Thursday, 06 June 2019
A slight breeze moved the leaves. Sunlight dappled their little patch of grass. The patterns of light and shadow were hypnotising. When the wind increased it said shhhhh and lulled him to sleep. He started snoring like a constipated pig. She got up and wandered on deeper into the forest, listening to the ttee-ttees and squaawk-squaaawks, scanning the trees to find the authors of the mellifluous sounds. The narrow path was interrupted at a spot where the mountain had fallen away but it looked easy enough to skip across the landslide, using her walking pole for balance. Even on the other side she could still hear his irritating oinky snores.
An unfamiliar guffawing birdcall drew her attention again to the treetops so she didn’t notice the villager approaching until he was very close. Intimidatingly close. He didn’t greet her. He didn’t look friendly. She could smell his musk.
He put out his hand. ‘Give me rupees.’
There was a big curved bladed kukri sticking out of his belt. His hand went to it.
‘My friend is close by,’ she said pointing back the way she’d come. She knew he wouldn’t hear though. He was sure to be fast asleep still. She was on her own.
She turned and, trying to walk tall and look strong, fled back to the landside.
It didn’t look so easy in the other direction – on the way back.
She was half way across when a movement caught her attention, and she looked down. She saw how easily she could fall to her death. Her foot dislodged a pebble which clinked and clattered down, and spooked the goats that browsed 200 metres below her.
She was perched on sand-strewn boulders that stuck out of the mountainside. Any one could go rumbling down, down the precipitous slope. She couldn’t see how to go on. Kukri-man was watching. He’d be happy if she fell. Then he could help himself to her wallet.
He came towards her. He danced across the boulders above her knocking down little slicks of sand, silt and pebbles as he moved. Finally he stopped slightly above and beyond where she was and pointed to her walking pole. He could reach it from where he now squatted. He seemed to be suggesting helping her across by holding the end. She shouted for her companion. His reply was yet another snore. She shrieked. Still he didn’t hear. She had to move. Her legs grew ever-shakier.
The villager pointed to the walking pole again. What else could she do? She held it out to him. He grabbed the end. She took a deep in-breath and launched herself across the chasm. She felt the pole help propel her to safety.
The villager was beside her again.
‘Thank you,’ she said giving him a big fat tip.
He smiled a gummy smile, turned and danced back across the landslide.
Legs still shaky, she approached her companion and kicked him.
‘Yarooo. What was that for?’