Friday, March 20, 2015

Who do we call human?


I’m writing this post with so much emotion. I feel so much pain for the subject – a fish that has been caught and cut to pieces and laid out in the bowl to fry. Let me hold my emotion and let me give you the background.

My survey team is now in Punakha. We got here on 17th evening. We are put up at an apartment at Jigmethang. We got a comfortable accommodation here because our next-door neighbor is my friend Ugyen, who works as Kidu Officer. Last night she went to a remote Nunnery and did not return – thus having to sleep alone at her house – a bit sleepless because it was my first night and did not feel much at home. Because of that lack of sleep, I had to sleep this evening at 3:30 p.m. I had a very repulsive smell of meat being cooked that it woke me up. In half sleep I asked the girls in the same room with me if someone was preparing a meat curry. They said yes.

I woke up and went to the kitchen to find those pieces of fish in the bowl. One boy frying them in hot, hot oil, one boy squatting on the floor, squashing the spices to add to the fried fish. I must tell you, this brought in me such big pity. I call it pity because it was mixed with distaste. I asked, ‘where did you get it from?’ and the boy frying it told me that uncle (one of the drivers) caught it from a pond. I expressed a bit of the upset in me and left. Then in the one minute I was in the toilet, it occurred to me that they had killed a fish on the 30th of the Bhutanese month, which is considered auspicious. Moreover today is the 9th death anniversary of my father and my visit to the Machen at the Punakha Dzong this morning to offer prayer was made to seem so fruitless. I have been wondering about the unequal capability of feeling for others for quite sometime now. I have been blind to believe that all Bhutanese have some faith in Buddhism.

I did not become a vegetarian because of my compassion for the animals. I bore distaste to the taste of meat since I was a child. But thinking about it, even if I did not have that distaste, I would have become a vegetarian as I grew up and understood the equality of pain and fear of death, the equal preciousness of life – for both human and animals.  By saying this, I do not mean to be contemptuous – there is no feeling of superiority for being vegetarian. It is my deepest wish that once we have been born as human, all of us had the same capacity to for others. And others don’t have to be just human beings. I am sad. Really sad. Why did the fish have to die for our desire for a better meal? We are not going to die even if we are not fed meat. Is it too hard to put ourselves in the place of the animal we want to eat? How hard is it to think that the fish in the bowl, the pieces of its body fried in the boiling oil is you?


I tell you this: if there is no good you can do, better not do any harm.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Baby, it is you

It has been 17 years now but I still feel the nervousness rising in me when I see him. When I talk to him, I still feel like the nervous teenager in high school who has felt her heart flutter for the first time at the sight of a very good looking boy. But I must tell you, it was not his looks that drew me to him. It was not his personality either. What was it then? I question it to myself sometimes, late at night when my husband is snoring next to me. I also wonder if I am being unfaithful to my husband by not being able to forget him. But who do I blame? Don’t doubt me. Except hugs, we have had no elicit physical relationship. And yet, when I see him, I feel my heartbeat increasing and warm blood rising to my face.

This year, I saw him twice. Though, it is always a pleasure seeing him, I fear wondering if it means the frequency is increasing. The last time I saw him was just four days back. He was very kind to drop by at my house for lunch on his way back to Thimphu from a tour he had in the eastern dzongkhags. I must confess if my husband was home, I wouldn’t have been able to invite him for lunch. No matter how I tell myself that there is no reason for me to feel guilty, I feel guilty. My husband was on tour as well and returned that night – and that night was a torture for me. The guilt dimmed the happiness swelling in my heart at seeing my high school love, so much so that I couldn’t sleep well that night. I tussled in the bed a hundred times that night. If my husband was not tired from the long journey, he might have grown suspicious of my sleeplessness. I still felt like my heart was bubbling with youthful joy of love. I am sure I was not imagining my knees feeling wobbly still. That night, I felt like only love ruled our lives and nothing else mattered. I admit, I thought I could leave everything behind and embrace love. But of course all this changed the next day with my little ones scampering around the house – my day starting with preparing their breakfast and readying them for school.

It was not even an unrequited love. The first time I set my eyes on him and caught him looking at me, I knew we both felt the same. But my fate of who I would marry had long been sealed by my parents. I could not let down my parents and I had to marry the person of their choice. And today, here I am: though content, my heart feeling a little gloomy every time I think of what it might have been like to marry the only person I ever felt connected to.

I will tell you, this guy I am still so much in love with is not the person so many people will choose to marry. He is married and has kids too but he is still running around with abundance of carefree flirtations. It is like he has to leave traces of love everywhere he goes. And yet, it is him I love. Is it this compelling nature of him that attracts me?  Or is it the sexuality he exudes with the wayward remarks only he can make without flinching to a girl before an introduction? I tell myself that maybe, when I see him I feel myself freeing from the organized, family-bound life of obedience and obligation. Whatever it is, this time, I broke the rule and texted him sneakily that when I see him, I get so much energy, feel strong and he will always be my baby. Did I do wrong? Should my guilt go up? I will not worry myself with the answers. I will now cherish only love and be happy that even if I can’t turn back the things, I have loved truly.


And as I write this, I am listening to Kenny Rogers’ ‘We have got tonight’ and I feel right.

Note* This is a true story with just a small change in between.