur of the crowd, he heard traces of the recognizable sounds but he was unable to know exactly who was calling him. He saw the blurred images of some people approaching him and the sound started getting louder as he felt sinking towards the ground.

After couple of hours, Tensing opened his eyes and found himself lying on a bed in his bedroom. The orange light of the bulb had brightened up the entire room. Beside him was sitting his mother gently brushing his hair away from the forehead.

“I was in the blood drinking ceremony.” He mumbled.

“Yes, then you fainted and your father brought you here. You’re feeling all right honey?” His mother said in the soothing voice.

“Yes!” Tensing replied. He tried to remember what had happened before he loosed his consciousness but couldn’t find any trace of memory. His mother slowly raised him up and Tensing supported his back against the wall. Tensing seemed weak to his mother and she felt like he would not be able to go downstairs.

“I’ll bring you meal.”

“Did the visitors drink the blood?” asked Tensing.

“Yes, they did.” Replied his mother.

Tensing felt bad for Mili and Jhuma. “They must have sucked out their blood too.” He thought to himself. He slowly got off the bed and peeked out of his window. He could see shaggy image of Mili and Jhuma grunting from the shed, below. He heard his mother telling something about weakness but he didn’t hear anything and stepped out of the room, got down the stairs and reached the shed. Jhuma and Mili grunted seeing little Tensing. Tensing got near them and gently stroked their head. Mili seemed so weak, she slowly closed her eyes and rested her head against Tensing.

The night was noisier than before. He heard someone screaming loud from somewhere near. He covered his ear with the pillow and tried to fall asleep. But in that noisy environment he just could not concentrate on sleeping. To add up the noise, he then heard his baby sister crying from cradle opposite to the bed. In the fury, he raised up and found his father Kshiring, rocking the cradle, next to the bed.

“Where’s mom?” asked Tensing in amaze.

“Mother has gone to Nima’s house. Nima’s mother is in labor.”

Later, Kshiring thought whether the little guy realized the meaning of labor or not. But, he seemed not to put lots of minds into that. Tensing got off the bed and peeped out from the window. One storied stone house in the neighborhood was lighted with bulbs in the dead starry night.

He then heard another pitch of the sound of a baby crying. Kshring hustled towards the window and peeped out. Though he knew he would not see anyone from the window, the sound of crying baby gave him a sense of happiness.

After a while, his mother climbed the stairs and entered their room.

“How is she? What did they have?” Asked Kshiring.

“She is good. They had a son this time.” Nina gave them a wide smile.

Tensing got relived after what his mother had said. He was happy for the terrified Nima and her mother. He did not like uncle Norbu but he was happy for him too. He didn’t hear the blabbering or the sobbing from neighborhood that night but the shrill yet sweet sound of a baby crying. The sound was sharp and monotonous. In spite of that, Tensing got a sound sleep later that night.

 

 

CHAPTER-V

 

The next day, Tensing heard someone calling from outside.

“Kshiring!”

“Kshiring!”

Uncle Norbu from the neighborhood, shouted from outside. Kshiring went out so did Tensing behind his father. The serious face of uncle Norbu had today lighten up with joy.

“What’s the matter, Norbu? Why are you here this morning? Shouldn’t you be with your baby boy and your wife.” Smiled Kshiring.

“The new baby child seems to have brought good luck for us. Yalamber has offered a job for us. We got chance to be the porters of these climbers.”

“Seriously!”

“Why would I joke in such a huge matter? There are also other people who have come here for climbing, waiting in Hizag’s home.”

“Really! They are here for climbing the mountain. I thought they were here just for visiting till the base camp.”

“Yes, the government has passed permit, recently. Why else would they be here? Now, it’s going to be more than a base camp thing. They are actually going to climb the mountain.”

“That’s great! How long do you think it would take?”

“Not more than a week. We are going to make a lot of money from there. Finally, I could pay off all the debt of Yalamber and live a care free life.”

“Yes! He had been nudging you time and again.“ Kshiring added. “May be I’ll buy two more yaks and go for trade to the market beyond the mountain, by myself.”

“Yaa! That sounds good too.”

“But, do we have all the necessary equipment for climbing?”

“Yes! Most of them have been provided by visitors. And you and me, we are the natives of this area. We’ve grown up here so we would not require as much as tools as the visitors would require.”

“So, when should we start climbing?”

“This noon, I’ll be waiting for you and the visitor friends in the ground nearby. Yalamber will be with us too.”

“Okay! I’ll be there by noon with the visitors.” Tensing who had been hearing to the conversation all this time had his heart flutter in happiness. His father was about to climb the peak Chomolungma.

“When will you be back?”

“Can I go with you?” Said Tensing in a gasp. He had reached till the base of the mountain with his friends but had never stepped on the white body of the shimmering mountain. There was a wishing bell where he had tied the thread of his wish to climb up the mountain but it seemed like that was being granted to his father.

“Well! You’re just a little guy now. You can go with us when you grow up.” Kshiring tapped his head. “Now we’ll be climbing the mountain often.”

Tensing got confused. Just a day before, his father had told him he was all grown up and now he had again returned being a little guy. But again, he remembered himself fainting on the blood eating ceremony and guessed he was still just a little guy.

Tensing watched his father get ready for climbing the mountain. It had made him so excited. He ran to his room and brought a small flag that he had made with a small piece of red cotton cloth and few broken broom sticks. He had always thought, he would put the flag on the top of the mountain whenever he would climb her. Now, his father would do that for him. He handed it over to his father. Kshiring smiled and brushed his hair. Tensing smiled in happiness and looked at the mountain from the window. She was shining bright sparkling her beams and he knew she was soon to be conquered.

“Here moo! There moo! Everywhere moo moo!” sang Tensing as he watched his mother clean the dirty shed of Mili and Jhuma. The sun was shining bright and it was a pleasant day.

“Where might have father reached?” Asked Tensing.

“They must have moved past the base camp by now.”

Tensing smiled to Chomolungma as he hoped he would too climb her peak someday. But soon, the smile of the boy faded when the bright sun of noon slowly got covered by the grumbling cloud in the sky. The brightness of the day slowly faded away and was covered with dreariness of the shade of cloud. The sky looked rough as he felt the cottony flakes falling over his shoulders.

“Mom! Look it’s snowing!” shouted Tensing.

“Nima! Nima!” He called his favorite friend on the neighborhood to play with him on the snow.

Nima peeped him through the window.

“It’s snowing Nima!”

“I know! But I’ve to look after my brother.” Nima shouted back from the window.

The snow poured heavier and heavier with every passing time.

“Tensing! Let’s get inside. It’s not a good idea to stay out in this heavy snow.” Nina, Tensing’s mother held his hand and pulled him in. Tensing could hear the wind howl and light of thunder at a distance, hitting the mountain.

He looked the mountain from the window of his room. The heavy snowfall had blurred her image. Besides Tensing, stayed his mother making fire in the fire place to keep warm her two little kids.

“Father’s gonna be okay?” Tensing ran to his mother near the fire place.

“Yes! Son.” His mother slowly brushed away the hair from his forehead. He could hear the sound of hurling storm all night long. His baby sister didn’t cry at all that night. In the middle of the night, Tensing opened his eyes and found his mother staring from the window beside his bed.

“Mom didn’t you sleep?” asked Tensing as he rubbed his sleepy eyes. He could not see the face of his mother in darkness but he could hear the gentle sobbing. He hopped down the bed and got near his mother. “Didn’t you sleep all night?”

“No! Your little sister started crying so I’ve got up to make sure if she was hungry.”

Tensing looked at the cradle beside the bed, his sister was asleep. No one crying he could hear. He knew his mother was lying, he knew the reason too. He also had not been able to sleep with all that howling storms and thought of heavy snowfalls towards the mountain. Tensing got on the bed and covered himself up to the blanket, he didn’t realize when he fell asleep, around the dawn.

Early morning, the next day, as he was climbing down the stairs to the ground floor, he heard people hustling from outside of the house. He ran towards the entrance. On the main gate, he saw his father and two other visitors with them.

“Father!” Tensing got alleviated after he saw his father all right. He ran to him and hugged him tight. He looked at his face and that of two visitors too. They didn’t seem happy to be home. His father didn’t even have the bag pack which he had taken with him. Then his father, Kshiring pulled out his red flag from his pocket. Smile on the face of Tensing vanished.

“You didn’t reach the top?” He asked.

“No!”

Kshiring entered the house as he handed the flag to Tensing while Tensing stood there not saying a word. His mother rushed from inside with some kind of essence on her hand and started mumbling some weird chants as she directed the smoke towards her husband.

“I had prayed her, all night to keep you safe.” She said. Tensing and the visitors watched her do so, cluelessly. Kshiring pulled her hand and dragged her to the room nearby and banged the door. Tensing could not understand what was happening, neither as it seemed the visitors did.

After a while, Nima came running to his house. ”Where’s father?” She asked. Tensing didn’t know what to say. He raised his shoulder to let her know he too was confused. Then Nina got out of the room and without even taking a glance to the kids, she rushed to the house to the neighborhood. Tensing could not understand what was going on. Few minutes later, they heard a bitter loud cry from the neighborhood. It was Nima’s mother. Tensing and Nima rushed to the house. When they got there, they got to know that father of Nima, Uncle Norbu was swept away by the avalanche due to the heavy snowfall last night. It had taken other three visitors along with him. Kshiring and other two visitor friends were lucky enough to find a conifer tree on the way so that they held it which saved their lives, but, the other people seem not have that much of luck.

Tensing heard Nima crying after a while. Hearing them cry people started gathering from the houses around. Dolma, Pasang, Sonam their parents. Men Women, Kids and the heads of the village everyone had gathered in Nima’s house to accompany on their sorrow. Everyone started sobbing with them as they heard about the tragedy. After a while, Tensing could see Nima and her mother crying helplessly. He knew they had lost their guardian. Tensing shuddered when all of sudden, Nima’s mother seemed to lose her control as she jumped towards the rich man of the village, Yalamber .

“Why are you here? Aren’t you happy now? He is dead. My husband’s gone.”

“What? What?” Yalamber, got pale in shock and mumbled.

“You were the one!” she shouted. It shunned other gossiping people in the crowd. “You were the one who always insisted my husband to pay the loan faster. You were the one who proposed the offer to climb the mountain with so less equipment on the first trial when it always had been that dangerous.” She screamed.

“Ruksha! Calm Down!” said Nina but Ruksha in this unexpected loss of her husband couldn’t seem to keep her mind in place. She went on.

“He was paying the debt little by little but you forced him to go.” “You killed him. You killed my husband.” She screamed and spit in front of Yalamber. The face of Yalamber seemed red in anger but he didn’t say anything. Women of the village including Nina tried keeping her in control. Although all of them were drowned in the tears. Tensing could see the tips of his mother’s hairs near the face was all soaked up in tears. And Nima, she cried as if her eyes would fall out. Tensing could see her eyes turn red as she fell onto the floor and cried harder. While two little sisters were unable to know what really had happened as they too cried with Nima. The sound of people crying was so bitter and the view was so dreary that some of the people who were not even the closest relatives also loosed control and started crying out loud. All day long, Tensing heard Nima’s mother crying in a room accompanied by other fellow females of the neighborhood while the male along with their kids were out of the house. He didn’t like Nima crying so badly but there was nothing he could do except wait outside along with other kids and male members to get the things to calm down.

“Did you see that woman jump towards me? I feared that she would eat me up. “ Tensing heard Yalamber blabber in fury.

“Let it go Yalamber. The woman’s depressed. She’s shocked and sad to this unexpected loss of her husband. These things happen.”

“I understand Kshiring, but the way she told me that I was responsible for all this. This seems a little crazy. When you come to ask for a loan and spend it happily then you should also be responsible enough to return it in time.”

“Yes, that is true.” Uncle Mingma agreed.

“What’s gone.. gone. The dead won’t come back. Now I am worried about my money. Who’s going to pay me back? This woman has turned into a witch.” Continued Yalamber as he looked towards the house and pointed. “She is definitely not going to pay me back and with the little girls and a baby boy. I think all my money that I’ve lent to these poor people have gone in vain.” Yalamber placed his hand to his head and sat down in despair.

To Tensing it was stupid, for all those loss of lives was the money still a huge thing to worry about? He wondered. But the way Yalamber was mourning for this, it seemed like it was a big deal too. “Oh my husband! Why did you leave us like this? How will I look after these babies on my own?” He heard Nima’s mother screaming, the entire day. Tensing never felt Uncle Norbu was that nice to her and Nima. But the way they were grieving for his loss made him feel that they really had a big place for him in their heart.

The whole day, everyone in the village gathered to Nima’s house and grieved for the loss of the helpful, nice and honest Norbu. Tensing didn’t feel like staying on that environment, where everyone seemed to be faking around. He could easily distinguish between the real and fake tears of the people in the village. The environment seemed to be strangling the little guy, he soon left the place. He entered his house and found no one there. He realized, on the grief of the dead neighbor, his parents seemed to forget his little baby sister. He ran upstairs to his room. He could see his baby sister sleeping peacefully in the cradle. He gently rocked the cradle as the baby woke up and started crying. She must have got hungry. Thank fully, the bottle of milk lied just beside the cradle. He took it and feed her. While feeding her, he looked towards the window, from where peeked, Chomolungma, all peaceful and calm. A gentle blow of the mountain air greeted his skin through the opening along with the slow buzz of some people cry. Tensing could tell it was an honest cry, someone grieving for the real loss. He got near the window and peeked to the backyard. He could see two visitors sitting on a wooden desk, not surrounded by any villagers, but only them, grieving for their friends they lost, for the journey they could not complete and the dreams which they were going to give up.

 

 

CHAPTER-VI

 

From the next day, the government banned pass that was granted. Other three fellow climbing troops had also gone missing in the avalanche that had taken place on successive days. Tensing’s happiness after the pass was granted had faded away. The trace of visitors from the village had also disappeared.

There was also another reason for which Tensing was feeling down. After the demise of Uncle Norbu, kids in his group had started being pretty mean to Nima.

“Fatherless!” That’s what they had started calling her. With all the bragging they used to do about the things their fathers had brought for them, it would only put Nima down. Nima could not reply as she was already depressed by the demise of her father. Tensing could not see her that way, he used to defend on excessive teasing but there was nothing else the little kid could do to make his best friend happy.

At one of those dusk, after a long hard day of playing, as he was heading upstairs, towards his room. He heard some people who were supposedly friends of his father talk about the widow of uncle Norbu, Aunt Ruksha.

“How can the woman alone raise four kids by herself, I wonder?” He heard Kshiring say.

“Yes, and with all the debt of Yalamber. She’s going to face a hard time, ahead.” Added Mingma.

“How will she go through all this? She’s still so young and pretty. I cannot see someone like her going through all these problem alone.” Said uncle Pemba.

“What do you mean?” asked Kshiring.

“I am thinking about getting her married again, with someone we trust.” Replied Pemba.

“Then how about Yalamber?” Mingma said.

“What?” Kshiring sounded shocked. Tensing also had seen the old Yalamber of the village who was kind of serious looking and always wore grey discolored Bakkhu. Tensing even in his weirdest imagination wouldn’t want to picture aunt Ruksha with the old Yalamber.

“Are you crazy, Mingma? You have seen how the Yalamber feels about her. Didn’t you see him curse her on the mourning of Norbu ? The fellow is too old for marriage anyway.”

“Kshiring! I tell you this is the right decision. He is rich. Her kids will have a great future, ahead. And the debt over their head will eventually be forgiven. His first wife had been dead for years and he only has a boy. He has not been married since then. If you observe him carefully, he is not that bad person.” Pemba continued. “Who doesn’t want back the money they’ve lent. He just didn’t considered time and situation but he was not totally wrong. He will keep her happy.”

“I don’t know, Mingma, I don’t feel this is going to make anything better. She has not even overcome the grief of her late husband and talking about her marriage that too with the person she loathe, is something I feel too weird.”

Tensing agreed his father. Deciding someone else’s marriage without her consent was definitely not a nice thing.

“Yes, Yalamber is definitely not a good choice for such a gorgeous lady” Spoke Pemba. “Woman like her should be with someone her age. Who will take care of her and love her.”

“What are you talking about Pemba?” asked Kshiring.

“See guys, I’ve liked and admired the woman from the very beginning. She was 17 when she came to this village and I had always wanted her for myself but could not say into her face. She was meant for me. I don’t know how Norbu got accepted for the marriage.” The tone got higher. “Now, I feel the death of Norbu has granted me a chance to win her over again. Help me get her guys. Set my wedding with her.”

“Pemba! You’ve gone mad. What are you talking about?” Kshiring shuddered Pemba.” Everyone knows about you in the village. Your relationships with other women. And you’re having that sort of feelings for her too.”

But Pemba continued babbling.

“Yes, if you call it madness, madness it is. I have become madder after Norbu’s death. I am actually happy more than sad. Look she’s just 26. She’s perfect match for me. I assure you, I’ll take care of her and love her. I so much want to get married to her.”

Tensing recognized Uncle Pemba, he was uncle of his friend Sonam and had quite bad reputation in the village. He didn’t like his father being friend of such a creepy person.

“What are you even babbling Pemba. She is the widow of your cousin Norbu and she is even older than you. How can you even let the thought like that strike your mind?” shouted Mingma.

“How can a man patiently watch a beauty like her suffer alone. I’ll work for her. I’ll pay the debts. I’ll love her and protect her all my life. Pemba always gets what he wants.”

“The feelings for her beauty is temporary and marriage, it’s a permanent thing. And what would society say? She’s your cousin’s widow. So, you better end the thought right here and never dare to talk about this with anyone else.”

“But…”

“I don’t want to hear anything else about it.” Shouted Kshiring.

From behind the door, Tensing was hearing all of the conversation. He recognized the ill intentions of Uncle Pemba . He felt like his heart plunged into cold water and a dreary feeling surrounded his chest. He climbed the stairs and found neither his mother nor Baby sister rocking in the cradle.

“Mom! Mom!” He shouted from the room but no reply he could hear.

“Mom has gone to the neighborhood.” Bawled his father from the room below.

He peeked towards the house of Nima through the window. The dusk was falling and the dark night was approaching. After a while, he saw an orange light of the candle glow into the darkness. Tensing could see the rusty image of their future, the lurking darkness into the life of Nima’s family that this little light of the candle would not be able to brighten up. But, still, he had this deep feeling in his heart that he would protect his little friend and her family from every evil that comes their way.

 

 

 

CHAPTER-VII

 

Few days later, there was some sort of gathering on a site. Tensing pushed the people aside and tried to move ahead in the crowd. Chautara, as locals would call it which lied few meters below his hometown. He could see the view of rivers which had thread like appearance and the towns in the valley looked like couple of pebbles gathered together from the Chautara which lied few kilometers above the valley. Tensing always felt like a watch guard who stayed near the goddess mother who had been protecting the entire valley. Today, during the noon, he had seen his mother and father walking towards Chautara, leaving their infant baby girl to a woman on the neighborhood. Tensing too had followed them to Chautara, they said there was an important decision to make. He didn’t know what it was about though.

He had heard someone screaming last night but was that a dream or was that for real, the little guy could not distinguish. There were stones that were stalked around the huge Banyan tree, where heads of the village, a thin yet sharp looking man, a fat man and an old man were resting on their respective seats for the judgements. On the center, stood a person with a red face bowing down in shame. Beside them, at a side of the tree, Tensing recognized a lady sobbing. It was aunt Ruksha, covering her face with an end of her scarf.

“This person has crossed his limit.” Shouted an old lady from the crowd. ”How can a person do such an ill act?”

“We have been tolerating his other acts thinking he was just a kid but what he has tried doing now is completely unacceptable.” Shouted another man from the crowd.

“Yes, if the neighbors wouldn’t have shown up at the right time, god knows what would have happened. This man deserves an abolishment.”

Tensing could not understand what was going on but he was sure something very bad had happened.

“How can you blame my son for this act without any evidence?” Spoke another old lady from the crowd.

“Why would a woman blame for something like that which would affect her integrity?” replied another woman.

“What has my son done? He is a genuine person who has respect for women.”

“Look! Kaki! Everyone in the village knows your son’s reputation. His relationship with women. I don’t think, we should open the record of his ill deeds, at this point.”

“Yes! Yes!” Everyone in the crowd started agreeing to the fact. “He deserves to be abolished. We won’t accept such an ill deed in our community.” Some people in the crowd started mumbling.

“Dear friends! Let the guilty talk.” Said a man from the Jury.

“I accept my son is good looking and there are many women who have fallen for him. But, there is no such evidence that my son has done something like that to Ruksha.” Bawled the old woman.

“She’s the one who is alone. She is the one who needs company. My son would never do that without her consent.” She added. “Ruksha always had been good friend to Pemba before her marriage to Norbu. I’ve seen her talk and laugh with Pemba even after tying knots with Norbu. Will somebody look at her?”

“But!..” Tensing spoke but the mumbling people in the crowd shunned the little kid.

Tensing was in fury because of all those things the old lady was blabbering about Ruksha. He looked at his father. But Kshiring, nodded no. Tensing could not believe his eyes, his father, the hero asked him to shut up in such a wrong happening. Tensing looked at him in disappointment. He knew uncle Pemba was his friend but he also knew about his intentions, as he had heard the conversation the other day.

“I would like all of you to stop giving your opinions and let’s hear from them. Ruksha! What had really happened?” An old person from the jury got up from his seat and said.

“I don’t know. He came to ask for a favor and pulled my hand and started confessing his desires. Then I shouted for help. I’ve not done anything.” It had started getting out of hand for aunt Ruksha. She started screaming and crying out of agony she was feeling into her heart.

Tensing could not see her cry. The thing Pemba’s mother, Resham was talking was a complete nonsense. He stepped ahead. “Uncle Pemba is not a nice person. I had heard about his intentions.”

Nina tried to pull him back but he went on shouting.

“I heard him talk that he wanted to marry aunt Ruksha.”

“What is this kid saying?” “What?” “What? He wanted to marry Ruksha?”

Everyone in the crowd started mumbling.

“Pemba is this true, what the kid said?” asked one of the person from jury.

“He is just a kid.” Said Pemba who had been keeping mum all this time.

“Why are you even taking him seriously? This woman treats him good so he must be taking his side.” Tensing got red with fury after hearing this. He then heard aunt Ruksha loose her control and cry louder.

“Why would I have an eye for a widow woman, that too a widow of my cousin?” He added.

“I have not done anything. It’s her trick to stalk her and her kid’s responsibility over my head.” The arrogance of the guilty started getting louder.

“What are you talking about?” screamed Ruksha but the suspicious eyes of the villagers rolled towards her.” You were the one who broke into my house at middle of the night to confess about your ill desires.” But no one seemed to agree with Ruksha. The vision of the people seemed to be piercing her soul and unstoppable river of tears started flowing through her eyes. The event was getting unbearable.

“Ruksha may be the bad one.” “Yes, why would a young man like him would have an eye for a widow?” The words from the crowd was so hateful. Tensing looked at his father with a tiny spark of hope though his faith on him had started fading away.

“Pemba is lying.” Shouted Kshiring. Finally, the eyes of Tensing glimmered in hopes.

“What? What?” Everyone in the crowd started mumbling.

“Yes! He had talked about his feelings for Ruksha with us, few days before the incident took place. “

“What are you talking about, Son? You know Pemba. He’s a genuine person.” Said the old man who had been standing at the side of old lady who was blabbering all this time. “My son can never do this.”

“Please let Kshiring speak.” Said the person from the jury.

“Your son has done it.” Said Kshiring. “Forgive us kaki. He is our friend but what he has done is wrong. And if I keep mum in a matter like this, I won’t be able to forgive myself all my life.”

“How can you prove it? You had anyone else with you when the conversation was going on.” Asked another person from the Jury. Kshiring gave a peek to Mingma. Mingma hesitated for a while but fearless stair from Kshiring and Tensing demanded the truth out of him, he then stepped ahead to agree the fact.

“Yes, Pemba was there with me and Kshiring few days before the incident took place. He told he had feelings for Ruksha’s beauty. He even asked us to set the marriage with her.”

Now all the villagers on that Chautara became sure what Pemba had done. They all started looking Pemba in disguise.

“Do you have to say anything about it Pemba?” An old man from the jury asked. Pemba looked down in guilt.

One of the elder man after a while from the jury got up from his seat and spoke.

“What Pemba tried to do is extremely inappreciable. We will take a major action against it.”

“You see our daughters with perverted vision. You deserve an abolishment.” Shouted an woman and hit him with a stone nearby. It hit the forehead of Pemba and he started bleeding.

“Yes! Yes! This person deserves an abolishment.” Tensing started hearing the mumbles from the crowd get louder and louder. The fury, Pemba had been suppressing all this time blasted as the peeks of hateful visions of the people started being intolerable to Pemba. His face turned red hot in anger.

“Yes! I confessed my feelings to her. Yes! I broke into her at the middle of the night. But all I wanted to do was to get married to her. I would not have done anything bad to her and her family.” Shouted Pemba.

“But the way you broke into her house in the middle of the night to confess how you feel is not acceptable Pemba.” Said the thin man from the jury. “Death of Norbu has not even exceeded a month. And she is your cousin’s widow.”

“Yes! I may have made mistakes but all this because I love her. You think getting her married to the Yalamber is a right thing?” The sound of Pemba got louder as it shunned other humming people in the Chautara.

“What? Getting her married to Yalamber? Who decided that?”

Pemba looked at Mingma who had been bowing down in guilt of not being able to save his friend from the wrong doing.

“Mingma! Don’t you have anything to say now?” said Pemba.

“Mingma! Is this true?” Another fat old man from the jury spoke.

“Yes! But it was just an idea, just a talk between friends, Kshiring, Pemba and me.”

“Yalamber! Did you know anything about it?” The old man on the jury turned to Yalamber, who had been standing in the crowd all this time.

“Well, I never knew anything about it. I have no affection for that woman at all. All I know her because her husband owes me money that he had borrowed for some business and I don’t want to be involved in anything like that.” Yalamber seemed furious and strict for what he wanted to be included in.

“Okay! It was just a part of a decision making. You won’t be bothered again.”

“You shouldn’t be deciding something like that without a man’s and woman’s consent.” The old man turned towards Kshiring.

“We know and we are extremely sorry for this.” Kshiring stepped ahead and apologized.

“Don’t be sorry to us. You should be apologizing to the lady standing there.” Another person from the jury spoke as he pointed towards Ruksha.

He looked towards Ruksha standing at a side of the tree.

“I am sorry Ruksha.” Both Mingma and Kshiring said.

Aunt Ruksha nodded as she accepted the apology.

“In this village, we have been worshiping Chomolungma, the goddess who has been our roof under the sky and I believe every woman of the village has got the traces of her. So, disrespect to any of the women in our village will be intolerable.” The old man of the jury stood from his seat and said. “What Pemba did was a definite mistake and he deserves a punishment.”

“He just confessed his feelings. What was so wrong in doing that?” Shouted an old man. “Now you will exile my son for this?”

“But he is a bad person.” Shouted Tensing.

“Sushh.. Kid!” The old man from the jury shushed little Tensing.

“What Pemba did was wrong and if neighbors would not have shown up at the right moment something terrible might have happened. People have even opened the records of ill deeds of he had been doing in this village in the past. I think Pemba needs to learn a lifelong lesson so that he would not dare to do this to any other woman in the village. ” Said another jury member.

“Go apologize to Ruksha. And you’ll be leaving village by the next morning.”

“Apologize you pervert!” shouted another woman from the crowd.

Pemba got near Aunt Ruksha, bowed down and apologized.

“Join your hands and apologize.” Sound from the crowd was heard.

“I am sorry.” Murmured Pemba.

“Kneel down and say it louder.” Another woman from the crowd shouted.

“I am sorry.”

“Nobody’s hearing! Say it aloud.”

“I am sorry, Ruksha.” Pemba was in total shame. His face had turned red in anger, shame and guilt. People in the crowd could see the tears of guilt floating through the eyes of Pemba.

“Pemba shame on you!” A man stepped ahead and spit. After that, few more men and women repeated the same. The tears in Ruksha’s eyes had started fading away, but the face of Pemba had started turning blood red in shame. The jury members then got up from their respective seats and headed to their houses. The people from the crowd also then slowly started scattering away. Tensing saw his mother approaching Aunt Ruksha then taking her towards the house. After a while, all the people that were left in the Chautara were Kshiring, Mingma, Little Tensing clutching to the hand of his father Kshiring, Parents of the guilty and Pemba himself. Tensing could see Pemba still on his knees bowing down in shame and some drops of tears falling through his chin.

“That witch ruined my boy’s prestige.” Shouted the woman as she hugged her son, Pemba and cried. It was more like howling than crying. Someone mourning for something that was terrible to happen.

“You’ll never be happy. I won’t let you be.” Blabbered the old lady. Her husband and Kshiring tried to calm her down but the old lady blabbered on and on. Pemba was kneeling down on the site motionless still bowing down in shame standing in the circle of the wet spit those were now slowly drying up. Beside him, was the old lady and the old man blabbering and cursing Ruksha who had been moving speechless towards her house.

 

 

 

CHAPTER-VIII

 

The insects were buzzing through the corn field near the backyard. Inside the room, sat Tensing beside the burning firewood looking at his mother who was preparing food for the dinner. She blew the air from a long pipe to the firewood which was about to die off. The ashes from the wood flew on the air and got scattered all over the room, the dying flame woke up and lit up the entire room as it burned higher beneath the pottery. Tensing could see the flames coloring base of the pottery black. The pudding inside the pottery boiled and then bubbling sounds from the vessel was heard. The light of the room suddenly went out and the room turned all orange with the light of flame.

“Tensing!” Tensing heard a sound from the door. Into the light of flame, at the door of the room, Tensing saw a shaggy image of a shivering girl. It was his friend Nima standing helplessly all soaked up in the cold water.

“Nima!” spoke his mother. Both Tensing and his mother were shocked to see her there, soaked up in the cold water at that time of the day.

“How did you get so wet, honey?” Nina got up and covered her with dry towel. “Come near the fire.”

She brought her near the fire place where the pottery was rested on.

“I fell into the puddle at the backyard.”

“What were you doing, roaming around the backyard at this time?”

“I was hungry.”

“Oh! Poor kid! Where is Ruksha?” Nina felt sorry for the little girl.

“She is not well. She cried all afternoon and is finally asleep now.”

“That’s bad. Honey, come closer. It’ll help dry up your clothes.” She pulled her closer to the flame as she took the pottery off the flame and the flame burned higher drying the wet girl with dripping pajamas.

“And where’s the baby and other girls?” Nima asked her.

“He’s asleep now. Mom had fed him milk the afternoon. They ate on their friends house the noon.”

She poured pudding into the bowl with a flat wooden spoon. The smell of the food was so good, Tensing got his mouth all filled up with saliva. But it was not his turn yet.

“Here you go honey.” She handed over the bowl of pudding to the little girl. She was so hungry that she gobbled it all in no time.

“Do you want more?” Nima nodded her head and showed the empty bowl. She poured the next spoon of the pudding. She gobbled it up too.

“Darling! It’s late. Go to your home, now. I’ll come talk to your mother the next morning.

Nima raised up from the floor and left the room.

“Bye Nima !” said Tensing but he didn’t get a reply. May be she rushed out of the house too fast, all he could think of. Tensing knew, it was getting hard for her and her family, in the village. With every passing day, she had turned miserable after miserable. Even in their friend’s circle, there was no more fun now. Their friend Sonam, who was nephew of uncle Pemba had been brainwashed. He used to tell “My father says it was all fault of aunt Ruksha! Now, Nima too will grow up to be like her someday.” Nima had cried several times because of all the harassment, she had been facing all this time.

After a while, his father, Kshiring entered the house.

“Oh! Finally you’re home.” Nina said. Kshiring smiled as the reply.

“So, did you meet them?”

“Yes, I did. Mr. Ghising will come take them the next morning.”

“Oh! That’s good. Finally Ruksha and her children are going to live in peace.”

Tensing’s mother took a long breath as if a large load on her chest had got off.

“Yes, I had seen some people, the old ladies, probably the friends of aunt Resham mock and abuse her on the water fetching site, the previous noon. She has been facing more harassment than ever after the heads decided to sit the jury in Chautara.”

“Yes, I know. We are being able to help her in such a difficulty. That’s what I am happy for.”

“I also had seen some uncles on the road last evening telling her what she would do if they broke into her home at night. I didn’t like that at all.” Spoke Tensing who sat beside the fire place hearing all the conversation of his father and mother, all this time. His parents hadn’t realized it until then. The baby girl near the fire place woke up and cried with a sharp tone.

“Tensing! Haven’t you finished your dinner, yet?” Nina turned towards Tensing. “Take the baby sister and go to your room.”

With confusions and lots of questions in his head, Tensing placed his half empty bowl on the floor. He didn’t feel like eating anymore. He took his baby sister on his arms who was lying into the cradle, next to him. For his surprise, this time the baby stopped crying as soon as she reached her brother’s arms. He didn’t look at his parent’s face “What were his parents talking about? Where were they sending off Nima and her family? For how long?” With all these questions flickering through his mind, Tensing climbed the stairs to his room.

After placing the baby sister to the cradle upstairs, he looked to the one storied house at the neighborhood through the window of his room. He felt like something deep within him was being detached. That night he cried his eyes out. Luckily for him, nobody entered the room. After a long hard cry, he finally fell asleep towards the morning hour.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER-IX

 

“Tensing!” The next morning, as soon as he opened his eyes, he heard his mother calling him from the downstairs. He got off the bed and looked to the mirror, the chinky eyes of Tensing were swollen shut. He did not know how to hide his face from his mother. He ran downstairs, making sure not to expose that kind of face to his parents. Down the stair, on the passage, he saw aunt Ruksha all dressed up in a beautiful Bakkhu with baby Boy, Tering on her arms. The little baby was making the weird ticklish sound and then it hit Tensing that this was the first time he had seen the little guy and probably the last time since they were heading somewhere never to return again. It broke his heart a little.

After them, walked Nima, from the main entrance to the passage. She looked lovely like ever. Tensing was sad that she was heading to the valley somewhere far and he would not be able to see her again any soon. Tensing as he saw Nima rushed up to avoid her from seeing his swollen eyes. Nima after taking a glance of Tensing running upstairs, ran after him.

“Tensing!” Tensing!” She shouted but he reached the room and shut the door in a bang. Nima reached the door and called.

“Tensing!” She tapped the door but Tensing won’t answer.

“Tensing! I am heading off to grandfather’s home. Won’t you wave me bye? You are the last one. Always late. ” Tensing didn’t answer to that too.

“Tensing! I know you are there. I saw you climb the stairs”

After a long try and the ignorance of Tensing, Nima got silent. Tensing could hear the steps of someone walking away. Now, Tensing got scared that she might get away without even waving him bye. Tensing finally spoke “Nima! “

“Yes!” Nima was not the one who was walking away.

“You didn’t tell me you were going to your grandfather’s place.”

“I am telling you now.”

“But, you promised that we’d climb the mountain together.” “Yes! I did. And I’ll come back from my grandfather’s place when I grow up to climb the mountain with you.”

“You’re lying.”

“No, I am not. I am way too better than you now. So, learn more about climbing the mountain and we’ll climb her together. Look what I have brought for you.”

“What?” “Open the door and you’ll know.”

“No, I won’t.” It seemed like Tensing was testing her patience.

“Open up.”

Tensing seemed not to be hearing a thing.

“Tensing!” Now it was more like a command. “Open the door.” She shouted. Tensing knew Nima was fierce and she knew how to make people follow her command.

“Wait!” Tensing got off the bed, walked to the door and unlocked it. Behind the door stood Nima smiling, sparkling brighter than any mountain. Tensing’s swollen eyes glimmered in happiness.

“Oh! How did that happen?”

“What happened?”

“You’re eye’s swollen shut?”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“Your eyes. Tensing! Did you cry all night?” “What? My eyes look like this. Nima! You never noticed them?”

“No! They never like that before.”

“Yes, they were. What were trying to show me?”

“Ok!” She looked at the side bag hung on her shoulder, unzipped the bag and took out the scarf like cloth. It was red with traces of white in color.

“What is it?”

“A flag?”

“Flag?”

“Yes! I have sewn it myself. This is for you to land it on the top of the mountain when you reach the peak.” “But, you said we’ll climb together.”

“We will. I give it to you as a souvenir.”

“Ok!” Nima handed over the flag to Tensing.

“Nima!” They heard Ruksha calling Nima from the room, below. Both kids ran to the main door. On the road, he saw a stout, old yet strong looking man with a serious face nodding to something his father Kshiring talking about. He was loading the bag packs on the back of a Yak. He realized the man was not from the village.

“Grandfather!” Nima shouted and ran towards the old man. Ruksha with baby boy Tering also moved towards him. The two little girls also followed her. The serious face of the old man seemed brightening up with joy at this reunion.

“So, He’s the grandfather.” Tensing thought to himself. He looked at the happy face of Nima. “How can she be so happy to leave?” Tensing wondered. After a while, they were ready to go. Tensing’s heart skipped a beat as the old man flung a stick to lead the yak down the village towards the valley. Nima waved him bye.

“I’ll come to the valley to meet you.” Shouted Tensing.

“Tensing! Learn about the mountain. We’ll climb her together.” Yelled back Nima.

Tensing stood speechless as he stared Nima along with her family and a patchy Yak climb down the village. Tensing still had the souvenir, the flag on his hand. He walked to the room above. Tensing’s parents might have seen his swollen eyes but they knew he was sad. No one said anything to him. Tensing as he reached the room, looked out of the window. It was a good day, sun shining bright, the sky was blue like heaven and Chomolungma was sparkling like ever but something was different. The one storied house on the neighborhood seemed exceptionally hallow and dark. May be the one who would bring sparks to Tensing’s eyes had left the village.

After that, there were days, months and years, when every dusk, Tensing used to sit down below the apple tree at the backyard staring up at the Chomolungma. His playmates were decreasing in number as he was growing up. Everyone had started getting busy with their life. The memory of Nima had also started fading away little by little. By the time Tensing reached his mid-teens, he had his only friend Sonam who would give him company sometimes to go to the base camp of the mountain and learn about the climbing skills from the climber’s guide that was brought by some visitor who would come to the village to explore its beauty. The fact, Tensing had a big hand in abolishing his uncle out of the village hadn’t affected their bond. At least, it seemed so. They also used to practice climbing on the stone walls of the village but for Sonam his interest for mountain climbing had been diminishing as he was growing up. The priorities in life seemed to be changingup.

A few years later, he too left the village to try his luck on the wool business in the city. His uncle had established with all the hard works, a wool factory, after being abolished from the village. He proposed Tensing to come with him too but Tensing was still stuck with the mountain climbing dream. Government opening the pass to climb the mountain again had added up on his hopes. For Sonam, it seemed like being a stubborn kid who would not give up but for Tensing, it was fair. “Being a kid in heart is what gives you wings to reach your dreams” that was what he had always known. After Sonam left the village, Tensing started working with his father for trade. Sometimes, he used to go to the port to trade, by himself. He really had grown up. He had also maintained a good relationship with the visitors who used to come every year to explore the village. They used to bring him climber’s guide and sometimes tools for mountain climbing too. Tensing also had thought about leaving the village and going to the valley to learn some skills several times but he was the only one who had to look after his family, as Kshiring, his father was growing old and couldn’t look all the work by himself. And Chomolungma, summer or winter, she was fierce like ever. The news of climbers who failed the attempts of climbing the mountain and lose their life used to come every now and then. While, Tensing still used to sit at the backyard staring the Chomolungma as he would remember Nima’s words. “Learn about the mountain, We’ll climb her together.“

 

 

 

CHAPTER- X

 

“The wind is getting harsh, I think we should return back to the base camp.” Said a person from the troop.

“That’s not possible. Look at the view backyard. It is all blurred up.” The snow under their feet was crackling up. The howling wind was swinging people climbing the mountain.

”We need to hold on together.” All the climbers got together and made a long chain out of themselves.

“I’ve never reached till this level” Tensing shouted as he grasped hands of the fellow climbers. The wind was roaring against them and heavy snow was hitting their faces. It had been a while, Chomolungma hadn’t roared up. Tensing was pretty sure that she wouldn’t roar up for few more days. So, he along with some other trained climbers had dared to climb up the mountain. But, he knew she was fierce and unpredictable. She had blown away his hopes. The wind was swirling high and the heavy snowfall had made it almost impossible to see anything that was present around them. Tensing could feel the grasp of hands loosening up. “Guys hold it tight or else you might get lost into the avalanche.” The leader

of the troop had been yelling all the time. Time was slipping so was the grip of their hands.

“Do you know any one reach this far Tensing?” Shouted the troop leader, after a while.

“I don’t think sir.” Shouted back Tensing.

“So, even if I lose my life to this, I would die with the satisfaction that I’ve reached this far.” On the howling wind and heavy snowfall the troop leader sounded relived. For Tensing, it made sense, dying doing something you love was not really an unworthy death. But again, he remembered he had his family to look after. He looked at his shoulder, he had a side bag hung where he had carried the red white flag, the souvenir from Nima. “Learn about the mountain. We will climb her together.” Tensing smiled to himself as the face of his little friend came in front of his eyes.

“Maybe Chomolungama is waiting for someone fierce like you.” The words of his father flowed through his mind. His little sister, the first time they went to the base camp, all the image flickering through his head turned all blank as the grip of his hand loosed and with the howling wind he got tossed across the steep walls of the mountain.

“Tensing!” He could hear the fellow climbers shouting his name. The sound was constantly fading away. The vision was getting blurred. He knew he was sinking, sinking deep into the darkness and maybe he won’t wake up again. He knew he had responsibilities but the way he was going was worthy. After a while, he fell onto the hard snow on his back, beside him, fell the bag of the flag. The howl of the wind slowed down as Tensing slowly closed his eyes. And a pound of snow covered his body.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER-XI

 

A tiny ray of light was peeping through the hole. The warm ray of sun tickled his face as he breathed heavily under the snow. Under the thick blanket of snow, he could feel his body getting numb. He wanted to brush away the snow and get out of the hell hole as soon as possible but he could not do that. He had got stiff. He had to wait for the help to arrive but through the hole, he could only see the rays of sun falling from the sky. He could feel his body shivering under the thick jacket. His heartbeat was slowing down while his breath was getting heavier. His ears had started ringing as he heard someone shouting from a distance.

“Anyone’s here!”

The sound got louder as if someone was approaching “Anyone’s here!”

For Tensing it was a ray of hope.

“I’m here! I’m here! Help!” Mumbled Tensing with the shivering voice. He could hear the steps get closer but he was still not sure if the person had heard him.

“Anyone’s here!” shouted the man again.

“I’m here! Beneath the snow!” He gave a final try. He got lucky, the stranger heard him.

“Are you beneath the hole?” He shouted again.

“Yes! I’m here” Tensing replied.

“Okay! Let me get you out.”

Tensing got relived. After a while, he saw the hole getting larger and larger. The stranger dug onto the hole and pulled Tensing out of it. The man was one of the climbers on his climbing troop. After he was blown by the avalanche, the fellow climbers were blown one after another. “I held onto a conifer and got saved. I don’t know about other climbers. They must be here on the way. ” The man said. He was Zared from the city who had his own training institute for climbing but he too got defeated by the fury of Chomolungma.

“I saw the troop leader swing along that pass with the wind.”

“Dying doing what you love is not that unworthy death.” Tensing remembered the lines of leader of climbing troop.

“Are you okay?” asked Zared, after resting for a while.

“I guess so.”

“Can you walk?”

“I don’t know.” “Look! The mountain has been calm for a while, but I am not sure when might the snow start pouring and be inviting avalanche. It is better if we head up towards the base as soon as possible. That way we may also help if someone’s stuck on the way.”

“Yes! That’s right.”

The men slowly climbed down the mountain to the base. “Some one’s here? Someone’s here?” They shouted all the way down the base but they didn’t meet any of the climbers. As they reached the base, the view looked clean. Tensing heard a ding dong of the bell at the base as they proceeded towards their village. They could feel the thick layer of snow under their feet. They walked couple of kilometers, but again snow all over the place. The fog had risen up and all they could see was the lawn covered with snow.

“Where are we?” asked Zared.

“This must be the way to my village. I am surprised I forgot the way down here.”

“Maybe we have walked towards the wrong direction.”

“Might be, but in eighteen years of my life, I never had realized this place is so barren.”

“Okay! Let’s move to another part.” Said Zared.

They walked at the other direction for couple of hours but all they could see was the same snow covered lawn.

“It must be the other side of the mountain.” Said Zared

“No it’s not, we have taken the right route. I remember it clearly. We climbed down to the same base.”

“How can you say that?”

“There’s a bell where we used to tie our wish threads when we were young.”

“May be we should move to the next direction, then.”

“Yaa ! I had never been to these parts.”

Tensing and Zared started moving to another direction but on the way they saw traces of something emerging from the snow. Tensing and Zared looked each other in astonishment, not knowing what to do next.

“Is it the village? “Said Zared after staring at a direction in a long pause.

“What do you mean?”

Tensing looked towards Zared. He pointed towards the crumbled red structure immerging out of the snow.

Tensing ran towards it in the snow. It was difficult to move on such a thick snow. But he made to the crumbled tin like structure. There were some bricks and wooden structures emerging through other parts of the snow. He soon realized, the entire village was under the snow.

“Holy God! Avalanche has swept the village.” Zared added.

“No! No! No! This cannot be possible. Oh my god!” Tensing went out of the words, fear, shock, agony and all the emotions at once, he could not describe them in words. One after another at a distance, he saw the traces of destroyed houses. Zared himself was on shock but the way Tensing started digging the surface like a frantic person made him more surprised.

“What are you doing?” asked Zared.

“Are they all in here? Are the people of the entire village in here? ” He looked towards Zared and start talking clueless.

“No! They might have ran to the valley below.”

“Yeah! They must have known it coming, right? Yes! Yes! They might have ran to the valley below.” Stammered Tensing. “Oh my god! Zina! She might have saved her life, Zared?” “Yes, Yes!” Zared hugged terrified Tensing.

“And, Mili and Jhuma? How might have they got away?”

“Tensing!” Zared tried calming down the terrified boy.

“No! NO! I must find out.” Tensing pushed Zared away and ran through the thick layer of snow.

“Where are you going, Tensing?”

“I have to find out. I know they are in the valley down there. But, I have to find out.”

“Find out what?” Zared yelled.

“I have to find out.” Tensing went on screaming. He had loosed his mind to this shock. He ran clueless over that dreary snowy land as he stumbled on something and fell on the floor.

He brushed off the snow with his bare hands. He could see something soft and reddish peeking out of the snow. In no time, he realized it was a hand. One hand two hand, hands after hands.

“Tensing! What are you digging at?” Zared came running to Tensing. “Hands! Zared! They are all in here?” “Mom! Dad!” Tensing screamed. Among them there was a little hand peeking through the snow. Tensing took the stick he had been carrying and dug it deeper to pull out the body of the little hand. What he found left him shocked. That was the frozen hand of his little sister under the thick snow. She had turned blue and her body had turned all stiff. He could not move it.

“Zina! Zina!” He shouted but she won’t answer.

“Tensing!” Zared tried to comfort him but he would not listen.

“Oh my god! What happened Zina!” “Zina! Wake up.” He rubbed the life less hands of his little sister hoping she would open her eyes but she was gone.

“I always had hoped you would get lost. I didn’t know, I would have to see this. Wake up Zina! Zina! ” Howled Tensing and shook her body. Tears of agony poured through his eyes.

“Tensing!” Zared placed his comforting hands over Tensing’s shoulder.

“No, I have to find them all. They all in here! Everyone’s in here! Mom! Dad!” Tensing started howling in pain as he held the body of his dead sister on his arms. The day was falling, Chomolungma, the roof under the sky, stood there still. He looked at her with the eyes full of tears as he left the dead body of his sister on the floor and stood up. He raised his head to see the face of his oldest friend, but he saw something else, the root of all the tragedy, he had been facing all his life. The mark of hatred appeared on his forehead. His face turn blue like the life less body of his sister lying beneath. Climber shuddered as Tensing suddenly started laughing loud like a mad person.

“Goddess! Is that what they call you? They worshipped you, they respected you. Is this the way you pay them off?” shouted Tensing.

“Tensing! Calm down” Said Zared.

“You’re a monster!” “Monster! You’re hearing me? You are a monster!”

“You killed everyone. You killed uncle Norbu! You were the reason Nima left me. You were the reason, Sonam went away. Now this! What had they done? You’re a monster. Sonam was right I was just being a kid for a monster like you.“

“Tensing” Zared placed his hand over his shoulder but he flung it away.

“Monster!” Tensing went on. The cold dusk made him weak on his knees, he knelt in front the dead body of his sister and started weeping. He felt his heart was freezing, a wrenching pain he could feel deep inside. It was not the snowy environment but the cold that was sprouting from deep inside, the fear of being all alone. He stared at the dead body without a word. He was not sure if he could endure the cold inside but he had to face it, alone. Then he felt a warm wrap around him. It was not Zared because the climber was standing right next to him. They used to tell when you are about to get too strong and you have to endure all the pain, alone then there will be goddess holding you. That might have been one of those hugs.

After burying the dead body of his sister, Tensing and Zared sat in front of the fire in the Chautara. In the night, with a full moon and stars twinkling in the sky, the village looked dreary white covered in snow.

“What you are going to do now, Tensing?” asked Zared.

“I think I am going to bury them all”

“What?”

“I am going to dig them all out and bury them all.”

“Tensing! You’ve gone insane.”

Tensing got up and started moving recklessly. Zared pulled him back to stop him but he pushed him away and continued.

“Mom! Dad! They are all in there. I will have to find them all. I have to bury them.” He shouted. “They must be somewhere near where I found Zina, right?” He looked at Zared. Zared looked in pity to the boy who seemed to be loosing his mind.

“There’s nothing for you Tensing. Come with me. You could not watch the dead face of your little sister. You think you can watch your parents.” Said Zared as he tried to stop Tensing.

But, Tensing ran recklessly on the thick snow, then he stumbled and fell. On the floor, while he was crawling he still shouted. ”My whole village is down there. I have to bury them all, Zared. They are all in there.”

Tensing wept and screamed on the floor. “I’ll bury them all. I’ll bury them all.”

The night was falling the stars and a moon at a side shining bright over a dreary deserted snow covered village. And below them was a young boy weeping alone with the broken dreams and faith, never to return to his pal again.

 

 

 

CHAPTER- XII

 

Tensing followed Zared to the city. He had started living in a narrow dark room with a single bed, a table and a stove. Zared was the only person whom he had allowed in his life. Other than him, he preferred solitude. In the twinkling city streets, Tensing used to work as a porter. After all, that was the only job he had ever known. He used to carry loads from one place to another for several factories and stores. Tensing had nothing else to do but work. This had increased his popularity among the traders and store keepers. While, Zared had a mountain climbing institute near Tensing’s room but Tensing never used to turn his head towards the institute. Going to the work and coming back to the room, that was the only life he had been living for years. But, in his head, the time had paused to the day his village got swept away by avalanche. Still, in the middle of some nights, he used to wake up and scream in agony for his lost family. The days were passing that way.

“Tensing!” Said Zared as he entered the room and placed the extra keys Tensing had lent him to the table at a side. “How’s the business going?” He continued.

“It’s fine! I have completed the contract from the rice factory and I am looking forward to find some other jobs.” Said Tensing who sat on the bed opposite to the door.

“Oh! So I have arrived just in the right time. I have a job offer for you.” Zared pulled a wooden tool at the side of the table and sat opposite to bed.

Tensing who had turned fat because he had no time for his life had his dim face brighten up with the news. He had turned workaholic after all.

“It’s an one week contract from a factory. You have to supply goods to the stores around the city.” “What is the factory about?”

“Well, I don’t know about it myself. One of my friends was looking for a good porter so I recommended them your name, since you’ve always been so sincere to your job. This will certainly pay you a great amount of money.”

“Okay! I ‘ll be pleased to complete your contract.” Said Tensing.

That night, after a long time, it rained really heavy on the city. Seemed like monsoon was approaching. The rain poured through the only window pane of the room, that too had it’s glass broken, beside the bed where Tensing was lying to relieve the stress and get refreshed for tomorrow. The rain started dripping over the face of Tensing and woke him up from the sleep. He took the thick water proof jacket hanging on a nail at the door and covered his face trying to sleep. It only worked for a while. Then water started dripping to his face penetrating the jacket and it got really difficult to sleep. After getting paid from the next job, the first thing he would do was to change the broken glass of the window, he thought as he got off the bed. Tensing took the mattress off the bed and spread it over the cold concrete floor. He hung the jacket back to the door and laid over the mattress on the floor. As he laid on the floor, beneath the mattress, on the bed, he saw a piece of cloth red and white, the souvenir by Nima. He had almost forgotten about it in years and seeing it didn’t make him happy either. The flashes of pain he had been through seemed freshening up. He rolled to the opposite direction, closed his eyes and fell asleep.

The next morning, Zared took him to the factory. Both men stood before an artistic Iron gate. Behind the gate, was a two storied long building. Tensing could hear the sound of equipment running through the industry. After a while, a lean man with a friendly face and a signature mustache appeared in front of them. He gave the men friendly smile as he opened the main door.

“Hi! I am Zared. Talked about the porter to supply the goods to the market.” Zared stepped ahead and talked to that lean guy.

“Oh! Yaa! I remember a staff talking about it.”

“Okay, this is the guy. You can show him the store and he’ll do his work.” Zared gently touched Tensing on his soldier as he moved forward.

“Okay! You need not worry about it”

Zared gave him a smile and nodded.

“Tensing! Do as he tells you to do. You know where to take the loads in the market right?” Tensing nodded to Zared as a reply.

“Yes! I’ll send our guard with him.” Said the lean man.

“I have to go do some renovations for my institute.” Said Zared.

Tensing nodded to Zared and he left.

“This way.” The lean man leaded Tensing to the main door of the factory. As they were going to the store, a middle aged man with chinky eyes that of Tensing’s and familiar face surrounded by some other people talking to him crossed his path. He tapped the lean man and asked “Brother! Who is he?”

“He is the owner of this factory. Why? Do you know him?”

“I don’t know! It’s just! He has got this familiar face.” The man might have noticed Tensing’s chinky eyes.

“Well, you may know him? Where are you from, again?” The man asked.

“Actually, I really don’t like talking about it.” Tensing replied. Tensing’s face had turned black all of sudden. The man could see the lines of hesitations over his forehead.

“Okay, pal! As you wish.” The man smiled and took him to a door. It was a small door. Tensing would have thought it’s a door of some bathroom if he would have walked here alone. “Here we are to the store room.”

The man took out a bundle of keys which were each colored in a distinct color. He inserted a blue key to the lock and unlocked the door. The man opened the door and switched on the light. An orange bulb lightened up the large store room with the huge space. Tensing could see the stalk of varieties of wools all around. Red, green, pink, purple, blue and white. The colors had lightened up the entire store room. He hadn’t thought these colorful wools would make the room look so good .

“So, you have to take these wools to the market. You know it well, right?” Said the man. Tensing gave him a wide smile and nodded.

“Should we supply all of these wools to the market?”

“No, there are certain colors of wools that’s going to the market while others will stay here. We have orders from various places.” The man continued “Okay! She’ll be the in charge for the wools you take to the market.”

“Who?”

Tensing turned towards the lean man, behind him stood a lady dressed in a pretty sari with a magnificent smile on her face.

“Why are you late? Let’s start now.” She said. Wait! What an amazing sound. There was something so familiar about this strange lady too. Her voice was so soothing that knot in his chest, he had been carrying all this time kind of got off. Tensing looked at the lady as she walked through the stalk of wools, pointing which were to be transported and which were to be kept in the store. In the dreary city, where Tensing had not known anyone else besides Zared and was also not ready to allow anyone else into his life, a glance of this lady made him feel so safe as if someone of his own was present nearby. May be, it was the way she looked, and that was glorious but a porter wanting to be with such a sophisticated lady like her was also not more than a dream.

“Hello! Mr. You’re hearing me?” Tensing shuddered as his imagination broke off when the lady spoke.

“Yes Mam!”

“The wools in this part of the room are to be supplied and these parts are for the stock. You have to carry these wools to the market today.” Tensing nodded in agreement.

After a while, a guard came running to Tensing.

“Girish sent me!” The guard said.

“Who?”

“Girish, that lean man with a mustache.”

“Oh!”

“I’ll show you the market.”

“All right.” Tensing carried a stalk of wools on his back. Admiring the beauty of the lady, he headed towards the market with the guard.

That day later, Tensing asked the guard about the beautiful lady who had been the in charge of wools to be sent. Tensing got to know she was a relative of the owner. Three days had passed. Tensing worked for them and followed the beautiful lady’s command. After a long time, he had started feeling little lively and had something to think about beside the work.

On the fourth day, Tensing got a little upset as the guard informed him there was someone else in charge of the wools. Tensing entered the store room and he came across to the same familiar person, the owner of the factory, Tensing had met the first day. He was mumbling something.

“People in here are of no use. I should be taking care of everything.” He looked at the guard walking next to him bow down. He seemed like hearing to everything he was blabbering in guilt.

“Boy! You carry green wools to the market.” He turned towards Tensing as he pointed at the stalks of wools that were supposed to be carried to the market. As Tensing got near the load and put a sac over his back, the old man spoke.

“Again! What did you say your name was?”

“Tensing!” He replied.

“Yes! Tensing! You look familiar.” To Tensing’s astonishment the man said.

It was a surprise to Tensing that the factory owner had also been feeling the same.

“I feel the same about you.” Tensing left the green wools he was about to carry on the floor and walked near the owner as if he too was trying to figure out who was this person who looked so familiar.

“Did you come from the village below Chomolungma by any chance?” He asked.

Tensing always had wanted to forget about it so he didn’t reply anything.

“Because, I am from there. You look a lot like one of my friend.”

Now, it felt like he was someone of his own so it was worth remembering.

“Really!” Tensing looked at the familiar face of the old man. His white hair, wrinkled eyes and that weird smile. It took no time to recognize him

“Uncle Pemba!” He spoke.

“Yes! And you are….”

“I am Tensing.” He finally realized why he had been feeling that he was someone he had known all this time.

“Oh! Tensing! I know now why I had been feeling like I’ve known you closely. You’re the kid of my friend, Kshiring.” Tensing could see Pemba’s face glimmering in happiness. He tried to hug him but Tensing got conscious about the rugged clothe he was wearing.

“Yaa! You look a lot like Kshiring. It’s so good to meet you here son.” Pemba hugged him without considering what he was wearing.

“Yes! I had heard about your wool business but I had never thought I would be meeting you like this.”

“Oh! Now you know me.” Laughed Pemba. “It’s really good to see you here, kid. I got to know about the village. I am really sorry for your loss.” Pemba tapped to the shoulder of Tensing as a consolation when his face turned dim in remorse.

“So, where do you live? And what are you doing now days.” Pemba tried to change the topic seeing him feel down. Tensing still remembered he had a huge part in abolishing Uncle Pemba out of the village but for Pemba, it seemed like he had forgotten everything from the past and had moved on.

“I have rented a room here and what I do? You know. I am a porter.”

“Okay!”

“Okay! Uncle Pemba! Let me carry these green wools to the market.” Said Tensing. “Then we’ll have a talk, afterward.” May be after meeting someone he knew after a long time his body was filled with this amazing energy, he wanted to finish off the work so fast.

“Leave the work boy. Let’s have some talk.” He pointed towards the steel tools that were at the corner of the room.

“But… contract.”

“Leave the work for a while. Learn to have some rest, Tensing. The owner of the industry is telling you. ”

Pemba signaled two to the guard standing near the door. Soon after that, two cups of the tea arrived. Both men sat on the wooden stool nearby. Each of them took the cup and they started sipping the tea and started talking.

“So, you have rented a room here.”

“Yes, uncle. During my midteens Sonam also proposed me to try my luck to the wool business but I got so busy with trekking and trades I did not hear him.” Tensing looked down and smile.

“Yaa.. Sonam arrived here to work with me.”

“Sonam must have reached at the top of his career.” Tensing asked Pemba

“Well! What people want to do, it’s all in their hand child. Sonam didn’t show any interest to the business. Probably, he was young and he had my blood running into his veins.” Pemba smiled to himself. He might have remembered his young days.” He got much interested in having fun, had many girlfriends and didn’t focus on the career at all. I even had sent him to some of the trainings to learn about the machineries but he spent all the sum to fulfil his drinking and gambling habit.”

“So, where is he now? What is he doing?” Tensing looked at Pemba as he felt sorry for Sonam.

“Don’t worry kid, he is not in that bad situation. He lives with me in my home. I have got him married to a nice girl. She is helping him get to the right track.”

Tensing took a sigh of relief.

“I wish I could meet him.”

“Yes! Why not? Why don’t you come around evening? You can head off with me after the work.”

“Yaa! That would be great!” replied Tensing.

“Uncle! I would be going now. I will carry this load to the market and then head home.”

“Okay! We’ll meet after work.” said Pemba. Tensing waved him bye after he kept the load of the wools over his back and headed to the market.

 

 

 

CHAPTER- XIII

 

“Tensing! Let’s go inside.” Pemba leaded Tensing towards the main door gently touching on his shoulder. The main door with the delicate wooden crafting leaded to a beautiful room with rich interiors. The fine wooden pillars had given the room amazing finishing. Tensing could see the fancy luxury items all around the living room which made him realize that Pemba’s wool business had really paid off fair.

“Have a sit Tensing!” Pemba said. Pemba leaded him towards the white sofa. He looked at himself, he had rugged clothes on. The rugged clothes seemed to leave a stain on such a white sofa. He stood there, thinking for a while.

“Don’t hesitate! Go ahead! Sit down,” Pemba said.

Tensing carefully sat on the white sofa. It was spongy, he could feel.

“You sit here I’ll call Sonam.” Pemba left him alone in the room.

Tensing looked around the room, rich silk curtains on the window, an aquarium full of colorful fishes rested on the table. And that thick fuzzy carpet, must be made by wools they produce in their factory. He probably hadn’t seen such a beautiful room in his entire life.

After a while, an old woman entered the living room probably from the opposite side of the main door. Tensing looked at the old lady who was wearing a neat sari and had her all white. She could barely stand straight. She pulled her round glasses a little lower for a while and gave the boy a side.

“Hey! Who is this rugged lad in our house?” She bawled.

“Mother! He is Tensing. The boy of Kshiring. You remember him?” Said Pemba as he entered the room. After him followed a young man, with the face full of beard, hair messed up and his eyes were all sleepy as if he had just woken up.

“Who Kshiring? I don’t remember any Kshiring.” The old lady seemed to have pressurizing her blurred memory. It really had been so long. Tensing remembered the tough lady whom the kids from entire village were scared of. It felt a little bad to see her grow so old.

“Mother! Kshiring he used to be my friend from the village we used to live.”

Now, Tensing could see the face of the old lady shrink in disgust. It seemed like she hadn’t forgotten what Tensing and his family had done to him. Suddenly the old woman shouted.

“Oh! I can recognize him in my death bed. That guy who betrayed you!”

Tensing looked down, not knowing what to do next.

“He is the son of that traitor” She looked at Pemba. He didn’t say a word.

”Why are you in my house? Get him out. Pemba!” The old woman yelled.

The old lady in spite of her inability to stand straight hustled towards Tensing and pulled him by his collar.

“Get out lad! Get out of my house.” Tensing could feel the old wrinkled hand of the lady against his neck as she was pulling Tensing’s collar.

“Mother! Mother! Why did you come out here? You need to get some rest.” Pemba came running near her, leaving the sleepy man behind him. He tried to calm down the furious woman and took her to another room.

“Don’t mind Tensing! You know my mother right? She has got old and little you know.” After a while he got out of her room. Tensing still could hear the blabber from the room next door. He shifted his attention to the conversation.

“Sure uncle, I do understand.”

Pemba smiled. ”That’s so nice of you.” All this time of the drama happening in the room the young man had been standing at a spot motionless. It was kind of weird to Tensing. After a while Pemba took a peek to the man and asked Tensing.

“Tensing! Do you remember him?”

“Sonam!” spoke Tensing. Sonam had grown up into a strange adult. Tensing could hardly recognize his face under the bush of beard.

“Oh Tensing!” Sonam’s tone resembled that he was not excited to meet his old friend. He seemed so uninterested.

“How are you, Sonam?”

Sonam seemed like walking towards another room.

“Sonam! Go sit near your friend.” It was surprising that a young man like him had to be leaded by Pemba.

“Sonam, you seem a little sick.” Tensing caressed his head when Sonam sat on the sofa next to him.

“Hey Tensing!” Said Sonam as he hugged him “My Childhood friend!” All of a sudden he seemed so excited which looked pretty strange to Tensing.

“Hey Sonam!”

“You’re Tensing! Look you have turned so different.”

“Really!!”

“You friends have a talk. I’ll come after a while.” Pemba went to another room.

“So, Sonam how are the things going?” Tensing asked his old friend with the drowsy eyes. At that time of the day he could smell a strange sort of scent coming from Sonam’s mouth. He could tell he was not sober.

“My friend! My old friend!” Sonam again hugged Tensing like a frantic person.

“Sonam! How are you? Are you ok?” Tensing pushed him away and asked him again.

“Well! I am great. I hadn’t expected I’d meeting you today. The business is getting pretty nice. But tell me about you Tensing! How are you?” The reaction looked pretty strange.

“Oh! Nothing new about me. I didn’t realize uncle Pemba was the owner of the company, I had been working on. So, I heard you got married.”

“Oh Yeah! I was walking on the path of uncle Pemba, you know then he got me married.” Sonam giggled a little as he made fun out of himself.” To bring me to the right track.” Tensing smiled back to him in return.

“And you know the girl by the way!”

“Really! Who is she?”

“Yaa!! You’ll know, after you see her. Actually she was a little sick today. But, let me call her for you.”

“Nima! Nima!” He shouted. Tensing’s heart skipped a beat. It had been quite a while he had not heard this name.

“I heard about the village. I felt really bad about it.” Said Sonam.

Tensing could see Sonam barely opening his eyes.

‘Yes, Sonam ! Did you call me?” He could hear the sound from the room next door. Tensing got shocked as the beautiful lady from the store entered the living room.

“You!” Exclaimed Tensing.

“Porter!” She too got shocked to see an ordinary porter who had been carrying the loads the other day sitting on her living room with her husband next to him.

“Nima! That’s Tensing!”

“Tensing!” she mumbled.

Now Tensing realized why he had been feeling so familiar around the lady. She was his childhood best friend Nima. And it was so silly that they had been working together but they hadn’t recognized each other. Tensing’s heart fluttered in happiness. “This so unexpected. How did you…” Nima was too surprised to meet her childhood best friend that way.

“He works in uncle’s factory as a porter!”

“Nima! That’s my wife.” Sonam giggled.

She had turned so beautiful that she looked like an angle on the earth. Tensing could not say a word.

“Nima, How are you?” Tensing got up and reached near Nima. He was happy to meet his childhood friend but was confused as well to know how a girl like Nima ended up with Sonam who had been cruel to her during their childhood. It hurt more when he noticed some blue bruises in her arms from the distance.

“What happened on your arms Nima?” He could see plenty of those in her hands too. Some of the blue bruises were also present in her face. Nima tried to cover them with the end of her sari.

“That’s nothing.” She mumbled and looked down. He looked towards Sonam who was sitting which was more like slipping through the cushions of Sofa.

“Hey! Why didn’t you tell me your name?” Nima tried to change the topic but the straight glance on her face was enough to know she was in a great need of help.

“Well I didn’t know what to say.” Both of them smiled. “But, I felt you were someone familiar the moment I saw you.”

“Me too.” Smiled Nima.

“Look at you two, Childhood lovers. Bonding up.” The drunken Sonam giggled from the Sofa. “We used to tell you two should get married, when we were kids right.”

“C’mon Sonam, We were kids back then. It’s nothing to talk about.” Said Tensing as it kind of sounded akward.

“We’re all friends here. Don’t get so bothered Tensing.” Tensing pretended to smile. “Yaa! You were stuck in that mountain climbing dream and I came here to the city. This is where I met her and she fell for me, Isn’t it Nima?” Sonam looked at Nima. She didn’t respond.

“Isn’t it Nima?” The tone got higher. She had nothing to do but nod. Tensing looked at her do so and realized how fragile she had turned. ”I bet if you have arrived here with me you would have won her over.” Tensing giggled on his beastly tone.

“Sonam!” Nima mumbled but Sonam didn’t seem to care.

“So, did you climb the mountain, Tensing? And landed that flag Nima had gifted you on the top?” He looked at Tensing. He knew these words were piercing his heart but he went on blabbering. “Oh sorry! About your village by the way. You may not have been able to climb the mountain top.”

“Nima, ask him about the Village! His Parent!” Sonam giggled frantically as Tensing remained silent.

“Sonam!” Nima tried to stop him.

“Let me tell you, His village got swept away by avalanche. I had told him going to the mountain was nothing but being a stubborn kid. Did you see, what your Goddess did? ”

Tensing and Nima could not believe how Sonam was blabbering things those were too insensitive. Tensing’s face turned all dark. He smiled a little to hide the agony that had risen inside his chest.

“It’s good to see you Nima after so long.” Tensing told Nima as he ignored away the nonsense of Sonam.

“Beautiful! Isn’t she? But she is mine now.” Sonam who had been listening to them again started to blabber. “I got married to your childhood sweet heart, Tensing. She was so tiny back then. Look at her she has turned smoking hot.”

“Sonam! What you’re talking about?” Nima spoke.

“Come on. Tensing loved you. Why? Didn’t you know it Nima? Or is it you’re just too shy to admit it?”

“Sonam! You’re drunk.” Said Tensing as he was about to loose his cool. The person who seemed so drowsy to talk properly was now blabbering on and on.

He didn’t like the way Sonam was referring to Nima.

“What! You guys should be thankful. Because of me, you have been able to have this reunion. How are you feeling meeting your childhood sweet heart? ” Sonam mocked Tensing from the sofa. “Oh! Your reunion is making me so overwhelmed.”

He pretended to wipe his fake tears which he pretended to coming from the union of these two people. Nima looked down in embarrassment about what his frantic husband was doing.

“I am sorry, Tensing. I think you should go.” Nima was ashamed by all the nonsense that was going on.

“Sonam! You’re out of your mind.” Murmured Tensing.

“I think I should be leaving now.” Tensing realized, he could not take all the nonsense Sonam was blabbering on and walked to the entrance.

“Oh my god! The son of our enemy is still in here. Get out of my house! Get out! Pemba!” Again the old woman showed up to the living room and started yelling.

“Don’t worry! I’m leaving.” Shouted back Tensing.

“Nima is Tensing’s childhood sweetheart.” The drunken Sonam was still blabbering.

“Is that so? Is that rugged fellow your boyfriend?” The old lady was adding up to his nonsense.

“What would you do? I got married to her. I am her husband, now.” Sonam giggled as he passed out on the sofa. Nima stood in front of them not knowing what to do next while Tensing was furious, he opened the main door. As he was heading out, Pemba showed up into the room.

“Where are you going, son!” Pemba entered the room with scotch in his hand.

“Today’s my day of celebration.” Said Pemba “You sit with me and have fun!”

Tensing looked around the room. He took a glance on Sonam, who had passed out drunken on sofa. His daughter in law, who stood in front of him sobbing all covered in bruises and the old woman, who was blabbering nonsense and seemed like definitely out of the mind. Tensing didn’t realize what the matter to celebrate about was.

“Come on son! Don’t be shy!” He pulled Tensing to the middle of the room and sat him down in front of a table. ” You used to be a brave boy! What happened now? You are scared of me?” Pemba peeked into his eyes. Tensing was unsure what he was up to. He had seen enough in his house and he was not sure what was to be seen further. He placed glasses and a bottle of imported wine which was distinguished by the special decorations over the bottle, on the table. He poured the wine on both of the glasses and handed one over to Tensing. “Drink it! Drink it!”

“No! It’s okay!” Tensing was showing gestures.

“Hey! Why aren’t you letting that tramp go?”

“Shut up you lady! Can’t you see I am celebrating?” He added. “Everyone is insane in this house. They cannot see me being happy. You get into your room.”

“No one listens to me. You love that rugged fellow who caused you trouble.” Mumbled the old lady and entered the room.

“Sorry for that.” Uncle Pemba gave him a nervous laughter.

“That’s ok Uncle Pemba.”

“Ok! Now we begin.”

Then Pemba raised his glass of scotch and it seemed like he was raising a toast for something.

“Today! I want to celebrate the death of all those fellows from village who insulted and abolished me.” For Tensing it seemed like other fellow starting the nonsense. “I celebrate my useless nephew marrying the daughter of the woman who insulted me.” He suddenly got up from the floor stared at the ceiling and started babbling. ”Look lady, I’ve ruined her life. I celebrate the death of my friend turned enemy, Kshiring whose son is working as a porter for me. God! Thank you for showing me this day. I knew this day would come.” Pemba started laughing like mad. Tensing looked Pemba in disgust. He thought at least this man had some mind, but he too was screwed up.

“You drink it! You drink it!” Pemba forced the drink to Tensing’s mouth while Tensing pushed him away.

“What are you doing Pemba? You’re feeding the son of our enemy with the imported wine. Get him out! ” The old lady shouted again as she peeped out of her room.

“I had been waiting for this celebration for so long. I just needed a company, you know. Nima! You too join me in the ceremony.” Nima cried to this insanity and exited the room.

Tensing’s face turned red with fury.

“I am sorry uncle, I won’t be coming to transport the wools from tomorrow. I am leaving now.” He said as he stood up and got ready to leave.

“What? You can’t leave like this. We still have more to celebrate over the dinner.” Uncle Pemba clutch his hand and it was like a pleading he was making to make Tensing stay till the dinner.

“What? Now you are feeding him dinner too? Get him out! Get him out! Nima ! Get your boyfriend out of here.” The old lady again blabbered.

“Mother! You enter your room. I want to celebrate. Let’s celebrate over the dinner! Over the dinner!”

“Then you should poison him on the dinner!” shouted the lady.

“Mother! Let’s celebrate over the dinner. Over the dinner! Over the dinner! The dinner’s over… The dinner’s over.” mumbled Pemba as he too passed on the floor. Tensing realized the entire family had gone mad. He could not handle the insanity going on the room. He exited the house and never wanted to return again.

 

 

 

CHAPTER-XIV

 

As Tensing reached his room. It had turned all dark. He found the door of his room open and the light of the bulb peeking outside. He found Zared sitting on the bed opposite to the door.

“So, how is the work going?”

“I am quitting Zared?”

“Why? Is it because of the salary?”

“I cannot work for them, Zared. They’re all insane. I don’t need any salary, either. I am just not working for mad people like them” Tensing had felt exhausted as he sat beside Zared on the bed.

“No, Tensing. I’ve taken the contract. They have already lent me the full money. ”

“So you can return the money. We will find some other job. I don’t want to go”

“It does not work that way Tensing.” Zared sounded tensed. “I’ve invested most part of it for the improvement of my institute. And it’s not only about the money. This is the biggest contract we have got in a while. What actually happened Tensing?”

“I don’t even want to think about those people, Zared. It’s completely personal. Please don’t force me to go there. ”

“It’s just the matter of three days, Tensing. I know, I cannot force you to do something you don’t want to do. But, I hope, you would at least think about it.” Zared left the room. Tensing saw his gloomy face when he closed the door.

Tensing didn’t feel like eating that night. The drama he had seen today at Pemba’s house was enough to keep him full. He looked out of the window. May be the monsoon had hit the city, it was still raining today. His mattress still was spread on the floor. Tensing laid down on the floor and stared at the ceiling. He was sure he would never come in contact with the people he met today by any means. But he didn’t want to see Zared sad because of him too. After the tragedy that had occurred with him, Zared was the one who had always been there. He was the one who gave him job and a roof under the sky. And it felt really bad for not being able to help a friend in need. But, Tensing too had his reasons. He rolled to another side. From the floor, he could see the flag still lying over the bed which reminded him of Nima. Indeed, she had turned beautiful than he imagined she would ever be. But in sudden shock, he could not even ask how she ended up with Sonam. In the group of insane people, Nima was the only one who seemed normal and the bruises over her body indicated that she was definitely not happy. Even if Sonam was not sober, when he was babbling, Tensing knew he had been loving her since childhood. And he had never told Nima to do so. But he felt the same way from her too. He wanted to pull her out from that hell hole. “I could not stand two hours with them. How could she stand them her entire life?” He wondered.

“I must save her.”

Now, even for Nima alone, he had to show up on the factory again. Tensing made his mind as he rolled over to the other side to fall asleep.

The next morning, making sure he would not cross the way with his frantic old uncle, Pemba, he reached the store area. But he could not see Nima the in charge of wools to be transported. There was a guard instead of her. He didn’t know where to find her.

He carried the wools as told by the guard to the respective market places. And returned back to the home. He didn’t see Nima anywhere, that day.

The next day, He saw a guard instead of Nima again. Tensing was desperate to talk to Nima, even if it was to know how she ended up there. He waited on the store but no trace of Nima he could see. Tensing was so frustrated that he would not be able to pull her out of the hell hole, ever. During the late hours, the next day, when he had to carry one last load of the wool to the market.

He saw Nima walking through the passage. Leaving the last part of wool that he was carrying over his back on the hallway, he ran towards her screaming “Nima! Nima!”

In the hallway, she must have heard him but it seemed like she didn’t care and walked away. Tensing followed her as he shouted “Nima!”

“Nima! I want to talk to you.” Said Tensing.

“Okay! What is it, just tell.” Nima seemed to be heading somewhere recklessly.

“About how you ended up here. About that bruise in your body. About everything.”

“I don’t know Tensing! What you’re talking about?”

“Nima! “

“You coming to my house has created enough of the drama. Now, I don’t want to make any scene in front of my colleagues.” She headed towards the main office.

“But, Nima! You are not happy there. It seems like you are being tortured.” Spoke Tensing as he was trying to catch the pace of Nima who was walking away recklessly.

“Look! I am married to Sonam and it’s his responsibility to think for me. Not yours!” Finally she stopped and spoke. “See! That guard over there has been looking us for a long time. You are a porter and I work here. That’s all the relationship we can have.”

Tensing got shunned and stood there motionless after what he heard from Nima. He looked Nima walk away and diminish in the hallway. This was definitely not the sweet and lovely Nima he had been playing with all his childhood.

“Nima! I need to talk to you! I ‘ll wait for you in the canteen tomorrow evening.” Tensing shouted.

But, Nima had walked away and for him he was not sure if Nima heard him or not.

The next day, after completing the final supply orders to the markets, Tensing went to the canteen nearby the main gate of the factory. He waited for her as he sat on the table outside of the cafe. The day was falling and the view in front of the factory was clear. He could see sun setting through the gaps of the mountain, far. Tensing realized it had been a while, he had not seen any sun set like that. A feeling of nostalgia surrounded him. He realized how much he missed watching the sun set from his village and watching Chomolungma turn all orange. Those good old days, when he used to play all day with his best friends. The tasty food from his mother’s hand and the lessons thought by his father. He missed the giggles of his little sister and friendship of Nima. Then he remembered the way village got swept away by an avalanche and he was left all alone in a cold starry night. Tensing cursed himself for remembering all of it, after all, the memories would give him the wrenching pain deep into his heart.

The sun had set and the sky had started turning orange to black. Tensing gave up the hope. He felt Nima would not show up, after all, she had already been married and had moved on with her life. She would definitely not require any help from a porter like him.

Tensing got up to leave the table. He realized the café owner had lighted the bulb which had brightened up his table. As he was about to leave, he saw a shaggy feminine image approaching him from a distance. He could not recognize the face as the light did not flow till there. But, as she approached closer, he realized it was no one else but Nima.

“Thank god! Nima! You showed up.”

Nima didn’t say anything but smiled.

“Please, have a seat.” Tensing pulled the seat for her.

Nima sat on the chair opposite to Tensing. “I thought you would not show up after you yelled at me.”

“Sorry.. For that. Actually, we had a small fight that day and I was a little off.”

“That’s okay, Nima! Tell me the truth, was that the reason for those blue bruises?”

“What are you talking, Tensing?”

“You know what I am talking about? Are you happy with Sonam?”

“Sir, do you wanna order something?” A lean waiter, probably on his mid-teens wearing a red cap interrupted them as he came up their table to take orders.

“Yes two cups of Tea.” Nima looked at the table. There were couple of cups which had already been drunk. Picking up the empty cups from the table, the waiter left them.

“How did this all happen?” Tensing repeated.

Nima looked down on the table. Gave a long sigh and started speaking.

“After a year, we moved to our grandfather’s place, my mother died out of some unknown disease. She left the burden of four kids over the shoulder of my old grandfather. His sheep farming was enough to provide us food but we too had the debts of Yalamber which was piling month after month. His people used to come to our house and threaten my grandfather that they would take away all the sheep in his farm. So, me being an elder sister, moved to the city couple of years later to find a job. One of the uncles in my village showed me this factory where I worked as a store keeper when I met Sonam.” Nima looked towards the factory. Tensing nodded as he was hearing to her carefully.

“I didn’t know I would meet him again like that. In the city of strangers, finding someone I know from my village gave me the feeling of being safe” That must have felt great, Tensing realized as he saw gentle smile that came on her face along with that memory. ”It was good for a while but I could say he had changed a little bit and definitely not in good ways. He told me how he had been pressurized by his uncle and grandma to establish a good career after he moved into the city. That made him depressed and he fell into the trap of wrong people. He wanted someone to get him out of it because it seemed like he was trying to get out of it, so hard.”

“And, you became the one to help him out.” Said Tensing.

“Yes! I had known him since childhood. I have known his pros and cons. When I talked about it to my grandfather, he soon agreed as his uncle had this huge wool factory and he believed I would remain happy in my life.” Nima continued. “Three years have passed, and I am still helping Sonam get into the right track but I cannot figure out where I am going wrong.” Nima started weeping. “Nima! Nima! Calm down.” Tensing tried to comfort her. It was a little uncomfortable for Tensing to see her cry that way.

“I want to help him out Tensing! He is a good person. He is just not being able to get out of his wrong habits he had fell into.” Tensing was amused how Nima had started sounding like aunt Ruksha.

“So, what do you want? You want to live like this under the torture of Sonam and his family. With the person who have tried doing wrong with your mother.”

“I don’t know, Tensing! My mother had faced harassment from my father, when I was a kid. May be god is paying off his wrong deeds on me.” Said Nima as she wept.

“No, Nima! What you are even talking about? This does not happen.”

“You’ve known Sonam since childhood. He was a good person. The circumstances have changed him. And the pressure from his uncle and grandmother has turned him frantic and I should be there to help him. Or else he will end his life.”

“Nima, Sonam always had been a little ignorant since childhood. You’re love for him has turned you blind.”

“I wanted to help him.”

“Nima, if Sonam would have wanted to go in the right track he would have changed far long. You’ve got dreams for yourself. Don’t you wanna live them? You cannot remain tortured by the drunkard like him forever.”

“Tensing! This is my fate. I should help him up lift his life. What would my family tell if I leave him like that?” Tensing’s face shrieked a little after hearing to this.

“Whom are you talking about? Uncle Pemba or the crazy grand ma, Resham? These people are even scared to see their own reflection in the mirror. You have known them since childhood. They’re crazy.” Tensing got up of the table on fury.

“You don’t understand.”

“I understand Nima? You are in a hell hole and I am trying to help you out. But it won’t be possible if you don’t want to. It’s up to you that if you want to get out of it or not. I am working till tomorrow in this factory and what after that? I’ll be gone.”

“I don’t know, Tensing! May be my life is just too bad.” Nima wiped off the tear that was falling through her eyes.

“Nima, There are bad days, bad months, may be bad years too but never a bad life. What do you want? Do you want to focus all your energy and time on Sonam to up lift one life which is not even sure to change or you want to focus on yourself and inspire a million. You cannot let go like this.”

Tensing’s sound got louder. “You’re afraid of the change.” He seemed exhausted seeing how Nima had tied her life to a person like Sonam who didn’t even seem trying to change.

“That’s not the reason.” She spoke.

“Then what is it? What is the reason Nima? You’re just a coward. You are worrying about what the disgusting people like them would think of you. You are scared of the change. I always bragged with my father that you were a fierce girl but you let me down.” Tensing bowed down in disappointment.

“Oh really!“ Nima slowly raised up her head, she had been bowing down all this time. Tensing could see her eyes turn red and tears all over her face.

“Am I the one who’s scared of change? You’re calling me a coward?” The tone raised and it seemed as if she was in rage. “You are the person whose face turned black the other day when Sonam talked about the only passion of your life. You are the one who is scared of circumstances to give up your passion and now hiding in every possible hole to avoid from listening about it.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about?”

“You know what I am talking about, Tensing. Chomolungma, you wanted to climb her right? You’re free now but you’re running away because the painful memory will hunt you, if you go up there. At least I am facing the circumstances, I am in and trying to turn it good. Don’t you ever call me a coward.”

“I am just trying to help you out.”

“I don’t need any help, Tensing. The person who needs help is you. Have you even seen yourself? You don’t even look like a young person. Where do you think you are? You too are in a hell hole. Get yourself out of your head first.”

Nima banged the table, got up from her seat and walked away.

“Nima…” called Tensing but she didn’t seem to pay attention as she hustled towards the opposite direction. Tensing had never expected he would be listening this in return of the help he was offering. Tensing realized the waiter holding two cups of coffee stood beside him as they both watched Nima walk away in fury.

“Tea!” waiter brought the tray of tea nearer.

Tensing smiled to the waiter and pulled a cup. Then he sat there for a while as he sipped up the tea alone at that falling dusk.

 

 

 

CHAPTER- XV

 

It was Tensing’s last day on the factory. In the store, again there was guard who was the in charge of wools that were to be taken away to the market. Tensing’s eyes were searching for Nima everywhere. In the store, in the hallway, even around the main office but there was no trace of his friend anywhere. Yesterday, she had made him clear that she didn’t need any help. He had seen that strange fury in her eyes that seemed to be exploding very soon and he had to talk about it with her. After not seeing his friend the entire day, all hopeless and failed, Tensing came back to the room. As he was opening the door of the old rugged single bedded room, he heard someone speaking from behind.

“Thank you friend! You completed the contract.” It was Zared. His face had sparkled in happiness. Tensing felt good for not letting his friend down.

“Oh Zared! “ Tensing smiled. Zared came to him and hugged him tight.

“Thank you so much, Tensing. You saved my image from ruining.”

“Pleasures all mine.” Tensing unlocked the old wooden door and the men entered the room.

“So how come you in my room at this time?” Tensing asked.

“I’ve got something for you.”

Zared reached the pocket of his pant and pulled out some cash. He then handed over the cash to Tensing.

“It seems more than the promised amount.” Said Tensing as he felt the amount of the cash when placed over his hand.

“The big contract. I had told you about it, Tensing.” Said Zared. He moved around the room as if he was inspecting each and every corner. He even took a peek at the mattress that was lying on the floor.

“Enough of this small hole sized room, Tensing.” Said Zared.

“What?”

“Are you planning to live in this hole all your life?”

“I have not really thought about it, Zared.” Said Tensing. Zared looked at the clueless face of Tensing. He knew Tensing still was not in the right mind set to be thinking about the better place to stay. “May be I would collect some more money so I would be able to afford a larger room.”

“C’mon Tensing! Get out of here as soon as possible.” Said Zared as tried to sit on the bed but without the mattress over the hard wooden surface, it hurt Zared’s butt. He saw the broken window pane through which he could see the drops of water drippling over his bed. “I know some of the houses in the neighborhood with nice empty rooms. With real windows. Shift from here as soon as possible. I’ll be glad to talk to you in a large comfortable room.” Said Zared.

Tensing smiled in return.

“Okay! I gotta go. He got up from the hard wooden bed and walked to the door. Behind him walked Tensing.

“I am serious Tensing. I’ll send off a guy to show you the room, the next morning.” He turned towards Tensing and said.

“Yeah! That’s real kind of you!” Said Tensing.

Tensing reached Zared and hugged him tight. Zared got amazed at this sudden action for a while then he smiled and hugged him back. “Thank you for always being there for me. Thank you for everything Zared! I don’t know how I could pay you back in this life.” Zared could feel the tears rolling through Tensing’s eyes as one of the drop drippled into his shoulder.

“Hey kid! I just want you to be happy in your life” Zared looked into his eyes and said. “It’s my privilege to meet such an honest and pure soul like you. Now don’t make me emotional.” Said Zared as he tried to cheer up Tensing.

Tensing smiled feeling a warmth in his heart. He had felt such a warmth after a long time.

“OK I’ll be leaving now. You take care.”

Tensing nodded as he left his room. Tensing closed the door. Tensing thought how that white man who did not know anything about him had become his god. It rained that night too. Tensing laid on the mattress on the floor, covered himself up with the blanket as the gush of wind from the broken window was rushing to the room and hoped this was the last day he had to sleep that way. The warmth of the affection had not even faded away, into his mind, played every bitter thing Nima had said to him, the other dusk. The words had cut him inside like a knife but he knew those were truth. Even, he himself had been feeling like he had let himself down by running away from the circumstances and hiding in this hole away from the dreams he had been seeing all his life. He had been a dreamer since his childhood but now he didn’t know what he was heading into. It was like he was letting go a huge part of himself and had been continuing the journey recklessly just to breathe another day. He hated the way he was living his life and he was not sure how he would get away from this ocean of sorrow.

The next morning, Tensing felt a knock on the door. A short young boy probably in his early teens appeared in front of him in a rugged pajamas and those were definitely not any neater than his. He tried to remember the guy, he had seen him somewhere around the institute. Probably, the boy worked somewhere there. Tensing looked him in confusion thinking what he could do for him. May be the boy caught what he was thinking from his blank glare.

“I am Satish! Zared sent me to show you the room.” “Oh! Yes! I almost forgot.” Tensing felt that he made a fool out of himself in front of a kid and blushed a little and gave him a nervous laughter.

“Okay! To this direction” The little boy showed Tensing the way to the house with a new room.

“Let me lock the door, first.” Tensing turned around to lock the door. He slide key into the lock and turned it around as his eyes got struck to the folded white paper near the threshold. He picked up the paper, it seemed like it had been there all night as it felt a little wet. It must have been the darkness that he didn’t see that paper last night. He slowly unfolded the page. The blue inks were cleared at some places but rest of the letters were readable.

 

“Dear Tensing,

It’s funny how things change. It seemed like yesterday that I left you in the village and hoped we would climb the mountain together. But it has already been 12 years. Time just flies.

I thought about the things you told me the other day and that didn’t let me sleep all night. I had heard the news of my grandpa getting sick few weeks ago. I had wanted to go see him for a long time but Sonam hadn’t allowed me to do so. My grandfather left the world without letting me see his face. I got that news that day when you met me down on the store. May be that’s why I was so bitter down in the store. I am sorry.

I’ve given up my dreams, hopes and family for Sonam. I gave up my self- respect for him but that only gave him right to manipulate and destroy me from inside. Now after my grandfather, my brothers and sisters need me more than he needs me so I am moving out for them, Tensing.

Living three years with Sonam, made me realize, time, circumstances and difficult people do not lead you to the wrong direction but brings out your true personality. It tests how long you can endure the fury life throws at you. You were right, if he would have wanted to change, he would have changed far before. I too realized that and I am leaving him with his life to make his new move on his own.

You always thought I was fierce. Thank you! I won’t let you down. I won’t allow him to stop me ever again. You told me to choose between uplifting one life or inspiring a million. I choose the second one. I am going back to the village. I am going to live with my brother and sisters a carefree and an independent life. I have collected some money from the store keeping in past years. May be I will use them to buy some sheep and rear them beneath the shade of Chomolungma. Because, I know I belong there.

But Tensing, this applies to you too. Do you remember? Your father once had told Chomolungma can be climbed by only fierce people, strong and brave. With all the tragedy you’ve faced in life, with all the sorrows you’ve buried deep into your chest and with every moment of your patience, the god is only taking you’re

test. He’s making you stronger than ever. And now, that you have been one, go face the reality. Get out of your head and give it a try. You may meet the pace of Chomolungma this time. Because, I know Tensing, you too belong there. You are right, there are bad days, bad months even years but never a bad life. Life’s good. It is just the process of learning and we’ve learnt enough. Now, Let’s go home, Tensing. Let’s make our dreams come true. Meet me at the stop, tomorrow morning at eight.

Your Friend

Nima “

 

All of the sudden Tensing felt like a heavy load get off his chest. Everything around him started to seem so real. He looked around, the room he had been living all these years which he was about to leave, It seemed new like he never had been here before. He looked down to himself, his rugged clothes, and the shoe with the broken sole. He never had been like this ever before. He realized how long he had been stuck in this dark hole and finally he was seeing the ray of light. The beam brighter that any casted by the sun. His hair blew when the gust of cold breeze rushing through the door hit his sweaty forehead and reminded him of his old days when the cold placid breeze of Chomolungma used to soothe him during the hard toiling days. He never belonged here. Now, he knew he had got strong and where he was supposed to be. Tensing looked up at the sun, it was shining bright, still on the east. The eager eyes of the boy were still staring at him without a clue, probably, he was trying to know what was written in the letter that had lighted up Tensing’s face.

“Hey boy! What’s the time?”

“I don’t know. When I was left the office, it was eight.”

“It must have got late, then. Oh my god!” The keys were still in the lock. Tensing soon unlocked the door and entered the room.

“Did you forget something?” The boy was talking but Tensing didn’t pay attention. He placed the letter on the table and soon got dressed up on his best cloth. There was a side bag hanging on the knob of the door. He pulled it out and folded the letter as he kept it into one of the pockets of the bag. He then picked up the white red flag lying on bed. Kissed it and kept it inside his side bag. He soon got out of the room and locked the door in no time and handed the key to the little boy.

“Give it to Zared!”

“Aren’t you coming to see the new room?” The boy was confused. But, Tensing was carefree at all. His love was calling him home. His friend was waiting for him to be conquered.

“No, I am going to my home.” Said Tensing as he left the boy outside the door and ran towards the other direction. He knew the time had passed, still he hoped the bus was waiting for him. All covered in sweat, hustling recklessly, he got to the stop. He looked around, no Nima he could see.

“Did she leave me the letter yesterday? What if it was there the day before that? What do I do? What do I do?” Tensing mumbled to himself. He was not even sure when she had left the letter. He looked at the road, no trace of bus he could see. Only one bus to their village used to go from the city and it seemed like it had left. Tensing had two choices, either to go see the new room or wait for the bus. But, this time Tensing was determined. He never had felt so right ever in his life, it felt like a dark fog had lifted up and now he could see everything so clear. He knew exactly what he wanted to do. Tensing sat on the wooden pillar, which was probably the end of a tree that had been cut down. He looked at the trespasser and everyone seemed to giving him a bright smile as the best wishes for the new journey he was about to begin. He had never seen people in this city being so friendly or may be the letter from Nima has changed his vision towards everything. After a while, he heard someone call his name from behind.

”Tensing!” Tensing turned around.

“Tensing!” He heard it again. That soothing voice, indeed, it was Nima. Dressed on the Bakkhu and Docha after a long time, she looked like the grown up Nima that he would imagine when he was a kid. Tensing looked at her with a sigh as Nima was looking prettier than any dream.

“You look so beautiful Nima.”

Nima smiled. She came near Tensing and said as she held his hand. “I knew you would come.”

“Of course! I would.” Tensing smiled back. “I thought you left.”

“I would not have left without you. I was waiting for you.”

“And the bus, it was at eight.” Said Tensing.

“It’s at nine. I knew you would be late, Tensing.” Smiled Nima.

“You still know me.”

After a while, a rusty bus probably seven meters long in length arrived the stop. It had a middle aged man with chinky eyes, may be the conductor holding onto its door.

“You got lucky! The bus left late from the stop today.” Said conductor as he got off the door of the bus to let them in.

“Let’s go home Tensing!” Nima pulled Tensing by hand and leaded to the bus.

“Let’s go home Nima! Let’s fulfil all our dreams.” Tensing looked at Nima and climbed the bus after her. Then, both of them headed towards their home, to their dream, where they belonged, to their pal, Chomolungma, never to return back again. The windy night, un lasting fight, has gone and brought new day along, The fog in my eye, lifted so high, and blurry dream now seem so strong,

And there I see! Oh there I see! The bright path which was meant to be, That I desired, lord has admired, for all those nights when I would plea Not known for a while, long lost and fragile, so vain and shaken I had been, In pain and clash and deeds of abash, but I held myself firm and keen The hitches the fails, and steps on nails, the lord has tested me and seen Now my aisle is eased and view looks clean and demon’s crushed who lied within So, it’s all clear, the things I hear, I hear the trouble fade and run, the flash of the pain and aches I’ve borne and prizes I’ve got in return.

 

 

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

saru pokharel

Saru Pokharel

Saru Pokharel is a writer from Nepal. She attended her high school in S.O.S Herman Gmeiner School, Sanothimi. She completed her bachelors in Science, Microbiology from Tri Chandra Multiple Campus, Kathmandu, Nepal and her Master’s in Environment and Natural Resources from Kathmandu University. She has an adept hand in prose and poetry.

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1 Comment

  1. Santosh Kumar Pokhrel August 22, at 06:56

    This is in real a mind blowing novel written by young lady writer. The story is brilliant. I suggest readers to enjoy reading this.

    Reply

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