Written by: Manishi KC
Tenzing was a thirteen-year-old kid living with his parents in the remote part of the Himalayas in Northern Nepal. He spent his days going to school, playing with his friends and helping his parents with household chores. He lived a very ordinary life.
Tenzing barely knew anything about life outside the village. The farthest he had been away from home was his Uncle’s house, a rural village about forty kilometers away. Tenzing had never seen a car, television or a telephone, only aeroplanes flying in the sky. The only connection Tenzing had with the outside world was his radio. Tenzing’s father Gorchen, had bought the radio when he visited Kathmandu three years back. Tenzing loved listening to news and songs on radio.
Gorchen made yak cheese for living. He was the best cheese maker in the village and he also owned the most yaks. The cheese supplier in the city came every month to collect cheese from the villagers. The villagers were not happy, because the supplier paid bare minimum for the cheese. The money was barely enough to pay for clothes, salt, oil and other basic necessity.
One day Gorchen decided to sell his cheese directly to people in the nearest town. He asked Tenzing to take good care of the house while he was away. Tenzing helped his father pack huge slabs of cheese on the horse. Gorchen turned on the radio and slowly walked along the rugged trails of the Himalayas.
It took Gorchen two days to reach the nearest town, almost forty three kilometers away from his village. After a restful night in the cowshed, early next morning, Gorchen set out a tarp on the main market sidewalk and displayed the fresh mouth-watering cheese slabs one by one. By the end of the day, he was sold out. He earned three times more money than he usually received from the supplier. Gorchen was a happy man. He could buy a lot of things with that money.
The following morning Gorchen visited the town market and bought some clothes, oil, salt and a small bag of rice. As he was wandering through the side walk, Gorchen’s eyes got fixed on television sets displayed in the watch repair shop. “How happy his folks would be to see the television set”, he thought to himself. He went closer to have a peek at the sets. They were black and white used televisions, probably discarded by the city folks.
“How much?” Gorchen asked the shopkeeper pointing at a TV.
“One thousand Ruppees” said the shopkeeper.
Gorchen counted his money. He only had six hundred left.
“I will give you six hundred” Gorchen said to the shopkeeper.
“Alright, give me eight hundred, the shopkeeper replied promptly.
“I will give you six hundred and this radio”, Gorchen said.
The shopkeeper checked the radio and nodded with a smile. The shopkeeper showed Gorchen how to turn on the TV. The TV could only catch few national channels through the antenna.
Gorchen packed the TV and other commodities on the horse and headed towards home. When he reached the village, many kids curiously followed him to his house wondering about the strange thing that was on the horse back.
Tenzing and his mum were so happy that they did not mention anything about the radio. They had heard about the wonders of TV but had never seen one, it was like a mythical monster.
Quickly Gorchen turned on the TV and everyone’s eyes were glued to the set. News about the TV set spread fast, and soon Gorchen’s house was packed with villagers every evening. It was like a big festival.
On Friday and Saturday evenings the national channel aired old NHL games. That was one of the favourite shows for the kids. Tenzing would wonder why there was no ice hockey in his village despite having so many ice lakes. Inspired by the show, the kids tied jute rice bags around their legs and inserted thumb pins into the sole of the shoes. They started playing hockey of their own, with wooden sticks and a rubber disc from a discarded raft.
Tenzing and his friends loved the game. The kids played hockey whenever they got time. They copied the moves and learned more about the game from TV. Tenzing became a good hockey player amongst his friends.
During free time Tenzing would dream about becoming a hockey player. He wondered what it would be like to play ice hockey in the stadium, with many fans cheering. He prayed day and night so that he could one day become a real NHL player. Deep inside, he knew it was quite impossible to become one. He was in one end of the world, how could he ever go to North America when he had barely been outside his own village?
But Tenzing kept on praying.
One day while playing hockey, Tenzing slid off the ground and fell down the hill. He went tumbling down the hill hitting boulders and trees. He died instantly.
Tenzing’s parents broke down with grief. The village elders blamed everything on the TV. “It’s a curse”, they murmured.
Gorchen smashed the TV with his hands and legs, crying out loud, “If not for this TV, Tenzing would be alive.”
The village Lama and neighbours tried to calm the couple.
In the evening, the villagers carried Tenzing’s body to the river bank. Tenzing’s body was covered with barks and logs. The Lama set the log on fire. The corpse burned slowly, fuming out smoke and ash in the air. The smoke particles from the pyre whirled away with the wind and passed over many countries and oceans and came to a sudden stop when it reached a couple’s house in Vancouver, Canada. The particles mingled with the air, trees, earth, water, plants, furniture and people in the house.
Nine months later, the couple had a baby. Tenzing was reborn, this time, to become an NHL player.
Manishi KC lives in BC, Canada where he makes leather bound journals and Mala bead necklaces. Every year he travels to Nepal to make paper from tree-free shrubs called Lokta that grow wildly in the foothills of the Himalayas. He likes to share his experience of journaling and meditation with people that are searching for natural healing methods. Please visit Himalayancrafter for more information.