He doesn’t know his father’s name nor can he recognize his face if God could ever arrange their meeting. His mother died when he was 5 years old. He was brought up and is looked after by his grandparents; aagay Dorji Norbu and aang-gay Dema. This is a story of Hope. This is a story of Pema Dorji, a Class V student of Lichen Community Primary School, Trashi Yangtse.
Like any other rural family, Pema’s family was also self-sufficient; a patch of land to till, cows to rear and most importantly they were HAPPY. But just one month after giving birth to a baby girl, Pema’s Mother died of an illness. Following the dead of his wife, Pema’s father left everything behind and went to settle in another place. Where an irresponsible father didn’t bother of his new born child, a relative who stays in Chokordung (Trashiyangtse town) volunteered to look after the baby. Now, she is in Class III at Trashi yangtse Lower Secondary school. Pema Dorji yearns to meet her someday.
Pema says, with a sign, he would have helped his mother in every possible way had she been alive today. As far as his father is concerned, he doesn’t have any feelings for him. Even upon my numerous insisting he didn’t utter a word. He just nodded his head and gave a sneer.
On his way to school and back home, which is 4kms of walk each day, Pema often finds himself face to face with wild animals like bear and deer. He, in his animated voice, narrates an incident of encountering a bear. One day as he was on his way to school, he saw a black bear approaching towards him roaring like a lion and he had eluded the hungry beast by hiding in bushes. He, like any other boy, burst into laughter after mentioning his heroic escape to me.
During monsoon, his journey to education becomes even more challenging. The thick forest through which Pema Dorji and Sherub Dema, a school mate, travels 6 days a week is graced with slippery path and leeches feed mercilessly on those tiny tired legs. In-addition to it, a seemingly small stream that runs down the gorge turns itself into a little monster and erodes the temporary bridge, made out of plank, which connects the hamlet with rest of the hamlets on opposite side of a mountain.
On one such incident, Pema and Sherub were returning from school. They didn’t find the bridge to cross so they returned to a hill nearby and shouted at top of their lungs for help. As luck would have it, Tshering Wangmo, Sherub Dema’s Elder sister was working in her field. She heard them calling and she rushed down the hill to the gorge with a rope. As Pema narrated to me, they were pulled across the fast flowing stream with the rope tied around their waist.
Pema Dorji says he is grateful to his grandparents because it was them who admitted him in the school amidst tragedy.
Ordeal of such measure has not yet depleted the desire of this little boy to become Pilot. He tells me he wants to give his grandparents everything but a flying experience shall definitely be one of the first gifts.