A Mute Girl On The Mountains

The more memorable experiences of life are rarely those we plan for.

On a cold overcast day in October 1980, I and five other New Yorkers were trekking along a narrow wrinkle of stone which comprised the trail on the side of the mountain above Kavre, north of Pokhara. It was mid afternoon. We were anxious to get beyond this exposed elevation as an electrical storm might appear and endanger us. A cold, light rain began to fall. We stopped for a few minutes in the tight shelter of a projecting rock ledge. The rain began to soak us and we soon heard thunder. We decided to continue to descend as rapidly as the trail would allow, hoping to find refuge at the next village some miles ahead.

The first building we saw was just a few hundred yards ahead of us. It was quite small and had been built partially across a now full rushing stream. Ducking our heads as we passed through the low doorway, we entered a room dimly lit by a few holes left in the wall. There was a narrow wooden deck on the four sides and in the centre was a heavy millstone which we took care not to wet as we crowded into the space. An hour passed while we relaxed and hoped for an easing of the storm outside. Through the floor we heard the low roar of the swollen stream as it rushed down the incline on which this little grain mill was situated.

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Himal Southasian