The Girl in Red who Wondered

I’ve heard the elders of the tribe talk by the fire at night.

When they whisper as they drink their strong tea, that is when I most want to listen to their words and nods of agreement. I know now. I know how other tribes look down on us and call us names. But…how would they know?

How would they know which berries to pick? How would they know which herbs are best for coughs and fevers and leeches’ bites?

Besides, no one passes by here much except those big noisy trucks, their black smoke making my stomach sick,  as my eyes burn. I wonder where they come from and where they are going.

I wonder about the places they see and the tribes they meet. Are they as stupid as we are supposed to be?

There are a lot of things I wonder about.

Sister tells me not to daydream so much and to pick the best berries. I look at her sideways and wonder more.

I know she thinks of marriage. I can tell by the way she helps mother and aunties while they cook. I can tell by the songs she sings when braiding her hair.  I just don’t know – yet – which boy in the village she is going to marry.

And I wonder…will she continue coming with me to the school? I will miss her laughter and stories if she doesn’t. It’s such a long, boring walk without her!

Just as I was trying to ask her who she thought of, and yes! it was just after that bright truck passed by, the most unusual happened. I still question who they were and what business they had in our hills. Those kind of people never come this way.

We were just about to reach the road and I was still nibbling my picked berries, when we gasped.  There it was. A white truck,  smaller than the others. We pretended not to notice it  and carried on our own business. Mother told us to stay close to her and not wander off.

We watched it carefully from the other side of the road, as a woman came out of the truck, then walked towards us. We still pretended to not see her. There were others in the car too. Auntie said it was time to go.

I looked back as I slowly shuffled my feet, my basket light,  as Mother had shared  my load. The same woman then came closer. This time she had objects  in her out-stretched hands which I so loved. And I wondered….

I was the first to accept them. Quickly sliding off my basket of ripe berries, I sat and looked longingly at the smooth white paper. This paper was smoother than silk! No murky lines, a sky of white to do what I like. And my colours! Brighter than the bits I had at the school. There was no one who was going to stop me now, not even the strange woman who crouched by us, with a stupid smile on her face. Did she think we did not know even how to hold a pencil? Did she also think we were backwards as the other tribes called us? Well, I would show her!

Sister was slower than me. But then again, she usually was. She stood there, too shy, too unsure of herself to accept this wonderful, sky-white paper. I told her to accept and give it to me – that did the trick! Mother and Auntie said it was alright to accept as my sister took her paper and colouring pencils. As she bent down, she fondled the pencils gently. I smiled and looked at her from my drawing. I had to concentrate. I wanted straight lines. When I glanced at her again, she had loosened her basket and was lost in her sketching.

My picture was almost complete. And it was perfect!

I counted the windows and doors. There would be flowers, of course. And a sparkling paddy.

In fact, my perfect picture would as perfect as the hills I lived in, as perfect as the people I belonged to.

Mother called out to us. She wanted to go now, no more excuses, no more fooling around with sky-whites and perfection.

And again I wondered…..would we get back in time so that I could complete my perfect house in the hills?


3 comments on “The Girl in Red who Wondered

  1. Hello Cristina,
    Wow!!! Your photos are Very impressive. Very professional….too much passion on this blog.Its an outstanding and impressive blog. I really enjoyed reading about Nepal. Thanks for sharing this information. I had no idea Nepal was so beautiful. Life seems difficult and peaceful at the same time. The way you are describing about Nepal…make your reader to feel that she/he is there. I feel like I’m actually there experiencing the innate beauty of these places.
    Thanks you for sharing your wonderful pics and your experiences.
    Keep it up!
    All the best!

  2. Hi Vicky,

    Thank you for taking time to read and share your thoughts; and thank you for your kind words of support! Nepal was a surprise for me in many ways; purposefully I went with my eyes wide shut, so the realities made a big impression on me. This part is about the Western Hills and Terai; after December it will reflect the far East and other tribes.

  3. […] I’ve heard the elders of the tribe talk by the fire at night. When they whisper as they drink their strong tea, that is when I most want to listen to their words and nods of agreement. I know…  […]

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