I hear my mother pray in the other room. I am sitting inside my bedroom, wondering what to do. I’m not able to decide whether to have dinner first or pray. And as I listen to my mother pray, I fall back into many years back when I was a child:
I hear the bells of the cattle. I hear so many different insects. I hear beautiful songs from the BBS Radio. A radio is carefully placed on the window. Cattle have started coming home for the night in a line. My sister is slicing off the banana plant to feed the cattle. Another sister is taking the cattle to their shed. I am not assigned any specific task. I help my sister by carrying the light (bati = a small kerosene lamp made from tin).
Soon the cattle are fed. They are all taken to the shed. We eat dinner, all of us sitting in a circle. Even as we eat dinner, we listen to the news from the BBS Radio. It is the only source of information for the national news.
Soon after the dinner, we all go into the other room. We all sleep in one room, in a line. And there are times when we listen to the songs and write them down. My sisters have started learning how to read Dzonkha text. One of my sisters (the elder one) has very keen interest in songs. She hears a song once on the radio and she has all the lyrics by heart. I then write them down from her and I learn the songs for the village tshechu.
My friend Lhadon and I learn many songs and we sing till late night. The Tsawai Lam and other people who stay back late night to watch people sing and dance give us soelra (prize).
As I hear my mother say prayer now, I wish my father was here too. On 30th of the first month of Bhutanese calendar, I said prayer for his 4th death anniversary. I do not feel he has been gone for four years now. I still see him in my dreams and he still seems to guide me forward. As much as I want to see him with my mother go to kora, say prayer or talk to me about important matters, I have to accept the inevitable fate of having to say goodbye.
And as I write this, I also think of numerous people I know who have died, who have got sick or whose positions and status have completely turned upside down. Thinking of all this, I wonder what fate has in store for me. I wonder what deadly disease will strike me. What kind of life I will have a year from now or 10 years from now. Being a believer of karma, I wonder what huge devil will fall on me.
But as impermanent as everything is, I think I can only pray that all things be good, that all people be happy, that all people will have the strength to pray to free themselves from the suffering. And as I look back into so many years back, once upon a time in my village, I feel, we have lived a happy life, though surviving on subsistence farming. I wish I did not have to live in a town where people compete to make a living. If there is a tinge of happiness I feel in a day, living in town, it is only because I’ve my mother with me and she doesn’t have to toil in the field.