When we make it to Kathmandu in early October Pema will be waiting there for us. He will be our guide above Lukla to Kala Pathar and to Island Peak. But before we hurtle ourselves at the cliff face / airstrip at Lukla we’ll spend some brief quality time with Pema in his urban element. I think his top priority will be to take us shopping to for us to buy our own prayer beads. Rich and I built up some bad karma here this summer, and Pema wishes us to prevent the perils in our next lives for our misdeeds in doing yard work. Rich asked Pema, Minga and me to do a little cleanup around his house to cut down some wild growth and to do some painting. As we were scraping off the old paint from one corner near the roof, we found ourselves at odds with a hornet’s nest, and Minga was the unfortunate target of their desperate defense. One zeroed in for a kamikaze sting, and then a second. Pema was alarmed and feared for Mingma’s life with a third strike; it was his understanding that three strings from a bee was fatal so he swiftly got her away and turned to me for urgent intervention.
Despite the admonishing of the Buddhist monks in his homeland to never kill even the least creatures or in turn be killed by them 100 times in his next lives, Pema chose to safeguard his wife from another deadly sting. He insisted that I should get some spray to kill the nest or there would be no more working on the house. I soon returned with a can of poison with a long-distance stream to aim into the nest. I made the first assault and many of the enraged hornets leapt out then dove to the ground, twitching from the toxic blast. Pema followed up with a long shot of spray, enough to flood the deepest chambers and ensure annihilation of the entire hive. That night he and Mingma set heavy into a mournful session of ‘om mani padme hung’ on their prayer beads as penance for the atrocity. Later, he warned that Rich still had a heavy burden that he needed to resolve. Although Pema and I had directly killed the hornets, Richard bore the full responsibility because he had caused the irreconcilable conflict to occur. It was his property and he had given the supreme command to secure and refit the house at all costs. Richard respects Pema’s perspective and hopes to ease the enmity he has earned with those departed hornets.Buddhism karma Pema Sherpa prayer beads Richard Christiansen sherpa customs