A shiny brass trident carrying the hand drum of Shiva, god of destruction, absolute wisdom and bliss, is trembling impatiently in the windscreen. Above and below the narrow serpentine mountain road, towering Himalayan cedars block the view, as we rumble along the potholed tarmac towards the Jhanna waterfalls. Here and there colourful villages perched on steep terraced slopes, flash between the dark tree trunks. At the tall waterfalls cascading from high meadows and snowclad peaks, we get out and put on our backpacks.
“So…he is a character in your novel?” she asks as we walk up towards his tiny house. A familiar anticipatory silence unfurls itself softly along the mountain path.
“He is the inspiration,” I say quietly and think about the enormous and old Himalayan cedar that shades his slate roof. I often imagine when he is no more, he will exist as this majestic tree and I will continue to visit, to rest my back against the sturdy and immortal trunk, inhale its fragrance and close my eyes.