Her knotted earth brown hair twisted down her hunched back. The rags that cover her tired body are worn, ripped and caked with mud. Rinzen stared down at her injured feet, scabs crusted over her torn skin. Her toe nails ran in jagged lines that held hills of dirt. Her searching eyes gazed down the deadly precipice to her right. This didn’t frighten her as she had traced the same steps many times before.
The yaks lumbered behind her and Rinzen wished she had thick fur as they did. The biting wind drove off the snow-capped peaks that chilled her to the bone. Salty tears streamed down her grimy face. Roughly wiping them away Rinzen smudged the stain even more. Rinzen carried on along the snaking, narrow track that was ascending into wispy air. Around her the wintery landscape wrapped her up in a chilly blanket, icicles forming on the tips of her eye lashes.
Towering mountains levitate into the sky, mist layered over the peaks like icing over a cake. Rinzen continued along the confined track, her wounded feet frequently slipping on the perilous climb. Leaving Lhasa and Tibet behind her she advanced towards India. Rinzen persevered as she stumbled along the rocks, and she cut her feet and her blood trickled into the cracked ground.
Staggering across the icy ground Rinzen chanced upon a fractured, wooden hut. Her eyes widened with shock and horror as she witnessed an unpleasant sight. Everywhere bodies were partly buried by a recent snow fall. Helpless to the extremes of the landscape they had succumbed to the weather conditions. Her eyes watered and her throat tightened.
Out of the corner of her eye Rinzen caught a movement that lightened her heart. Spinning around, Rinzen gasped as she saw a shaken figure get to his knees. His face was pale, his eyes were sunken; but it was then Rinzen realised that the man in front of her was a Chinese soldier.
Her heart began racing; it drummed in her chest and left her feeling blank. Rinzen considered running but she wouldn’t get very far with her yaks and damaged feet. So she stayed put. The soldier looked at her with desperation. Rinzen wondered whether he was deciding to eat her or shoot her like in the legends. Instead of pulling out a gun or licking his lips the soldier politely introduced himself by bowing down to the ground.
There was a look of anguish in his eyes. Knowing that this man could not survive alone, Rinzen gripped his hand assisting the man to his feet. Rinzen said her name slowly, and she could just make out what he said under his muffled words. Rolling the name over her tongue, she repeated “Chen?” He nodded and smiled to himself. Stabilising himself on one of the yaks Chen dug his hand into its woolly coat. He placed his calloused hands on Rinzen’s shoulder for support. Proceeding towards India and fleeing from Tibet the two found their way, grateful for each other’s company.