A gust of wind howled outside sending a shiver creaking through the window shutters. Muhu peered out of the dirty window pane, squinting against the low visibility at the slivers of light appearing on the horizon now as the weak sun attempted to break through the thick cloud cover.
He was weighing his chances against the weather as he had to start his trek down to the valley today. The imminent snowstorm threatened to swamp the ridge where his hut was, with six feet snow. Shouldering his supply bag firmly, he swept one last look at his room before unlatching the door and stepping out.
The sky was now sprinkling tiny white flurries which eddied wildly in the wind and melted on making contact with any solid surface. Strapping on his snow goggles, he began the long trek down.
Two hours later, he stopped for a short coffee break. The flurries had now turned into big flakes and would have been worrisome to any other man. But Muhu had faith in his guide – Jinhe lume and as long as he could keep his temple in his sight, he was reassured.
The temple was a good half days walk on a normal day. Today it would be more but Muhu knew it will protect him from any harm. He set out again, and would stop from time and again to gaze at the temple line, just visible through the falling snow.
Finally he reached at the bank opposite his sanctuary, at the bridge over the river which was swollen with fiercely swirling water that crashed over the rocks, splashing the bridge too.
Cautiously he began to step across the bridge, testing his weight on the wooden planks with each lift of leg.
Just a few more steps, he thought and lifted his eyes to view the line of prayer flags fluttering in the wind..
That proved fatal for next moment his foot landed on a section which gave away, sending him plummeting into the icy depths of the turbulent waters.
He flailed wildly trying to grab hold of something solid a plank, the handrail, the post…. Each time his hands came away empty.
Gulping heavily, he struggled for breath and purchase, fighting the churning waters which threatened to claim him for their own.
He managed to grasp a large boulder as he was being swept away, breath heaving as he tried to work some oxygen into his lungs.
Looking up, his eyes fervently searching for his guideline as the swirling waters gushed over him, he could barely see it, not knowing how far he had travelled from the temple.
Then a movement caught his eyes, a piece of cloth fluttering in the wind in the distance. It gave him new strength to fight to survive though unknown to him it was just a tattered pair of trousers caught on a bush.