Tuesday, April 30, 2019

My Mother's Sweet Smile

Being a farmer, my mother has the obsession of staying occupied – all the time. And as a farmer, her concept of land is that it has to be cultivated or else it is wasted. So every year, we fuss over her plan of cultivating potatoes because while she considers it important, we don’t see it that way. And more so because the yield is less than the amount of seed used. But this time, last Saturday when she was making plan of going out in the field to work again, I told her that I would accompany her. This I must say is the result of my being in RIGSS (Royal Institute for Governance and Strategic Studies for one month). We have always tried to reason: we used to tell her that our main occupation isn’t this; that it is a waste of time; we even cited the bad road, the fuel consumption etc. But once she has put her mind into something, she will never give up. We have known her stubbornness and determination all this time, but still, every year, we would oblige to her only after so much fuss.

So this time, I wanted it to be different. I told her that she would not have to try getting help from any one – not from my nephews; not from my in-laws. So on Sunday, two of us went while my husband stayed home with our two children. And I must admit that it was more than worthwhile.
I breathed fresh air of Spring in Thimphu; enjoyed walking barefoot on the soft top soil; I admired wild flowers, and apple blossoms. I thought, ‘nothing matches the beauty that nature gives you’. And as I stood in the middle of the field taking in the scent of the nature, and looked around people working, and also flowers of different colors, I felt like there is nothing more we need in our lives. All we need is to learn how to be content and we are happy and rich enough just as we are, right where we are.
It was also a time of personal intimacy with my mother. I looked at her twice – while we were talking intimately and caught the sweetest smile of her, looking at me, just as a mother looks at her baby, not at a child who she considers adult. This melted my heart and as gratitude engulfed me, tears welled up in my eyes. This mother of mine, who had gone through so much hardship, toiled so hard to bring up seven children, worked so hard to make sure that we did not suffer in debt even when so many farmers in their time gave up; this mother of mine who knew no tiredness, who saw only reward in hard work, and who says, for a farmer, everything is money, I am indebted. I wish I inherited at least 20% of her determination and outlook in life.

To some, she might appear like the most materialistic person. While her body was able, she and my father worked hard to make sure that they were above average in their community; they built a bigger house; cultivated larger landholdings; owned more livestock; took help of neighbors’ children so that we could go to school; and ensured that we did not feel deprived. Looking back, I do not feel that my childhood should have been different. I do not feel deprived that I never saw a TV till I was in class 10, or that I did not know how to flaunt myself or be fashionable like those who came from town. But at the age of 62 when she had to leave all of this behind – everything that she worked hard for, the house, the land, the livestock, and the home where she raised seven children, she could do it without a trace of regret and attachment. So while she works hard to live well, she also has the capacity to let go when it is time.

And when I could stand next to my mother and work with her, talking to her, laughing and smiling, also sharing a meal together, just the two of us in the field between the apple blossoms, I got an opportunity to look back on my life and count my blessings once more. If I had the choice, I want to come back as her daughter, and continue feeling blessed.

Because, this sweet smile, the lesson of hard work, her determination, and the power of self-esteem, I cannot trade them for anything in the world. My children must seem like my world because I am a mother now; but my mother is my world too. And I am a better mother, only because she showed it to me.

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Shoes of ‘the’ Man

I vaguely remember reading a saying that the shoes that a man wears shows his personality. And when I challenged to write about the pair of shoes that one of my friends was wearing at an official gathering yesterday afternoon, I did not know that there would be so many articles on shoes and how they are linked to the personalities of the wearers. I typed, ‘shoes show the personality of a man’ on google and it says ‘About 145,000,000 results’.

Anyway, it was by way of casual conversation that we talked about shoes suddenly. This person sat next to me, his legs crossed over one another, his shoes prominently visible at the hem of his Army uniform. My friend (a woman) sitting on the left of me remarked, ‘what kind of shoes are these?’ I must confess that I am not sure what she really meant – and what in or of the shoes really struck her. But I took out my phone and took a picture of them and challenged that I would write about it. And I said it nonchalantly without any thought of what I would write about that can be connected to shoes. And today, I think I would write more about the person wearing them than the shoes themselves.

I looked up around 4 articles on google to check if there are descriptions of personalities linked to shoes similar to the ones that my friend wore and I found two. One of the articles titled, ‘What His Favorite Shoes Say About What Kind of Boyfriend He'll Be’,  says, “he’s a little bit moody, he’s a little bit broody, and he will definitely have a sex playlist that reflects both those traits. You just don’t wear lumberjack-y boots if you don’t actively fantasize about living in a secluded pine forest with nothing but your whisky and a loyal retriever to keep you company. Will he let you into the musty log cabin of his heart? Time will tell. But his escapism is only romantic for like, three months before you want something more.” The second one titled ‘What your Favourite Shoes Say About your Personality’, it says, “Rather than live impulsively, you’re very analytical in your approach to life, and prefer to have a strategy. This way, you’re always prepared for what comes next and you never have to worry about unforeseen obstacles.” “…..He is grounded, very practical, and always has a plan. This person never moves without a plan and is always thinking two or three steps ahead.”

I will not try to analyze either of the articles but I think if I were to describe him, not based on the shoes he wears or wore yesterday but from the one month interaction I had with him, he is ‘in the now’ person. I think by the second week we were together, I heard a few people tell me that he is a person who does not have to worry about anything – like the majority of us have to. And I think by that, they meant, he does not have to worry about not having enough money, or having to support a relative or his own children financially. And that set a barrier for me. I mean, I have this phobia – kind of the unseen force that stops me from interacting naturally with people who I think are affluent and has not seen life the way the like of me has. But I think his personality, his ability to find joy in the present, his naturalness of flowing with circumstance affected me so much that much of the barrier kind of shed off.

He probably never had to worry about money, but being human, he has gone through his own share of hardships. He got divorced in his 20s, and never got to raise his own son. Then he lost his wife in the mid 40s. He talks to you about it and you can feel, see and hear the love they shared – in his eyes and in the tone of his voice. And you begin to see inside of him and not who or what kind of family he comes from. And I think it is also this hardship – losing a loved one immaturely and escaping a near death experience of a gun fire as an Army Officer soon after losing his wife that gave him the will to fight, and also the will to live – with zeal and fire that we do not see every day. It is his ability to forget everything else and immerse himself in the ‘moment’ that gives you shivers. I think it is also this that makes you want to love him, maybe not as a lover, but as a friend who can tell you that it is okay to let your guard down once in a while and let out the innermost part of your heart to find joy in the moment.

And if you are to see him from the way he dresses, including shoes, I think he is immaculate. I think he also takes effort to make himself look good, maybe not because he wants to appear well to impress someone but because it helps him feel good about himself. And I think his habit of smoking, frequently at that, is his only flaw (maybe). It may not be to many others though. But despite that, I think he believes in the law of interdependence strongly. There are times when he explains it more fluently and enthusiastically than a practitioner would. There are also times when he praises himself, more in jest. But he also has the ability to start a conversation with anyone on the first meeting. And yet, he could do it without appearing in the least flirtatious. He also has his own principles of what basic courtesy of human means and how it is important in everyday life, no matter who we meet and where. And if a woman clings onto him beyond his liking, I think he wouldn’t hesitate to let her know that he is not for her. So he is a man all in himself.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The good must win

I always thought when I loved, I loved wholeheartedly and never really envied others, or got insecure over small things. But this time, I find myself going through emotions I don’t remember going through before. Maybe what I am feeling at the moment is not love. I am not sure. But the butterflies, the anxiousness, the excitement, the feelings of need, all swell up in my heart the same way.

Like I said, there are times when you crave for what is not yours and what you know you cannot have, simply because you have other higher commitments that you have already made in your life and it would be morally wrong to go get it. And I think it is only natural that people feel this way – and I guess it is what is called chemistry. But the difference lies in being able to control your desire and knowing where your boundary is. And I would like to believe that I am the latter. I am a human and there may be times when there are temptations, when there are desires, but I also know that I must keep myself in check because fulfillment of desires are always burdened by afterthought of ‘ifs’. So I don’t want to regret that I did what I should not.

So out of the blue, I meet this man who makes me falter. It all begins in a joke. The jokes continue until I start to feel it for real. And I tell you, it all started with the least of intention of love, or flirtations. Even when I sat face to face with him in the first week, I couldn’t have batted my eyes to even stare at him. I mean, I could have just looked at him like any other man I meet in my life and never thought of him as someone special.

In all my life, I don’t remember feeling insecure in love; I don’t remember fearing not being loved in return. But I feel this now. I am not sure whether I am dreaming or thinking – his thoughts occupy my mind and there is no space to think of anything else.

He touches me – inadvertently, and yet, I find myself guarding against the fear that my body might respond otherwise. He asks for my hand as we sing in a group – and I am not sure if it is a joke, but still I can’t take my hand out with the fear of shiver that the touch might send down my spine, and the desire that might swell in me. And yet, in some ways, I want this feeling to continue, no matter how insecure it makes me feel. I guess, like he says, it make me feel alive. But of course like all else in life, even this must end.

And as I write this story, I even feel like I am saying goodbye, even though I just said that I want this feeling to continue. Because there are different thoughts rushing in my mind, one sounding more righteous than the other, each fighting its own right. And in the end, I think, no matter how tempting, and how wonderful it makes us feel, we have the choice in our own hands. And I think despite the swell in my heart, and despite the fire that I imagine his mere touch could set me on, it is time I knew my place.
Would you believe, if I said I am crying as I write this? No matter how fleetingly a love starts, its profundity has the power to set you on the deepest joy, and also the deepest sorrow. And because he is not mine, I must put a check on myself and end it here for good.

And I guess I am saying goodbye to this feeling just as soon as it has begun. All for the good of everyone.

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...