Tethys Blue Children

Spirit of the Himalayas

Sherpa Snoregay finished his breakfast leisurely. The yeti sat beside him drumming his fingers on his knee, waiting quite impatiently for the Sherpa to continue his story. With a cup of hot su cha in his hand, he began the tale from where he left off.

Rigzin turned and looked up to see who had spoken to him. There was no one — just a bird, perhaps a goose, standing on a step leading to Chiu Monastery. The bird flapped its wings and said, “Yes Rigzin, it was I who called you. Come up here and sit by my side! I have something important to tell you!”

The little boy was amazed. Never before had he seen such a beautiful bird — a medium-sized body, grey wings with brown patches, white underside, bright yellow webbed feet, a bill of the same colour and two black lines stretched across its head. Like everything else in the Himalayas, this bird too is amazing. He flies over the lofty Himalayan mountains, from Mongolia and Tibet to bird sanctuaries in the sub-continent every winter. How does he do it? Perhaps, it is one of the mysteries of this region.

“Hello, I didn’t know birds could talk!” said Rigzin in wonder.

“Rigzin, I am Himaraja, the spirit of the Himalayas, talking to you through this bar-headed goose. I command you to take the precious gem hidden in your chuba to Tawang Monastery, one of the largest in Asia, in faraway Arunachal Pradesh. You must place it at the feet of the two-storey high gilded statue of Lord Buddha there. You will encounter many difficulties in your mission. Himsa, the Dark Force of the Himalayas and his minion, the monal bird, will steal the gem from you. But every good deed of yours will bring the stone back to you.”

A promise to keep

Rigzin began to cry. How was he ever going to keep his promise? “But, but, but…” stammered Rigzin, “will you be around to help me?”

“Surely! Just say these three lines and I will be there to take care of you —

O, Spirit of the Himalayas

That resides in the highest peak Chomolungma

Help me keep my promise!”

With that the bar-headed goose flew away across Lake Manasarover and beyond. Rigzin sat on the stone steps repeating the three lines till his father came by to collect him.

“It was the most exhilarating walk around the lake. When you are older, Rigzin, you too can do the parikrama. Um… I noticed you are quiet. What is wrong?”

Rigzin did not reply. He thought about all that had happened that day. At the next teahouse where they stopped to eat and rest, Rigzin slept fitfully. Sometime in the early hours of the morning, he put his hand into the pocket of his chuba.

The gem, Tethys Blue, was missing!

Horrified, he slid out from under the quilt and without disturbing his father he went out of the teahouse. He retraced his steps, looking for the glittering stone in the pale light of a gibbous moon. He walked on and on until he was tired and exhausted. He crawled on all fours. Tears blinded his eyes. Little did he know he was at the edge of a rock spur that overlooked a deep gorge.

Yeti was upset. “I go save the boy!” it shouted as it ran a few paces down a mountain slope.

“Thank God!” said the Sherpa, “I am now safe. I will run back home.”

But the yeti stopped and returned. “No, no, no. I want more story!”

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 7:57:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/spirit-of-the-himalayas/article19609801.ece

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