Up and Down


A little fable by Madhuri.

Mount Everest

So many Japanese climbers had died on Everest over the years that the Japanese government negotiated with the Nepali government, large amounts of money changed hands, and presto! The Japanese could do what they liked with the tallest mountain in the world.

Experts were convened, heads were bent in discussions; plans were drawn and re-drawn; and then teams of brave and hardy workers were sent to the mountain; and great hills of supplies as well.

The idea was to tame Everest: make it possible for any little old lady, of even mild mettle, to make it to the top.

And eventually this was accomplished: climate-controlled, pressurized cars lifted on massive cables to those dizzying heights; and, wearing special suits such as astronauts wear, people could stand about for ten minutes in the wind (for that could not be controlled), holding onto stout handrails that were padded and warmed (like Japanese toilet seats are, and blessed are they who sit on them on a winter morning!) The ‘climbers’ could then take pictures of each other and the view. Then they could go down again in the warm car; and at the bottom be issued with a t-shirt proclaiming their accomplishment – for that was part of the package.

And why not? Why should not anyone be allowed to make the greatest adventure Earth has to offer? And why die in the attempt, when you could live, and go home, and brag about it – however discreetly, ducking your head and blushing? And, in your secret soul, know that you have done the Ultimate? So that when you were old, and looked back; you would know that your life was not in vain.

It started as a small crack, just next to the village of Santa Bajas Rosas in Southern Mexico – the earth hard-baked, in a sere upland where the people worked calmly and stoically to grow their corn and beans and to indulge their much-loved children with cactus sweets and grandfatherly tales of the past; which was much like the present.

The crack grew, so that while it had begun at a foot long, it soon was ten feet, then a hundred; now it extended miles, up hill and down dale, flinging itself off cliffs, cutting through shallow streams.

And the people muttered, and crossed themselves, and regarded it with a stoic apprehension.

And then one early morning (for the Earth likes to shake herself best in the morning, like we when we rise from sleep) a great roar and rumble was heard all over that region, and everything shook, just for a minute or two – it didn’t take long – and when the people had picked themselves up again, and inspected the damage to their adobe houses – nothing that a bit of mud and hard work wouldn’t fix – the awesome thing was done… a crack ten feet wide and very, very deep had appeared in the dry earth… so deep that it was impossible to see the bottom; so deep that hot steams wafted up from it night and day.

And, soon enough, people began to arrive from points far and wide – and the brave and foolhardy among them decided to try to get to the very bottom of the crack – somehow; without either cooking or falling to their deaths.

And so a new sport was born – and, in the process, it was discovered, with sophisticated instrumentation, that the crack was twenty-nine thousand feet deep – impossible! Unimaginable! The new sport cost quite as many lives as the old one – and stretched the hospitality of the villagers to the maximum; and people were happy.

There is no moral to this story – only that there is balance everywhere; no matter what you think.

MadhuriMadhuri is a regular contributor – www.madhurijewel.com

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