Saturday, December 24, 2011

CALL FROM THE COFFIN


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In the bead of sweat running down his skin
Saw his past fading in him
Thick silver light of moon turned so thin
As the darkness prevailed in
It was lonely night and so terrific
Only his shadow’s there to lean

But a tender voice came in
As he was walking down the fen
It was nothing else
But call from the coffin

Clamor of dread grew in him
Pleaded courage stammering
His heart and soul lost restrain
As the darkness prevailed in
Neither his deeds nor heaven’s blessing
Only his terrible fate was keen

Again a tender voice came in
As he was wailing over his sin
It was nothing else
But call for the coffin



(Its a song i wrote for a local rock band ‘EPITAPH’ while I was doing my studies in ST. Joseph’s College, North Point, Darjeeling)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

On The Eve Of My Departure....

School  Captain presenting a gift to me.
  Caption not required!


 (Me in the center)Sharing some good old memories

A woman delivering Thanks giving speech on behalf on the community

Gifts from the community!
 I had the longest hugging session in my life..Aums, grandpas and grandmas were having tough time holding tears from their eyes.....few couldn't hold it... i shall never forget them in my life....God Bless Them All...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Aacho Karma Dorji



My name is Karma Dorji. I am 26 years old and I am married. I have two lovely daughters. Sonam Yangchen is my youngest daughter. She is just 1 year and 5 months old. And her sister Ngawang Tenzin Lhamo is barely 4 and half. Norbu Lhamo is my only wife. She is just 24.

Comparatively my family is the smallest one in the village and the youngest too. My wife is a simple woman. She is a good home maker. My elder daughter Ngawang Tenzin Lhamo imitates me a lot. She talks like me and also gets angry the way I do. Very recently Sonam Yangchen, her sister, started to move her tiny body throwing her hands in the air whenever i play some Bhutanese songs on my mobile. She has also started to bubble few words. She can perfectly pronounce the word ‘apa’ (daddy) which only resonate more love and care in me for my family. She also kisses me and waves her tender hands to say goodbye when I leave for work in the morning. Collectively this is our story but mostly this is My Story.

Sonam Yangchen busy munching a head of maize
Five months back we were staying at my mother’s house. Unlike in other countries, it is customary here that female eventually inherits the family house. My mother died three years ago so now the immediate inheritor is my elder sister Tashi Peday. We were all happy then. Her inheriting the house didn’t bother me much but things slowly started to change the day my sister got married. She got married with much younger lad who is from another village.

The fireside conversations often started to get more heated. There were more disagreements among us and bitter feelings for each other began to invade our hearts. With not much delay I made up my mind to live separately before things get worse. On my request my father summoned few senior villagers and village heads to be the witness and to bring fairness in dividing family property.

Blankets/mattresses and kitchen utensils were divided equally but the law of the land gave her the house, cattle and much of the fertile lands.

With nothing heavy to carry on my back I went to Meymay Dorji to ask him to allow us to stay at his old and unoccupied house for a period of six months. Within that period i informed him that I would build a small house and vacant immediately. Meymay agreed!

Four months were passed in the new house when I received a call from my elder brother Kuenzang Namgyel. He had left for Thimphu two years back in search of a decent job. Unlike other calls to inquire about us in the village this particular call was different. He requested me to send him a sum of Nu: 1, 50,000(one Lakh Fifty Thousand). Why? He has been asked that sum of money by someone in Thimphu in order to get a job in Dubai.
Dubai: progressivetimes.wordpress.com
My brother Kuenzang Namgyel told me that the country he will be visiting is a rich country. Tall buildings, sight of an ocean and he will be taking his lunch when I return home tired from my day’s work. He also shared with me that he will be flying in an Aero-plane from Paro International Airport to Dubai via the Indian Capital city. He informed me that the job he would be offered there is a lucrative one. So without any hesitation I immediately rushed to the BOB (Bank of Bhutan) office here in Trashiyangtse and credited a loan in my name and sent it to him in the same day.

In the village the news got spread! The people got extremely happy as if my bother will come back one day and take them all to that far away country.

Back home, things are getting pretty uneasy now. I have barely two months to live in meymay Dorji’s house free of cost and my kitchen stock has already kissed the floor. Getting work here is hard. I make some money from cutting wood chips and selling it to the agents here. I also earn an amount by helping lamas perform rituals in my village.

One evening when I was about to retire to my bed I again received a call from my bother. He informed me that he had to return from New Delhi because the prospective job has been postponed and he needs some more money to sustain in Thimphu.
Acho Karma and I sharing a moment together
(Although he is two years younger than me I call him Acho(elder brother) because he is shouldering a lot of responsibilities. He has two kids and a wife to look after, he wants to educate his younger brother so he doesn’t have to struggle like him, the huge loan is credited to his name and he also have to build a house for his own family.  I salute his courage)


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Meymay Dorji: An Ex-Indian Army and a True GNH Citizen.


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.   

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pema Lhamo and Mr.Gurung’s story “Curse of the gift of Child”.

brooktownphoto.com


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.