Carpenter by profession, Maymay(grandfather) Phodila who is 63 was always happy and did his carpentry works with a wide smile on his innocent wrinkled face. He and his wife use to live in a two storied mud plastered house made of wood and stones. His children are all grown up and are serving the nation in different parts of the country. At this moment of his life he still had every reason to live; a work at hand, wife at home, children living a decent life on their own. But Maymay Phodila had his own fate to deal with.
Recently his wife Aum Yangden died. She was suffering from some terminal illness. She died on her way to Mongar Regional Hospital where she was taken for treatment. Maymay was devastated. Smile never found their way to his innocent wrinkled face. He became silent like the cloud. He started to hate staying in his own house. The villagers waited for their favorite carpenter to come out of the tragedy to do the best thing he does. Because if anyone in the village wanted to make any furniture Maymay Phodila was to summon. So by the constant counseling by his children and neighbors he began to work again.
It was during such visit to a nearby village that Maymay Phodila asked an elderly woman to give him the mobile number of Aum Nima Chezom, 42 years old widow. Her husband died five years ago. He died a cheap death because he was a drunkard.
Aum Tshedrup wangmo, my house owner’s wife, says that Maymay was apprehensive at first to talk about marriage with Aum Chezom. He had the number, he had the reason but he felt he was much older than her. So he was reluctant to ask her hand right on her face. Maymay Phodila then made up his mind to first ask her over the phone whether she is interested in old lads like him. If she is then he would go to her house and pop up the question and tie the knot with her.
|Aum Nima Chezom|
The news spread like wildfire. It is typical of the eastern Bhutan. Nothing stays secret here. However the villagers and his children were of the opinion that he should wait at least for a year because it has been only four months since his wife’s death. But Maymay was unputdownable.
Aum Nima Chezom has her own story to tell. She has four children to look after. The eldest is 17. Thanks to free education that they all go to school. Dorji Wangchuck and his sister Tenzin Dema are in class six, Dechen Dorji is in class five and the youngest is in class Three. She has the most wrecked house in the locality. And she is also considered to be one of the poorest in the village. Her children often don’t bring lunch to school. Although Dorji and Tenzin are enlisted as Kedu students but that monetary fund could only help them in the academic sphere. At home Aum chezom has to toil on her own small field with her tender hands to grow some potatoes, maize and millet. She has to work in others field to earn some hard cash. With some money earned by selling potatoes she has managed to replace the wooden roof with CGI.
|Aum Nima Chezom's House|
One woman shared with me that she once gave her everything; from laundry soap, to sugar, rice to cooking oil. I heard that Aum Chezom had once said to the villagers that her and her children’s life has become more comfortable with the support of the community than the days when her husband was alive. It shows how irresponsible he was.
When Maymay mustered all his courage to make the call of his life Aum Nima chezom answered in a simple and a straight YES. Maymay Phodila said, ‘’ nga hong cho ga la?’’(Can I come) and Aum Chezom replied, ‘’jan jan la’’ (Welcome).
The villagers are happy for them, Aum Nima Chezom is smiling, Maymay is thrilled and children delighted. I am told that the children are pestering Maymay to buy a Television set and Dechen Dorji, the second son, who loves to play football, wants a pair of boot from his new daddy. Aum Chezom is more than glad because she now can rely on Maymay and send her two elder children, who will graduate this December from the community school here, to a boarding school nearby. Had Maymay didn’t come at this juncture of her life she would have discontinued one of her children’s schooling. He came as the savior. A lot of comfort came with the entry of Maymay Phodila in her life.
|Dechen Dorji playing football|
On his part Maymay has promised to build a small house near the old one. Maymay occasionally visits his old house but he is found mostly in his new house with his new and much younger wife. The smile which was lost due to the death of his wife comes out in ease when someone teases him saying that his carpentry skills has improved a lot after getting married to a younger woman.
I believe in the dictum that says ‘Obstacles are given to Ordinary people to make them Extra-Ordinary. And Maymay Phodila is such a man.