The Cloud

Rebecca Huggins

The cloud had been over the village for fifteen days and the people of Baga, Tibet were beginning to wonder if the sky itself was sinking. It was not uncommon for the clouds to hang low, high up as the village was in the Tibetan sky. Yet never, in all the years that the villagers had lived there did the sky hang so long as it had done those many days. And now, under those unrelenting clouds, the village crops had begun to wilt and the people of Baga began to think the cloud a curse that had been placed on them unjustly.

Amrita Jampo, known to the villagers as the Gentle One, was turning fifteen, a very special time for the people of Baga, for it was on this day that Amrita was to climb part of the great Chomolungma[1]. It had long been tradition that the Chosen, when they had turned fifteen, would climb the great mountain, beginning their journey as a young, unknowing child, and returning as a wise leader for the people of the village. The oldest Climber was Jangbu Kalsang, an elder in the village and a wise man that healed the people’s maladies, mixed medicines and herbs, and served as an intermediary between the people and the gods. And so, as tradition, Amrita Jampo rose on her fifteenth birthday and began to prepare for her long, dangerous journey up Chomolungma.

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