Articles by: songsaegnim
As I pack my things, I remind myself to take two important items, my laptop and the earphones. These two items are going to be my sole companion for the 15 days. I wasn't headed to a hermitage nor to a deserted island but I was heading home for my summer vacation.
My house is a silent place, conversation hardly takes place amongst ourselves because we are very busy and my parents are the silent kind of people. My father hardly speaks anything and most of the time he is inside his room working on something or the other. My mother on the other hand, finds her pleasure in talking with her neighbors or working in the kitchen but compared to my father we felt closer to her as she talked with us frequently.
My elder brother hardly finds time to come home as he is seriously MARRIED and busy. My younger brother, who is a monk, isn't allowed to come home frequently because of his commitment. Caught in between the web, is me and I think I am the black sheep of my family. I don't know whose genes I share for I am very talkative, loud and funny and a person who loves laughing.
As I enter my home, it's silent as usual, father is in his room working on some important manuscript and mother is busy with the chores. They come out to talk to me (a period which I call 15 seconds time out) to ask me about my journey and I reply in fragmented sentences and both disappear back to their work. When I was younger, I used to get angry at them but now this doesn't have any effect on me for I am old enough to take care of myself. I hardly recall my childhood days in which my family had a hearty talk with each other or shared a memorable moment together but my father always had a chugo (hard cheese) for me for it was my favorite. Without saying anything he always handed me a chugo which I happily took from him.
I now think this was because we didn't have an exclusive family time. Our house was swamped with cousins visiting us or staying with us, we hardly had a day were only the five of us were together. My parents were busy attending to the needs of the visitors, we were secondary but not neglected for we got whatever we asked for. My brothers were lucky for they hardly stayed home, one left to study in a boarding school and the other left to become a monk. I was the one who stayed at home until the day I joined the service.
Deep inside my heart I was scared that I was becoming an introvert but well I guess my fear was baseless for I grew up to become a person who easily and fearlessly express my ideas and feelings. Well coming back home, I am scared that my loud talk, screeching voice and laughter might scare my parents so I try to stay away from them. We talk only when we have to ask about something.
As usual I am the only child at home, so I try to listen to songs through my ear phones, type some junks in the laptop( I think I am doing this to show that I am busy). The sadness in my parents' eyes made me feel worst. The raw pain of missing a child was evident in my parents eyes, and for a fleeting second I hated my sister in-law for taking my brother away from us but I know they couldn't help it for they were newly married and needed to spend some time together. I tried to fill in the gap by talking and cracking some jokes but it was useless, for the reply was only in monosyllable and I gave up. The respite from the silence was meeting my old friends, in their company I found myself, the loud, funny person but laughing in their company made me feel very guilty of making my parents wait for me at home.
I don't remember how the holidays ended but it did. The excitement of going back to my place made me feel very guilty but it wasn't because I didn't love my parents, but I just wanted to be myself. I was sitting in the car beside my father silently, headed to the taxi stand and at the back seat my mother was giving me her usual advice of eating food and my medicines on time. I silently nodded my head in response.
Just as I head out of the car I get a cab heading to my destination, father helps me carry out my luggage. Finally inside the cab I look out to wave goodbye to my parents and at that moment my father decides to hand over a brown paper bag. I look inside to see the well broken white chugos, tears well up in my eyes as I look at my parents. I realize that as parents they never forget what their children love.
As the cab rolls out of the terminal I look back at my parents and wave at them, with tears in my eyes I pick a chugo and start chewing, enjoying every bite of it. I didn't share the chugos with my co-passengers, they might have found me rude and selfish but they will never understand my sentiments, for these weren't just merely chugos but my parents' love which they never spoke aloud.
Thank god the world cup has finally ended! Don't get me wrong here; I am not an anti-football person. I love the game and I enjoyed watching the world cup but the sound associated with this year's football is certainly going to ring in the ears of all the people for a long time.
Those who possess a vuvuzela are surely going to treasure it and it will hold an important place in their homes becoming a part of their family heirloom with very fond memories attached to it. The noise no longer buzzing but like Keats said, “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter”, so the noise associated with the vuvuzelas will always be remembered as an extra ordinary sweet experience.
With the end of the world cup, the vuvuzelas and its noise, will cease from our lives too but I have my permanent sets of vuvuzelas; the living, walking, talking, eating vuvuzelas of my life, my little angels (but vuvuzelas in disguise)
The house is going to be calm, the TV no longer blinking and no blaring of the vuvuzelas, family meals together will be resumed, and my husband will be seriously wrapped up in his works and responsibilities. The major changes of the post world cup will be in my husbands and children's lives for he will no longer have to invent new excuses to avoid his work to watch the matches and the children will have their father, who talks, jokes, reads and plays with them back.
The world cup will leave different impacts on the lives of different people; happiness, glory, contentment to the winners and their supporters, dissatisfaction, grief and remorse to the losing teams and their supporters; respite to the bosses, offices and companies for finally having their efficient staffs back; appreciation to the lovers for finally getting their romantic partners back and above all the grandeur of silence.
As the people around the world rejoice the successful end of the world cup, my world cup still continues with my special vuvuzelas. “Can I have a black coffee”, he shouts. “Ama, my MILK”, shouts one child. “My book, my book (pow, bang)”, fights my two kids. “Wah, wah, wah, Ama he hit me on my nose”, cries the small one. “She is such a cry baby, I didn't hit her”, he rebukes. “I can't find my black socks”, shouts my husband. “Why did you wash my Rock shirt”, shouts the eldest. “Ama, ama…”
I plop down on the nearest chair and close my eyes (I can't do anything for my poor ears) as I listen to the crying, shouting and the yelling. The world cup has ended, taking the vuvuzelas with it but my vuvuzelas are here, here forever. I stand up, put off the gas stove and rush around, hoping to shut up my vuvuzelas with breakfast, at least for some few minutes!
During my primary schooling chewing gum and I was synonymous. I precisely don't remember when I chewed my first gum but when I realized I was actually hooked to it and was chewing like a menace.
I was the silent, shy and a reserved kind of a student who was bullied constantly. I resorted to chewing gum as an outlet of my emotions, so I was chewing gums when I was happy, sad and normal, in other words I was chewing and blowing bubble gums every day.
During that time the teachers were a strict disciplinarians and I remember I chewed hard during the Maths, Science and the Dzongkha periods. My teachers found this habit of mine very irritating and the number of times I was sent out of the class is well uncountable. They never tried to understand my problem but I chewed gums during the Maths period because I was scared and as the class progressed the chewing sped up too. As the teacher asked me questions I didn't realize that I was blowing a big bubble but when I saw the look in his eyes, I burst the big bubble, the sound scaring the whole class and I was thrown out again.
Dzongkha during that time was all about rote learning, we had to memorize the letters and the essays too. We were called to the front to vomit out what we had memorized like parrots and poor me I was poor in memorizing. I memorized together with the rhythm of the chewing gum and deep within my heart I felt that the gum in my mouth will help me remember my assignment as we had memorized it together. As my turn came I began very well but as I got stuck I started to chew the gum in my mouth hoping it will show some insight but I was sent outside.
My science teacher tried to ignore me and called me the ruminant cow but he couldn't deal me too so I was sent out again. My class mates called me Miss Ruminant, the bullying continued I retreated deeper into my shell but my chewing gum became my gun to fight back. My class teacher that time was a very beautiful, kind hearted and an understanding lady, who talked with me and understood my problem (I guess her nature made me love the English subject). She advised me to speak out, to use the verbal language to fight back.
So the next time the bully ( a boy who had silky hair and loved his hair more than anything else) tried to bully me, calling me names, I went straight to him, took out the big chewing gum from my mouth and stuck it hard in his beautiful hair and told him what I felt. The strongest bully from our class cried and ran out of the door, from the corner I saw my English teacher trying to conceal her laughter.
That was the last chewing gum that I ever had and well it served a good purpose, I became more vocal, expressive and started having a good circle of friends all thanks to my teacher. Today I am a teacher too, and I teach Mr. Bully's son (we are very good friend's now) who also chews gums a lot in the class. He finds this irritating for it reminds him of his beautiful hair and his mischievous school days but I find myself in him and am trying my best to understand him, I don't want him to be branded the next Ruminant Bull.
The barn suddenly came alive with the hooting, the mooing, the grunting, crowing, braying, neighing, barking and the mewing. Well it was the judgment day in the barn court and the court was already in session. Judge donkey was seated proudly on the chair and the two lawyers, one representing the defendant and the other representing the victim were fighting their lungs out.
The trembling pig was accused of siphoning the butter of Mrs. Cow. The others animals were just gathered around, some aware of the case, some just to kill their boredom, some just wanting to distract their restless babies and some just to watch the down fall of the pig.
The prosecuting lawyer presented his hearing, “My lord, Mr. Pig was found snooping around Mrs. Cow's shed at the day of the misfortune and in all sense, he is the thief”. A shrilling sound of the animals cheered the room whereby the pig trembled out of fear. “Well my lord, at the same time and the same date, the cat was also seen outside the shed, so we have two suspects”, shouted the defendant lawyer. The cheering continued as the lawyers presented their evidences.
The two suspects were called to the witness box and made to present their explanation. The pig was allowed first, as he entered the witness box, some animals shouted, “Dirty pig out, death for dirty pig” and this made the pig tremble even more. The poor pig repeated his story of what he did on that particular day, “My lord I woke up, ate my food, drank and slept in the sun that day”, but he didn't have an alibi to support him, for he was the only pig in the barn. “Liar, liar”, shouted the cats and the kittens. Trembling even harder the pig exited the witness box and went to sit between the two guard dogs.
The cat, who was called next, dressed in his best coat, bowed down in curtsey to the judge, who was equally impressed by the good behavior of the cat. To boost his morale, his breed shouted, “Honesty rules, honesty wins, cat you will win the fight for you are not wrong”. Judge donkey nearly broke his hammer trying to calm the crowd down. The cat presented his story, “For half of the day I was nursing my sick friend, later at night I was guarding my master's house from the rats and late at night I went to catch a wink of sleep”. The crowd went mad with shouts as they heard about his hard work and he had many alibis to prove his innocence, his friends, the cats and even the rats, which out of fear came to support him.
The guard dogs cornered the badly shaken pig and the judge was about to pass the verdict in favor of the cat and convict the pig when the barn door opened and Ap Pema entered carrying a stick. He went straight to the cat (the acquitted hero), caught hold of him and started hitting him. The other animals were shocked to see their hero beaten to a pulp and the other cats ran off.
“You thief”, shouted Ap Pema through the beatings, “stealing the milk and the butter…” The cat was surprised at how Ap Pema knew that he was the thief when he heard, ” leaving the prints of your paws behind and look at your whiskers', still coated with butter, thief, thief” continued Ap Pema, hitting the cat harder. The animals in the barn, buried their faces in shame, the guard dogs pretended to be asleep and the judge decided to resign for he thought that he was getting older and blind in one eye.
The poor pig, still trembling continued to do what he did best, eat, sleep, roll in the mud and wait for the annual puja whereby he will just exit having performed his duty without complains.
“I knew her over the phone”, ” I met him online”, “We met in the party”, “We saw each other at a meeting”, “We were introduced by our friends”, “I met him in the hospital”, ” I met him in high school”, “We went to the same college”, ” We are family friends”, well all these are the answers we have when someone just asks us how we met our friends or our spouses. Nobody on this earth is born with a string of friends attached to the umbical cords just like the decorations on the Christmas tree. As we grow up and move on we make a string of friends and the way we make or meet friends is entirely different form one person to another, thanks to the ever developing technologies, it makes things easier for people seeking friendship.
This article is not about how to make friends but its more about how I met my best friend. Well my story is completely different for I didn't meet him in the school, college, party nor are we family friends neither were we introduced by our friends, we were just strangers minding our own business.
My trip to Thimphu during the week days is always a rush hour having to visit so many places at a short time and this leaves me with very less time for my personal shopping, shopping for books, for I am a complete book worm, as my friends call me. As usual I was running my last lap to the DSB book store to grab a copy of The Bend in The Road by my favorite author, Nicholas Sparks. I directly went to the last shelf (by this time I knew where to find the exact book). As I hurriedly rounded the corner I saw my baby beckoning me towards her but as I reached the shelf I saw a big hand extending to grab my baby, well call me crazy but I jumped up to snatch it out of the big hand for that was the last copy on the shelf. Smiling sheepishly, I looked at the owner of the big hand and found out that it belonged to a he-mammal (a male). I pleaded to him saying that I lived in Gasa, a far flung place, where we had no book stalls. I painted a pathetic picture of my life and place and poor him he fell for my bait. He surrendered the last copy to me, thanking him profusely; I paid for it and carried the copy out like a trophy that I won for the Olympic Games.
I was guilty for the lie that I told him but not the whole story was a lie, yes I lived in a place where we had no book shop but I didn't live in Gasa. I consoled myself saying that this was the last time I was going to see him. Well call it my bad luck or my good luck for I bumped into him again in the same place, same corner, and same shelf looking for the same book. I cursed his memory when he called out, “Oh, Miss Gasa, when did you come back??? Looks like we are here for the same book (The Notebook) and well again this is the last copy, so I guess you…”, before he completed his sentence I replied, “You keep it, I will get it next time”( I guess it was my guilty conscious speaking). He was way too generous and he insisted that I keep the book and this made me tell the truth.
He laughed at my stupid story and I made him keep the book. Over a cup of coffee, we introduced ourselves and through the conversations we found out that we had so many things in common. Walking around the town we went into a different bookstore and found a copy for me. We didn't exchange our numbers for we just wanted things to happen for us. As days turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into year and as the seasons changed we didn't meet once also. One winter Sunday I just decided to take a walk to the park, as I was strolling on the dry grasses, I heard a familiar voice calling out, “Wai Miss Gasa, long time no see”. Without turning around I laughed, we exchanged our respective news and at that point we decide to exchange our mail address. Staying at different places we exchanged news frequently and the discussion on books was what kept us connected.
I don't exactly remember when I started meeting him, but we were meeting each other, exchanging books and gifting each other books but trust me we weren't romantically involved like what mostly thought. I still meet him whenever I come to Thimphu, we share news, our problems and our doubts but the discussion on books is what makes us complete. As we departs he call out, “Wai Miss Gasa (that's what he still call me) here this is for you”. He hands out a gift and before opening it I know what is inside. As I turn to the last page of the book, The Notebook (it was his gift) I saw a message sprawled in his handwriting and it reads “Strangers aren't strangers but a best friend in the making” and how true it was for me, for him and for all.
My life is surely going to change from today, dinners will be a rare occasion like the dignitaries coming together and conversation will cease, meetings should be fixed around each other's timetable, the reason obvious will be the World Cup.
Constant fight for the remote control, a comfortable seat on the couch and the fight, serial verses the match will be the epitome of a family war. Though the match hasn't started the war in my house has begun, the fixtures pasted on the walls are a constant reminder that nobody should be disturbing my man, he also bought a 13 inch TV for me and the kids (so generous of him), he expects the five of us to watch the small screen while he enjoys the pleasure of watching the match on a 31 inch LCD.
Last night I felt like I was attending a job orientation, he was briefing me about things that I should be expecting from him and areas where I should be leaving him alone with the dates and the time too. He normally is a devoted husband, father and a good friend; he has been my pillar of support with all the household works and parenting but here he was asking, pleading me to give him a break from all his usual work and responsibilities.
Well I am not malicious, I know his job and responsibilities are here permanently but the world cup comes only after four years so I give his freedom. I already set up the TV for him in the bedroom, adjusted a couch and I am moving in with the kids. The kids are happy with the plan but the happiest person is my husband, he comes around and plants a kiss on my forehead and calls his friends, inviting them over.
I am not going to see my matured husband and my children's father for a while but I surely will get a chance to see the man who romanced me long ago.
At every step he hovers above,
At every step he follows me,
At every step he watches out for me,
Ready to grab me,
But he really doesn't understand me,
Oh, Death I really don't have time for you,
I am happy with my family and friends,
Does this make you jealous?
Well I know you will catch up with me,
But can't you at least give me some time,
Time to spend with my love,
Time to make someone happy,
Time to make someone laugh and smile,
Time to do what I always wanted to do,
Hug all the people I love,
Time to say my final words and
Bid everyone adieu,
Lying on this bed,
With different tubes running through my body,
I know my time has come,
He is here to take me with him,
Oh, how I wish I still had some time!
My eyes are always wide open, scanning my environment, hoping to see the man of my dreams, waiting for the perfect timing where I will gaze deeply into his eyes and his into mine, fall in love, (love at first sight) and live happily ever after. This might sound like a flimsy plot of a romantic movie but the reality is I always crane my neck hoping to see a glimpse of my macho man.
I thought I was Lady Luck's favorite child for I saw the man of my dreams while travelling in a cab. Sitting in the cab, bored to death and waiting for the final passenger to start the journey wasn't my idea of a good journey but beggars have no choice. Yawning like a giant hippo, I looked out of the window, just in time to see the man, who actually fitted my idea of a macho man.
In the light drizzle, he ran towards our cab, hair all wet, looking like a Greek god, a dark gog shading his eyes, I waited, holding my breath, mouth and eyes too wide open, chin about to drop down la Tom and Jerry style.
The movement of the cab was unknown to me, gaping at him like a fool, my co-passenger's cough brought me back to reality and I quickly looked away. Unaware of his surrounding, every minute movement of his completely mesmerized me. His pearly white teeth, his clean saved chin, frequent twitching of his nose, the way he chewed the gum and the smile he frequently threw at us was just like a diva.
His musk after save enveloped our damp smelling cab. All I really wanted to know was the color of his eyes but throughout the journey he never removed his gog. His voice was husky and his throaty laughter made all the passengers look his way, as he talked over the phone. He frequently opened some gums and popped them into his mouth, played with the wrappings for some time and I found that very cute.
I pictured myself, sitting next to him, sharing some gums, laughing and gazing into each other's eyes. The sound of the wrapping between his fingers snapped me back to reality. As I watched him, I saw him taking his hand out casually, one hand holding the phone over his ears and the other throwing all the wrappings of his gums out. I was stunned at his unchivalirious manners. I slowly felt my soapy dreams bursting into drops.
I heard him using vulgar language over the phone; he started emptying his pockets, throwing his garbage into the wind. Few seconds later, to my horror, he lighted a cigarette and started smoking in the cab. Everyone was shocked and speechless but I was devastated.
At the end of the journey, he just stomped out of the cab, throwing the can out (he had emptied the beer), he left kicking the can along and that was the end of the dream of my macho man.
I was in the doldrums as soon as I heard that I was a part of the expedition to a monastery on top of a mountain with a group of small children. I abhorred the idea of taking care of a large group of noisy children for two days and a night.
The scouts were headed for a camping and the excitement was clearly visible in the eyes of the little rascals. Every were I went I saw them discussing, planning and preparing for the camping, the rush around was amazing but the only person perturbed by the camping was me. The thought of taking care of 45 children, cooking for them, putting them to sleep, waking them up and feeding them was beyond belief but I wasn't alone and that reassured me a bit.
The beginning of the journey actually made me realize that my worst fears were about to come true, we had different groups of children running into different direction of the jungle and trying to keep all of them together was an impossible mission and catching up with them was, well out of question. I could imagine the wild animals running helter- skelter in fear because of the alien noises heard in their peaceful forest.
Nearly at our wits end we are finally able to gather all the little brats together but there isn't any solution to their chatter which continues full on. We are able to reach our destination; the head abbot's generous help makes our camping less stressful. We are given a big room to spend the night in, settling in takes a lot of time but dinner in prepared in a jiffy with all the children seriously taking up their responsibility. The head abbot comes to warn us that our roommate for the night will be an old man who doesn't socialize much.
I clearly understood the warning but my trepidation was how to keep 45 students silent and as far as possible out of the old man's path. We meet our old man only at bed time but what the abbot didn't warn us about was that the old man was indeed a very old man, white hair, toothless and eyes so cold that it could freeze any one and without a tinny winy bit of a formal smile. I suddenly felt very cold and I expected my students to feel the chill too but the presence of this old man didn't dampen their camping spirit. Their singing, dancing, jokes and stories continued till the wee hours of the night and I could hear the old man snoring and this made me think of the worst. We had to practically lift each child and forcefully tuck them to bed and with the last one in bed, crept quietly to the old man's bed and sighed when I saw him deep asleep. I crawled into my sleeping bag and slept for a while.
The scream of a child woke me from me deep slumber and when I saw my colleagues I screamed, they screamed when they saw me and we all screamed when we saw each other. Our faces were a canvas with different colors and drawings, I was painted to look like a cat but this didn't bother me but I rushed to the old man's bed and to my horror he looked like a sleeping clown with a big painted smile plastered on his face.
I sat down, head in my hands and waited for the worst to happen when the old man woke up, the children were all lined up, scolded and their punishment given. As the old man woke up and saw us, with our painted faces he didn't show any emotions. One of my colleague went to him and explained about the prank played by the children on everyone and apologized, he just stood still and we finally showed him the mirror, I closed my eyes and waited to listen to the scolding but I heard his laughter instead, I opened my eyes to see a wrinkled face with a big smile (and his extra drawn lips accentuating his laughter). We all laughed till we had tears in our eyes.
We learned that the old man was abandoned by his children and he was cared by the monks at the monastery. The children found a new friend in him, the children helped him clean his room, washed his clothes, cut his nails and fetched water and firewood for him. I leant back on the wall and looked at my transformed little rascals, I occasionally heard the old man laughing at some comments passed by the small children. He was a common sight at all the activities of the children and the children just loved him.
After lunch as we were preparing to head back home we saw children contributing money to give to the old man, they were handing over all their pocket money and this sight brought tears to my eyes, as they came to us for our contribution I couldn't help myself from hugging my all grown up, wise, responsible, little rascals…angels.
The old man had special dry pears ( lei kaam) for all of them. As we descended down the mountain we saw the old man waving the white khader and the children waved back enthusiastically. We all walked down together, singing songs and chewing the lei kaam. When I climbed the mountain before I was heavy, heavy with negative fears and hatred but descend down was all together a different experience, I felt lighter and I held my head up, with broader shoulders and a contented smile. This camping surely taught me my life's most valuable lesson -to relax and enjoy the beauty of each moment in one's life!
The flames, with its crackling sound completely engulfed the body on the pyre. People stood around, all dazed. Choki watched on, eyes completely dry. Friends and well wishers came by to offer their condolences. Everyone was sad at her plight, a widow at a young age.
“He was a wonderful man”, said one, “The best friend anyone could ever ask for”, added another, “An understanding and a colleague”, said a female voice. “Good people always die early”, added another voice. She just nodded her head in agreement.
“How did it happen?” asked one of the elderly men. Her throat was parched dry and she was tired of explaining things again and again. Her mother-in-law came to her rescue, “He slipped in the bathroom and hit his head on the bathtub, which killed him instantly.” “So sorry, sad, at such a young age”, murmured the old man. Her mother-in-law burst into fresh tears again.
She watched as the last flame burned. Friends and family urged her to cry, thinking her lack of tears was due to shock. Choki didn't want to cry for she wasn't sad about her loss. He was a loving son, a good friend and the best colleague to others but he was a different person to her.
The bruises on her body were the evidence of that. Their marriage was a deep rooted farce. Their marriage was an arranged one and to others they looked like any normal loving couples but the story was different internally. She was gifted with beatings from the first week of her marriage. He thrashed her at small things like when his bath water became cold, when he misplaced his files, when he deleted his file accidently and for endless reasons in which she was always blamed.
One day when he found out that a rat had gnawed his expensive shoes, he thrashed her with his shoe. She wanted to share her problems with her parents but the fear of defamation of her parents was unbearable so she submitted meekly to his torture.
One Sunday he ordered her to prepare his bath water. She entered the bathroom, filled the tub with the right proportion of hot and cold water, and placed the towels and soap. As she played with the soap in her hand, a devilish thought struck her. She took out another soap, wetting it, placed it on the floor.
As she came out, he slapped her across the face for being a sloth. She apologized and left. As the door closed behind him, she waited, holding her breath. She could hear him humming a song. Oh! How she wished she could just go in and wring his neck with her bare hands. She waited patiently to hear him fall but the only sound was his song, “No women no cry.”
She craned her neck and strained her ears to hear his scream but it didn't happen. After a long 45 minutes, she heard him shriek and a loud thud sound but didn't bother to check on him. Instead she sat on his favorite rocking chair and watched TV, surfing the channels, which she never had the chance.
After 20 minutes she went to the bathroom and knocked the door and ran out of the house to seek help from her neighbor. They broke the door open and the sight which greeted them was horrible. Her husband was sprawled naked on the floor, blood gushing out of a big crack on his head, he was dead. She cried piteously, her neighbors stood by her until her parents and his parents arrived.
She was a shocked widow, so everything was done by the two families. Everyone thought it was an accident but there were questions over the presence of two soaps. Her mother-in-law said, “My son loved long soaking baths and always preferred two different soaps.” His habit saved her.
Collecting his ashes, they headed towards the river. As she emptied his ashes into the water she thought she saw him smiling, she smiled back and waved him goodbye.
“Run mommy, run!” Shouts my three years old son enthusiastically, pulling my hand with his little chubby hand.
We enter Ap Dawa's small shop, the only shop in our locality which sells ice-cream. We buy his favorite, the vanilla flavored sundae and head towards the bench, sitting down to savor the ice-cream.
The tranquility between us is broken when inquires, “Mommy, where's Apa?” this innocent question takes me back to past, the past which I worked hard to forget. Tears streaming down my cheeks, I remembered the day and it was just like it happened yesterday instead of three years and seven months before.
Stone cold, numb and deaden, I sat in front of my wonderful husband, his relatives and his close friends. I stood all alone, that was the saddest part of being an orphan. I didn't have anyone to give me the physical, emotional or moral support on the most important day of my life. I wasn't getting married but dissolving my marriage.
The reasons were “he” was not happy about our marriage, “he” was more qualified, “he” deserved a better life,”he” had other plans and “he” loved another woman. His cliques were sympathetic towards me but the bottom line was they wanted him to be free of the burden, me.
Their opinions, advice and suggestions continued but all I could see were their lips moving. I was scared as I thought that I had become deaf out of shock. I wanted to yell at them and say that I was pregnant, pregnant with our first child and I was already into the second month but I refused to lasso him into a relationship which had no future.
Ironically the night looked like a celebration, the mediators drinking and getting drunk, some forgetting the situation, started singing. I wanted to kill myself but the thought of my unborn child kept me strong.
The next day, as I walked out of the sleeping, alcohol smelling house, I felt relieved. I was leaving the love of my life behind but the thought wasn't painful any longer. I had run out of tears and sadness.
Finding a job and raising a child as a single parent wasn't as picturesque as in the movies. I had my ups and downs but the dimples on my sons cheeks kept me going. My selfish ex-husband must be famous, well off and deeply in love but he doesn't know what he is missing. I intend to keep it that way, a secret.
A gentle tug brings me back to present. My son's sticky fingers pat my tears dry. He adds, “I am sorry, I don't want Apa, I want mommy and ice-cream”. I try to smile for I know ice-creams can't substitute a father but one day I will tell him about his father. He pulls me off the bench and shouts, “Ap Dawa, ice-cream!”
I lift him up and throw him over my shoulders, tickling his tummy, he giggles and this makes all my pain ebb out.
The pressure on my bladder is unbearable and the distance between my class and the staff toilet unfathomable. I try to hold back the flooding pressure and decide to head to the students toilet instead. I hurriedly rush into one of the doors, without ensuring whether the door was latched or not I squatted down to relieve myself. As my bladder constricted its size I was actually aware of my surrounding.
I glanced around the walls of the toilet and noticed the intricately written graffiti on the wall. On closer observation I found the following sentences on the wall:
Sonamlucky lofs DT
I haed KT 6c
samten die,hate you
Sonam +karma I love kt(plese love me too)
Sreejana is sixy, I hade her -I hate you too!
I stood and stared, unperturbed by the smell of the toilet and the noise of the children in the toilet. The graffiti took me to a flash back, when I was a student in the primary school.
We used the walls to express our feelings, love as well as hatred. I remembered an incident when I wrote a message for my friend:
I loaf you Nima and she wrote back I loaf you too Pentang (5c)
Apart from our messages there were a lot others on the wall, some good and some bad, and our teachers secretly were on a look out for the miscreants and alas we were caught for we had clearly written our names along with the class and section. We were called in front of the assembly, spanked and mocked at our spelling error. We were the example to other miscreants. From that day onwards I never forgot the spelling of love and the meaning of loaf.
As I came out of the toilet I was laughing and the students were looking at me strangely. I decided that I will request the administration to whitewash the walls; educate the children about the bad habits of scribbling on the walls and work harder in looking for better strategies to teach spellings to my students.
Who believed in love at first sight? I didn't for it happened only in the fairy tales.
Sitting on the couch in my living room I turned the question over in my head. Outside the sun was disappearing down the horizon, the bird were chirping noisily in the trees, everything was perfectly in its place as it was inclined to be, I wasn't all alone in the room admiring the picturesque nature, I looked aside on the lounger to find him sound asleep. He looked peaceful, relaxed and had a soft smile on his face as he breathed gently.
The hot weather, the dust and the sweat was causing havoc in my busy schedule, I simply wanted to run away to a cool place and rest my tired body but I simply couldn't leave my work pending. Brushing aside my tresses sticking on my sweaty forehead, I make a dash towards the canteen to eat a hurried lunch. I don't know what made me to pack my lunch and walk towards the cool park but I followed my instinct and walked out in the beautiful sunshine.
Spotting a cool place under a tree was easy, as I made myself comfortable and was about to take a bite of the cold sandwich when I heard a throaty laughter followed by a group of children laughing. I craned my neck to look at the source and the next instant I was falling in love, it was love at first sight. A man was sitting around a group of children, talking and joking. He looked relaxed and at ease with himself.
His dimpled cheek was what caught my sight, he listened to the children patiently and everyone looked at him with admiration in their eyes. I forgot my sandwich and started eavesdropping, I laughed at some of their jokes too. At the office his picture flashed into my mind constantly and I always thought of him day and night.
Luck favored me for I had the chance to meet him at a meeting, we became acquainted. I learned that he was a teacher for special children and the best part was he was single. We exchanged our numbers and the different rendezvous brought us closer and we were seeing each other but I never had the courage to express my love but every minute with him made me fall hopelessly in love with him. He laughed easily, was positive, happy and satisfied with everything around him and in his company I felt the magical halo touch me too.
I was on cloud nine when he proposed to me after our two years courtship. I dreamt a dream and the dream was finally coming true.
His eye fluttered open and was surprised to see me gazing at him. I looked at him and smiled. I walked to him and sat near him. He took me in his arms and we sat there looking at the beautiful sun set. After our twenty years of marriage and the birth of our three beautiful children, we still felt like the new lovers of yesteryears, truly, madly and deeply in love with each other.
Today I ask myself, is love at first sight truly possible? I smile for I have the answer near me!
Its scorching hot but the day is very beautiful; clear blue sky, a soft breeze caressing my skin, birds singing in the trees and children laughing and playing in the background.
I choose a perfect spot, under the shade of a big tree and settle down to correct the notebooks. I am totally engrossed in the correction when I hear a child shout “bird!” and in a flash a group of children rush behind the wall (just towards my left)
When they return, they are dragging their feet, heads bent low. A boy is carrying a small sparrow but its limp. “Perhaps it fainted”, I say to reassure them but the poor bird is dead.
What I witnessed next stunned me completely. I expected the children (all class two) to leave the dead bird aside and move on with their game but a child spoke, “Let's give him a proper burial”. Everyone agreed and were rushing around, looking for a proper burial site and tools. I also contributed my share; I borrowed a spade from the caretaker and dug a hole in a soft spot.
They buried the bird, arranged the grave with flowers and stood around paying their final respect. A boy spoke, “Let's say something nice to our bird”. Everyone remained silent and I looked on when a girl in soft voice sang, “Happy Birthday”. Everyone was puzzled but the girl explained, “It is dead but it will be reborn soon”.
I thought that was a very sensible answer and everyone agreed so we all sang:
Happy Birthday To You
Happy Birthday To You
Happy Birthday Dear Birdie
Happy Birthday To You!
All the children were disturbed when they left the burial site but they left a lasting impression on me. Life isn't all about sadness; there is happiness behind all sadness. The feeling of sympathy or empathy is not rooted in the adults only.
Family heirlooms are always considered sacred and expensive in our culture. It comes in various forms like intricately woven silk kiras, gems, and choral, cat's eyes, horns or tusks of varied animals, these are considered endangered items. The status of a family is always determined by the old heirlooms passed down from generation to generation.
My family also has a collection of two important heirloom passed down by my grandparents from both the sides, a bjamjee (kettle) and a dramtse dhen (carpet). It may not fit under the category of an heirloom as it is not something unusual or expensive but it is full of memories.
My father's mother and father didn't belong to a noble family neither were they rich but they were happy, eating three square meals and sufficient cloths to wear. The bjamjee (kettle) was what kept them together for Meme (grand dad) loved drinking Aie's (grand mom) suja. Aie saved enough money to buy a bjamjee from a passing trader to serve Meme his special suja.
I can't imagine how many countless cups of loved filled suja the bjamjee actually served my grandparents before it was handed over to my parents as their wedding gift.
The dramtsedhen (carpet) has its own story to tell. It was a gift from my Meme(mother's father) to Aie. Meme was a trader and the dhen was a gift for her from one of his business trip to Tibet. Aie used the dhen only on special occasions and it remained as good as new. The designs on the dhen are what accentuate it. It is filled with a phoenix with its beautifully colored tail spreading over the carpet.
The dhen arrived at my parents' home as a gift from them. My parents drank countless cups of suja from the kettle and displayed the dhen in their drawing room.
The two most important artifacts kept my family bonded together. We drank ceaseless cups of suja and we were brought up rolling, crawling, playing, peeing soiling, sitting and sleeping on the carpet.
With the passing years the carpet has become thread bare in some parts and has lost some colors, the kettle, which was once thick bottomed, has become thin and shiny but today I and my siblings expectantly wait for our parents to gift us the priceless gifts and hope to take the two heirlooms forward to another generation. Whoever may get the items, the value will be the same because it is full of wonderful memories and will be cherished in the same way.
Prologue: I am rummaging through the garbage bin near the park looking for anything that is eatable. The improvement in human civilization have brought on a negative impact on animals like me, I hardly come across heaps of yummy stuffs discarded everywhere now. I move around looking for food, entering the deserted park, I make out the silhouette of two people, I move closer, expecting something to eat from the generous humans. As I edge closer I hear the following conversation (am not eavesdropping am just looking, looking for food)
He: You are my life! I can't live without you.
She: Will you come with me to see my parents this weekend?
He: I am sorry darling but I have some official works (tries to kiss her)
(Am eying the ice creams in their hands, tail wagging, hoping against hope that the ice creams will fall off their romantic, numb hands anytime but it doesn't)
She: No, please don't, I am not comfortable.
He: Don't you love me?
She: Yes, that's why I came to see you at this hour also.
He: Why can't we kiss?
She: I want it to be perfect, the right time and the right place!
He: Why isn't tonight right?
She: I lied to my parents to come here, am feeling guilty.
He: You don't have to be, I love you!
She: You have been saying that for the past 18 months but why can't we get married?
He: I don't want to rush in, let's take one step at a time.
She: Ok then, I won't force you. Shall we head home now?
He: Will you come with me tonight?
She: No I can't and you know why.
He: Why are you being so old fashioned? Things like these are the most happening thing around. Why can't a boyfriend make love to his girlfriend of 18 months? You are impossible!
She: (weeping) I can't believe that you just said that. Is sex more important to you? I thought you loved me.
He: Yes I do but what is wrong in making love?
She: For me its wrong, that's a sacred commitment which can happen only after marriage.
He: You and your ideals drive me nuts.
She: (sobbing) I am sorry.
He: we are poles apart, nothing is common between the two of us, let's call it quit.
She: (shocked) don't you love me?
He: Yes I do but I love myself more.
She: (slaps him across the face) you are a jerk!
(She throws her ice cream on the ground and tearfully exits. I happily lick on the fallen ice cream)
He: (Dumps his ice cream and pulls out his phone) wai dude! I dumped my girl; can you introduce me to your friend with the sexy legs? (Yells excitedly) thanks, I owe you one! (Whistling a tune, he heads to a pub to meet his friends and the new girl).
Epilogue: He kicks me on my stomach as he moves out, I yelp a cry but return to the tasty fallen ice creams immediately. Life goes on and I have to move on to survive. I don't mind the kicks but civilization I guess is a long way to go.
7:00 p.m- I hit on the keyboard with a vengeance. I am still in the office at this hour. My colleagues would have reached their homes, would have taken a luxurious bath, sipped a cup of hot coffee and would be relaxing in front of T.V by this time. But here I am sweating profusely, eyes sore and puffy and all tense and stressed in this small windowless cubicle.
I work in a private company and have a Casanova of a boss. He had been making passes for the several months but I try to be as professional as possible but I don't know for how long. He is a very stringent, calculative and a professional deal maker. He had drawn a deal for me too, make him happy and get a promotion with a handsome increment. I was furious for here was an aged, reputed married man stopping so low but I refused to bow down to his offer. I was here to do what best I could and not to make him happy.
7:59 p.m: The late working hours were especially designed to break me down but I refused to budge. As I enter his cabin the fatsoo is seated on his revolving chair with a smirk on his face like a cashmere cat, his head gleaming like the full moon.
I had yet another deal, this deal threatened the mere existence and survival of my family. I was to make him happy or lose my job. I nearly choke but I fake a smile as he pulls out a room key and asks me to come to Lotus hotel at 9 p.m. I give him a coy smile, sheepishly walk out of the room, with my heads bent low.
9:15 p.m: Fatsoo, all spread out like a lazy cat is waiting on the bed, prepared to pounce on his prey. The key turns in the lock, as the knob swirls around, Mr. Casanova purrs, “I knew you will come darling, your deal is finalized, come and make me happy.”
“Pow” and he nearly faints, he gets a black eye and a sound thrashing from his wife.
9:30 p.m-I watch from the corridor as my respected boss is dragged out by his wife. Well I refused to give in to his whims, so I sent the key to his wife with an anonymous letter. His deal is sealed but for me I already kept my resignation on his table. I sing a song as I walk out, its drizzling outside and the first thing I want to do tonight is drink a glass of hot chocolate, sit back, relax and watch Tom and Jerry.
She stood on the hill overlooking the small village of Lhayul. The village looked picturesque with small house clustered together in a friendly welcome. Yesel undertook this journey not only to break away from her mundane life but also to get a respite from her past.
Yesel was a divorcee, she married her college sweet heart but the marriage didn't last long. They loved each other in the beginning but their love couldn't withstand the test of time. Kuenden fell in love with a colleague and eventually married her leaving Yesel shattered. She didn't believe in love anymore and masked her miseries with her heavy workload.
Yesel slowly switched to reading books and enrolled herself as a member of the local library. She became a regular member and also started volunteering there during her free time. One Sunday as she was cleaning the bookshelves she accidently knocked a book from the shelf. She bent down, picked the book and was about to put it back when a yellow paper on the floor caught her eyes. Taking it to be some notes prepared by a student Yesel bent down again and opened the paper but found out that it was a letter addressed to a Dolma.
The letter read:
As you read this letter I will be gone. I know you love me more dearly than your life but we can't be together. Don't get me wrong for I love you very much and as I write this letter I am crying because going away from you isn't easy for me and is equivalent to dying but I have to do it for you and for me.
Your father came to meet me and told me about your arranged marriage to Sonam.I know you will never marry him but when you learn about your mother's health you will, for I know how much you love your parents and you must marry him for you are your parents only child.
I am gone from here but this doesn't mean that I will forget you. You are always there in my heart and the memories of the time we spent together will always remain unsullied in my heart. I love you and will always love you. Please forgive me for running away from you.
Yesel sat down on the nearby chair and cried. Here she was trying her best to bury her past but the letter took her right back to her past. She was loved but betrayed for someone else, Kuenden never loved her but from this letter it was obvious that karma loved Dolma dearly.
The next moment Yesel went around collecting information about Dolma and karma with the letter and the address in it as the only clue. She took almost a week to look for them and it was Dolma's old neighbor who gave her the information about her but no one had any idea about Karma. As per the neighbor's information Dolma went to leave in Lhayul after her parent's death.
Yesel immediately put up a leave application and drove to Lhayul. She kept the letter in the gloves compartment and drove on. The journey she undertook was not merely a journey to find Karma or Dolma but to affirm that love still exists, she just wanted to prove herself wrong and bury the ghost of her past forever.
From the hill she slowly drove down into the village. As she drove past the fields of wild poppies beautifully growing along the roadside she felt at ease. The effect was magical, the breeze blowing her hair, the earthly smell of the ground after a light shower and the smiles on the passerby made her feel at home.
She asked around and learned that Dolma lived in the house next to the pond. Yesel drove to the pond and decided to walk to the house. She turned off the engine and sat in the car trying to collect her nerves together.
As she stood in front of the door she heard someone strumming a soft music on a guitar and a sweet voice singing. Yesel knocked on the door and a moment later a women in her early fifties opened the door. The woman had a soft smile on her face when she asked, “Can I help you?”
Yesel explained about the letter and how she came across it. The old woman was surprised and called her inside. Inside the house there was an old man in his late fifties and the woman introduced him as her husband. Yesel asked, “Do you have any idea about where Dolma is at present?”The old woman smiled and replied, “I am Dolma and he is Karma. We are the people you are looking for.” Yesel was stunned for she never expected the two people to be together.
Dolma made tea for her and they sat around the fire as she told Yesel her story. Dolma was in the library reading when she received karma's letter. After reading the letter she left it in the book and ran out to stop him but she was late, Karma had already left.
After coming home she had a squabble with her parents and learned that her father had lied to karma about her mother's health. She then decided that she will never get married .After her parent's death she learned that karma was in Lhayul so she decided to meet him for the last time after 20 years. To her surprise karma wasn't married and they took this as a blessing and decided to get married.
Karma and Dolma invited Yesel to spend her holidays with them and she accepted. Yesel told them about her story and they assured her that she will meet her love one day. Later as Yesel was sitting in her bed she heard Dolma and karma taking a walk outside. She crept out of her bed, went to her window, peeped out through the curtain and saw them holding hands and whispering to each other. The sight was heavenly, the stars shining brilliantly in the sky, the moon in the horizon, the poppies swaying gently in the breeze and the silhouette of the two lovely people out in the night making the scene ideal.
Yesel went back to her bed and realized that true love still existed and for her coming to Lhayul was like coming home. She was finally able to let go of her past and was no longer bitter about Kuenden or sorry for herself. She had all her time to look for her true love and wait like Karma and Dolma.
I rush around clutching my register, carrying my plan book, manuals, text, teaching materials and practically the whole world in my bag. It's hardly a week or two since school started but I could already feel the tension and pressure mounting. Angry parents breathing down our necks for admission, restless new Pre-Primary students getting on to our nerves with their frequent emotional outburst. I practically feel at the edge of burn out, a hair pulling situation with children shouting, crying and laughing at the same time, it's like watching different soaps at the same time.
To add salt to my wounds it was raining outside. It was dampening my already drenched feelings. I hated the authority for admitting a huge number of PP children, loathed the parents for admitting their spoilt brats, detested the tiny classroom and abhorred the weather. I left my deafening classroom and went to take a break (had a free period). Sipping a hot coffee and listening to my favorite song was truly heaven but hell wasn't far away.
When I went back to my classroom I was waiting for an earsplitting noise to greet me but I was shocked to see an empty classroom. I threw my umbrella and ran around in the rain looking for my small kids. From behind the building I heard children laughing, I took a long breath to give them a good scolding and warning them against going out of the classroom without permission but when I neared them I couldn't because they looked like angels with the raindrops nestled on their head, they were practicing 'good morning' (the word which I taught them in the first class), moving around and greeting each other.
They weren't tensed about the new responsibilities, new environment, bullies ornew people. They weren't worried about what was going to happen next but was simply enjoying the present (rain) and making the best use of it.
As I drew closer to them they were shying away but when I shook the branches of the tree and made them wet a squeal of laughter followed. I also joined them, flying around, pretending to be birds in the rain, splashing in the small pools and dancing in the rain. My seniors thought I had lost my mind but I continued anyways, my principal was enquiring about the lesson and I simply said it was English with a dash of GNH.
I learned a great lesson today, to let go worry, stress, tension and anger and live for the moment and actually enjoy it. Life indeed was beautiful, my angels taught me!
No matter how busy, tired, sick or burnt out I am I never miss out any articles posted on Nopkin. As I go through the articles I reach an article written by Arrogant Buddha. His articles make me laugh, cry and sigh and as usual my curiosity takes me deeper into my thought and I try to imagine him in various manifestations, I imagine him as a very arrogant desperado from his nick. As I read his articles the image is replaced by a very gentle devoted son, a very abusive husband, a gentle lover, a good friend, a sincere worker and a very educated driver.
His style of writing actually makes me question his true identity and I can't make myself to digest that he is a driver. It's not that I am stereotyping the drivers but if he is what he says he is, then he is a very special driver. He not only drives the officials around in his car on a very educative journey but we are also taken for a ride by his articles, reading his articles are like virtual travels.
As I read his latest article I laugh out aloud unable to control my laughter. With tears in my eyes I realize that my curiosity is baseless, even if ARROGANT BUDDHA wasn't a driver that makes no difference to me for his articles is what matters and not who he is. I wipe my tears and settle down to leave a comment for him!