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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"

profusely. It is then that I notice his right hand crudel/ bandaged.
He says that he lives in a hut some miles away and that his hand
has been wounded. Will his honour, the Cherisher of the Poor, give
some medicine for the injured hand? Once again he relapses into
taciturnity.

Untying the piece of dirty rag which covers his hand I examine
the wound. He has evidently been bitten by some fierce beast. A
large piece of flesh has been torn away, leaving a terrible sight. It is a
dirty jagged bloody mess. The fUthiness of its wrapping involves
the danger of septic development. The poor fellow does not realize
the importance of caring cleanly for a wound on a body which is not
too often washed. I wash the mauled hand carefully with some boric
solution as a mild disinfectant, cover it well with the dry boric acid
powder for the same purpose, apply some green ointment to assist
the healing, and then fix clean lint and a new bandage to finish the
job. I give him a supply of powder, ointment and bandages with
instructions how to use them.

He "salaams" once more and disappears slowly along the ridge
with his noisy flock, his face now looking as bright as a schoolboy at
games, a hardy, happy little man.

I envy the simplicity of his soul. Hillmen like him live in close
association with Nature and develop a sincere if untutored character
and one untroubled by intellectual problems. The ancient historians
of India tell us that the early people of that country were so honest
that they never needed to lock the doors of their houses. Some
remnant of this latter custom prevails among these hillmen, and I
conclude that something of the same absolute honesty is theirs too.

Their contact with the outside world is but little, and with
modernity, less; they have not joined the general scramble for more
money and education could not make them much happier than they
are. They are surprisingly gentle and surprisingly peaceful. They live
the poorest of lives, but keep happy. But despite my envy, I prefer to
taste of the tree of knowledge, and pay the requisite price. I cannot
undo the past and change places with such a man as the one who has
now gone down the lone trail.

These folk have curious proverbs and quaint expressions. The
inescapability of fate is described by "God gives, even through the
roof of one's house!" Ihe interdependence) of humanity is phrased in
"No man can shave his own head!" A clever reminder of the
transience of life is "Men say that time passes; time says that men
pass!" When nothing further can be done in any matter, they shrug
their shoulders and say, "No village beyond Mana!" Mana is the
last inhabited spot on a pass into Tibet.

*               *               *

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