One cold evening Meymay Dorji, his wife Aum Zangmo and I were sitting near a small fire in his Thubtshang (Kitchen). Aum Zangmo had prepared butter tea for us. Taking a sip of hot butter tea and munching a fist full of Thangma( maize goody) the usual discussion of an Indian college graduate-turn-school Teacher and an ex-Indian Army begins in a remote village somewhere in Trashiyangtse.
|The Kitchen where brain works more than mouth/stomach.|
Meymay and my conversation always revolve within the malpractices and politics of India and Bhutan, five HMKs of Bhutan, his gone by stories as an Army man and about the burning issues of his community. May be my place of study and his association with India just clicked! Our mode of conversation? Ekdum Paaka Hindi.
He and Aum Zangmo shared an incident related to the war between china and India of 1961. They were young then. They saw Indian Army withdrawing back from the war zone some 30 km from here. They saw them scavenge on leftovers in their food containers and saw few chewing grasses nearby. The Army men were exhausted and few badly wounded. Meymay says that many of the community people had already packed their basic necessities and were ready to leave towards south for safety. But they didn’t have to move as the war soon came to an end.
The recent issues of Gorkha Land and his visit to Gangtok in 1978 as a young Army man and the road accident that almost killed him then when he was driving a shantimaan which fell some 200 ft down the road crops at least once during our fire side conversations. He talks about another event which he loves to share with me is the golden Temple incident of Punjab where the Indian Army launched the Operation Blue Star. He tapped on my back when I connected the incident with the assassination of former Prime Minister of India Shrimati Indira Gandhi. She was murdered by her own body guard who happened to be a diehard Panjabi. Luknow, Assam, Ladhak, Haryana, Delhi, Jammu Kashmir, siliguri to name a few are places that I get a free trip to visit through Maymey’s often delightful conversations.
|The valley of Trashiyangtse|
Recently Meymay candidly shares with me that the valley of Trashiyangtse could be the best spot to ambush enemies. How? He shares pointing to the surrounding hills that they could make an excellent place to make bunkers for Army. He then nods his head and clicks his tongue just to say ‘sir ji yea ekdum baria place hey’.
He is still an army like. Disciplined, tough and talking no nonsense. He is master of time management; he has to complete any task that has been scheduled for the day. He reminds me the famous quotation of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru whenever I postpone any work at hand; ‘Kaal Kare So Aaj Kar, Aaj Kare So Ub Pal Mein Pralaya Hoyegi, Bahuri Karoge Kub’. And when he finds me being late for school by few minutes he would remind me at our fire side conversation how crucial is time and rules to be followed when one has worn the uniform.
Talking about uniform, he has great respect for our national dress. He praises me in Hindi when I have worn my chupha neatly. But when it is out of order he would sneak up on me and arrange my chupha. ‘Paina hai tho gaurub say paino’ he would say me to show his frustration on seeing people disrespecting our national dress.
He has a conviction that the best part of Bhutanese Democracy has been its feature as a ‘democratic constitutional Monarch’. If both the heads of Government and the state were bestowed on the hands of commoners, who get elected as Prime Minister and President, where the King has no part in decision making, he believes our country will never prosper. His only wish is to see future Kings having the same veto power in making all the momentous decisions for the country. And please dare not to speak anything bad regarding any of the HMKs of Bhutan in front of him; you will be trashed with all the Punjabi vulgar words that i think I don’t have to mention here. You know them! I heard him use it when he was talking about a drunkard man who lives on his wife's earning.
He believes there is an illegal logging going on in his community. He is concern that the illegal and extensive logging will further damage the only road which has been already marred by heavy summer rain. As of him, he reaffirms that in future he would also use timber to build new houses for his children but he would ask the permission of the concern authority if the tree doesn’t belong to him and he would use the timbers in his land in a sustainable manner.
He is also bothered by the issue of young girls getting pregnant without a legitimate father. He is very concern of the image of his village. He just can’t stand with such practices that tarnish the name of the village.
Maymey makes extra earning beside his pension by selling Dhapa (wooden plates). Meymay is as business minded as he is culturally and religiously inclined. He conducts annual rituals at his house with all the norms. He never compromises with anything till the puja is completed.
There you have it. A man I wish every village in our country be blessed with. People respect him with utmost sincerity here and he equally cares and loves them all. The best part of Maymey that I like the most is that he calls his Aum(wife) as ‘Mam Shab’ when he addresses her to me.