In the Himalayan desert, hollowed-out Spiti, the sleepy valley, the middle land, where Tibet hides and India loosens its grip, you leave your mark on my wrist but I do not mind, when we got here you said the people are kind, the weather is not, we crawl across the overexposed landscape in a trusty Jeep, Joni sings of freedom, sing, lady, sing; in Kaza, there's a German bakery that smells of warm apple pie, and an Israeli restaurant where the tables spill out on to the street and we dip pita in hummus and you can tell I've never tasted it before but you have and you watch me, alone in my discovery, and we walk down to the only shop with a telephone where we take turns calling back home and it rings and rings but no one picks up, my absence a footnote, tucked away like a grudge with yesterday’s newspaper, and we walk to the gift shop and run our fingers over the yak wool carpets and handmade shawls, over and over, see the density, you say, the heavier the better, my eyes follow the roads of the fibre criss-crossing but I was always bad at reading maps so I let you guide me to bed and we say we'll wake up at 10 and go see the stars, yes, we have to, have you heard? there's so many you can lift up your thumb and hide entire constellations but my limbs are heavy with hunger and heavier is better, so morning comes and we walk to the Himalayan Cafe and drink seabuck thorn tea and eat eggs on toast, always eggs, always toast, can we change this song? at Key Monastery, prayer wheels spin on spindles, multiplying your wishes, so you ask again, ask anything, children in maroon robes flutter by, shaved heads, open faces, what do they know that I never will? maybe if I spoke the language; we climb up a rugged hill, o dusty terrain, between gnawing wind and biting sun, I give a mountain my name, bear witness to the ribbons of my legs, hovering a little as we near chandra taal, the moon lake, blue moon, silent moon, full moon, opening its mouth to swallow stones and skies, I sigh when I see the only picture you took of me in the water, see the crook of an elbow lifted to my brow, see me ankle-deep with the shoes in my hand, see me unspooling in front of the camera, see me
Ikjot is an Indian student, amateur scribbler and self-diagnosed victim of onomatomania. This is her first published piece. When she’s not busy googling why Catherine of Aragon is so underrated, she is musing about words and languages on Offshoots.