I preferred to stay nearby the house that day. The sight of the surroundings was breathtaking from the porch, and I decided to enjoy those first.
Yarlung showed me the little room annexed to the north side of the house which is where I’d sleep and have my own space for the next following weeks. A wood fired heater stood on one corner of the room and made me feel warm just by the sight of it. And through the window, I could see the estuary. It was perfect for me. Yarlung also showed me in the afternoon where he kept his sheep, his reindeer and his yaks; an enclosure in the grasslands at ten minutes from the hut. “You can leave the horse here at night,” he said “I’ll tell Dolkar to be careful when he’s back from the pastures with the reindeer herd.”
“So who is Dolkar? Can you tell me about him?” I asked becoming very curious about the old man’s grandson.
“Dolkar is a wild spirit. He is shy though, but only with strangers. He loves his independence, so don’t worry too much if he doesn’t care about your presence in the first few days. He’ll get used to you, being here, I know he’ll like you in the end,” he explained.
“And how is it that he lives here with you?” I asked.
“Dolkar lives in the south with his parents; my daughter and my son-in-law, most part of spring and summer, but they send him here in autumn, to stay through the winter with me, because I’m getting very old. At 82 years old I can still do a lot of things, but I can’t go with the reindeer out there anymore, so I taught Dolkar. I also teach him how to survive in the woods,” he explained.
“Does he like it?” I asked thinking maybe I was too intrusive.
“Oh yes he does. Each time he is here, he says to me; Granddad, this place is to me a place of joy, I hugely enjoy it here with you every time I come!” he said. “He can be very shy at times, but he won’t hide it when he is truly happy.”
I nodded and smiled knowing by experience what Yarlung just meant.
When the night fell upon us, we sat by the fire again and the old man made a vegetable stew in my pot. While we were eating, someone that wasn’t either of us shouted from far away. Yarlung looked happy and greeted him with another shout, whilst he waved at the approaching shadow. I expected a grown up man, a man more like in his thirties, like me, but what I saw shocked me.
What approached was just a child, who was rather in his 7 or 8 years old. And he looked angry. “How was it, then?” said the old man to the child. The child only grunted and sat by the fire with us. Yarlung served him a bowl with hot stew and for a moment it seemed to me that he smiled. But then he looked at me and in an arrogant tone he said “Who’s that?!” “You know who it is, I told you this morning that she was coming. Don’t you remember?” he told to the kid.
“Hmmm…” the child answered. Then he got up, walked away and entered into the house.
“Don’t mind him, Ilan,” Yarlung said. “He always does that when there are strangers coming over.”
“He didn’t offend me, don’t worry, please,” I said and added “But who is this child? Is he Dolkar’s son?”
“Hahaha!” he laughed again out loud like he did before, “No! That child is Dolkar!”
(Making of: Collage on paper)