Life is full of adventure. The most memorable moments in life can be the most sweet or the most bitter, depending on how we respond. Memorable moments can energize us or discourage us. I believe that I have more reasons to thank God for giving me colorful experiences and helping me to take difficult situations to encourage myself. Whenever I remember those moments I always like to encourage myself not to lose hope even in the darkest moments of life.
One of my darkest moments was when I was nine years old. I lived in Yakville, a remote jungle area where yaks graze. My family lived six or seven hours’ walk from Yakville and came once a week to check on the yaks and me. The only other people nearby were other yak keepers who lived three or four miles away. My family took care of the cows and sheep, and my job was to take care of the yaks.
My favorite yak was Dawa, the leader. At night I would whistle, and my yaks would come find me and sleep near me as I crept in a cave or slept on a fallen tree or a boulder. I carried a thick stick to protect the younger yaks from bears, tigers and cheetahs and wore a khukuri, a two foot long knife, sheathed in a wooden case in my belt. I never had to fight a wild animal, but I have had to yell at cheetahs or bears to scare them away from the yaks. My regular task each morning was to fill up a giant tank with water from a nearby stream. One morning I got up and took my water vessel with me and headed to the springs to bring fresh water. The sun was shining brightly. I was singing my favorite song “Resham phiree, Rasham phiriree.” As I repeated that song four or five times, I got to the stream and began filling my water jar. It would usually take me six or seven trips to fill up the yaks’ water tank. Suddenly a giant dog appeared. It was about double my size. That dog lunged at me. I was helpless because I did not have my stick or my khukuri, so I tried to run away. He growled and snarled while the saliva dripped from his teeth. I almost fainted. I thought he would finish me. As I turned away from him, he grabbed the back part of my leg. Fortunately he grabbed my nylon pants, and his teeth got hooked there. He did not let go. He dragged me down the hill’s slope about seven feet. I was crying, shouting, and making every kind of noise I could make, trying to scare him away. I was begging for a rescue but there was no one to help me. I tried to attack him with my hand, dust, whatever I could find. But that was like a five-year-old boy hitting a fat cow. I tried to get up, but I could not because he was dragging me like a bear with a goat. I tried every possibility. Suddenly I grabbed his tail with my two hands. I bit the tip of his tail as hard as I could. Our roles changed—he began to cry and shout and threw me and ran away from me as swiftly as a cheetah. When I could stand up, I was trembling badly. I thank God that the land was sloping and I tried to run away upward so he grabbed my leg. If I had run down the slope instead, he would have attacked my head. When I remember that intense moment it reminds me not to lose hope even in the darkest moments of life.
My task in the day time was to graze yaks in the jungle. I could tell when to take them to the jungle and when to call them home by watching the shadows move across the face of the mountain. There were no other friends to play with me, so I used to play with the baby yaks and imitate the animals I saw. White monkeys were my role models for climbing trees. I could travel a mile and a half jumping from one tree to another. Bears were other role models. They gave me the idea of making a sleeping place at the top trees. I chose twin pine trees, which were the tallest trees. From there I could see my yaks grazing in the field. I made two nests on top of both trees. I formed the nest by intertwining pine branches and then layering softer branches on top and finally feathering the pine nest with pine needles. I used to get excited climbing those trees. I would spend about four to five hours in those trees per day while the yaks grazed. I used to sing there, sleep there and play there. The distance between the two nests was only about five feet. Jumping from one nest to another was my favorite part. I guess my average number of jumps from one nest to the other nest would be fifty per day.
One day as I was jumping from one nest to another on the top of those twin trees, my hand slipped, and I fell from the nest. I knew that I would die because the tree was taller than 100 feet. I guess it might have taken about seven seconds to hit the ground. While I was falling, I was saying to myself, “Okay, now I will die. How my parents will find me? No more jumping on nests. Who will look after my yaks?” From the top to halfway down the tree my head was going down first followed by my body, but halfway down, I hit a branch and began falling with my legs and head horizontal. I was about twelve feet from hitting the ground, when I grabbed a branch. That branch bent down and I landed safely on the ground standing up. I was breathing fast and trembling badly. I was too shaken to climb up to the nests for a very long time. But remembering that time now encourages me not to despair.
I have slept many nights in caves with yaks as my friends. Yaks know who are their friends and who are their enemies. Once, a man hit one of my yaks. Weeks later my yak found that man in the jungle and tried to attack him. The man had to scramble up a tree to escape my yak’s horns. I spent three days looking for my yak and whistling for him to come before I found him at the base of a tree, guarding that man trapped up in the branches. Yaks remember offenses, but they are also affectionate. They often nuzzled me, asking to be scratched where insects had bitten them on their necks or backs.
I remember my experiences with my yaks as I am now studying in this wonderful college with friends who grew up sleeping in beds, using laptops and iPhones. I think I have many reasons to thank God for giving me a colorful life. The dark moments in the past give me more energy to balance my life in the midst of struggles, so I do not lose hope even in darkest moments of my current life.