Flash Fiction: Everest Calling

The kids were loitering on the street. Their songs tried to penetrate the ethereal music from the shops that sold anything from Thanka-paintings to incense, spices, tea, coffee, Khukuri-knives, DVDs, books, and pot. They stopped at the square and raised their heads to see the man before them. The European was ill at ease. He pouted his lips while leaning over the electricity pole.

“O frien’ any problem,” one of the kids asked.

He smiled and handed his coke to one of the boys.

After spending two cold months in Khumbu he was back in Kathmandu. From Tribhuvan Airport, he went directly to his hotel at Thamel. He wanted to switch on the air conditioner but there was a power cut. He went to have a quick wash; the bath was dry.

Under the terrace awning, his wife booted her laptop and wrote: We could not do with the Everest. Perhaps next spring, she said to herself. I’m in love, I’m in love – she cried – O Everest, why did you reject me. Tears brimmed in her eyes, she longed for her husband to share their common grief.

“No water, no electricity,” the European complained.

“Melamchi will come.” “Tamakoshi, Seti…”

He stood smiling, head lowered, without understanding water and hydro projects for the nation building.

“O sir you clim’ Everest?”

“You see Yeti?”

“Take me nex time. I wanna make record.”

The face with frostbites relaxed. He rubbed the boy’s cheeks. “Yes, I know, you’ll be the youngest Everester.” And then he looked at the distant north: The Himalayas, their white caps… Everest was his sleepy wife, her unbuttoned blouse, beckoning him to climb. He swallowed hard.


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