Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Yanki's Life Story

Yanki’s Life Story—Her Birth

Perhaps, Yanki had the hardest life in the whole world. Perhaps, her destiny cursed her even as she was born. And perhaps, she was never meant to know what happiness meant.

Her mother died when she gave birth to her. Maybe the 13th December, 1972 was a day of the devil. And when she turned seven, her father was killed by a wild boar. There were not many neighbors nearby. The nearest neighbor they had was Ana Singki who was a widow living with her 10 year old daughter. She was a drunkard and her daughter strived for their daily meals.

Maybe their village itself was a cursed place. In the creepy dark night, when the crickets sang of their freedom, Yanki often wondered if there was a world beyond the mountains that shielded sun and gave plentiful of rain in her village. Maybe it was because of too much rain that they did not have a good harvest of their crops. When she was a child, she often wondered why the stars shone so brightly only in that village at the other side of the river. But when she turned four, her father told her that they had electricity in their village. Electricity? This was a new term for her. She did not know that a world could be so brightly lit up as if it were a day. Or as if the whole galaxy of stars has fallen on earth. This intrigued her and she wanted to see what an electricity bulb looked like. She wondered how water could be turned into light, when her father told her that electricity was generated from water.

She grew up listening to her father’s snoring, to her father telling her such wonderful stories, of reality and miracles. As soon as she turned six, her father and she bought a cow and thus they thought they were going to, maybe prosper. Yanki could then milk cow, take her to the mountainside and bring home lots of mushroom in the evening. And she had even started cooking for them. At seven, she even worked in the field and now, outside their hut was a beautiful garden. But in the peak of summer, when their garden has just given them the first of fresh vegetables, her father died. This was really shutting the day off and calling a night in, even before the day had shown the sun. She lost all her hopes and dreams. And she never wanted to live. She wanted to hide beneath the earth and never be part of the world. But your destiny always has a bigger dream for you. Or until you have paid even, you never escape.

Yanki’s Life Story—Into the World

When her father died, her father’s uncle Towpo took charge of all the rituals. Yanki never saw daylight since then. She cried every night and soon after the 21 day ritual for her father’s death was over, her uncle started beating her if even he heard her sob. Now her world changed.

She left her small village and was at her uncle’s village which had more people, more houses and a monastery nearby. She was happy her father taught her the prayer, “Dudsum sangay guru rinpoche…” which always gave her company. She saw her father in each syllable of the prayer. Her father told her that a God never forsake anyone but she sometime doubted if her father lied to her. She thought if there was God, it was time he saw her hardship. She was now her uncle’s all time cow herder. She did not see peace in this crowded village. There always was someone greeting you, even as you wash your face in the early morning. She missed the solitude and peace she had back at her village. She missed her father more than ever and she cried all day as the cows grazed.

She soon had access to radio and it became her all time friend. Now every time she was in the forest, she sang as she herded the cows. When she turned 14, the Gup in her village selected her as one of the dancers for the annual tshechu at the lhakhang. This unsettled her uncle’s mood and he beat her that evening. Yanki could not understand how at all she could outdo his children. She was a poor cow herder, while his three children went to school. But maybe her uncle was a miserable man. He took his temper on his wife quite often. His children feared him.

However, the Gup explained the matter to him the next day and Yanki was still chosen for the dance.

Yanki’s Life Story—Toppling on Love

It was unmistakable how well Yanki could sing. She got the voice of ‘khuju luyang’. And she had the looks of a ‘khamdrom’ and a heart of a ‘lha karpo’. It was as if, for all this virtue she had, her parents had to pay the price.

When the selected group of seven girls and seven boys were practicing dance for the tsechu, there was a dance teacher who had come from the capital. He was a young, impeccable man of around 24. The girls giggled shyly when he sometime had to hold their hands and show the steps, but Yanki was unaware of any charm or charismatic pull he had.

Girls started talking that he was attracted to Yanki. She had a heart so deeply bruised that she had not a single space to think of something like love. Dema said, “Come on Yanki, how could you not see it? Look at the way he looks at you.” But she still was sunk in her own misery and she was only always thinking of her father and her mother she never saw. She wanted to thank them for bringing her into the world, but she just couldn’t find herself to do it, for life had only sufferings and there wasn’t an ounce of hope for happiness.

The next day, when their teacher, Mr. Pema asked who could sing with him for the new song they had chosen to learn, the girls replied in unison, “Yanki drakpey la.” This was alarming but Yanki had to go when she was called in the front to sing beside him as the other girls and boys danced. And as the girls were discussing steps, he suddenly said, “Yanki, behind those beautiful eyes, I can see so much of pain hidden.” She did not know what to say, so she just shyly smiled.

Yanki’s Life Story—Destiny’s Plan

As if there was a pull of destiny itself, she found herself growing closer to Pema every day. And before the tsechu, she found that she had started talking to him about her parents and her life. He was a very trustworthy man—she could see it in his eyes. Without questioning anything and without discussing with her uncle and aunt, she agreed to marry him.

Her uncle beat her up once again and Yanki went for dance practice with a blue left eye. Pema knew about what happened, so he decided to meet her uncle and ask for her hand. And he did. Yanki was finally out of the yoke of her uncle’s unending complaints and scolding when Pema brought her to Thimphu after the tshechu. A girl who had never even reached the nearest town was now traveling to the capital. She now saw the electricity and the bulb and many wonders. When she told Pema about how she wondered about the generation of electricity, she was taken to Chhukha to see the Chhukha Hydro Power Project. The mysteries of life were unfolding slowly and she was almost coming to believe that life after all had so much to offer.

She never felt so much joy in her life. She wished she had her father with her to show him how life could be easy, simple and yet beautiful. Pema was simple, uncomplicated man who saw every day as a new day. Besides everything else, his biggest virtue was his faithfulness towards his wife. Though, Yanki was an uneducated girl, he always saw her as an equal to him and he started teaching her to read. Though he wanted a baby so much and she failed to conceive, he did not complain. He always said, “You are still very young to be a mother. I’m sure we will have a beautiful daughter like you very soon.”

When they had been married for three years, and when Yanki turned 17, she lost him forever. She now lives in an isolated Gonpa in her village and she is a nun. She doesn’t want to talk about that night she received call from the police from Chukha. He had gone to Phuntsholing. Though she asked him that it wasn’t required, he was making plans to set up a small shop that she could run. Even when his body was brought to her house, she didn’t want to see his face. She wanted to remember him as he was—those serene, deep eyes. And yes, now, Yanki has finally found peace. For so much she has lost, she has found the answer…the suffering, after all is a part of life and she has taken oath to cease it before this lifetime ends.

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