Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The First and the Best

I feel so reassured to know that there are generous and kind people in the world. Because of the difficult people I have met, I have been beginning to think that maybe the world has come to be a sad place where people forgot to treat each other kindly, the way we would want others to treat us.

My family and I visited Adelaide over a long weekend (Friday to Sunday) at the invitation of a friend who lives there. She was in Bhutan before to help Bhutanese by conducting training on hand therapy. She has donated equipment too at the hospital and she is visiting again for the same purpose. She works hard to help people and believes that she can make a world a better place. It is nice to know that there are people who care about our country and want to genuinely help. I am blessed to have crossed path with her (thanks to my husband) and I feel so happy knowing that there are such great people. Now I am not saying this because she treated us so well. I know she will treat anyone she comes to know the same way. I was surprised at how well she treats her staff and patients. The way she talks to her patients is like she is talking to a baby, showing so much care and concern. And I was surprised too by how much energy and enthusiasm they put in what they do. Wow, yes, we have so much to learn! We cannot just be working for the sake of getting some money. We gotta be enjoying what we do.

I found that Adelaide is a wonderful place. Coming from a remote village, I have never got myself to like noisy, city life. I loved the gentle hills, the beautiful parks and oh, yes, the mighty, turquoise green ocean. I was bit apprehensive about the visit because I didn’t meet her before and it was the first time that I would be staying at a Chilip’s house. But no, all my apprehensions were unfounded. This tells me that human beings, yes, human beings after all are all human beings and we are all same, no matter what culture we are brought up in, and what religion we have been made to believe.

This is our first and best Christmas Gift. I went to the girls’ Christmas party at her friend’s house, which gave me another realization that, no matter where we come from, we all like humors and we all tease our friends the same way, trying to climb as high up their sleeve as we can and then raze them down to ground by teasing them till they blush.

It is surprising that Australia has huge farmlands, and a person can own more than 100 acres of it. Thanks to her, I got to see that too. The vast farmlands, the way they live there and how beautiful it is. But it is sad that a famous hand surgeon who is the owner and owns 100 acres of farm is living there on weekends to forget the stress that he gets from his work. As I walked in the garden, and looked at the beautiful blue sky, and then over to the vast stretches of land, I felt so small and then, it brought back my childhood memories.

Everything was so perfect. But I missed my sisters and my mother. Just like a child, I wanted to run to my mother’s lap and watch the world from there, but this time, I know better. I know that we live in a circle. And it is wrong to teach our children that people are very different from each other.  

For the great lessons and great time that I had on this trip, this is with me to stay. And I want to etch every single moment in my brain. Every person must be wonderful, but we don’t always get to see that in people every day. This fabulous weekend brought me home a reassurance that I have long wanted and I am so glad. And I want this to last.

[FB Status today: I feel so blessed. If there was any moment where I felt ill at myself, I repent. I am blessed for sure, because, for all these years I have lived, I have been blessed to cross paths with many wonderful people. I think, human beings at the core are kind souls. They probably want to splash up some ego only in the ignorance of wanting to appear better. Whatsoever, I'M BLESSED.]

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Aren’t they just dreams, mother?

I am a person who continuously dreams – this time, I don’t mean daydreaming or having a plan, or having a vision of sort that I want to achieve. This time I mean, I see continuous dreams in my sleep and they don’t spare me to sleep all that well. As I write this article, I just woke up from one such dream.

I have always had the habit of narrating my dream as soon as I woke up and my mother always told me not to because she said that I never dream any good dreams. I worry a lot about her. Why wouldn’t I? I am her daughter. I love her. And because of this love for her, I have kind of pledged to make sure that she isn’t unhappy. But because life is a suffering itself, I am sure there are many unkind circumstances that makes her sad. For all those kind of circumstances that might have caused her to be unhappy, for all the situations I might have made her feel uncared for, and if there were any moments that I must have appeared unworthy of being a daughter, I apologize to her. Because I am away from her, I worry more about her and I have started seeing her in my dreams almost every night and those dreams are not good. I think in a way, it is natural because I think I see those dreams because I worry. I just hope that dreams are just dreams.

My Amku, please be strong as you have always been. This Praleymo daughter of yours will be by your side soon and we will have time to laugh together. I know I am a mother now and I have a baby, but I will still hold you and rock you, I will still talk funny things, sing funny songs and I will still tell you my funny dreams. Yes mother, we will laugh together again, soon. I love you, Amku.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Proving Our Worth Has a Cost

My first semester for the master course is coming to an end. The exam started today. I am making time to study in between the demands I have to meet as a mother. Despite the complaints, it is relieving to feel that it isn’t as hard as the student time back then was when subjects were many and syllabuses were huge. It is surprising that we do manage to learn all the concepts we are presented with and we do master enough courage to test ourselves.

I have told my baby, ‘Darling, you have to be a good girl. Ama has to study for her exam.’ She has become clingy after she fell sick last week. But she plays a lot too and we just have to check that she isn’t crawling around and standing from structures that could fall on her. By her active nature, it seems like she will not be a lethargic woman like me. She must take much after her father who says, ‘I don’t like laziness.’ I must thank them here too for the sacrifices they made in choosing to be with me. I am ever indebted to them for that. I know I would be howling now and craving for affection and consolation in moments like this if they were not with me.

Exam is one thing that puts fear in us and it probably is the biggest motivation to make us study. But amidst the entire struggle, my thought always, always and always linger around what we are trying to prove and to whom. I also believe that, we always, always have a choice. So, it is lame to ask why I should prove anything at all to anyone because it is out of my choice that I am here. But no matter what we choose, there are always times when we ask ourselves if the choice we made was the best one and if we had the clearest and the sanest mind at the time of making choice, if we would have made the same choice.

I could choose not to prove anything at all to anyone and just be a mediocre earner, losing half of the friends I have now. I could choose to resign and be a housewife. I could choose to be a teacher in a primary school (which is tempting me more everyday) and be the happiest developer of human beings. Or I could struggle to prove my capability to climb the ladders as high as my peers and be unhappy that I should even worry about proving at all.
But I see the end coming – the end which would really stop me from trying to do anything at all that might not make me happy. I might become a full time mother and a housewife. I might become a teacher. I might become a customer care representative. I think I am better at talking to people and making them happy than anything else on earth. I might as well do that than attempt to write computer programs, create computer networks and chase bugs in the programs.

I might as well put a stop to proving. But for today, I’m glad the exam did not harrow my bones out. They after all do not kill us. They are even easier than we fear. But that is not the reason to keep yourself unhappy. The journey counts.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Goodnight Song

My baby and I have the habit of putting everything in a song. We sing together every small bits and pieces of words we can put together. Now when she claps, it makes sound and she gets so excited and happy about it. She claps her hands and looks at me, her eyes twinkling. We sing, 'Clap your hands, clap you hands, listen to the music and clap your hands.' The first time she learned clapping was when I sang the song, 'If you are happy and you know, clap your hands.' Whenever I sang this song, she put her hands together. That was more than one month back and that time, it did not produce any clapping sound. I realize that there can be nothing more joyful than to see your baby grow up in front of you, intricately sharing the moments of her growth. It is so fulfilling. It even feels like your purpose in the world has been accomplished. 

Last night, when we were going to bed, we sang a goodnight song, which I am putting here. It was actually built impromptu -- the words woven without giving much thought. My usual lullaby apart from, 'Hush little baby' is 'Bachi bachi, zamin dazu, bachi bachi,' which means,'Sleep, sleep, little girl, sleep.' Sometime, singing the song spontaneously bonds us so close that we both laugh and then, we jump in joy -- literally. Singing last night's goodnight song was one such moment. She did not sleep for a long time. We clapped our hands for some more time, we sang the goodnight song a few more times, and then we finally bid goodnight to the world, thanking the almighty (we refer to it as Lord here, just because, this word fits better in our song). 

We're gonna sleep now
And say goodnight
But before we say goodnight
We're gonna thank the Lord
For giving this beautiful day.

We're gonna sleep now
And dream wonderful dreams
But before we start dreaming
We're gonna thank the Lord
For making today a beautiful reality

We're gonna sleep now
And say goodnight
Goodnight, goodnight
Goodnight beautiful world
Slumber softly in the sweetest dreams

We felt we needed to thank whoever has the hold on the thread of our life because we have both been suffering from flu for sometime now. I have been having some breathing problem yesterday and for the whole day, I kept thinking of death. Then the storm in Melbourne left us feeling so small in the big unpredictable schemes of the world. As we started to resign to bed, relief filled us and felt happy that despite the unpredictable nature of life, we lived to see one more day without much problem we would categorize as suffering. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A letter to my daughter

My dear, 

A few days back, you could sit only with support. We would put a blanket around you and you would play with your toys for hours. Now, you can sit without support. You roll around and respond to our smile. How my heart melts to see your eyes twinkle with that sweet innocent smile! You have also started watching nursery rhyme videos. 

I can’t believe that it has been seven months already. I look back and find that times have passed very fast. It is like only yesterday that I held you on my bosom as an infant. I now realize that even when you have grown up, you will remain a child to me and this is how all mothers must feel. I have seen cases where parents love their children and are over-protective of them. This I now know is not because of any ill intention of not wanting to give freedom to their children. Their children, no matter how old remain children to them and they are afraid that they will be hurt, and they think they should be there to protect them. Parents naturally feel that it is their responsibility to do so. 

When I tell you that you will be a child to me always, I do not mean that I would want to be over protective and will cocoon you in my care, not letting you explore your own world. I will protect you from fire or any accident that is in my control as you grow up and when you have come of age to judge things on your own, you will do so. But some things are out of control and you must know that a mother cannot protect you from everything malicious and cruel in this world.  And when you need a friend, I will always be there. I don’t want to be a mother who oversees your welfare and forget your true feeling. More than anything, I want to be your best friend. I would like you to run to me after school to tell me your exciting experience and what new things you have learned. My child, I can’t wait for you to talk – because I know I have so many stories to tell you as you will have to tell me. I already see us walking to the park or going shopping – you in a lovely colorful dress, your sweet smile never leaving your face.

People look at you and say, ‘so cute! and I mutter a thank you but I was struck by what a new friend I met couple of weeks back told me. She told me that we should never tell a baby that she is cute, but instead we must say that she is clever. Because, when she grows up she will want to be cute and good-looking and will put every effort to look good. I don’t know how true that is, but of course, not just as mother but as the first person you have known, I would like you to be a bright, intelligent girl than anything else in the world. It doesn’t matter if you don’t look all that good. Rest of the world will fall down beneath your feet or at your level naturally, if you have the wit to know what you want and how. 

My little darling, for now, all I can do is marvel at how fast you are growing up. And I must tell you that, I enjoy every bit of my time with you and I am a proud mother. 


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Being a Mother and a Student

I’m a mother of a 7 month old daughter and a student. I could have put my studies for later, taking priority to raise my baby first but I thought since I’m not growing any younger, I could as well take up both together, no matter how challenging that is. Also, I am not the first one to do that. I have heard of many mothers who pursued their career, even when it took them away from their children. And so I hopped onto that boat and here I am.

In the beginning, I returned home to find that my baby had cried looking for me, wanting nothing but mother’s milk. I realize that to babies, there is nothing more soothing and comfortable than being on the mother’s bosom, sucking milk. She isn’t crying as much as she used to but it is going to get worse – because soon, she will recognize me and she probably won’t even want to stay with her father. Children and their mothers are so emotionally attached that no words can explain. I wonder if fathers feel for their children as much as mothers do. There is an unspeakable bond and love between them.

I am jostling around at the university: rushing for the class and lectures, running here and there in between to attend to things – like to the bank and health centre and all the while, my heart is racing, always thinking if my baby is fine, if she isn’t crying for me, if she has been able to sleep. And then I realize a mother’s heart is never totally at peace. Until she is with her baby, holding her baby’s hand, rubbing her head and singing to her, no matter what she is asked to do, her mind is always where her baby is. And this worries me. Will I be able to concentrate on my studies? I even question, ‘Will I be able to even get a pass?’ A friend told me that it is easy to pass – and when I narrated it to another friend he said that it is, but it is difficult to get outstanding result. And I think all Bhutanese who undergo masters are aiming for that. If so, I can’t be the only one struck on not knowing how to concentrate, while I have already chosen to take the challenge, which means, I have come half way from being a good full time mother.

But come to think of it, I could never, ever have left my daughter behind. It will never be my career or her. If I have to choose, I have to choose her. Oh, if I haven’t yet learned which one is more important, I have learned nothing. I know it will be hard; it is hard for all mothers situated like me but I think we all come out fine in the end. If my daughter wasn’t here with me, I know I would have been doomed psychologically. I could be calling home every day, crying alone and wishing I had done the right thing. I’m glad that it never even occurred to me that leaving her could be an option for me.

I see couples without children walk with ease and comfort while my husband and I have our daughter in the pram, having to lift it up sometime. There are others who have brought their children with them but none as young as my daughter. There is always something that you need to carry or do for baby but despite the occasional smudge of ‘Oh God!’ you enjoy that you are grooming up a person, the choice of how you draw her life depending on you. It makes you a creator and you want to be the best artist at that.

Yes, I am a student but I’m a mother first.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Water Problem in Thimphu is Killing Me

I am inwardly wailing at this problem. It has been going on for so long. I have been contemplating on calling my house owner to ask her if she knows about it and whether she is trying to solve it. But for so many times, I argued over it in my mind and did not call her. I think she knows. And even if she knows, I think she doesn’t care enough to the extent of seeing her tenants’ welfare. We know that the water supply is included in the essential service, don’t we? It means under no excuse should it be deprived. 

I have had no running water in my kitchen for more than a month. I get water for a limited time in the morning and evening in the bathroom. My family and I have to be ready to collect water in the buckets at that time or we have to risk staying unhygienic to the extent you can imagine. Imagine an un-flushed toilet – this will be able to give us a picture of how essential water is. Or imagine eating on a plate that has not been washed or not washed properly. We would not have minded it if it were in my parents’ time. But the time is different – and we are no longer in that age where eating in a plate that is not washed is regular and normal – and we call this age advanced. If we are not given the facilities that an advanced age demands, then there is no reason why we should fake. 

My husband and I even talked if we should intimate the Thrompon about this problem. We are running desperate and we feel that unless the highest authority concerned is informed of this problem and convinced him of its necessity, we will have to remain unwashed and unhygienic. 

There are numerous problems in Thimphu. I have all this time not wailed out loud because I have been told by my boss time and again that stating a problem is not good. We have to speak only if we have got a solution. But today, I have had enough. If it is me who is responsible for finding the solutions to these problems that is making me go astray, I think I would not be speaking here. The major problems that just cannot go away from my sight are:

1.       Road: I don’t know how many times a road will be constructed and reconstructed in some places in Thimphu but some areas in Changzamtok are neglected forever. There are two points of road access to the apartment I stay. The one from the right was inaccessible for a long time: once, because of the sewerage work and another time because it was destructed by the constructions of houses. Now the other one which we usually use is inaccessible. It is also because of the sewerage work. Months before, I called the City Corporation Site Engineer of this area and he said that the contractor is supposed to put the place back to shape. But forget about putting it back to shape, it is damaged to such an extent that the people residing in this area have to stay as if we are punished for some reason not to have the facilities that we so rightfully must have.

2.   Parking: This is another huge problem in Thimphu. In all the constructions that come up, I don’t see the parking slot. Thimphu City Corporation will widen the road and the part of this widened road will become the parking. What in City Corporation’s part hinders them from waylaying the rule to all the house owners about having to make a parking? When the MP Sangay Khandu talked about parking to be one of the criteria on which the worthiness of the house to be rented should be based, I was so happy. But where did it vanish now? I wish he or any other would talk about it again, enough to bring the change. 

Now going back to what I was talking about, Bhutan is a mountainous country, rich in water resources. Where then does this water problem come from?  Offices have 24 hours water supply. Private houses – where the house owners themselves stay have 24 hours water supply. I know it is possible for the house owners to solve this problem – but sadly they are not willing to or they don’t care to acknowledge this problem that their tenants go through.

Unless they put themselves in our shoes, they will not know what a big problem this is. I wish they will put themselves in our shoes, at least once and solve this problem for once and all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Looking back

I think 20 years is a long time. Yes, 20 years back, there were more happy times than unhappy times. Our parents must have worried for all of us; maybe sometime the worry was too much to carry. But us, children did not know much. Or I think my elder siblings did know more about life and the hardship of a farmer. But me? I was not totally pampered but I saw less hardship than all of them.

One winter when my brother was helping my father in the woods, the axe accidentally fell on his foot, leaving him in bed for many weeks. Despite the pain he was going through, we would have happy times. I remember being by his side all the time. We would always write something. And what I still remember to the last is the katsom that we composed. It is in Sharchop, a dialect spoken by the people from the east. I don’t know how much input I gave. Maybe I was only a mere spectator.

My friend Lhadon (who is now in the village and a mother of 3 children) and I would sing it at the tshechus. For a few weeks, I kept thinking of the katsom. And that made me think I should write it on my blog. Maybe I already wrote before. I’m forgetful. But I go on and write here anyway.

Ka ra ku ru aney
Kha lu lo rang nyong la
Ga dong dang ney goth pa
Nga ma bi dang ga dang

Cha la lek pu chho ney
Chharo mang pu oona
Ja thur ja mey dak ney
Nya gai tha gai shek la

Taka mangpha dak pa
Tha dang damtshi tshat pe
Dari lek pu a khan
Na shi sem ka thai na

Pa pa ma ma dak ney
Pha ma kawa chat pa
Ba ling min ga to tai
Ma ma dak ney yek pa

Tsa ka ling ga de la
Tsha lu za le lam la
Za ti tab khan meme
Wak tsa da bu ana

Zha wa zhi wa da bu
Za ney yip ney ma chhoi
Wa wur mak chhen pha la
Ya lu thur rang mang pha

Ra ba shi sha da bu
La lung gai ney ma dey
Sha rang chhang lu gang ka
Sa ra sey rey tshat pe

Ha rang chhat ney mar ba
Apa ama ka drin

Loosely translated, it goes thus:
Busy working here and there
Not many utter good words for me
Walking up and down for work
My limbs ache

If you have nice things
Many surround you
When you have tea to drink
People come from here and there

You could say it is ok
But you need faithfulness and integrity
What good people have done you this year
You must keep in mind

Calling papa and mama to food and drink
You gave your parents so much hardship
Food prepared from white rice
You called it mama

When you go to a place called Tsakaling
You want to eat oranges
A man who snubs tobacco
Acts like a child

Like a handicap
Don’t you always eat and sleep
When mighty roaring war comes
Things won’t be so easy

Like goats and sheep
Don’t try to go away crossing many mountains
When your hair hasn’t turned grey
You gotta be more active and fruitful

You stand surprised that all has turned good
But it is only because your parents made it all for you

Note: Some stanzas are little out of context but such prose are composed at the whim of a mind, unlike serious writings where you have to think and re-think of themes, sentences and paragraphs.
I think Bhutan could actually organize katsom competition where participants should come forward and compose extempore. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Mother’s Plea

Baby is crying so much that I think her pain is unbearable. We are alone. I think we would feel better if we were not, but I tell myself that even if anyone was present, pain would not lessen. Not knowing what to do, her cry splitting my heart, I cry with her. At that moment I think of all the mothers in the world, about their pain, their sacrifices, and their loneliness. This also makes me think of how not so useful fathers are. Their role ends more or less with a kiss, or a how-are-things-going queries. They don’t know that it is beyond money. They never see the painful cry, the heart wrenching pleads, nor do they see the sweet addictive malice-less smiles.

The 24 hours time I dedicate to my baby is filled with miracles. Every time I tend to do some of my work, I tell myself that I’m home right now for her; the government has given me three months maternity leave so that I can be with her day and night, every second of the time to fend for her, to care for her, to love her. I’m so grateful that I have this privilege. I’m grateful to the government that they give the mothers this leave of three months (with pay). Knowing how important this time is for the babies in their formative stage, I thought that it was even nicer when the National Assembly was about to discuss about extending it. I even began to become so hopeful. I thought I might be lucky to have four months maternity leave, but disheartened to hear the parliament decide that they will need more discussion on it and push it off for later.

If private offices are not giving three months maternity leave, I think they must re-think on their decision. I’m sure the CEOs of the private companies are fathers and mothers too. And while they think that not giving their employees who are mothers a maternity leave of three months is healthier for their companies, I think they are in fact losing more. An employee whose heart and will is not in place isn’t a productive one. But of course if we want them to work mechanically without being creative, I think that is fine.

Imagine the pain you feel when you see your baby cry. What fault does a one month old baby have that she should be deprived of the milk that she needs? Isn’t every grown up talking about the basic human rights? And I think the basic of the basic right of a human being is the right to eat, to livelihood. And imagine how many of us must be playing a cruel role in depriving that very right to so many children in Bhutan.

I know that it is only right on the part of the employers to think that it is wrong to permit their employers when they seek permission to go to the hospital to attend to their sick babies. But the fathers and mothers of those babies become right by the nature of human beings being not clairvoyant and not knowing beforehand when the sickness would befall. 

It could be your employee today who had to call in sick because she had to take her one month old baby to the hospital. You may bang your hand hard on your well polished table and curse that she had called in sick so often lately. But then, you will know what it is to be a mother when you become one. You will then know how your heart aches when you see your one month old baby cry in pain that splits your heart. It is more painful because you don’t really know what is wrong and all you can do is watch her cry.

What kind of citizens we breed is for us to decide, for, a child well cared is a man well groomed.

When I was on the Verge of Quitting

I am writing this post one year and one month after my last post. I buried writing as a past hobby, or a habit. I buried my urge to write as...