Articles by: Luzee
My friend Kuenza’s daughter Dechen is the first child I ever attended in labour. I still remember the day when K called me from Trashigang to break the news about her pregnancy, sometimes in March 2010. It must have been a weekend since I was home weaving when she hushed me the news. Trusted by word, I swore the news to secrecy until it was made official and evident, not even to my Hubby. That is the kind of faith between us friends.
When Dechen came to the world on December 20th, I and KP were there beside her parents. We took an instant attachment to the child and since that day onwards, Dechen continues to be a part of our thoughts. Often I and KP browse through her pictures and smile at the little girl growing distance away from us (K and her family are expected to return home this December from Australia where K is pursuing her higher studies).
Last to last night, I had a terrible nightmare that left me crippled with fears for sometimes. I was in a room with Dechen. For some work, I walked out without realizing that I had interlocked the door. In a moment, huge frantic attempts were tried to open the door and goodness me, the moment’s pain I experienced was too terrible. I clearly remember my fears, so afraid if Dechen would be OK.
Although the nightmare was just for a flicker of seconds, when I woke up the next minute I was down to tears. I thanked reality for the dream it was. Presence of my Hubby next to me helped me calm through the night and also the verse from Gyalsa Lhaghen about all “our worries and fears being illusions, like a mother who dreams about the misfortunes of her children in her dreams”. I silently recited the verse and lulled myself back to sleep.
Coincidently, the next morning I saw K’s album on Dechen. It did help me seek some solace but the fright still haunts me. I sincerely hope this is just a dream in itself. I continue to send my prayers and wishes for the quick return of K and her family, been a long time since we saw Dechen. And to say she is already a toddler now!
Waking up at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning is one of the last things in my to-do list during the school break. But when I crawled out of bed a little after seven on 14th July morning, there was my elder niece Lilly still struck to the laptop. “You stood through the night?” I asked matter-of-factly, and she nodded yes.
We had this text “Wings of Fire” by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President of India during our first year of Undergraduate. One of the most touching parts of his inspiring life from selling newspapers at the train station and collecting nuts to meet his school expense to becoming one of India's (world's) greatest scientists is the part where he stood through the night to work on a missile. Apparently, his supervisor wasn't happy about the work and asked him and his team to correct it by dawn. And Dr. Kalam stood through the night working on it, making it to perfection the next morning. (To this day, I haven't forgotten the inspiration I drew from this aspect of his dedication and it still continues to linger in my mind.)
So, my niece Lilly. She had joined the Documentary Film Making Workshop conducted by BCMD from 3rd – 14th July, 2012 during the summer break. A group of 14 students from various schools and institutes of Thimphu, Paro and Sherubtse were trained on documentary film making. At the end of the workshop, the teams were required to showcase their work and share their experiences.
Dropping and picking her from various points, I knew Lilly and her team mates were working hard, so must have been the other teams. Towards the last days, she was home by late evenings – interviewing people, looking for potential cast, editing and compiling.
Friday evening, I took the girls for a dinner out in lieu of their school break getting over and more for Lilly's schedule during the whole break. We were home a little before 9 p.m., that's when Lilly opened the laptop and realized that the entire documentary was blank! The next hour and half, we went frenzy trying to contact her team mates, attempting to retrieve and figuring out what-to-do. At best, we said, “Explain to the organizers tomorrow.”
No, that's not Lilly in the least. I know this girl pretty well, she is one person who won't rest until the best is done, and she means sincerity, dedication and hard-work. Fearing she might cry out too loud, I consoled that perhaps she could work on some part of it and make it presentable.
My throat choked as we watched the documentaries, especially when it came to Lilly's team. The other teams had also done splendid jobs, but pardon me for being personally biased, we felt Lilly's team's piece was the best. It talked about “Dignity of Labour – Educated Farmer” and had one of the prominent casts Mr. Sangay Khandu speaking at the forum. They had done a commendable job compiling the pros and cons of it, leaving the audience with the message that “Educated Farmer” is one profession of choice, and not of chance.
Soon after the show, I felt the need to share the story. I stood up and spoke about the effort I had seen in presenting this piece. My voice cracked with emotions and I was trembling more out of appreciation than fright. Then only could I understand why Lilly wanted the audience to see their work, despite the technology disaster and her team mates consoling the possible excuses.
And Dr. Kalam visited in my thought. Somewhere, someone keeps the fire of inspiration burning.
I was so vigilant driving through the busy Saturday traffic at the vegetable market when a young charming man crossed the road just before me. I gave an involuntary glance and almost immediately, I was smudged with a silly chuckle. For one, I am so done with the thought of flirting or even an attempt to do that. So much a metamorphosis I have come through in the last few years.
Yes, owing to my bubbly nature I was often judged to be liberal and easy going. Like a colleague who asked me out for a ride, but with an intention that I couldn’t have guessed. He was so taken aback when I held firm to my morals that he concluded, “I thought you were liberal and now you tell me how conservative you are.” (No worries, I don’t hold hard feelings that easily, so we are still colleagues and friends.)
So, everyone expected I will settle for a guy with a bandana tied around his fancy hair, perhaps another one around his right thigh, pierced ear lobes, wacky silver chains with “cross signs and skulls” hung around his neck and studs embedded on every soft tissue of his body. Instead, I settled for a guy who is shy to hold my hands in the public, who takes a step back to say hi before extending his hand to greet, who refuses to give a peck at the airport, for a man who stays home glued to the TV with a prayer wheel swinging for hours.
No, I am not surprised myself. I dated a nice ‘modern’ looking boy in my High School (I bumped into him the other day at the hospital and my first reaction was, “Oh, I am both excited and shocked to meet you.” I could see his blood rushing up!) .Even then, I knew we wouldn’t make it through because I felt myself “too simple” for him. For some reasons, I was allergic to guys/ men with some aura of modernity around them.
So, back to the charming young hunk at the vegetable market. I am sure every passing lady must have wished he stayed a little longer in their eyes, but me – well, I was grossly reminding about my naïve Hubby who left the same day for a short trip. I was rather wishing he were near me at that moment of time, his presence is always a given blessing.
If I had ever attempted to stray from his love, today I am paying with his frequent absences. And I hate the feeling of being lonely. Except for his ritual “I love you”(s) once when he opens his eyes in the morning and once before he drifts off to sleep, he is not someone who is open about emotions and feelings. But he shows it in his own manly ways. Like the last time he spent a fortune on purchases exclusively for me, with the licensed concern “You never treat yourself lavishly.” I have to think of all these when he is away and it only makes the matter worse.
Especially, when I see captivating men around and have to miss the “simple man” in my life who has totally captivated my heart and life.
(Written in good faith for the Hubby you are.)
Wisdom comes in many forms and from many people, one the wisdom of children that I am often baffled with. Growing up with my nieces and nephew, I have come to respect the innocent worlds in them, that is so pristine and pure. They speak from their hearts. Behold, we have so many lessons to learn from them!
Last night, I and my ten-year old niece Lucy were luring ourselves to sleep with our usual pillow-talks. She asked, “Alu, what does free education mean?”
In my attempt of being the ever Agony-Aunt, I gave her my version of 'free education'. I said, “Think of it – in Bhutan, our government gives us everything free – free schools, free teachers, free books and free classrooms. In any part of the world, everyone pays for his or her education from kindergarten to college. The money collected from the students is paid for the teachers and other class stationeries.”
I also added, “We Bhutanese are so spoon-fed that we don't struggle. Other country children work hard to realize the value of every penny they pay for their education.”
Without a second thought, Lucy responded, “Our Third King must have been a very sharp man that he thought so wise about his people.” And with a chuckle, she added, “Thank God, I am born in Bhutan!”
To get this comment from a sixth grader was heart moving. How right she is! If not for the visionaries like our Kings and leaders, half of our citizens wouldn't be receiving proper education. Think of it, how many of us can actually pay through our pockets? And we have so much to complain about the poor classroom environment, the (old torn) textbooks our children receive [for free], and the tireless teachers whose efforts are often questioned. We even complain about the least subsidiary amount the schools ask once in a while. Ain't we shameless?
While Lucy dozed off to sleep with that naughty innocent smile spread across her face, I looked at her [in the dark] and thanked her for the wisdom she instilled in me. Her comment caught me in a tinge of guilt – I myself have been a government's baby all through my student life right from pre-primary until my Master's.
When we were doing our undergraduate in India, our pride knew no bound drawing envy from our fellow Indian mates stating how we were paid to study – tuition fee, living expenses and also for the travel to and fro home. They asked if Bhutan is so rich. We said our government is rich in heart that the little economy it has, it spends on free education and free medical for all the citizens.
Lucy's comment made me reiterate all the realizations that we often try to bury. And like she said, “Thank God, I am born in Bhutan.”
What is there to love? Or not to love? Well, I am past that stage of asking the questions – five years with the same man seems like a long story to be unfolded. And I know I am still in love with him, perhaps more than I was the first time we met.
I knew from the start itself that the kind of man I will love one day will be someone very ordinary. Oh yes, I don't believe in fairytales, they never work on me. Neither do I believe in money buying happiness. Rather, I appreciate someone who exposes his true self. And this is what KP my Hubby did when we went for our first date on 30th March, 2007.
He came wearing his favourite jacket (which I pleaded to be disposed in a year's time!) and I was wearing such a hedious synthetic leather pullover (thank God, I dumped the same to my sister!). From our presentations, we seemed like people trying to depress the other in the worst possible ways! [A way to go…]
Over dinner, we talked in such a normal environment with sheer comfort and pleasure. My first attraction towards this man was his honesty. He was there narrating his “situation” while I threw up my bubbly nature by talking to anyone walking into the same restaurant. If he thought I was edgy, he got me right. So, we began our journey by accepting each other as the 'other side of the same coin'.
To love him in the last five years…it hasn't been a smooth sail. Our one day of tranquility was met by three more of situations; we had our shares of ups and downs. How many times I thought I should just close my eyes, walk out of the door and never be back to see him again! How many times he must have thought he should dump the whole idea of being married? We passed those ordeals.
My respect for this man has grown by ten folds and is still catching up. When we had some misunderstanding with my people, it was he who said 'things will be OK'. Of late, when we had his people messing with us, he accepted their faults like his and said he will go by the truth. It sounds hard to find such a man who is for the truth, no matter whose side it is.
Often I look at him and sympathize why one man has to take half the troubles in this world. And especially why a good man has to be at the end of all the misfortunes. May be because only men like him will have to strength to move on with life. People say 'God only tests those who are capable to face the challenges'. He is truly one of those.
I trust my judgment that I know him the best. I know his heart, his mind and his true nature. In the name of love, I could have never loved a man who wore manifestations; I wouldn't convince myself that hard to cling invariably. I love him because I know his worth.
To love a man, my man, I steal the first look in the morning and thank God that I am waking up in his arms. When I lay down to bed, I know that the man sleeping next to me is but a good man. And I can't ask more.
I was there, just a mile away from him. Surprisingly, he ran a textile retail shop (quite unlike his profession otherwise) and I was wondering if he really meant the business. The other day, I had worn a green brocade tego, an exchange gift from a colleague some years ago. We weren't talking much, quite a dismay to the fact that he and I share respect and trust between us, despite our respective roads to walk.
Right behind me was his wife, with a cigar in her hand. She puffed as she kept a close vigil at our encounter – me and her husband's. You know, no matter how honest you tend to be, a woman will never understand the relation her man shares with other women, be it platonic or filial relationship. Perhaps, the same the other way too. For the same fears, I have never spoken in great regard about this man to my Hubby – I know somewhere he will not understand the complete story.
Anyway, back to the story. His wife wasn't saying a word, but why did I feel as if she meant close vigilance? I had popped into the shop to buy myself a tego-piece, having picked a sample that looked almost similar to the one I had worn the other day. I got such an uneasy feeling, wishing if I had not gone there at all. For the record, he didn't say much either. He was his solemn self, so composed and calm. A part of me felt deceived that a man should behave differently in this kind of situation. Was it guilt? Him? Or me?
His wife continued to puff her cigar. And honestly, I didn't like that either. Not having tried myself a puff, smoking is one addiction I swear not to surrender. Nothing against those who smoke, but anywhere within a range of two miles, my system gets offended by the mere odour of anyone polluting the air. Thus, the same moral inside me asked if her bahaviour had anything to do with her anger towards us. Come on now, we have been friends for a long time!
In that flicker of subconscious moment, I tried hard to capture the flow of the unseen emotions. And when I woke up last Monday morning, I knew I had a story at hand. Yes, the uneasy feeling hadn't left me yet. For reasons unknown, I haven't called him in the last three weeks. Until I get a good strength to feel good as I used to, I may never dial his number again.
The door bell rang. With crumbs of flour on her hands, Lhasen left the kneading dough to open the door. Karma was in the next room watching TV and any disturbance during his favourite soap wasn't welcomed to be acknowledged.
An eerie moment of silence followed. When the silence bellowed too long, Karma howled, “Who is at the door Dear?” Another moment of silence before Lhasen responded, “Err, it's the TV bill collector,” but her heart raced dead. In the pretext to collect her purse, she came back into the room, picked up her purse and slammed the door behind her.
“Why now Nola?” she asked the man standing there at the door. Her fingers trembled uncontrollably that she had to hold tight on the purse.
His story began: “Soon after college, I came looking for you. But your parents said you married and left the town. I met your Husband once who pleaded I don't come to see you anytime. And even today, I thought a thousand times before I knocked at your door. I have come to say good-bye for the last time, and perhaps to let you know that I have loved you all this while. I am leaving the country for good.”
Only her eyes blinked. Even before she could say a word, Nola was out of sight. The roaring sound of his car brought her back to sense.
Back in the kitchen, she began kneading the dough again, but her mind kept racing to the line “I met your Husband once…” Karma was still seated on the sofa watching TV. Pulling her hair strands at the back of her ears, she went up to him, “Karma, it was Nola at the door. And he said he met you once.”
Karma, without looking at her responded, “I did. Almost two years ago. I love you so much that I afforded to keep this from you, in fact I would never have wanted you to know.”
Lhasen didn't know what to do. Would crying have helped? Or screaming perhaps? Nola was her childhood friend whom she had gotten to love as they grew up together. Lhasen dropped off from High School owing to her regular visits to the hospital while Nola excelled and left the country to continue his studies. Deep in her heart, she knew she would wait until he returned and live together.
But someone called “Karma” came along and changed her life. Karma turned to be an exceptionally nice man who accepted all her flaws and gave her a life she always dreamt of. He was aware of her affection towards a man called “Nola”, but could never imagine himself not being with Lhasen. She was his life, the very reason why he worked harder to give them a comfortable life.
“I am sorry Lhasen,” offered Karma. Lhasen went closer to Karma, cuddled against his chest and responded, “You did the right thing Dear. I love you.”
There was this friend of mine in Secondary High School who had a memory of rock; she would remember anything her way. It was the first time I ever appreciated anyone having such good control over their memory, and since then a frail attempt on my part to be the same, at least closer to it.
I wasn't really bad, I still am so good with faces, numbers and names. The only things I can't figure my head around are direction and roads. Oops, leave in a big building and I will take few hours to come back to the starting point. Direction is another of my shortcomings, I just can't remember where and when. So says that women and direction are like two sides of the same coin!
Of late, I guess I am showing some signs of “dementia”, preferably over “amnesia”. No, I am not losing partial or total memory, but there seems to be some deterioration over the years. Yes, it saddens me deeply. Or is it just another sign of aging? By God, I am yet to hit 30s!
One evening, in a big rush I made a call and the moment I turned the mobile off, I was frantically looking for it in the hang-bag, in the jacket pockets and elsewhere. Only to realize that I had the mobile in my hand! That was so silly.
Not as much as the incident when I had packed all the lunch boxes and were still looking for a lid. This time, the search was little longer and I was almost at the edge of frustration. I nearly threw up in agitation until I realized that I had completed the task! Gracious, the shiver of “am I losing my mind” took me by fear.
Today, I see that I don't remember things with the same energy as I used to, few years ago. My friends console that I have 101 things happening simultaneously at the same time, which is partly true, but the fact is I have lost a good portion of my memory. Often, I seem not to remember half the things happening in a day.
Don't tell me I am gone insane! Or am I? But I know one fine day, I will forget myself. Till then, I shall drag on…
It's been almost a week that I have taken the old Thimphu-Semtokha way, much to the hundred of childhood memories ingrained in each corner of the road. But that's not the reason why I choose to drive that twisty-turny road for a change. If only life was any better!
Who wouldn't like driving on the expressway (despite the fallen electric poles, the smashed wire-fences, cows, the BIG rush during rush-hours and of course the reckless pedestrians)? Of late, the expressway has become a huge congestion. What normally takes 15 minutes drive from Semtokha is now twice the time, save the pathetic congested climb to the bridge and round the Lungtenzampa Bridge.
So much the trauma that my alarm is the fear of being caught in the traffic! I am one sleepy-head, and especially during the weather changes, I sleep like a new-born (that's a lame excuse now, I can sleep anyway!) Every morning, I wish I could sleep a little longer, a little more. Only the fear of traffic kicks of off the bed!
I swear the number of cars increases by ten folds every morning here in Thimphu. People easily accept the cliché that “A car in Thimphu is no more a luxury but a necessity.” Yes. Indeed it is.
Hence, as I take the old route to Thimphu, swinging my body every minute to go with the flow of the road, I welcome myself back to the “History”. Being born and brought up in Lungtenphug, I pretty much know the premises.
In class III, Ma'am Mamta and Ma'am Renuka took us for a potluck lunch picnic near the Semtokha Bridge, then the water was pretty big. The only snap I have (Kodak moments!) shows I as a 9-year old, typical hair style and squeezing myself to get a stand amongst the bully boys. For nine years, I and my siblings walked the road to Choden Junior High School; no wonder the sight of the students wearing the uniforms still gives me complete attachment to the school.
The two years at Yangchenphug High School meant I and my sister walked the two-kilometer road from Lungtenphug to YHS. At our bests, we shared our stories and reached school soon. But when at draggers' ends, the walk seemed like forever, one trailing after the other. In winters, we wore jackets; in rain, we used to get soaked; in sun, we sweated but that road kept our journey of life going on.
Sigh! Today, I take my girls on the same road. Perhaps, they will never understand the silence of my drive. I get occupied revisiting my childhood memories each time I take that road and get too lost to talk to them.
Plus, the strip of road deserves extra vigilance for its numerous twists and turns. The compromise is of course lesser traffic, careful driving and bingo, we reach the schools as planned. And best of all, I see myself and my sister walking to YHS every morning!
Every time I see her and him, be it together or at different occasions, I feel the pain of their missing link. Yet, the smiles on their faces speak undying stories of how love can keep two souls beautiful, not necessitated to be together. This is a story of one unrealized love between Lhasen and her Valentine-man Noma.
I have listened to this story some hundred times; surprisingly each telling is like one new chapter all over again. And I enjoy it so much, although the wish if they could be together remains deep in my prayers.
Lhasen and Noma met at a very wrong time, obvious to the surrender that they were hapless falling for the embrace of one another. Both were married then. Sad!
The way Lhasen narrates their love story makes me wonder if Noma is one-man-in-a-million. He sounds too good to be true, you know the kind of man writers and artists create? He is everything from a good heart to a kind soul to an understanding man to a great being. Just the kind.
Right right, not all love stories run without some drama. Often she tells me how frustrated it's for her NOT to be able to call him when she wants to talk to him. Her respect for his family is too that understanding level that she refrains and suppresses all the excitement until he calls her. And when he calls her, she gets butterflies in her tummy.
The other aspect of this unusual story is that neither of the party wishes to make any “lovey-dovey move” like 'they should think serious' or something like 'for love they can do anything'! (I swear if I were one of them, I would have succumbed to the sophistication of suppressing the feelings for that long!) And Lhasem smiles accepting the pain of loving someone not reachable at the right moment.
I am just a spectator in their relationship. On friendship basis, I would wish they were together. But of course, I understand the obligations attached for such risks.
(I was inspired to write this story after reading some of the world's unrealized love stories in a newspaper issue of February 14, 2012. Personal opinions may be respected, but for a person like me, I stand amazed.)
Well, it's been more than a month since I wrote a word. Few stories visited and passed my mind. I can't excuse for laziness or busyness but I guess I gave myself a good break. In a way, yes my life in the last few months has been running at gun's point. There was never a good time that I could sit down to write a story.
I like the fact that people passing by acknowledge me as a 'writer', and many claim themselves as die-hard fans of my stuffs. I blush because I feel recognized, although some question if those materials are mine own. In the roughest way, I say “Hell with those who doubt me!” [Ha-ha.]
This passion of writing has given me equal amounts of happiness, joy, relief, frustration, satisfaction, appreciation and sometimes agitation. One of the last days, I happened to pounce upon a copy of a magazine to which I [faintly] remember having mailed an article couple of months ago. With no receipt acknowledge, nor a return mail, I assumed my mail was undelivered and thus the article vanished into thin airs. But there was my article printed in the magazine, and the undersigned bore my pseudo initials in “bold”. I went aghast.
Of course, as a writer I take pride in seeing my work in print. But didn't I deserve some sort of a word-back? Or should I complacently accept the “Bhutanese-way” of taking things courteously? I wasn't happy for some days, to be honest. The same feeling I get when I see some of my articles reprinted in the newspapers.
Talking of newspapers, I continue to receive offers to write and contribute, but on a flexi-mode with no serious edge. From the way they say, it sounds more like “Please fill in some of our pages…” I feel stupid for that moment to be sitting across the table.
Now I know why I bought that book “Chicken soup for the writer's soul“. Pages after pages, I read through the stories of writers' riding the roller coaster of the writing world. None that went without setback or frustration, none that who succeeded at first go. I feel belonged to the same world.
As a naïve writer, I enjoy penning down the words and transforming my thoughts into readable emotions. And as I often say, words are my best buddies. I haven't thought of myself as a serious writer for now. May be I will one day – sit down by the roadside and write write and write!
Also the fact that my passion has inspired many others, one prominently my niece Lilly who shares the same spirit. Some of her writings are so commendable for a girl of 14, so much so for her teenage thoughts and aspirations. I edit her works with such great appreciation that I promised her “that may be one day you and I can write a book together!” And she gets the “Chicken soup for the writer's soul” as her next birthday gift!
Thus, the journey of a writer's world continues with equal shares of happiness, joy, relief, frustration, satisfaction, appreciation and sometimes agitation. For anything less or more, I hope to write more often than ever.
For a long time, I have thought of writing this article, but never really got the right inspiration. But watching the movie “My Sister's Keeper” last night, I knew I had to write it now or never. So here it is…
We grew up five years apart, and I swear I saw him coming into this world. Yes, my younger brother was born in the Army Family Line at Lungtenphug, in the same room I was born five years before. My mother underwent home delivery of all the seven children she gave birth to, the last one this brother I am going to write about.
Every morning, he and I walked that 30-minute walk to our school. I carried his bag, his lunch box and sometimes even pushed him when we were late. When I left for high school to Yangchenphug, he remained back in the same school. I worried if he would take care of himself, but by then he was a grown up boy capable enough to take care of himself.
Through College and after, we grew up together, sometimes like good friends, sometimes at foes' ends. Some of the memories I recall often set my fury button, like the time he wrecked my nerve that evening I cried out of anger or the time he said he lost the laptop I had paid through my nose.
At the end of those incidents, I would swear not to ever think about having a brother. But this heart – this heart refuses the master sometimes.
Only recently, I rushed into his room and packed all his stuffs to be moved into another house. By the way, today he is working in a private firm at the refusal to settle down for the 9 – 5 routine that the rest of us so much covet to be a part of. And yes, he completed his College. Back to the moving out story, he had to vacate the room. Out of genuine concern, I offered him to stay with us. But he said he won't be obliged to our life-style, in other words, his world is half way round the clock: sleeps midnight and gets up midday.
A part of me doesn't want to worry about him. You know, I have enough share of misfortunes hanging around my neck. The amount of hair loss in an indication. Yet, I can't…blame my heart, this fragile organ!
He is a man of his own now. A big man indeed. Long hair, unshaved face, [almost] 6 feet tall. And he says he enjoys the work he does, perhaps even happy with the meager pay.
I worry to the point if he had one decent meal a day, and his laundry, his beddings, everything about him. The few times we meet or talk, he says he is OK. That assurance isn't enough to keep me from worrying. Although, he is living an independent free life (the way he wants), I would still wish he had more seriousness about his life.
So, watching the movie “My Sister's Keeper” last night helped me get some of the answers. It's OK, life has to have varieties. If he is happy that way, he is happy that way. I only want him to be OK and happy and fine and cheerful. What more a sister can ask than the smile on her brother's face, of course the door to my heart will always be OPEN!
Frozen toes – I think I despise this cold feeling as the chill creeps right from your toes to the head. The weather outside is perfect for a warm cup of tea, tug in bed and read the “Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul“. But here I am in the office (located in the attic of a tall building), rubbing my toes and watching the dove which has just perched on the window sill. Even the poor soul is fighting the gloomy weather.
My dear, winter is here and it is right here. I felt the call of winter few days ago, when my favorite shoes wouldn't fit me anymore, because my feet have shrunk in the cold. Pushing the pair away, I consoled myself that another summer is not far away. Time to hit the streets in boots and woolen clothes!
Yes, with a slight grin of sadness, I packed all the summer clothes in a suitcase and replaced with the thick ones. My cupboard's taste is changed as well – now, the sweaters and full sleeves occupy the first and upper rows.
Onset of winter also brings a sudden change in the taste for food and entertainment, one evidently the reluctance to eat out. “Save the cold!” In me, winter brings the best of my emotions and thoughts for I can lie in bed for hours-and-hours, stare at the ceiling like the world is going to go green in few minutes! I can think of thousand thoughts and smile at myself as if the world in me is but for myself.
Personally, I am not fond of cold. I go crumpling down to my last bones in the chill, and I blame my “weak bones” for an excuse. I tend to go a little lazy with my mobility restricted to the basic needs. I rather relish the idea of sitting by the fireplace, sliding nearer and nearer to the heater as the heat subsides. By Lord, I seem to gain a little weight during winters (of course, why not!).
Yet, I am NOT always pessimistic about winter. I like it with lesser insects and creepy animals. No worries about the leftovers, one can easily savour in the morning or even after 24 hours. No rain or muddy puddles. Sight of dry chilies and meat in the cracking sun makes one feel a little melancholic.
And when the skin gets drier demanding more moisturizer, the skinning of the dust particles from the clothes as we walk, and when the trees show barren braches, I know winter is here. What's there not to like about it? Or to like about it?
Whatever, a truckload of firewood arrived last night and in few days' time, I wish to sit by the fireplace and sip tea and read and lie down lazy and grow fat and think lost and again acknowledge that winter is finally here!
The hairdresser is cutting my hair. She asks me if I want it shorter and I say, “Yes, shorter!” In the mirror, I see her confused expression, almost wondering why I would want to it so short. My shoulder length hair is reduced to an inch length. But I smile at my new look, the new change.
Of late, life has been a dawning lesson. I am made to face its ordeals in the worst cases possible, testing every patience and understanding in me. But I stand strong. Even through tears and pains. (That's me!)
Now I know that it's so wrong to wish for happiness by losing yours. Just as much as it's wrong to want people's lives in tune with your's. That's my folly, putting all eggs in one basket, ultimately finding myself with not a single chicken. Or did I count the chicken too soon?
Anyway, the 'think and act' part is over now. It was extremely difficult in the last days to even think that I should survive to this day, or be writing down my calmed nature. The troubled sea is gaining its restful momentum slowly and the typhoons are subsiding. What alarmed me were the uncalled attacks these waves give! So ferocious and unprepared.
At one point of time, I wanted to give up life (silly of me! Tsk tsk tsk…) but who doesn't conclude to that extend? (Not to be misunderstood as literal surrender…) After the troubled sea is the calm.
One afternoon, I was walking around and came upon a very good dawning. On the streets were tens of homeless people, begging with every strength to make through a day. They were in shattered clothes, shabby and hungry. But in their eyes, they had that will to fight, the will to live, the energy to smile. I was so ashamed of myself. Where are my troubles compared to them?
Then and there, I changed the direction of my life. I said I will live and fight to live. Suddenly, the happiness of pains returned. I felt void, empty and detached – the feeling complete with genuine joy of finding heavenly bliss. I began to loosen my attachment and confronted that what I needed was a good dose of positive energy. Surprisingly, I was with plenty of that.
So, I walk into a salon and choose the shortest hair-style possible. I go with a mission to change my life for better. I am removing anything possible from my past to begin a new journey ahead.
This I do with such positivity that I am glad I am living, be it for a single day. Indeed the typhoons of life are uncalled, so is the happiness which is just within you.
Kids fascinate me the most, with their innocence and sometimes their anger. Last evening's incident left me laughing for a very long time.
For an introduction, my youngest niece Lucy is such an amiable character: humourous, lively and funny. OK, she is irritable at times but she has her own side of charm that many of those who get to know her feel that she is one of the most wonderful kids around. She indeed is. And to see her being angry is a rare moment. My elder sister once commented that in the last eight years of Lucy's life, she had seen but once of the latter going red with anger!
Last evening, ten minutes to five, I got a call rushing to inform that Lucy got bitten by a dog. In that panic-stricken moment of worry and fear, I rushed to pick up the kids. There she was, crying at the top of her voice, apple-red face and tones of tears flowing down her cheeks. My first concern was, “How bad is the bite?” Fortunately, it turned out that the bite wasn't so bad, a mild scratch on the right calf.
But the next one and half hour had another set of story. All the way to the casualty, to the ACO's chamber, to the pharmacy and finally to the injection room, Lucy recited this some thousand times, “I will kill Pinky, I will break all her teeth.” The ACO gently asked, “Who is Pinky?” and I, through a loud bout of laughter said, “Pinky is the dog!” Everyone in the hospital premises felt Lucy was so funny, that a little girl of 'ten' should bear such vengeance towards a dog.
Talking about her age, the receptionist how old she is. I entered ten-year-old to which Lucy (through her tears) screamed, “I am not ten. I am only nine-and-half years.” The receptionist had no choice, but to oblige. Really, the whole episode was so funny with Lucy's anger generating laughter out of anyone we encountered.
It took me a lot of consolation to pacify her. I even showed her the remnants of the two bites I got as a child. I tried telling her that mother dogs are defensive when they have puppies, to which she said, “Whoever invented this fact should go to hell!”
Aww, this certainly sounds so funny of a kid to act to this extreme. Not to worry, Lucy is back to her normal self this morning. The tinge of vengeance is nowhere in her. And I am glad.
Country music ripping my heart, the raindrops splashing hard on the window glass, I sit with no voice. I am in the thinking mode. I am thinking of how life can offer and change so many things our way, some expected, some unexpected.
I watch the rain water run down the glass pane, but I am not trying to stop it, just as much I am not trying to stop my mind from wondering.
Over the last few weeks, some of the most unexpected things have happened in my life. Sadly, I lost two of most wonderful friends. Rather, I think I let them go off, for a better reason, for a greater cause. For no reason, I don't say I stake my happiness. This complacency in me is contagious; it often takes a bigger portion of my heart than I intend to pass.
I am seeing so many changes in the people around, may be more in myself. If it were one yesterday, I would have lamented to the last beat, but not now. Today, I readily agree that this is one aspect of impermanence I must respect. I am OK with people behaving differently. Who am I after all to mind for the whole world?
Another river of rain-water washes down the glass…
There were certain dreams I wanted to enjoy before they disappeared but as I face the reality, I am more than compromising not even coming little close to them. Should I not be complaining then? No, I won't because I am just as glad that not all dreams come true – some remain better as unrealized fantasies.
Life is a written code of routine. And we all are silent followers. Every time I wish someone did what I feel is right, I wonder if that someone would think the same. This relative acceptance makes me want to smile with understanding. Life is just too beautiful living it as it should be, maintaining the best of poses and the ignoring the worst of calamities.
The rain continues to pour…
Oh, I am still thinking. In between, I am smiling at the passing thoughts. The rain continues to beat hard, and my mind is so astray in thoughts. Just then a kid comes by to knock at the window. And I realize that the dusk has just called in. I am gone for the evening…
Barely a year after I wrote the article “We Don't Drive”, I am on the road. And this time, behind the steering. Well, the pros and cons of driving is well balanced, quite often the latter out-doing the former. I think I am too early to complain.
One of the updates in the evenings includes my experience on the road. I narrate each incident to my Hubby, ranging from traffic to reckless drivers to taxis to trucks and on go the list. One of his recent comments got me into serious thinking. He bluntly said, “Oh, you were a Gandhi when I drove. Now, where is that personality?” And I laughed aloud. [Laughs!]
When I rode the car with my Hubby behind the steering, if he tended to get a little reckless or complaining, I would sooth him down. I always concluded my statements with, “That's OK Darling, everyone is in a hurry on the road!” “You will know when you drive,” used to be his comment back.
Today, I am one of the most impatient drivers on the road. But, before I admit, allow me to pen down some of the most irritating scenarios on our Bhutanese roads:
1. For some curious reasons, why are our taxi drivers so in hurry and reckless? Especially if they see a woman driver, man, they can get the nerves out of you! Irrespective of traffic norms or conditions of the road, they are the ones who will honk your wits out. (P.S: I am dying to respect a decent cab driver!)
2. “That divider is not a center point,” reminds my Hubby. Much to the dismay, many drivers on the Express-way love to keep two wheels on the left and two on the right of the divider. Neither on the left, nor on the right lane, but right in the middle of the double-laned express-way.
3. There the speedy-drivers! Most exclusive the posh-cars, whose sole intention could be, “Hey, check out my luxury car compared to the tiny one.” They will honk some ten meters away, all way until they run past your ear-shot. One arm on the steering and another on the wind-shield, this category of drivers give you an unkind feeling.
4. Impatient drivers must account to half of the honkers on the road. Despite seeing a traffic jam, they will honk till your ear-drums are blasted. Once on the road, every car is in the race. It's become quite a thing to run past any car ahead of the other.
And I – well, I have sworn never to join the race, so I drive at snail's space. But, if someone honks at me, I get nasty irritated that I swear hard. If someone drives with that pride of “Whoa, I am good at geometry” I feel it's my [driveway] right to remind him/her of his/her silliness (or is it stupidity?). If I [unfortunately] commit a mistake, I decently say “sorry” (through the windshield though!).
So says my Hubby, “Where is that Gandhi in you?” Ha-ha. I think my-Gandhi stands for the rights than the wrongs. Can't demean the righteous ways, you know.
Don't you sometimes wonder why we like doing things our way? It makes sense that my mother often retorts, “She-sha she-sha luk say, Ra-ba ra-ba luk say” (literally translating “Sheep sheep's way, Goat goat's way”. Kudos to my translation! Ha-ha). I won't know how the statement came into being, but each time any one of us tries defending our way, she supplements with this, and now it has gotten into me.
Last night, I was cooking one of my limited recipes – beans and carrots in cheese. My father, standing inch away comments, “You should add cheese beforehand.” Now, that's his way. When he cooks, I take turns to remark, “Apa, don't overcook this or that,” or “Gracious, I don't like tastemaker in the dishes.” While his response would be counter, “Can't eat half-cooked,” or “I don't like plain veggies.” I console myself that we are She-sha and Ra-ba in our own ways.
Come my sister to my place or I go to hers, we always find faults with what the other does. Last break, she was here and every evening I was home from office, she would complain about this curtain needing wash or the floor another line of polish. When I go to her place, I find myself digging the same – “Hey, your bed-sheet is wrinkled” to which she will say, “It's like that only” or “Can't you arrange the things like that?” and she will reply, “I like it this way.” She-sha and Ra-ba perhaps?
Not only with families, this 'back-to-back' mode of likes and dislikes happens even with friends and colleagues. And everywhere. My friends say I am too much of OCD (Obsessive Control Disease) of which I deny none, because I am one inflicted with this obsession.
This control has gotten me an ability to mind many things. Even in sleep, I mind things not undone. I want the clothes and shoes kept in the right places, all dishes done, all floors swept, all books in the shelf and so on. The possibility is slim when living in a large family and to combat my running thoughts, I keep changing my strategies. Everyone at home complains about not catching up with my changes.
Well, I don't know if I am a She-sha or a Ra-ba but it has become an obsession that I do things the way I want. Or is it arrogance? Merely, may be.
Thursday is not really my day, so as I believe in the superstitious of our astrology. It's my “Shay-za”, so as they say. But optimistically, I try to maintain the best of moods, in the fittest of thoughts and at best with my composure.
This morning, the day began rather surreal.
To begin with, rain sticks me into the bed longer than other days that getting off from it is like a Hercules job. With no choice, I had to: breakfast and pack-lunch for the kids. 8:00 a.m. we were out of the house, scurrying under the umbrella to avoid the downpour early hours. The ten minutes drive to Lungtenzampa was fine, save few reckless drivers trying to get the better of others.
Just as I dropped the elder girls at the school, we were caught in an unusual traffic at Lungtenzampa. “Jaigon Jaigon,” I kept saying. Indeed. With the muddy splashes of the puddles and hundreds of cars lined in some four lanes in one direction alone, the chance of making on time to drop my other kid was slim. Ten minutes perfect at that jam.
The police man directed us through the other road, which would easily take ten minutes to reach Changangkha. I tried bargaining the normal route but he was stubborn to convince me that “the road this way won't get any better”. Right, another hundred cars were lined up. We sped through the rain, ignoring any bumps or splashes.
My little girl certainly got late and she asked me to accompany her to the school (the same feeling we had when we went late to school). Trying to be the ideal guardian, I walked her to the gate. The time showed 8:40 a.m. (gracious, 40 minutes already?).
ATM – “Any Time Money”? I rushed to the Hospital ATM, walking the five-tedious-minutes in the splashing rain, only to meet the notice, “Sorry, ATM is offline, try using our other outlets.” No, I didn't want to lose my mood so soon, respecting the little patience I had, even after my mobile phone broke into three pieces! Oh yes, I dropped my mobile phone, you get that – I dropped it and it went into three pieces!
The only way to keep my mood was to broaden my smile. I did that effortlessly. One passer-by thought I was insane; he kept looking wild into my eyes.
9:10 a.m. – I reached the office.
Not wanting to forget the morning, I decided to write this article.
How often I have felt that I have fallen in love with the right persons, and at the right times! I know I am a total jerk when it comes to love – I just let it happen and think it's perfectly normal to fall in and out of love. Still, this is the most exciting subject about which I can write stories after stories, seasons after seasons, anytime, anyhow, any-much. My favourite subject, indeed.
The raindrops! Yes, the raindrops. I am listening to them as if the night is too young for my heart to go romantic. The clock shows 12 to 10 p.m. I should be snoring by now, but here I am – feeling so light, so lost, so smiley, so just happy, and the distant music of some romantic Bhutanese song filling my otherwise empty bedroom. My Friday night.
Love and rain – two of the best ingredients of my heart. No, I haven't tried crying in the rain, for the fear that it makes me want to merge with the raindrops. I can think of a thousand reasons how soft drizzles make my heart go weak, and many a times I have surrendered completely to this feeling.
One such the time I knew I fell for that face in the rain. Memories taunt, and hurt sometimes. But I love all my memories, really.
OK. The story starts with a young man falling in love with a woman (or the other way round), nothing new perhaps. Except that this story could never take from where it was left. Autumn was on, and you know how just luring the season can be. Like when Richard Gere falls for Winona Ryder in “Autumn in New York”. That was me, and the face. We were falling for each other.
Stop. The halt was made. How painful. I will never know the reason why our story never made headlines, nor the truth why we didn't qualify for the “happily ever after” fairytale. Of course, we were so much in love, so much in love that anything apart from this story remains like the biggest illusion in my life.
So, the night we broke off, I felt the rain. I went outside my flat and stood in the shower like I were taking a natural bath. I was soaked from head to toes, but could feel not even a single drop of the heavenly fall. I was shattered, completely.
You know why I don't cry in the rain? Because, it was in the rain that I fell in love with the face, it was in the rain that we first kissed and it was in the rain that we parted for good (?).
Tonight, I listen to the raindrops again. I am falling in love with the same story, again, a thousand times. Every time the monsoon brings right next to my window this splattering sound of the rain, I know my heart is open again. Because, I keep falling in love with the face, although the face is but a distant memory.
[Author's note: I will not know why the sound of rain makes me the saddest, and why it generates the hardest stories out of me. For some unknown bond, the rain and I have got millions of unsaid things. Of thousand things.]