Monday, November 23, 2009

Dear Amku…

I call my mother ‘Amku.’ I don’t know how I came to call her that but I find joy in calling her so. I usually smile as I call her, ‘Amku’ in the long tone. She looks at me and laughs. In that laughter she holds me enchanted. That laughter is pure; there is no trace of malice, no trace of insincerity. I feel like breaking down, just because in that instant of joy, I feel the stab of pain of losing her. Few days back, I was telling her that if she had been sent to school, she would be a Dasho now. And I was serious. I know she would be. But that is not what I wish. I am so happy she and my father raised me up, implanting in me values as they sowed seed in the field. If there is a reason for me to wish she were sent to school, it would be to let her know how I would write to her my feelings in a letter:

Amku, no words will be able to tell you how much I love you. For the numerous reasons you must have been born as my mother, I wish I could just take these reasons now in a bag and store them so that I can use them again in my next life to buy you back to my life. For the simple reason that I want you to be my mother forever, I feel life should have had no death. Even while the stark naked truth of impermanence stares at me, mother, I want to hold you and wish that it would take only a blink of an eye for a wish to fulfill. I wish, I could just hide you somewhere.

I know every mother is the best mother to her child. But because you and Apa worked so hard in the field to raise seven children, I feel, two of you went through more hardship than many others. Forget that, I know how hard it was for two of you to decide to send four of us to school, when you knew very well that you needed as many hands as possible to help you at home. Amku, I see you getting up before dawn and preparing breakfast. I see you having prepared more than three bottles of ara before daybreak. I remember you working in the garden before I even opened my eyes to get up. And I see Apa whistling and already on his way to sell the fruits in the nearest town.

If I had one question to ask God, it would be why affluence blinds rationality. But right now, no, I don’t want to ask any question. I want to thank him for being so kind to me in giving me the two best people in my life and making me see through them how kind and loving people can be and how kindness and generosity can inculcate values beyond any textbook.

Amku, if carrying you around the world was a way to tell you what you mean to me, I would. I wish you were a demanding woman so that I would have the opportunity to give you what you want. I wonder at your humility and contentment. I wish just like you, I had no wish to own another set of kira until the one I wear wears out. I wish just like you, I had the determination to read volumes of prayer books, and finding joy in that like talking to a friend. In all this and more, mother, I find invaluable lessons and I thank you all the more. There isn’t any word I know that will tell you exactly how grateful I am and how much I love you.  Amku, you are more than the world to me.

I’m enjoying being mocked at

I call my husband. I sometime curse myself for being blunt. I have to bear the brunt of bluntness so often that I curse myself to death sometime. I call my husband, not even giving a second thought that probably he is enjoying somewhere with his friends and in that jurisdiction, my voice isn’t something that is welcomed.

I talk to him and I hear cacophony of woman like voices mocking at me. I can make out that they are laughing at my back. Do I enjoy that? I wish I could say yes. But unfortunately, no, I don’t enjoy that. So I demand my husband to tell me who that person is….oh there comes my miss call. So I gotta go.

Kinley’s mother has sent me cheese from her village. So kind of her. And there, ah, like a swift cool breeze in the sticky summer night, I got a bit of my hefty feelings out. She asks, “Gunda gi chhim gati mo?” I give her the location and then ask her why she wants to know. She replies, “Gunda gi chhi na tas tseyde lo sey.” Oh okay, so that is the reason for the gathering of the outstanding wise gentlemen. So I blurt out a bout of my feelings out and there I get a relief and I rush back to my room to finish this piece.

I’m not writing this to advertize my feeling. Nor to share the inside story of my life. I’m writing this just as I write about anything or everything I see that nudges the writer in me. So even if there is a criticism, I will gladly take but I will let my article lie here.

So to go back to the mocking part, when I ask my husband if it is Coco who is micmicking me in the funny voice, he says yes. So I decide to call him. But on a second thought, I think he is gonna lie to me that he isn’t with my husband. So instead, I call the house-owner, Gunda. But when I ask for Coco, he tells me that he left his house and only he and Kencho are there. Giving up and politely thanking him, I call Coco. But of course, as I knew, he lies to me. He says, “Jang town ga cha. Ja office ka chharo ba kam.” I insist that he tell me the truth. He says, “Gila aney, ja procurement ga chharo bu cha.” He says that because we have met this procurement guy a couple of times. I tell him that I will talk to this procurement guy. He pretends to call, “Phuntsho, Phuntsho….,” and then comes back on the line and says that he isn’t coming. So I give up and pass him my message anyway. “I thought it was you who mocked at me and I wanted to tell you not to do that.” I thanked him and hung up. No matter who this kind of guy is, no matter if he is a good friend of mine, (Coco is), but I don’t like being messed that way. As arrogant as I may sound, I don’t enjoy being made that cheap.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Now and 16 years back

My mother learned to read Dzongkha when she had to stay home taking rest after the surgery. She can now read prayers but she would be more fluent if she had better eye sight. For a week she went to Jungshina community lhakhang to pray. There, the lama presiding the community prayer has given a prayer book each to everyone present. This evening when I got home, my mother wanted to read that prayer book. I sat beside her and helped her with words she had difficulty pronouncing.

And then, right after dinner, she chanted the “Dechen Moelam.” When prayed in the long melodious tune, it can tear your heart apart and send you right next to your lama and make you feel that you really do not need anything at all in this world. I did the dishes, cleaned the kitchen and sat by her side again while she was doing that moelam. Then, I told her, “Ama nga cha po, Aema ho chi tangma nyampu” (meaning: Let us pray together the Aema ho moenlam before we sleep), and we did.

As our voices blended and felt a reverberating faith carry us up towards a higher realm, I prayed that my mother be never inflicted with pain; that she never suffer. And as I closed my eyes in prayer, I cried. I cried thinking of us many, many years back, walking down the footpath in Dolu, going to Phaisingma where my two sisters lived. I could so vividly remember how I walked in front of my mother, praying so loudly, our voices resounding and echoing in the valley. For a split of a second, I wished my mother was that young.

I realize that we have come so many years far and now we live in a city we never imagined in our lives then. I now stay in a rented apartment where I pay more than I save. And now, instead of waking up to the smell of my mother cooking on the mud oven in the soot stained cookers, I find myself waking up hearing my mother asking my nephew to study. I marvel at how different times have come to be. I honestly feel, I would gladly trade to be in my peaceful village, if only life wasn’t so hard.  I cry that there is not a single person living in my village now. I marvel at how we tread on life, not knowing what we would be or where we would be in that many years again.

Author’s note: As I sit here typing words down, I see faces of my sisters flashing in my mind. I see them as two young teenage girls asking me to sing a song for them. I see them as two teenage girls weaving kira for me. And I see them as two young women working so hard in the field. And now, I wonder for what extra merit I earned in my previous life I’m sitting here on the cushion while two of them must be snoring on the hard crust of bed. If only tears were the answers, I would have long been happy. If only tears fulfilled wishes, I would have long brought fairness and justice to the world. Even when I know my tears aren’t enough, they choke me. I wish I could just take out this lump in my throat but just like it will stick there as long as I am unhappy, I know I have no power to even wipe out the misery of myself. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It seems to work

I said, I will now work harder, concentrate appropriately and thus bundle myself together with people who are called 'good hardworking people.' And it seems to work. Maybe it is only for today but I'm glad even if it is just for a day.

Though the weather is very gloomy and we have seen the first winter rain, I seem to embrace the mood of working harder even as the cold seeps in my bones. For some reason, I do not have a heater in my room. Tshoki and I seem to have made a sacrifice somewhere for this. I don't mind; I am wearing a thick muffler and I got a shawl wrapped around my thighs. But that is not part of what I want to say.

I feel so happy now despite the sickness I had in the morning. Dizziness tucked me in bed until 9:15 a.m. But now there is no trace of sickness.

I feel like the first flower blooming as the Spring season sets in. Or better yet, I feel like the flower that blooms even in winter.

And not to say, I might turn back into indetermination, for today, I'm all smiles. And as it lasts, let me laugh.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

If I were to define my life now...

If I were to define my life now, it would begin without a single achievement.

If  I were to define my life now, it would just be a single blank page.

If I were to define my life now, it would be just a starry dumb pair of eyes.

If I were to define my life now, it would just be a butterfly-pupa who never knew of the beauty of having wings.

If I were to define my life now, it would just be an orphan who never knew what it was like to have a mother.

If I were to define my life now, it would just be a drunk without destination.

If I were to define my life now, it would just be a hollow space without life.

If I were to define my life now, it would just be a pair of unstable, shaky feet.

And with all this, if I were to look for a future now, it would just be a blank paper without a pen to write anything on it.

Author's note: This is written in the mood of self discrimination and it shouldn't give the idea that I do not value the many good friends I have in my life; and the people who have touched my life and made me a better person.

And so I change

Something is terribly going wrong somewhere. I'm not doing something right. Am I not committing myself enough for what I should? Am I not following the thumb rule of how life should be lived?

What is going wrong and where? I wish I knew this. Then I would know what exactly I must do and how.

I think I have taken things for granted for so long. I think I have depended on faith so heavily for my entire life. I think it is time I found a better way to look for meaning in life. I think it is time I knew where I should begin. And it is time, I knew what I want. Even when I have my love next to me, hugging me, and telling me, 'it is okay,' I know, it isn't totally all right. It is time I got serious.

And with this, I change. And with this I will fight stronger than I ever willed.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

You can't demand people to be what they are not

The title as you see is just to console myself that I cannot expect people to be what they are not, just so it will please me. I cannot hope people will change just because that will be convenient to me. And I cannot hope people were different, just as I would make them, if I were the architect, just so they will merge completely with my thoughts.

But even when you know all that, sometime it is hard to take that some people's nature can be repeated in the same pattern of irritating ripples. Not that pleasing tease, but that uncomfortable eerie feeling like snake walking on your feet.

Whatever it is, I know just as I would like to remain myself, they would want to be what they are. I cannot snatch that right from anyone but I'm becoming a little sick of being the understanding person of 'Oh that is fine," nature. the world goes on, so would my life. And just as everyone, I would forget this discomfort. But I can only wish it would come soon.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Child Poverty

The meeting on child poverty takes place in a five star hotel. What an irony, a senior officer says. 

Another senior officer has been flying out so often (visiting other countries on official purposes) that he gets free ticket as a compliment. What an irony, I would say, because I would like to ask if that is a way to work efficiently.

And for this child poverty meeting, there are more than 50 items of dishes laid out on the table. There are four long tables of dishes. And I can bet there is not a single person who isn't wasting it. Each one brings several items and they leave wasted, because they don't like it. 

Outside in the street, a barely 10 year old girl, carrying a baby, scooped in her right arm, comes begging. "Give me 500 bucks, I'm really, really hungry." She has a shrill strong voice. But the fact remains that she is begging. 

Now, I'm wondering, how effective holding such meetings are. The large part of the budget of poverty alleviation program is gone into the rich man's hand anyway. Would a poverty stricken person own a five star hotel? 

I sit aghast. Thoughts run haywire. 

This is Bhutan

I moved to Adelaide, South Australia 10 months ago. This decision was driven by my belief that family has to be together and pursuing your c...