Babu was a boy of constant movement, always ready to leave – he carried a map in the back of his pants and a compass slipped up his sleeve.
He’d never really gone anywhere much, though adventure was near at hand – he’d walk very slowly and thoughtfully, studying the land.
He read his books from the east to the west, just like the sun goes ‘round (he wasn’t reading them for the words – they were just pictures, that and sound).
‘One day I’ll pack my bags,’ he’d say, ‘and I’ll lace up my shoes. I’ll slip out in the middle of the night, not leaving any clues.
Maybe I’ll start up that hill in the front, and after that I’ll see – but what should I leave with you at the house, and what should I take with me?’
Now, packing’s an act best done at the end, when all things can be known. But packing’s a thing that comes at the start, before the bird has flown.
How can you take what you don’t know you’ll need, and how to decide what you’ll not? And how to decide where you should go when you’ve not been beyond the back lot?
But these are the questions of an old man, and a stationary one at that; Babu had no need for such things, so turned away as before him I sat:
‘I’ve got a bag with a stout leather strap – I’ll take my favourite things down the trail. I’ll wander around and I’ll sleep on the ground, then come back and I’ll tell you the tale.’
This is a new series of Himal commentary on artwork from VAST Bhutan, the Voluntary Artists’ Studio, Thimphu. This image is by Kinga Wangchuk, watercolour on paper.