Pema Lhamo is a young girl of 23. Her face is fair and plump just the way I wish to have in my life partner. She is soft spoken and has a long silky hair dangling down her curvaceous body. She is indeed blessed with a beautiful face but as luck would have it she wears scars deeply engraved inside.
Two years back when everything was fine in her life she got pregnant. It would have been a happy moment for a married couple to share the good news but for Pema it was certainly not a joyous occasion. Unable to pinpoint the culprit she soon gave birth to a baby boy. She belongs to a family who just manages to bring food on the table- raising an infant and an extra mouth to feed brought more challenges. Soon a meeting was held and after much debate in the community one of the accused was asked to pay Ngultrum 15, 000 as compensation. On which the destitute family agreed without a hitch.
On his first birthday, Pema Lhamo along with her infant boy went to Thimphu in search of a job. Like any other mother she was driven by the urge to provide all the comfort to her child. She would be putting up at her relative’s place for the time being.
Back home, a young married couple from central Bhutan got transferred in the community. His name is Gurung. They have been married for five years now.
I often found Mr. Gurung spent his days drinking 11000 beer from my landlord’s multi-purpose shop and he keeps requesting me to join him whenever he sees me passing by. For which I have invariably decline his request. Then he would call friends listed in his mobile phone and talk for hours and hours. Sometimes losing his temper over the phone and lashing someone with all adult words under the sun and at times he would cajole and praise someone else. Had I knew the reasons behind the nuisance he created I won’t have slandered him by calling him a drunkard.
I could figure out all the good reasons for him to lead a good and happy life. He is a permanent Government employee, has a tall and attractive wife and a handsome salary gets into his saving account in nearby BOB bank at the end of every month. But I was blind to his most horrendous truth.
Mr. Gurung and his wife have been married for last five good years but they have been denied the gift of child in their lives. Unable to face the truth he has been pouring himself bottles after bottles of beer. He kept on drinking until one day when he heard that Pema Lhamo is on her way back home. It’s not uncommon here in the east that any news bad or good launches at rocket’s speed and spreads like a wild fire. The coming of Pema Lhamo brought smile on his face and he had already planned out an idea to extend a helping hand but Pema’s family is equally saddened and angry with her. It has been almost a year since her last departure.
Why on earth is her family saddened and angry with her?
Pema Lhamo is eight month pregnant again and this time she doesn’t know whom to accuse! Her family members were reluctant to help her. But she was however allowed to stay at their own house.
Mr. Gurung shared his idea of adopting the unborn child with the ashamed Pema upon which she agreed easily. He thought the baby could bring the long awaited happiness in their lives. His wife was equally eager and excited for she will soon hear the crying of the infant and have the baby nestle on her laps. But they had to wait for one more month.
Pema Lhamo gave birth to another healthy baby boy. But the angry and saddened relatives of her didn’t withdraw from giving the necessary support and assistance during and after the birth. They happily welcomed the new member into their family.
At Mr. Gurung’s house, he is thrilled to hear that it’s a baby boy. He has been preparing for this day. He had stopped drinking. He has been giving more time to his wife and not to mention they both must have also been dreaming silently about the day when the boy would enter their lives with some much joy for them.
What do you think will happen next?
The bothers of Pema Lhamo were not reluctant enough to give away their new nephew. They promised Pema Lhamo that they would look after them as their own children.
As for Mr. Gurung, his life has changed for better after the incident. I guess he found some other meaning in life apart from the joy of having a baby, looking after him/her, schooling and helping him/her in getting a job and finally arranging a life partner. These are the simple reasons people link with their duty to survive. I haven’t seen him drinking for a long long time now. God Bless Him.
Yesterday I meet Pema Lhamo and her two brothers. They had gone to market to do some shopping to conduct a ritual at their house for the wellbeing of their new member. I went closer to Pema Lhamo and looked at the face of her child. He was asleep and nestling in his own mother’s torso.