In this page, you will see letters I have written to my children. I started talking to my daugther through letters before she was born. I imagine her reading them when she is a teenager, going to high school or when she is a mother herself.
15 August 2018
4 December 2017
Dear Rigzin, my baby,
This is my first letter to you. I thought of writing to you but on second thought, I updated the milestones you achieved in the letter I wrote to your sister and did not write to you separately but today, I thought I must.
You have been a jolly and wonderful little boy to us – your daddy and me, and also your sister. Your abi and your brother Dendre love you just as we do. And you are a source of smiles at home. I must tell you two things that you did yesterday that has melted my heart and left me with smiles in my heart still:
1. It was your day care centre’s annual assessment declaration day yesterday. Parents were asked to report at 10 a.m. We woke up late because it is Sunday. I rushed you and your sister right out of bed but when we reached the centre, we found that we were one of the firsts to arrive. It was a bright sunny morning and the teachers have taken a lot of effort to make it great. Eight little children who have turned 5 years and over were graduating from the centre to go to school next year. They wore cute purple gowns. Their teachers had prepared a beautiful graduation song to be performed by them. And then followed a dance by each of the classes. When it came to your class –the Little Explorers, only two of you had turned up. So you and your mate Kuenzang, a shy little girl who is actually older to you had to be on stage. And I couldn’t believe you represented your class by dancing to the tune of fingers family song which goes, ‘daddy finger, daddy finger, where are you?’ You entertained the crowd and made your teachers and us proud. I thought I recorded it but had made a mistake, being so engrossed cheering you. I got two fragmented videos of it from your teacher. It will be a treasure to you when you look back at it as an adult.
The second one is that you could repeat words after us, so clearly. Especially the words, Ata, Ana, Abi. And each time you do something clever, or achieve a milestone, my heart melts and feel like I am flying. Darling, I am sure you will make us proud. We pray that you will grow up healthy and a fine young man, though after September 2017, you have been kind of sick on and off every second week.
Be a gentleman. Be a man people will trust and look up to. We love you.
15 August 2018
I must tell you that I kind of became lazy – and I had not written to you for 10 long months. I wanted to write and then I just could not bring myself to doing it. I just kept postponing. You could also say that I became busier at work, as well as home. Rigzin is now two years and 5 months. He likes you a lot and keeps nagging you. But when you have friends your own age, you don’t want him around. Last weekend, when I was cleaning my car, two of you came outside and I entrusted him to you. You were playing with your friends and you did quite a good job to look after him as well but because he was not interested in the play you and your friends were involved in, he started climbing stairs and hurt his head on the railing. He got a swollen forehead but it went away by the evening.
I think your grandmother, your daddy and I expect a lot from you. We know that you are only a child yourself, but we can’t help telling you to take care of your little brother. We are sorry dear. When he does not let me carry on my household chores, I find myself wishing that you would engage him in something. You do that often, but more often than not, we find ourselves yelling at you. I hope when you grow up, you will understand all this and you wouldn’t think that we made you have a gloomy childhood.
I must tell you this incident. You were playing badminton with your friends. Rigzin and I were walking around the colony and one of the colleagues from my office gave him two chewing gums – and the second he had them in his hands, he ran back to where you were, calling, ‘Ana, ana…’ and gave you one. I narrated this incident to countless people and every time I share about it, my eyes well. This is the love he has for you as your brother. He surely is going to protect you when he is grown up. He will care for you like a loving brother should.
Rigzin is weak compared to you. He used to fall sick often. He gave blood test twice. Because he has low iron, we are giving him an iron supplement. He refused it at first but now, he has come to comply. We are hoping that he will become healthier. He does seem healthier in the pictures and videos of him before he started falling sick in September 2017. I feel guilty that maybe it really was because your grandmother and I gave him tea when we fed him.
During your summer holiday, I kept you home with your cousin Sangay Choden and because you stayed home, he refused to go to school too. So we left him home too and took him back to school only when your school resumed after the holiday.
I must also tell you that you have put on weight compared to when you were six years old. I think you started putting on weight last winter after class 1. It probably is because winter is very cold and you did not play outside much. People we meet comment on it and you don’t like them doing so. I wish I could actually tell them before they utter it that it is not a good thing to say. But Bhutanese comment on weight – whether you are fat, or thin. So do not take it to heart. In fact, I begin to worry a bit too and I have started asking you not to eat when you are about to go to bed. You picked a habit of asking for food when it is time to go to bed.
I have put on a lot of weight too. It is not that being fat makes us look ugly. When we are fatter than we should be, we are more prone to diseases. It is like that even when we are thinner than we should be. So we need to maintain a healthy weight. I want you to look at weight only from the health point of view. Do not get self conscious about it. Even though I tell you about being too fat is not good, I worry that as you grow up, you will start being conscious about it and control what you eat. And as a mother, I often run into dilemma as to what I should tell you so that it does not have the impact it shouldn’t.
Your daddy is gone for a training to the US, California. He left two weeks back and there are two more weeks for him to be back. I am leaving for a training too on 25th of this month to Brisbane, Australia and you are upset that you and Rigzin will have to sleep two nights without either of us. Last night, you threw quite a big fuss about it. Your school’s carnival is on 26th of this month and you cried saying that you don’t want to miss it because it is special to you and you are excited. You also said you already promised your friends that you would be there. When I told you that I would ask your Ajang Tenzin to take you, you didn’t want it – saying that you would miss me and daddy when you see your friends with their parents. You cried and calmed down – maybe half an hour or more later.
Darling, we love you and we want the best for you. I wish our travel dates did not clash. But please bear it for two days. I also want you to take care of Rigzin and be responsible. Do not yell at your grandmother.
31st October 2017
I feel as if I had not been caring enough as a mother because I have not written to you for months, though it is not because I have not been caring or loving. We have had so many different episodes of ups and downs and we have grown over these months. You have grown more in fact. Though you are still not that obedient, okay-to-everything kind of girl, you write your home works on time – though it takes a little bit of pestering on my part, you do well in all your class tests and you have been euphoric when you scored full marks in Math and English. I am sure you felt motivated to study more. And you scoring full marks do not take too much effort on your part. I hope your sharpness to remember and relate what you learn in the classroom to everyday experiences will remain as you grow – and rather, I hope that it will only grow sharper.
You are only in class 1 right now and I may not be able to judge you that well but I do think that you will be one bright girl and you will find your way in life despite the rebellious nature you often fall into. And I take that positively too. I sometime compare you to Jangdren and Thinley, and couple of other elder children you play with in our colony. They are all so meek and obedient and they would do what their parents tell them to. While, you often talk back. And I pray that it only means that your trait as an independent person is stronger than them and that it means you will be strong and smart and you will not fall prey to bullies.
Did I tell you that baby Rigzin goes to daycare too? He started from September this year and he has adapted there. He does not cry when I drop him in the morning. When we get ready for school after all of you leave, he seems he would rather go to school than stay home. He rushes out of the door before me; I think he fears that I may leave him alone at home. He is not as healthy as you were as a baby. He falls sick often—he keeps getting diarrhea and flu but we are hoping that he will fight them all too and he will one day be a healthy boy. He is so fond of you and he gets hurt more when you refuse to give him toys or shouts at him. He already knows that he is younger to you and he will get more attention – in the sense that if he asks for a toy that you are playing, we will ask you to give it to him because he cries and looks at us in a pleading expression. And you have to already compromise in such cases. You love him too and you like carrying him but I get scared that you will fall down. So I usually tell you not to do that and to be careful when you play with him. But there are times when you don’t want him to play with you because he will destroy the immaculately arranged toys. But these are fun too in a way. We often stay in a haywire moments of screams of what you should do and what you shouldn’t, but we live.
There are also times when we talk intimately. You already talk about love and share with me how Tandin Wangchuk sends you papers in which he writes that he loves you. You like him too because it is only him you talk about most of the time. But of course this is baby love. You have recently learned to say sexy ale. And I guess you are referring to it as making love. You explained to me that it means wearing scanty dress and kissing on the lips. I think you come to know about all this from the elder girls you play with. I sometime feel that you are growing faster than your age. But I know you will cope fine.
Because you are a girl, there are times when you go with your friends to play outside and I don’t see with them and I panic imagining the worst scenarios. I fear for you darling. I don’t want you to be scarred in any way as you grow up. I want you to be a fine woman who has seen life through the best lens and have learned to keep everything evil at bay. Times have changed. Maybe in my time, there was no need for mothers to worry about their girls playing outside. I hear of men having raped young girls, baby girls even. And I do not want something like that to happen to you. I explain about this dangers in the plainest way possible so that you will understand. I do hope you understand my fear.
There was a time when you did not want to go to school because you said that your friends shouted at you when you talked about ghosts. They shouted that there is no ghost. You were hurt. I think you felt embarrassed to be the only one on the other side. But it is okay. You also said that the boys in your class teased you more. I told you that it is okay too. I explained to you that if you are happy, you will only see happy people and that if you are unhappy, you will only see unhappy people. You took this advice so well. You have not complained after that. It is natural to have downs in life. Boys will tease you. You will have disagreements with your friends. Your beliefs may not be what your friends believe in. But you have to learn to accept them and be strong; you have to learn to be firm and be smart. It does not always have to be you who should teach lessons to those who are bullies or who do what is not right. Often, lessons come to them without your doing. And we all find out paths. I am sure you will too. Being positive always pays. There is no different prayer that can lead you well in life. It is about seeing the positive sides to all the downs you experience. I know you are capable of that too.
And that is why, darling, I feel that you will not only be a smart person but a great human being.
I love you,
5th June 2017
So much has happened since I last wrote you. I am now working at the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources and you are studying in class one. Baby Rigzin is already one year and three months old and he has not only walked but climbs on the bed, chair and even tables. He enjoys playing with you – and when you have little girls – your friends with you playing in our house, he enjoys it more. You have been a caring sister all in all. Despite the occasional times you feel that you need my attention, you are pretty considerate. But I know dear, his birth has made you sacrifice a lot and forced you to adapt to many changes. When it was just you, you had our attention all for you and I know it is only natural that you will find it difficult to suddenly not have that.
This morning, I dropped you to school and now since my office is near your school, I get the luxury of staying during your assembly. It takes only four minutes to walk to my office from your school. You have a unit test in Math today and I am hoping you will do well. Though you are not the most obedient little girl (which again is understandable), you have been doing well in your exams. You get excited when you score full marks and yesterday when I told you that you didn’t have to study for the spelling test, you said you would not know during exam – and therefore you have to study. But despite that rational, you were lazy and I did not push much. When I make you study, I tend to get upset with you and then end up telling you things that I should not. We both end up being bitter – just as it did last night. But just before we fell asleep, we told sorry to each other and went to bed feeling better.
Often you express that everyone tells you things that hurt you. It is because your abi, ata, and all of us expect you to have matured in a gallop after baby Rigzin’s birth. I know it is our fault to expect you to grow so fast. I feel sorry that we do that often, forgetting that you are still only a child and it is your right to want attention, care and love. I promise darling, I will try my best to be more patient, more caring and show my love in a better way – so that you don’t feel that you are not loved. Daddy often shouts at you. I do that too sometimes. But after that happens, I drown myself in sorrow, in regret. And when I feel helpless and think that I am failing as a mother to groom you up to be a good person, I take refuge in Guru Rinpoche and pray to him to guide us – into understanding each other better and to guide you in making you see the good in life and not go astray as you grow. I am sure you will grow up fine. I think it is natural for all mothers to worry.
But there are also times when we are best of friends. Just a few days back when baby was sleeping, we were watching TV in the sitting room and you asked me this: ‘Mummy who was your boyfriend?’ When I told you that it was your daddy – you were either not convinced or you had a different notion about it. You asked me again. And when I told you the same answer, you rephrased your question: ‘Did you have a different boyfriend that you wanted to marry?’ And I had to laugh that you were thinking all these things – when you did not actually know many concepts related to relationships. When a Bhutanese Movie trailer showed the actors singing and dancing – depicting that they have fallen in love, you said, ‘falling in love’ awa go cho le. And I was surprised that you said that. When I asked you from where you had that phrase, you said you knew it yourself.
You are one active girl. You like playing outside. You have many friends in the colony we stay in. You go to their houses and they come with you to our house. And most of the time all of you play outside. But on Saturday and Sunday there was an incident each when you cried complaining that all of them were telling you things that make you cry. I was not so sure what they said but there are also times when you cry just because someone tells you ‘ada’. I told you that it need not hurt you at all. But I know it is easy for me to say it. You are a little girl who is only growing up step by step and learning things such as different emotions and how to cope with them. Am I expecting too much from you, Darling? I wish I knew how to tell you the world’s ways of things better. Sometimes, I think it is better to just rest assured thinking that things will fall into place just as they should – without us having to worry. And they often do. Just that, as a mother, I worry too much and this rationale doesn’t help me.
When you get upset with your friends, I take you home. It happens when you are hungry. And it is difficult to make you eat. Though you are hungry and cranky, you don’t seem to know that you are hungry. Only after you have eaten around five spoons of food, your mood improves. I am getting worried too that you are becoming moody. You were not like that before. You did not cry so much too. Now you cry more easily and that makes me worry too. But I think that is just a phase too. I will try to understand you better. And I will try to be more gentle.
I love you darling. No matter how difficult I may seem to you, I love you and when I go to sleep, I stroke your hair, and say sorry. I tell you everything I have to when you have fallen asleep. My mother and friends think that I pamper you so much. And I don’t want you to grow up thinking that you can get everyone’s attention, everyone will love you just as I do, and that you can get everything you want in the world.
Grow up well my girl.
I love you,
20th December 2016
I begin this letter with much excitement and happiness in my heart. I am in my office right now. When I left home, you were still in bed – sleeping later than usual. You are turning six today, my darling and I must tell you that the past six years of our lives have been full of activities, ups and downs, arguments and joys – but the positive always won the negatives and that is what life must be! Last night as daddy read you stories, and he gave you kind of riddles you were able to answer them all. One of the games two of you played was to find words starting with a particular letter at the park. He asked you when you, mummy, daddy go to the park together, what it is called, you said, ‘Family!’
And yes, family we are! And I am sure you are beginning to understand what family means and how we have to stand for each other in both bad and good times.
I have not written to you for two months and there has been so many things happening: you successfully completed your pre-primary scoring very well in all subjects. You and I went to receive your result and you and I were both very excited. You also had your school fete day where we got to play different games. You met your friend Yoesel and had so much fun but unluckily we had to leave for Paro where one of daddy’s first cousins had a newborn. Though you remarked that you wished we were going to the fete only then, you had fun at Paro too with your cousins, Jamba, Melam and Yeega. Out of the three of them, you were closer with Melam and you said you wanted her to come to your birthday. But I think, she will not be able to come. Jamba won’t be there too because she is with her mother in Basachu.
But we will have all your other friends—let us say, family friends to celebrate your birthday tonight. Jangdren, Bumbum, Sherab, Roldo and brothers will all be there. I hope you will have fun! I pray that you will grow up smart and beautiful, and you will have fun with your friends every birthday and we will all get to celebrate together for many years.
I must also tell you that baby Rigzin will be 10 months tomorrow. He started crawling and from two days back he started to stand up by holding on table or some support. He caws and talks to us. He also seems to grow more attached with me as he grows. You enjoy carrying him but we worry that you will fall. He likes Norling tv and ‘baby ata ta’ on iPad. Last night, three of us played fruit pop and fruit ninja on iPad and all of us had so much fun.
My darling, happy sixth birthday! You will always be our darling angel. Mummy and daddy love you.
4th October 2016
I’m sure you felt a whole lot of change after our baby’s arrival. Though you are only five years old and you are still a baby yourself, you have to take some responsibilities as an elder sibling. You are expected to be careful around him, to look before you actually do something, or be gentle when you play. We are afraid that you may accidentally hurt him as you swing your hands while playing, or jumping all of a sudden. I know this restriction came all of a sudden and it is not so easy. You sometime complain that there is no one to pamper you, but I know that deep within, you know that we love you just the same. Or sometime, I feel more for you for having to put you through all this.
Yesterday, Sherab’s abi and Sherab were at our house. Amchi Kencho Dema also came and we all had dinner together. After they left, you and baby were on the bed. I asked you to stay there and I left to the sitting room. I didn’t intend to clean it or take long, but when I saw that there were things scattered around, I couldn’t control. So I started cleaning and asked Abi to stay with you and baby. But before Abi reached the bedroom, baby fell down from the bed and cried. I didn't think he would move the entire length of bed and I was wrong. Because you were there with him, I spanked you once, telling you that you should have checked on him. You were lost watching videos on youtube. I know it was my fault to have attended to other things leaving two of you own your own. I will make sure I am extra careful and you are not burdened with responsibilities beyond your age.
Your father gets furious when you refuse to get up promptly in the morning to get ready for school. He lost his temper a few times and started shouting at you. Yesterday was one such morning. I cried taking your side. Even as I left for office, I was crying. Abi and your father tell me that you are being disobedient because of this, but I imagine myself feeling helpless when an adult starts losing temper and threatens to beat you up. I don’t want you to have that feeling of having ‘nowhere to run’. But honestly, I want you to grow up strong and good-natured and I feel feelings of conflict, not knowing how to raise you properly. Sometimes, the best I can do is simply to pray that you will grow up good, just as you should. And sometimes, I wonder if I worry too much for no reason at all. I think I should learn to let you grow at your own pace and in your own way. Being adult, torn by the responsibilities of having to be a mother and an office goer, it sometimes gets very difficult. This too you will understand some day.
You can pretty well take care of yourself – such as using toilet, brushing your teeth, wearing your dress, eating etc. but you sometime nag me just because you want my attention. When I am not so stressed, that is all right. When you nag me when I am busy with other works, it gets worse. And we end up feeling bitter. Being a child, you seem to forget the bitterness so soon, even the spankings. But the regret I feel last too long till you are in bed, sleeping peacefully next to me. I then stroke your hair, and talk to you all in regret, welling in love.
My darling, grow up strong. Grow up good. I love you.
30th May 2016
I don’t even know how to begin. You had an accident and I am blaming myself for not having run fast enough to save you from getting hurt. That moment keeps haunting me and I regret for having gone there at all.
As soon as you and daddy got home, you told me that you were going to the new playground behind YDF to play swing. You were in a rush to even eat your food. Though daddy and you had planned to go, later, your daddy said I should go with you. You wanted to go with me as well. He said he was going to write speech for an occasion on disability where one of the HRH will be the chief guest. I consented reluctantly.
When we got there, there were few students from Rinchen Kuenphen Primary school playing. You saw the older children playing swing by standing on it, going as high up as possible. You got tempted to play like that too.
After they were gone, I gave in to your request and I pushed you as high as they did. You were so excited swinging so high. You said, ‘push higher mummy. In the sky’. Three little children came too. There were adults looking down from the railing above. I think they were the parents of those three children. After I pushed you high, I went to stand in front of you and just then you had come off the swing, when it was still in full swing. And as if you were dizzy or confused, instead of walking away from the swing, you went towards it and before I could run to hold the swing, you collided with it. The sharp edge of the wooden swing cut just above your left eye. I held you tight to my chest and checked the wound. It was deep and blood oozed out. With one hand, I shut it tight and held on to it. You kept saying, ‘sorry mummy, sorry mummy’, though I was the one who was sorry because I couldn’t run to protect you as your mother. A man who was planting trees there brought some leaves to put on the wound. I quickly called your daddy to come and pick us up to go to the hospital. You kept saying that you didn’t want to go to the hospital, but in the end, you cooperated.
Daddy came to pick us up by leaving baby alone at home. Luckily when we got home he had not cried. We then called Ani Sonam, Ata Rizin’s mummy to come and help us since we would have to hold both you and baby. You calmed down and stopped crying even before daddy reached to pick us up. But, I broke down when he came and I couldn't stop. At the emergency at the hospital, Ani and daddy went in and I was left outside in the corridor with baby. I prayed, sighed and prayed, not really knowing whether to thank the almighty for having saved us from a bigger accident or to get angry that it happened. I felt weak and wobbly.
I felt like it took a long time. Three of you came out after I waited for quite long. Baby was sleeping on my lap. Ani told me that you had high pain threshold—which means, you cooperated so well and did not cry much. She said that some children just don’t allow the doctors to treat them. You had two stitches. You then had to get the TT injection, which is the most painful one among all the vaccines. You cried for a short while.
Back home, I thought you were not well and you would be lying down. But you wanted to go out. You did not complain of pain, either of the injection or the stitch. That eased me a bit but I was at large still worried that some bad luck was onto us. When you got home, I saw that you had a small bruise near your left eye. You said a friend of yours hurt you with a stick at school. I get more worried that you are getting into accidents and hurting your eyes. The thought of what would have happened if it hurt your eye haunts me. Darling, I wish you would listen to daddy and me and be calm.
Again, despite the hurt and that ordeal we went through, you won and you went out. After a while when daddy went out to look for you he didn’t find you. He went twice only to come back home saying that you were nowhere to be seen. I knew that you would have gone to your friend Thinley’s house – the five year old girl who studies in Sunshine school and stays on the third floor of the same building but on the opposite entrance. I brought you home a little before dark. You did not have to take paracetemol to relieve pain. You are strong for sure, my darling. But that is not the reason not to be careful.
I have been worrying that you are being scolded often and you must not feel good. After baby was born, we have to scold you because of the fear that you might hurt him unintentionally because you don’t know that you have to be gentle. But darling, you love you no less and you must know that baby needs to grow up to be able to play with you. You love him, sing to him and talk to him but during the times you get cranky, you get a little impatient and jealous of him. Even he is crying, you don’t want me to go to him—instead, you hold me back from him by asking me to feed you, though you can very well eat without help. Anyway, this is natural with any children.
Despite my fear and worry of the difficulty you might have in growing up without further accidents, I am sure you will grow up fine. With each new year, I know you will get more matured and help me with small chores.
You have to grow up my darling. And to grow up, you don’t have to go through the struggle because you can’t be more careful. I hope this will make you more careful.
I love you,
19th November 2015
I can’t believe that I have not written to you for almost a year. I am writing today more with heartache and remorse over my own behavior than yours. I just reached office after dropping you to your daycare centre and I am still fresh with tears, my nose red and swollen. Your daddy is gone on a tour and it is just you, your ani, abi and me at home. For the past three days, it was a peaceful morning and evening and we were in our best mood. We were telling each other that we seemed to be sleeping more soundly when daddy was not there. And then, as if some unseen force was jealous of this whole peace and happiness, it came crumbling down this morning.
It wasn’t until you were about to dress to go to your daycare centre that it started. Your centre has a fluorescent tracksuit uniform and it is only on Wednesday that you can wear a casual dress of your choice. But today, I however had to tell you that you wouldn’t be wearing this uniform because I had forgotten to wash your pants yesterday and it wasn’t in a presentable condition to wear this morning. But, despite that choice you have, you insisted that you must wear the ‘gir pe nakhan jama’ – the blue dress that has fringes that can spin as you turn around. It has become your favorite and you wore it yesterday. I had to object because you wore it yesterday and it was dirty. It was like we were playing tug of war – you wanted it and I didn’t. And I had to win because at that moment, I so strongly felt that you should not wear it. No amount of my reasoning worked and I screamed and threw tantrums that I am ashamed to even think of right now. You and I both cried and you calmed down a bit when you saw me cry.
Despite your reluctance to eat breakfast earlier, you then nagged that you wanted to eat. You ate just four spoons of rice though. You agreed to wear the pink dress with Anna and Elsa’s picture that you recently received as a present from Lasem’s dad and mom and we were at the centre right when children were making a queue to celebrate birthday of one of them. As I write this letter, I can’t take your expression out of my mind and I feel like crying again. You seemed so meek and obedient as you walked next to me and you didn’t have your usual excited look. I am sorry I made you feel at wrong. I now feel that I could have let you wear the dress you wanted whether it was dirty or not and none of this fuss would have happened. I realize that I was more concerned about what others would think, which in fact is immaterial to you. I am sorry. And I am sorry again.
But you know darling, if I must let you have your way with everything, I might end up having to see you grow up as a daughter that I wouldn’t want. You must have some kind of discipline and you must also know that what your dad and I tell you is for your sake and not ours. But despite all this, I feel, I was at wrong for this morning’s fuss and I remain full of remorse.
I hope you know that I love you, no matter what fuss we go through.
P.S. Apart from this fuss of half an hour this morning, I had been meaning to write to you. You had so many questions for me from the time you knew that you are going to be an elder sister. You sing lullaby to the baby and ask me questions such as how the baby is going to come out; how baby could get inside my belly; if baby would burst out if he/she kicked so hard and many more. You tell me about how you are going to help me bathe and feed her/him as well and we in fact look forward to the days of bubbly happiness once more. In some ways, I feel sad that you will have to be responsible and not nag me as much as you do now. But of course, I would love you just the same.
4th January 2015
I am in Samtse with one staff from my office, 11 temporary enumerators and three drivers to conduct the GNH Survey. We left Thimphu on 2nd January and today is our third night away from home. Even though I don’t get as homesick as I used to when I have to be away from home, it pains me still to know that we are so far away from each other.
I just talked to you and daddy and I am told that he beat you with his belt on your back this evening and it has left a mark. I feel so much pain that I am crying. I hope it didn’t hurt so much. You did tell me that it didn’t but I know it did. I am sorry darling that I have to be away. This is office work and I can’t help but I really wish it would end sooner. If I have to stay in the field as planned, I will be away for around five months, which is a long time. It means I will be away from home for half a year and I can’t imagine how many days of separation it means! Anyway darling, we can’t have everything the way we want and we have to accept some things. Maybe this is one thing we have to accept. But I am really thinking I will come home sooner. I just wish my boss would have a choice of sending someone else in my place.
For now, please be a good girl and listen to your daddy. You have grown up a lot and you are less cranky than before but you do get difficult sometimes. Please try to be good.
I love you.
22nd December 2014
We celebrated your 4th birthday on Saturday (20th) but I couldn’t write you that day because we were busy since morning. Neither could I write on Sunday because we had lots of activities, such as cleaning the house and dishes from the previous night and laundry. Then around evening we had to go and see a TB patient from Bartsham.
I actually wanted to write so much on the day of your birthday, just to tell you how blessed I feel to have you in my life. You are growing up fast. Your grandma is surprised that you have matured and you are so active. One time she told me that she would be at ease knowing that even if she died, you would be a great help to me. I am sure that will be true but you must know that it is not that I expect a lot from you but I really want you to grow up as a grateful and helpful child. A person who knows gratitude knows how to take life seriously.
You had wanted Frozen’s Elsa dress so much for so long and finally you got it on your birthday. Lasem’s parents sent it to you from Australia through uncle Nopkin and Choni, who also came for your birthday. When we were in Australia you met all of them and you were barely two years old that time, so you don’t remember them. But when you grow up, you will come to know them. This time, we wanted your birthday celebration to be more ritualistic – in the sense, we wanted to pray and thank the almighty for having you in our life and we also wanted to make tshog offering for your good health and long life. Then we invited our friends and relatives for dinner in the evening.
It was tiring because of so many children jumping around and making noise, our bedroom made a total mess, it was a good gathering. It is not everyday that we get to gather with our friends and relatives everyday. You did not behave the best but you were okay. You didn’t eat well that day, which seemed to be out of excitement.
Darling, I had not written to you for a long, long time but you must know that as you grow up, we are getting closer. We can pretend play on a various different themes and you are now a friend to me. You have been on your winter vacation since December 1st and you stay home with your grandma when your daddy and I come to office. When we bid goodbye to your in the morning, you have no problem because you know that that is the routine. However, two days before your birthday we had to go for shopping and we sneaked out when you were engrossed watching TV, but later when you found out that we were not there, you had cried a lot. So it means, you like being informed.
You will soon be going to school again but it will be to the school that is just in front of our house, which will mean it will be less fuss each morning we have to get you ready for school.
We love you.
This is what it was like Darling. Muah.
I am now back home with you. You are sleeping and I am awake. I just watched a TED talk on parenting – not because it is hard but I wanted to know what general experience is for other people. You had two vaccines today and you were in pain. You didn’t eat dinner. You said you felt like throwing up and you fell asleep crying when I sang the lullaby. I love you darling. This way, you are still a baby to me and you will always be (9:29 p.m.).
24th October, 2014
It has been, really really long since I last wrote to you. I have no excuse but honestly, I have been involved with you more than ever. I must tell you that I felt it was much easier after you turned three and half years. You seemed more matured and less cranky. But yesterday and day before yesterday, I have been a little more impatient at home – I was irritable and lost my temper easily. I usually deal with you without losing my temper even if you fuss over every small thing. If you want to change your shirt even five times, I agree with you. But I wasn’t my normal self the past two days and I am feeling extremely sorry at the moment. Whenever I am a little hard on you, you tell me that you like your daddy better and you don’t want me. We went to bad with such terms last night. But after a while, you were okay and said, you were then mili with me. Tell you what darling? I love you. We can never be angry at each other.
You haven’t been making fuss over your daddy dropping you to school. You used to tell me that you wanted me to drop you but that has gone away. In all such small things, I can see you that you are growing up. You are adapting so well with your schedule.
When I went to pick up Ana Tshering Zangmo from village to bring her to Thimphu for treatment, you understood that I had to go. Though you begged me to take you with me at first, when I explained you understood and you stayed with your Abi and Ana Ugyen Zangmo for four days without both your daddy and me. Your daddy had gone to Paro for a workshop. You see darling, you are grown up both in height and maturity. The kira that needed to be folded last year fits you perfectly this year.
Sometimes when I lose my patience and I am bit irritable, I feel tired, especially when I have to keep coaxing you and you don’t listen even after that. I tend to become a little angry and utter words I shouldn’t. I regret that immediately but please know that I love you and they are not really what I mean.
Anyway darling, I love you. You are going to be four years in two months. You will have winter vacation from your school and you will have to stay with your abi again. My office is planning to undertake a survey that will take me away from home for more than two months. It pains me to think of it already. I will miss you dearly. But I know when I come back home, you will have grown up a lot again and you will have so many new things to share.
I love you,
5th July 2014
I can’t believe that I took this long to write to you. It is not that there hasn’t been an amazing time, or a fascinating moment where you said or did something new. You are always full of new things, new surprises. I marvel at how you are growing up. I think, it is just that I got a bit lazier with time. But I tell you darling, there has never been a moment when I didn’t enjoy being with you. We are always, always inventing something, always play acting, always planning something. And we go out a lot too. You love playing outside more than being inside and playing your iPad. I like that because there are parents who are struggling to keep their children away from electronic gadgets.
Today I am in Bangkok darling. I told you before one week of my travel that I would be leaving – and you kept saying, ‘Mummy jang bu Bangkok ka de le’. This morning too while you saw me dress up, you asked where I was going. When your daddy said that I was leaving for Bangkok, you got upset and started clinging on me. You wouldn’t even let me prepare your curry. So I left it and stayed with you, eating our breakfast (which you ate very little) and playing in our bedroom. Your grandma came and involved herself with you and you got settled. It is really, really touching to see you every morning playing with your grandma, imagining things. Mostly, two of you are engaged in playing with your baby (doll), you as a mother. The way you imagine yourself attending to your baby is interesting.
I must tell you that for sometime now, you have not wanted me and your daddy to sing lullaby or any nursery rhymes to you when you go to bed. It used to be a ritual before. I think it happened after you went to school. I wonder if singing at school did that to you – by which I mean, you now know many songs yourself and I am thinking that is why you don’t want us to sing to you. You now prefer me telling you stories of my childhood days and the hardships I faced. When I tell you stories about walking alone in the forest, scared that I might encounter monkeys and pigs, you intervene and tell me that when I was afraid of the monkeys, you were very brave and you chased them away and then we got home safe.
You are at home for mid term break these days. This morning when I asked you whether you prefer going to school or staying home with your grandma, you told me that you don’t like going to school. You asked me, ‘jang sho om school ga den chhuma mai’. I said you are only on a holiday and will be going to school soon. You said you don’t want to. You said you finished school. Instead of getting worried, I was happy. I was happy that you enjoy your time with your grandma. She has been telling me that you have matured a lot. Yesterday when I was putting you to bed, you said, ‘ji gi abi lek cha. Daddy lek cha. Mummy lek cha’, and then again, ‘jigi abi phang cha, daddy phang cha, mummy phang cha’. Darling, I know you will grow up well. Being with your grandma will no doubt implant more values than going to school. But I think it is unfair to let you look after you and compromise going to Chorten.
Anyway, I will get back to you in six days and we will have so many more things to talk about.
11th March, 2014
You started your school from yesterday. You were excited by the school having swings, see-saw and playhouse. You thought it was a park. Once you were inside, when your carer took out the toys, you asked her, ‘oothu sho hang ya?’ (what is this?) picking up one toy after another. You were lucky that she spoke Sharchop.
I scribbled a small letter to you as soon as I got home, wishing that you would have the spirit of Masha, our favourite character. And really darling, I hope you will learn all the good things and I believe you have now begun the journey to shaping yourself for the world that is. I don’t want to force you into choosing anything that you don’t want to – and I really, really want to give you a chance to grasp what you like, and become what you want to be, building up on your own inherent talent, instead of forcing my beliefs on you. But that doesn’t mean I would love to see you growing up to be an immoral, dishonest, or insincere person. Though, the definitions of all these will depend on individual perceptions and beliefs, there does exist a stable, common basis of what is good and bad and I do hope that you will come to see them without too much difference from me.
You have repeatedly told us (your daddy and me) that you would like to go to school and yesterday was the day finally! As of now, you do seem to like it. Hopefully, you will not get tired of it. My earnest hope is that, it will be a school that will educate you in the best sense.
When I picked you up from school yesterday afternoon, it suddenly felt like you have grown up so much. It gave me a mixed feeling and I for a moment wished things stood still! But of course, we must all grow up!
I love you, and may you go far!
4th March 2014
I am in a village called Dangchu in Wangdue Phodrang. We are eight of us from our office. We started at 11 a.m. from Thimphu today. The whole morning, you were playing outside. You even took one basket of your toys. I even gave up the idea to bathe you because I didn’t wnt to rush. I told myself that I will have a good, quality time with you till it was time for me to leave but I ended up doing the laundry and cleaning the house. When I finally finished it, I had one and half hours to leave. I went out, dried the clothes and when I sat down to play with you, I realized that you had not eaten. So we went in. But you refused to wash your hands. Actually you said you were going to wash yourself and before I had prepared the hot water, you went to the bathroom, rinsed your hand and came. I wanted to wash them with soap but you fought me and we ended up creating a big fuss. I forced you and when you didn’t agree I spanked you on your back. I am filled with remorse now. Darling, I know it is my fault. I am sorry. I have been losing patience with you these days and I feel like I have not been a good mother. But darling, please know that I do it for your own good. I feel that you are a very smart child and you are more active than many children I have seen. But darling, when you move too much and don’t listen to me, I get upset. I promise I will be more patient. Please know that I can’t reason with you yet. The next time you do things contrary to what I say, I will remind myself that it is not your fault and it is up to me to calm you down and talk patiently in a way that suits you.
So this morning, after so much fuss, after I spanked you, you own. You didn’t wash your hands but you did eat your food. I rocked you on my lap and held you to my bosom. But I couldn’t do it for very long. Time was nearing and I had to eat as well. Just when I finished eating and cleaned the dishes, my colleagues called to say that they were in the parking to pick me up. But as soon as I talked to them and said that I was coming, you ran to me so fast and wrapped your arms around me. And then clinging on me, you cried, your tears streaming down your cheek begging me not to go. It pained me so much but explained to you that I was coming back soon. But today you didn’t want to listen to any reasons and consolations. You kept holding on to me and following me around. And you even begged me saying, kuchen ma de. Jang yong khena abi gi kong me ga. After few minutes I escaped but I saw that you had run after me and you were outside the door. Your grandma was struggling to take you inside but you were crying on the ground. It was so painful for me to leave you like that and for the first quarter of the journey, I had no mood to even talk with my colleagues. I hoped that you didn’t cry for long after I left. I prayed that you were okay without me. Since you usually don’t cry so much that way, I was really worried fearing that it might be ominous. I prayed and stayed mindful throughout the journey. We reached our destination a little before dark.
I miss you so much even as I type this letter. I love you. Mummy will be back soon.
21st January 2014
You might feel I didn’t write to you for a long time. I have scribbled short letters to you on my phone and I have not transferred them to my laptop yet. We went to Bartsham, our village on December 17th 2013 and stayed there till January 10 2014. Your father dropped us all. You, your abi and I went to Bartsham to receive teaching from Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, which went on for three weeks. We directly went to Bikhar, your father’s village and on 19th December 2013 we received blessing from Je Khenpo at the inauguration of a new Zangdo Pelri constructed by Gup Sonam Dukpa. In the evening after the inauguration of the Zangdo Pelri and Wang concluded, we went to Bartsham and your father came back to Thimphu.
Anyway, our days there were very fruitful. Ana Pem Zangmo was on break and she volunteered to stay with you when I wen to the lhakhang everyday to receive teaching. If you didn’t get restless, I would have loved to take you along. You went to the lhakhang only towards the evening to receive wang. That was blessing enough and I prayed that the ability for you to be there to receive those wangs will accumumate merits to further help you grow to be a good human being – by which I mean, someone who believes in dharma, and cause and effect. I have no doubt you will.
The teaching ended on 10th January and we left for Mongar that evening. Your father reached Bartsham on the 9th morning from his village with his parents and went back to drop them; then he came the next day to pick us up. Initially the plan was to leave for Bumthang on the 11th January. However he pushed that we leave on the same day the teaching concluded, so that we could be in Thimphu on Saturday, thus enabling him to attend his Sunday Teachinngs in Paro. But on 11th, it snowed and despite my brother calling us repeatedly to warn us, we decided to continue our journey. Unluckily, when we had just crossed Pelela pass, right around the turning, when people asked us to stop, our car skidded and banged on the West Bengal truck that was parked towards the wall. We just did not have any control. After that, we decided to stay that night in the car, stuck up there, without food, and packed inside the car. Abi and Meme Sonam were squeezed in the back seat, their feet and legs all crammed and hurting. After waiting there for one hour, taking calls from relatives and telling them not to worry, we decided to try to drive again. The left head light was totally gone and there were other small damages. Lucky enough, the fog lights lighted abundantly. Very, very slowly your father drove and luckily we got out from the stretch of road that was very icy. At 10:30 p.m. we reached Lobesa and put up at YT Guest House. Luckily their reception was open.
In our absence, your father had been very busy. He had to move our home from Changzamtok to Pension Colony. When we reached home it was still all in disarray and the home was very cold. Anyway, we slowly got settled and you said you like the new home. Abi and you now can go out any time. Sun rays do not come in our rooms but there is a pretty good space outside to play and we are on the ground floor. As I write this, you must be playing with your abi.
Last Sunday (19th January 2014), we were home and we were drawing something on your iPad. I mimicked Masha (a character on your iPad movie) drawing a bear. I think you picked up from it. Later you drew a person: you said, ‘circle eyes’ and made two small circles. Then made a big circle as head. Then drew legs and hands. I was surprised. It just had me mesmerised. I took a picture of it which is produced below.
Really darling, you are growing very fast. I can’t believe that you can process images inside your brain that way and then express them. You have become increasingly fussy after going to Bartsham, mostly picking up habits from my nieces’s daugther, but that is okay. I am sure you will forget them soon and you will be your normal self.
I want to pamper you to the extent I want but darling, you must know that mummy got works and obligations. Oh when I say this I remember of something you said. You were asking if I have to go to office. I told you that I have to. Then you asked if daddy has to go too. I said, daddy and I have to both go to office because if we don’t, we will not have any money. My exact words were, ‘if we don’t work, we will not get any money’. And your response was, ‘ji la lai mawa nyong pe ne. Uncle gai money ge yek thhan, mummy ga bi le’. (I can get money without working. I will ask money from uncle and give you.) It is sweet of you. Once someone asked you, ‘are you daddy’s daughter?’ You replied, ‘no.’I wondered what you were going to say, when she asked, ‘ebi ga’. You said, ‘mummy ga daughter gila.’ Your abi worries that I am pampering you too much, and troubling myself because as result, you want to be with me all the time and you nag me to give you attention all the time. Anyway, let us not worry about that. Despite everyone’s worry that you are being pampered way beyond the acceptable norm, I want to prove that a child can grow up to be a fine person without the need to spank.
I love you.
4th January 2014
Today when you were at the teaching to receive wang, you said you want to go home. You said, ‘home ga de le?’ When I said ‘de le ne. De le mo?’ You said you do want to go. So we left. But when we reached my brother’s place, you said it is not home. Then when I told you that it is, you asked me if daddy is there. You meant you want to go to our house in Thimphu. I could distract you by playing with you. So you didn’t cry or nag me too much about going home. But later when we were in bed watching TV you asked me, ‘oothu mummy ga phai gila?’ I told you that it is but I wonder if you were convinced. I understand that you want to go home now. We have been here for more than two weeks now. We now have only one more week to be here. I wanted you to talk to you daddy but phone line is not good. I love you darling and I promise we will be back in Thimphu soon and to the lifestyle that you are familiar with.
1st January 2014
Last time wen I returned from Nagaland you could hop (with one leg lifted) once and you were so happy. When I congratulated you, you said, om sho zokpa se na mo? Yesterday we were playing outside Bartsham Lhakhang and you were able to hop twice. You were so excited and you kept hopping even when you were inside to receive the blessing. And surprisingly this morning you were able to hop thrice. You are growing up first darling. I pray that this year will bring you lots of good things and you will enjoy good health.
May you always have this zeal and the ability to grasp things fast. Happy new year darling. I love you.
27th December 2013
I am extremely sorry. I had to spank you twice today. You are crankier than usual and I fear that people will wonder at the way you have become out of hand. I want you to grow up as a very well mannered girl. Darling, please understand that I love you and it hurts me to be harsh to you but it just gets too much sometimes. I am sure you will understand it someday.
20th December 2013
Daddy and I would like to wish you a very happy birthday. I am sorry that I had to scold you on your birthday. We are in Bartsham today. We got here last night. You got car sick and has been fussy since then. You want more attention and be more pampered. It is not that I don't want to do it. I love you and give you all the attention you need but at times it just gets too much for me. This evening you cried saying you feel as if you are going to throw up. And you don’t calm down no matter what I do or say. I then don’t know what else to do and I lose my patience. After so much fuss you fell asleep without eating dinner.
You have not been eating anything since 18th and I am worried. Yesterday you only ate breakfast and didn’t eat anything at all the whole day. And you ate a small cup of yoghurt when we reached Bartsham. We were at Khapti Gonpa drup where the Je Khenpo gave tshewang. That is in daddy’s village. Then we came to Bartsham in the evening, mummy’s village. When I told you that we were going to daddy’s village, you asked, ‘where is mummy’s village?’
Darling, today was the first day of Kyentse Rinpoche’s teaching here and it was auspicious that your birthday started with so many people gathered together for prayers. We got blessding today too from Khentse Rinpoche. He is the first Buddhist Lama that you had blessing from after your birth. I think you were barely three months when you first received his blessing. Do I think that it was because of that good tendrel that we are together here again to receive blessings and teachings from him.
Darling, on your birthday I pray and wish that you will always have strong faith and belief in the dharma and you will find the right path. I also pray that when you know that you are on the right path, you will not falter, you will not be obstructed by negative emotions and you will calmly and firmly follow it through and through. And may you live a healthy long life. My little sweet heart, happy birthday again.
Your daddy had to leave today because he has other important things to attend to at home but you are in his heart always just as in mine. We love you so much.
Knowing that we will not be able to celebrate your birthday here, we already celebrated it in Thimphu on 14th December. We didn’t want you to wonder that your birthday was never coming.
You will grow up strong and righteous
You will grow up kind and gentle
You will grow up loving and compassionate
You will grow up to be the best
11th December 2013
You have grown a lot. You prefer to speak only sharchop because you an converse better in that language. When we were sleeping tonight, we talked a lot. It is unbelievable that your logic and thoughts can flow so coherently. Once when I said that mummy loves you, Daddy loves you and Abi loves you, you said you said, said, Abi meyang, Jang Abi gi kong la. When I asked, Abi gi kong la? You replied, ‘kong cha, kong cha’.
Then you said you will go to school carrying ‘how many’ bags and packed lunch. I said you would take water and juice too. Juice open ani ja me yek pa kam you said ge me ge me. Then I told you that we will be going to Bartsham. I asked if you will play soil in Bartsham. Your reply was that you will play it only with stick so that you don’t become dirty. Dokang gi ri phi ne chang mey, you said. Then once you said you will to in the car to school. When I asked you if you are going to drive it, you said, no daddy will drive it.
When you do something challenging that you didn’t know before, you say you are now a big girl and you know it. Katang riwa sen cha is what you keep saying. Abi told me that one time in my absence you grew fond of Tshokye Tshomo Karchung and you wanted to be called by her name. This evening during dinner when I asked you if you are her, you said you are not her but you are Chota Bheem. You reasoned that uncle said she is dirty dirty. When I asked which uncle, you pointed to Ata Sonam Tobgay and said uthu gi, uthu gi. You keep us all entertained.
But I worry that it is getting too tiring for Abi. She can no longer lift you or keep up with your engery. She is also bit worried that you may get spoiled by our love and pampering. I pray that it will not happen. I observe that it is not that you want to be naughty. It is when you don’t have our attention that you do something unapproving to gain our attention. Especially tonight, I realized that we have to talk a lot with you. I think you want to share a lot of things and you have so many ideas. Just as I keep telling you, you keep me enchanted and I can’t help feel blessed to have you in my live.
You are a marvelous little girl.
I love you,
26th November 2013
Mummy is in a place called Tuensang in Nagaland. My three male colleagues went out and I am alone in the hotel room. It is a small town in a rural area and it is very dusty. Anyway, this is not what I want to tell you. It has been 12 days since I left home and I have started missing you so much. I think of you when I see butterflies outside and I think of you when I see other children. Tears well up in my eyes when I think of you and what you and your grandma must be doing all day at home and then I feel sad that I am not home to take you out to the park. In Tespur, we visited a park and when I saw children playing swing, I wished you were with me.
I know you are looked after well in my absence but I just can’t help feeling that I love you more than anyone else and only I know what you want. Darling, I know noting can compensate my absence but I am thinking of getting you some good presents and they will be good to use for your birthday.
My colleague just got back and they are drinking in the other room. I love you darling. I think I will be back home in around four days.
4th November 2013
I went to Lobesa with the guests on 29th October and came back to Thimphu only on the 1st November. It means I was away from you for three nights. The first night there I could not sleep well. I called your daddy to find out how you slept and I was told that you did not have any problem at night. You woke up just once but you went back to sleep without fuss. Still again, the next day, I was worried and called your daddy again to be told the same thing.
And on the 1st November, when I got home you were fast asleep. Just so peaceful and sweet as always. I kissed you but you didn’t wake up. Daddy slept near you because he said that if you knew that I was there, you might wake up in the middle of the night and start asking for ‘nunu’. At 5 a.m. the next morning, you did see me and you wanted it so badly. I explained to you that it was now rotten and if you drink you will get stomach ache and will have to go to the hospital to get a painful injection. I know this is just not something you want to hear. You cried. You cried so loudly and then after that you did not go back to sleep. Both of us got up. After a while, you went to Abi and you stopped crying. You forgot ‘nunu’ for a while. That day again, I had to go with the guests.
Again later that night, you wanted nunu. And I had to tell you the same thing. You woke up around five times that night asking for nunu but fell asleep each time without much fuss. I thought it passed and you will sleep better last night but you woke up exactly at midnight and you cried so much. When you did not have nunu, you said you wanted to eat. I heated the food for you and gave you milk as well, but you did not eat much. In fact you ate just one spoon of rice and drank a little bit of milk and water. And after that you slept on my lap. When you asked for nunu in half sleep, I told you that you can’t have nunu but if you would like water or milk. It was then that you woke up and cried and made a fuss. Your daddy thought you would have gone back to sleep if I did not ask you if you wanted water or milk. He thought I provoked you. But I was worried that maybe your throat got dry like mine. I wake up at night to drink water because my throat gets very dry and I get nightmares where I am in very desperate need of water. Anyway, after that you went back to sleep and you did not wake up again. I think you did want something to drink.
Yesterday afternoon, we went to Baby Jangdren’s house and stayed for around four hours. You had a good time. You two played a lot together. She had flu and it seems you caught flu too now. This morning you were surprised that your nose was running and your hanky got dirty so fast. I hope you fight it well and you will get well soon.
I love you darling. You had an extended breastfeeding till you were exactly two years, 10 months and nine days old. Now you are a little young girl. When I came back from Lobesa, I thought you actually matured a lot in three days. You were talking a lot with your Abi and you seemed so much matured. There is always something fascinating about you. I love you darling.
31st October 2013
I miss you. I woke up around five times at night and could not really sleep well. Sometime I dreamed that I was buying some gifts for you. And sometimes I was dreaming of you. I think I will take sometime before I can peacefully sleep when I am away from you. Also because I have not left you away before, I worry about you thinking that you might get up in the middle of the night, like you sometime do, looking for food, or looking for me. And then I worry that if you don’t get consoled by your father, and cry more, he may get impatient and make things worse, thus making you cry more. I hope none of these things happened last night. I will call home in a while. It is still a bit early to call, though I know all of you must have got up already. Abi and you may be already eating breakfast, though it is not yet even 7.
I love darling. I will be home tomorrow evening. (You stopped nunu on 30th October 2013.)
29th October 2013
This is the second time I will be away from you now. I am in Lobesa with the office guests. We just got here, finished our lunch and we are taking rest for half an hour. We will be going to see Punakha Dzong after that.
Because the guests had dinner with the whole office staff, I got home late last night. You were already sleeping when I got home – as always, you looked so peaceful and sweet. I didn’t want to disturb you but still, I couldn’t resist hold you and kiss you. I felt bad that I did not get home early to have some time with you, because I wouldn’t be home today. I know Abi and your daddy will take good care of you; it is just that I worry about you as a mother.
I love you. Be a good girl. I will see you in four days.
24th October 2013
I miss you. It is the first time I am away from you overnight and I miss you so terribly. I talked to daddy a few minutes back and I felt like crying. He said you are sleeping and you did not cry but still, I feel that you must have missed me and wished I were there. You definitely must have, just as I am. But this is how life is. We cannot stay together all the time and we have to adjust to the ups and downs, and work’s dictations of where we should be sometimes. This time, I also thought that maybe this will be a good chance for me to stop your breastfeeding. But I don’t know. Maybe when I get back home tomorrow night, you will feast on it. I have no problem, except that I tend to believe that you nag me a little bit more because of it. I shouldn’t have problem with that too, but I think it will be good to stop it after a certain time and it is a good time now. You are two years and 10 months now. But darling, you must know that it is not that I don’t enjoy nursing you. In fact, I wonder how I can pamper you or show my love for you after it is stopped. Surely there will be automatic bonding of a different way, but just that I feel so connected and love you so much looking at you when you are nursing (not that I love you less at other times).
It is 9:26 p.m. now. I have to sleep. It wasn’t so tiring today but tomorrow, early morning we are going to Paro Taktshang which might take more than four hours to walk just one way up with the guests. It is funny that I began my letter by not even telling you where I am and why. I am in Paro tonight. I left home at 5 a.m. this morning. I sneaked out of bed when you were sleeping soundly next to your dad. You made some noise when I accidentally touched your feet and I was scared that you might wake up and wouldn’t let me go. But as daddy stroked you, you fell back to sleep. I will be home tomorrow night but I can’t tell you the time. Probably I will be there only after you sleep. But whatever, I hope the night doesn’t stretch too long today. I love you.
14th October 2013
You are sleeping just now. You may wonder why all the letters are written when you were sleeping. It is because it at this time that I sit next to you quietly, watching you, or thinking of you, though you are very close to me, admiring you, loving you and feeling grateful for the gift you are to me.
Last night in your sleep, you were driking ‘nunu’ and suddenly you bit it. I woke up when it hurt so much; I pleaded you to stop it but you didn’t. I had to force it out. It hurt so much and in a chaos of me pleading you, you cried, but fell asleep quick enough. You woke up again, maybe an hour later and you wanted ‘nunu’ again. I offered the left one but as usual, after you nursed on it for sometime, you wanted the right one. When I told you that it hurt, you didn’t listen. But there was no way I could nurse you on the right one. It hurt so much. So when I didn’t allow you, you cried so much. Your daddy scolded you, trying to explain to you that it was hurt. But you cried more and this got on his nerves and spanked you on your bottom. It wasn’t hard I know, but you cried more again, and louder. This created so much chaos until I had to wake up, turn on the light and play with you, so that you will forget the craving for ‘nunu’. You did. It was around 5:30 a.m. After the light was turned on, I checked how hurt it was. It had bled a little and there was a brownish red mark on the nipple. When I showed you saying that it was hurt, you said, ‘it is small one.’ You said it with such cute expression, your eyes almost closing, smile streaking your face. Later, when daddy said that he was sorry for spanking you and asked if it hurt, you said, ‘it hurt big’. I felt so funny that you should say that you hurt big and the sore on my nipple was a ‘small one’.
You sure are witty little girl. I tell you, there is always, always something that you amaze me with.
Today was the last day of the ‘sampa lhundup dungdrup’ at the Thimphu Memorial Chorten that was presided by the Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche. Today is the 10th day of the nine month of the Bhutanese calendar. It is considered an auspicious day in Buddhism. Abi had left at 5 a.m. to the chorten. Daddy, you and I went only around 9:30. We went hoping to be able to go to his audience to get blessing but because there were so many people, it wasn’t allowed. I was surprised to see so many people. Police had to stand at the door and check the traffic. Instead of making two lines: for entry and exit, they controlled it in such a way that when people went in, those who were coming out had to stop and vice versa. Anyway, it was such a big crowd and it rained as well. You were excited to go there in kira. You looked cute and I could see so many people looking at you with joy and admiration.
We did just three rounds of kora, prostrated and went to town. It rained and it wasn’t so nice. We bought a new jug, a container with the sieve to wash vegetables, and a new lunch pack – an expensive one for myself. You will need one when you go to school. Anyway, this isn’t important. I am just letting you know what we did today. It is such small things that take our day.
Anyway darling when you are sleeping, I need to work a bit. I love you and good night.
4th October 2013
I have been wanting to write to you but I have been busy lately. I developed a website for JAAB (JICA Alumni Association of Bhutan) first. I have not been paid for it yet and I am not even sure how much I will be paid. But I am happy that I was able to do that. It was from this work that I got confidence and started my office’s website from scratch. It is still not finished, but I am more than half done. I have been having other assignments from my boss besides that.
You, your daddy and Abi are bit unwell these days. All of you got flu – it has been four days now. You got fever and we gave you medicine for three days, just once before going to bed. It helped you a lot. The first night you fell sick, you were not able to sleep well. You had a disturbed sleep and you kept clinging on to breastfeeding. That was bit irritable for me as well. It usually gets irritable for me when you cling on it because there isn’t much milk like there used to be when you were an infant. It reminds me of what you said to your Abi. One evening I had just returned from office and you were drinking milk. Abi said, ‘nunu dirty’. You looked at abi and said, ‘Abi ma se wa, nunu zhimpu la’. You mean Abi doesn’t seem to know it; nunu is delicious. This made both of us laugh. It was really witty of you to say something like that.
Then another time, when we were coming back to our house from a baby shower in Aunty Lungten’s car, you did something that she didn’t want you to do. When she kept on asking you not to do it, you screamed and said, ‘Ana Lungten dirty’. When she replied, ‘Dechen very dirty too’, you said, ‘I take bath.’ We all had a hearty laugh again. During that baby shower and at a birthday party the previous night, you were a very good girl. You behaved well – by which I mean, you didn’t act clingy. You played with other children in another room and didn’t bother that I was not with you.
Another incident I have wanted to tell you is that, a week back after your bath when I was putting cream on you and trying to help you dress, you kept moving, trying to drink nunu and all that. Then when I told you that first you have to make sure that you look good, to my surprise you asked, ‘like princess?’ It is surprising that you actually know all this. I was surprised that you have the idea that princess is supposed to be beautiful. I thought maybe you got this idea from the song we sing, ‘oh oh little girl…./you are gonna dress like a little princess. You are gonna go to school feeling great.’
Anyway my little darling, you are growing up in a fabulous way. My gorgeous, gorgeous darling, I love you. It is 9:10 p.m. just now and you are sleeping peacefully next to me.
28th August, 2013
Few days back, we were in the sitting room. I was sitting on the sofa and you were just playing – going here and there, walking, sneaking somewhere. You are that restless kind – who cannot remain idle at all, not even for a minute. I am told that actives kids are good kids – which means they will be more intelligent and sharp in observing or learning things. I seem to believe in that. Anyway, as I sat there on the sofa, watching you, I suddenly felt a pang of strong emotion engulfing me. I held you close to me and said, “I wish you would always be a baby like this, you are a baby, aren’t you?” But you replied, ‘No, mummy’. Then a second later you said, ‘abi’. You have the knack for such humour. You deliberately give us a wrong answer, or an answer that you know is not what we expect, with a mischievous grin. At that moment, I felt that as you grow up and go further from me, by distance, as well as, in closeness (not having to hold you to my bosom as a baby), I would feel a great loss, though it is just a natural way of growth.
You have the knack for making play out of anything you see. For example, when there is no toy at all, like when we are outside at someone’s house, or in the field, you make us imagine something. You either pull a stick and make that a water pipe, then making gestures of washing clothes, washing hands, or washing face. You say, ‘where is the soap. Give me soap’. Or we have to say the same. Then, you imitate a gesture of applying soap and scrubbing your hands. It is incredible that children at this age can think of so many things, and imagine so many. This morning I overheard you and your grandma’s conversation that struck me and stayed with me whole day. She had taken you to another room, just to distract you so that you wouldn’t nag me when I was getting ready to go for office. You were pretending to be very tired, breathing hard, going, “hu…hu…hu.” Abi said, “Wu duk pa mo?” and your answer was, ‘Yusipang ga dewa.”
We have a plot of land in Yusipang. We planted potatoes and went there twice recently to harvest them. You played in the field all day as all of us got busy. You nagged me a few times when you were hungry, wanted to go to toilet or got sleepy. Otherwise, you played in the field sitting or standing close to your grandma. Your answer this morning meant that you went to Yusipang to work and was tired. I found that really witty.
I wanted to write you this letter to tell you that you have now started calling your grandma Ama. You call her that especially when you want her to pamper you, or you want her to give you special attention. You have stopped calling me ‘mama’ or ‘ama’. I think you decided that you are more comfortable calling me ‘mummy’ as you always did. Oh there is another thing. You used to call your cousin Sonam Dorji as Tinku. You nicknamed him that soon after our arrival here from Melbourne. He would tease you by tickling you, saying, ‘ticku ticku’ and his name became Tinku. But recently your grandma taught you that you should call him Ata Sonam Dorji, and you do that. Even when I sometime mistakenly address him as Tinku to you, you say, ‘no, ata Sonam Dorji’. I am glad that you are growing fast, picking the right things.
While I feel unhappy that as you grow and become independent, the bond we share will naturally change, I am happy that you are growing up to be you.
Darling, this is us right now: 28th August, 2013, 8:45 p.m.
24th August 2013
You have not been having appetite and then today, you kept asking me to take you to the park. So when daddy went to office, we went to the park. The park has only slides. You played it oly once upon my insistence and after that we played in the sand. We stayed there for just one hour thought daddy had expected us to stay there till his office got over. So we walked to the chorten where Abi was. You didn’t want to stay there. So we went to daddy’s office and played there – using the toys that his office has for the children patients.
Then all of us went home together after his office got over at 1 p.m.
24th December 2015: Dechen, I just copied this letter from my old Samsung phone and the letter is incomplete. I am not sure if I lost another page of the notepad or whether I was going to write something and couldn’t. It has been more than 2 years since I wrote that letter. You have grown a lot since then and you have matured a lot too. I just got to office and you are home with your grandma. I love you.
11th August 2013
You are sleeping next to me as I write you this letter. I am filled with regret and pain and as I look at your gentle, peaceful face, I feel them more. Today I was bit irritable. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because it was just two of us at home and when I had to do some small household chores, you didn’t let me. We were playing, your toys all scattered round and I got distracted in the middle of it by picking up the small pieces of Lays thrown around by you and daddy. Then, suddenly, starting from that distraction, before I knew it, I was carrying the tall broom and taking off the spider webs from the corners of the ceiling. I also started noticing that there were more flies inside the sitting room than usual. We chased them out the door too. But we didn’t really succeed. Anyway, my distraction began that way, and it is when we can’t sit with you giving you full attention that you nag us more – demanding that we be with you in complete attention. I regret for having gotten distracted that way too.
Then, just as we were in bed, trying to make you rest and put you to sleep, the doorbell rang and it was my brother – your uncle Wangdi. We served him lunch. He told us that he was to be joined by Azem and his wife, who had gone to attend the 14 day ritual of one of our relatives. True to it, they did come. Even as I attended to them by serving tea, you were restless. I had to scold you several times today. You started throwing your toys to my niece Kezang (Ata Sanga’s second daughter) who was also coming from the same ritual. Every time I told you that you were doing something that I don’t approve of, you cried. Anyway, we went to see our cousin, Ata Pema Tenzin who was brought here on an emergency from the village due to his sudden serious sickness. On the way, as we shopped things to take there, you bought a bulldozer toy. Your interest in it seemed to have finished before we had paid. But you did play it again after we got home. So, when you got restless when I was serving them tea, I tried to put you to sleep again, but failed. And we went to see my cousin with you still restless. But you didn’t behave too badly at his house.
After we got back home, (it was 6 p.m. by then) I gave you dinner and was trying to sleep when there was a knock on the door again. This time it was your grandma, and shortly, your daddy came too. And your sleep was disturbed again. You got agitated again as I prepared dinner and then after dinner when I was doing the dishes. When I asked you to give me your sippy cup in which you drank juice to wash, you threw it at me, a little waywardly that it hurt my hand. I have been telling you not to throw things, and be gentle. So I spanked you on your bottom. You cried seeking my attention, wanting me to tell you that I was sorry and to take you up in my arms. But I didn’t. Then your grandma took you away – but she had not yet finished eating her dinner. I quickly washed the dishes and attended to you. You were not angry with me – but still, feeling sorry for losing my temper with you, I said sorry to you. You said, ‘I love you’ in that tone that melts me. You really are a very sweet little angel darling. I am sorry my dear. In the bed, when I asked you where I spanked you, you showed me the spot. Then I told you that you have to listen to ‘mummy’ and be a good girl. I tell you every time you are sober that you have to be gentle and you shouldn’t throw things. But you do not answer that you will not do it. I tell you that you should say, ‘okay mummy’, but you don’t. Anyway, I want you to grow up to be a sensible girl. I am sure you will. And what I do is for you. Though some may argue otherwise. But I tell you, there is no sweetheart like you. I love you,
P.S. I must also tell you that yesterday we went to see baby Jangdren who is sick and is in the hospital. She got rash all over her body. She scratches because it itches and it bleeds. When we visited, she was crying so loudly, protesting that the dip be taken out – it was put on her foot. We are hoping that she is getting better now. She has very severe eczema and has been having a very difficult time. We all pray that she will get better as she grows older. Unty Pema Wangmo is also here with Lasem. Her father is hospitalized with liver cancer. He is 77 years old and there is no hope of cure. So he is in the hospital basically to ease the pain. However, she has taken leave from work in Australia for three weeks and will be going back on 28th of this month. We all have a mixed feeling about it. It seems a bit unfair for her father that she should leave knowing that he will not be living for long. Anyway, these things are way beyond what you will understand at the age you read these letters. I am sure you will read again, as and when you feel like, not just once.
26th July 2013
It has been such a long time. I know I am starting my letter with this sentence every time. I ought to feel a little guilty for not being regular. But honestly, it doesn’t mean that I have not been involved with you, or have been less attentive to you. Like I told you, you love your grandma and you are having a very good, fulfilling days with her. I don’t have to worry that I have to leave you everyday because I am a working mother.
Not many days ago, I read an article called Marriage in Buddhism where it talks about marriage, divorce, child rearing etc. It says that what kind of person a child grows up to depends entirely on the parents and in modern times, because both the parents are working, children do not get the attention, care and love as they ought to get. It even advises that in such a situation, a mother should choose to leave her job. That inflicted a bit of guilt in my mind, probably because I have been having such thoughts myself. However, it is impractical. You will know what I mean. But of course, it doesn’t mean that I don’t give you my love and care. I play with you as soon as I get home. We are together, building a house, making a swing for your doll, or building railway tracks. I am praying that, it isn’t less than the amount of care and love that ought to be given for a child to feel loved and cared. I do hope and pray that you will grow up to be the most sensible person.
Anyway darling, you have grown up so much. You speak Sharchop as well as English. Sometimes, you seem to speak it even better than English, though latter was your first language. It excites me to watch you play with your grandma, conversing in Sharchop. I also feel more comfortable now talking to you in Sharchop. Before I was uncomfortable because I had been speaking in English with you all along. For example, last evening, you were making a swing with a piece of cloth by tying one end to your bicycle and you were saying, ‘chhing nang phi’, to your grandma. I was surprised. This word is not something you will pick up easily. And again, you said, ‘thrik ken la’, when she warned you that you might fall down from the stool you were standing on, and fiddled to help you.
You are growing up in a fascinating way. This morning when your daddy and I were leaving for office, you gave us a hug and a kiss and said, ‘I love you’. This is how charmingly cute you are. And you melt our heart. We love you so much darling. And I tell you, you are everything we got.
18th April, 2013
I have not written to you for such a long time. I feel guilty because I inwardly told myself that I will write to you regularly, telling you everything that is going on. Anyway, we have been in Bhutan for three months already and you are now settled properly here. Initially after our return from Australia, you stayed with my niece, who had finished class 12 and was waiting to go to college. She left and you had to adapt to change once again. You had to undergo numerous changes – both in lifestyle, food, and environment, and I have been sorry about all this. But you tell me that you are a strong girl. Oh as I say this, I remember this incident. Yesterday, I was telling you that you are a strong girl. Then you sang, ‘strong girl, strong girl, where are you?’ You have the knack to sing everything. If you hear the pigeons outside, you sing, ‘bird, bird, where are you?’ Once you were in the toilet and saw the water droplets falling from the water tap. Then you went, ‘water, water……laaa…..’ It is really amazing to watch you grow. Every day you surprise me with something new.
Last evening, when I reached home from office, you were sleeping. You must not have been in a deep sleep because as we opened the door, you woke up. You had opened your eyes, droopily, and was trying to take in the scene. Then, as I went near you, you started to cry, saying, ‘mummy’. I love you more and feel more attached to you because you are not comfortable with others as you are with me. You don’t cry when I am not there. You are more careful and you eat better when I am not there. I started feeding you and fell asleep after sometime. Later at night, you woke up and ate your dinner. Then when you were going back to sleep after that, I had to breastfeed you again. You are under extended breastfeeding and there isn’t enough milk, anymore. After you suckle for quite long, you tell me, ‘not coming,’ or sometime, ‘not working’. I wish I still had enough to feed you, even if you should eat nothing else. As a mother, this is something I can do for you – and it might go on till you are three, or at least till you are 30 months.
Yesterday, when Daddy’s alarm went off and he was about to get up, you said, ‘no, no, I will get it.’ Your daddy and I looked at each other and smiled happily. This is new. You know all the words – but at most you can put three words together. Now, you are constructing full sentences. You used to say, ‘you’ to yourself, because that is what we say. But now, you say, ‘I’. This morning, you said, ‘I going’. You were stepping on your bag, and you said, ‘I stepping the bag’. Then you wanted to take the heater to the sitting room and you told me, ‘I taking it.’ I was like, ‘wow, my little girl is growing up so fast.’ Again this morning when your grandma brought potato and potato peeler, you wanted them and you went, ‘ja ga ge’ (which means, give it to me). It took me back. I was really surprised that you said one full sentence in Sharchop. You are soon going to speak it well; I can see it. You like it so much with your grandma. You guys play so many things – from cooking, to going to school. After you had to stay with her, your daddy started bringing you with him when he came to pick me up. But from last week, you didn’t want to come. You told him, ‘go daddy, go’ and you stayed home. Sometimes, when I ask you, ‘are you mummy’s best friend?’ you say, ‘no, Abi best friend.’ This is really, so nice. We are all born in one family for a reason. Two of you surely have some past bond. She loves you and you love her so much too.
I once told you that I wish you had known your grandfather because he would have loved you, and he would have so much to teach you. He was a person of very strong character. But I am at least happy that you have a close connection with your grandma and she will have a big role to play building your character. I am sure you will learn patience, contentment and generosity from her like I did. What make her personality so strong are her determination, hard work, and patience. She doesn’t have it in her to complain, even when things might seem so dark that her life might be at risk. If you grow up with these personalities, you will find nothing in the world to complain about; you will live in a perfect world – and at most times, it will be better that way – because the world is in fact a reflection of yourself.
Anyway, I am just so glad that you have a best friend in your grandma and you are growing up healthy. You have started eating much better too after you have been with her.
10th July, 2012
I know I have not written to you for so long. I am sorry. I think we are now more involved playing toys and have little time for other things. I seem to feel tired after playing with you and I don’t feel the energy to write, but it does not mean that I don’t want to write to you. Today is Tuesday and you are at the childcare. I just finished my breakfast and I am thinking of copying the letters I have written to you on my mobile to the laptop.
Last evening both daddy and I went to pick you up from the childcare. You are usually very hungry at around 5, so we took kiwi fruit for you, thinking of coming home straight without breastfeeding you at the centre. You ate few pieces and after that you didn’t want. You were kind of biting your tongue and seemed like it was itchy. You started getting restless and cried. When we reached home, I tried to give you food. You ate around three spoons and then you didn’t want. All the time you were restless and crying. Then suddenly, I noticed that your lower lips was swollen and blistery. I panicked and cried out for your daddy. But you seemed so sleepy too and yet you couldn’t sleep peacefully. I was hoping that it will go away when you wake up but we had called the after hours GP and in trying to explain to him what it looks like, daddy disturbed your sleep and you couldn’t fall asleep after that. You were so, so irritable and that swell on your lips seemed so bad.
It was a very worrying, frantic time for us. It went away after around three hours. It was a lesson for us not to give foods that have seeds or pollen that causes itching sensation on skin and tongue. When I searched the internet, I found parents discussing and talking that babies usually have allergy to strawberry and kiwi fruits. I am sorry that you went through so much pain.
Since you still seemed sleepy, I consoled you and put you to sleep after so much difficulty. When you woke up after that, you were active as usual, played a lot and then had your dinner too. You had a good night’s sleep, which relieved us and reassured that you were fine.
This morning when I dropped you at the childcare, you were fine. I was talking to the staff about last night’s incident of kiwi fruit allergy and you had started playing already. Daddy dropped you yesterday and he told me that you cried and didn’t seem to want to stay there. I stayed back yesterday because your daddy and I had to go to city to send some money to his sister who is studying in India and I had to prepare breakfast. You like it when both of us are around you. Especially when you wake up in the morning, you like it so much when daddy is around too.
When he comes home from work, you get so excited and you want him to hold you for a long time. You don’t even come to me then. We were talking yesterday when we were on our way to your childcare to pick you up that if we had not brought you with us here, we wouldn’t have known what it was like to raise a child and it was like to see a baby grow up. This joy is something we cannot really define. It is truly a blessing and we love you so much.
28th June, 2012
I have not written to you for such a long time. I think I have become lazy. You are growing up really well but after you started teething, you kept falling sick. I think that is normal and happens with all babies. You got diarrhea for about a month and you recovered from it only last week. You got better for around two days and fell sick again, got better, and fell sick again. The nappy rash that you got from that is still there. It was the second time that you got nappy rash and the first time that it lasted for so long.
Two days after you recovered from diarrhea, you started vomiting for three days. It was a stressful time for all of us. And again from today, you got diarrhea. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what is causing it. I just hope it is a normal stage in baby’s growth.
Love, Mum. 7
12th June, 2012
You have not been well these past few weeks. You are getting another tooth from the top gum. You suffered from diarrhea and then last night and this morning, you threw up. You have started coughing again starting yesterday. We mowed lawn on weekend and I left you free outside when we were working and I wonder if it is because of that. I am not particular with such small things and then when you fall sick, I feel guilty. I hope all this will pass soon and you will start to talk soon.
My exams will be soon over and then we will have all the times for ourselves. Please hold on for a few more days.
2nd June, 2012
I just wanted to let you know that you have stopped drooling. You are getting another tooth from your upper gum.
[Contd. 10th July, 2012: You got your teeth only at 17 months. We had started to worry when you didn’t get them at 12 months. A GP said maybe we can take you to a dentist but we decided not to because we thought you will get it, however late. Here I have written that you stopped drooling. You haven’t completely stopped it but you stopped wearing bibs long time back. You still drool – and you drool more these days. At the childcare, a staff told me that you are getting another tooth but I don’t see it. Maybe it is in the corner. You have started saying a lot of words. From yesterday you have started saying mummy to me. You already say daddy. But it is not that you specifically address them to us. You just know how to say them but you don’t really call us when you say them. Oh I must tell you that from a week back you started eating on your own. You don’t want us to feed you. Now, I just have to check that the food is not too hot and give it to you. You eat it properly. You got your appetite back after nearly a month’s of nagging sickness. I hope you don’t lose it again.]
19th April, 2012
[Note: There was no letter under this date. I had only started to write and you seem to have disturbed me. We had some illegible letters going three rows down. I had started saying, ‘Dear Baby, I just wanted to tell you…Now I don’t even remember what I had wanted to tell you. Today is 10th July and it is after three months that I am looking at it and transferring it to the laptop.]
3rd April, 2012
We are now feeling settled and happier. More than anything we are happy that we got your childcare close by. Today we picked you up early and went for shopping. We will get getting some guests soon and we wanted to have everything ready.
Unlike in the previous childcare, you seem to like here. You have some kind of liking and attachment towards the staff called Bianca. You go to her easily and that is a consolation for me. I am relieved thinking that maybe you will like here and it won’t be very difficult for both of us. If you settle down well at the childcare, you will have a very good time. You will have lots of friends, toys and elders telling you stories, teaching your stuffs and showing you the way.
We are glad that though it took a little too long, we are now settled.
5th March, 2012
Today was your orientation at the childcare. Unlike in the previous childcare the orientation was for 3 hours. We have 3 hours tomorrow too. In the beginning you sit on my lap and don’t play; you don’t even react to the music. But after a while, you interact. Today, you had a great time at the childcare. You were very friendly and active. They said you have so much energy. Looks like children here don’t move around or play much like you do. I hope you will enjoy it as much as you did today even after you start your days there and you are without me. I feel hopeful. I think you will like there soon. You will feel like I am saying it only for the sake of saying since you did not like the earlier two childcares you went to. But then, the one you went to last year was too far and you were like, on and off and you did not have much time there. And the one in Blyth, you had only started and then before you even got time to get used to, we had to move. But now here, it is close, there are only 8 children in the nursery room, and only two staff – which means it is less children and it will be easier for you to come to know two staff than many. I have a feeling that they will look after you well. They are very friendly and the way they interact with children is good.
My classes have started. Your childcare days start from Friday. I think things are really becoming better for us. After we moved here, in the few days that we had been here, I felt like you grew up so much – I mean you matured. You knew things you did not know before. For example, only when we were in Sydney Road, you did not know how to play the pop-up toys but today you knew how to. It is fascinating really to watch you grow up. I can’t imagine how wonderful it will be when you talk. You pick up things really fast.
I must tell you that I talked to Dendre and your grandma last night. You and your father were sleeping. Dendre rejected the scholarship he got in RTC to study BCA because he didn’t want to go there. He said only the rich kids go there. He rejected thinking that he will get in Sherubtse though he couldn’t be sure. This worried all of us a bit. I came to know yesterday that grandma and my sister worried so much that they started telling him that he did wrong by rejecting the scholarship. They called him stupid to have refused it when he knew how difficult it would be to study privately. But yesterday the result for Sherubtse admission was out and he got selected for computer science. I was so happy. Elated in fact. Looking at how happy I was, I thought I must have been very worried too. I couldn’t fall asleep after I talked to them because I felt so, so happy that I just couldn’t help feel grateful. I said a prayer to thank the almighty this morning. It feels gratifying because I took responsibility for him and brought him with me to Thimphu. I am thinking of doing the same with another nephew who is studying in class 10 now. I think it depends so much on guidance. I don’t want him to depend simply on his intelligence and fail getting a good scholarship.
I hope you will bring such happiness to me one day. I know you will make me proud. I love you.
28th February, 2012
We went to have a look at the childcare close to our house. It is 10 minutes walk – close to the tram stop. We were asked to come at 10:30 but since we were not sure how long it would take, we went early and we were there before time. But the centre director was kind to show us around without having to wait for the time we were asked to come. It is good. There are only 8 children in the nursery room, which means it will be less packed and you will get more attention from the staff. The room is not suffocating as in Blyth St Child Care. I hope you will like here better and you will adapt soon. Your orientation here will start from next Monday. I will be dropping a letter of withdrawal from Blyth this afternoon.
When we were coming back from the childcare, I was smiling. I couldn’t contain the happiness I felt. I really felt like things are suddenly brighter. After staying in discomfort for six months it seemed so freeing to have a spacious house, a tram stop close by and then a childcare. I thought, God has answered my prayers. On Saturday night, a day before we were to move here, I cried. I didn’t let your father sleep because I was really unhappy and irritated by the way our housemate betrayed us. It really seemed unfair that we should pay the rent for the whole house when we would be using only one room anyway. But now, this is going to be solved too. There is this woman called Choki Wangmo, who was two years senior to me in Kanglung. She is here to do her PhD and she decided to move with us. It will mean less financial pressure on us, as well as for her, since she is paying more for the accommodation she is currently renting. I think even when Sonam Phuntsho leaves, we will have someone to stay with us.
Yes, I was telling you about Saturday night. I kept nagging your father, telling him how stupid I have been in trusting the word that our housemate gave us. I couldn’t believe that a person could go back on her words that easily. I kept crying, cursing myself, feeling stupid, asking God if he has stopped gracing me. I think I was more stupid to be thinking that way. Inwardly, there was this faint hope that things will go well but your father reminded me in every little opportunity that I made a mistake. You know it feels so bad when people blame you after so much you have done. It wasn’t easy for us. You and I went through the most trouble in looking for the house. We had to walk almost everyday in the scorching Melbourne heat. I was feeling sorry for you but then everyone else was so busy with us. It seemed like for money, they could forego everything.
It is 1 o’ clock in the afternoon now. You were nagging. I thought you were hungry but you wouldn’t eat. Then when I was about to take you out, Dorji Wangchuk, a friend staying in Bell Street, close to us came over. You get excited when there are more people. So you started playing with him. I gave him tea and then again, you didn’t seem to want to leave. You kept playing with the gate and then when you were walking on the footpath, you feel down sideways and hurt the right side of your forehead. The pavement is rough and it bruised your forehead and you got a very bad swelling. I felt it was my fault. After that you fell asleep and you are sleeping still. I love darling. In such situations I find myself wishing that you already knew how to take caution. Anyway, I think this is how children grow up. You will grow up fine I am sure. You are a fast learner as one of my friends says. You pick up things very fast. I find myself thinking that you will be really bright and you will do well in your studies. It is funny to dream all this but you know, as a mother, it happens naturally.
The weather has been gloomy since Sunday night. It is still very gloomy but the rain has stopped. I want the sun to shine so that we can play in the backyard.
Ok then, let us wait for the sun. I love you.
27th February, 2012
We moved to a new house yesterday. We are now at 79 Reynolds Parade, Pascoe Vale South. We have been so busy for the past couple for days that we could not even attend to you properly. You were playing in the dirt and I had to leave you to play freely. Last night when we finally reached home buying the groceries, it was 10:30 pm and you fell asleep in the car. You had been playing freely and your hands were so dirty and your dress was covered in dust and dirt. But we had to let you sleep that way. I am sorry for not being able to give you more time. I think our times from now on will be better. I pray that it will be.
Our housemate Kezang Deki was supposed to move with us. You are fond of her two sons and you call them Tata, for ata. But in the last minute, after the bond was paid and the contract signed she betrayed us. She came with us on Saturday bringing a few of her things as well, since that day was a good day to move. But when she saw the house, because it is an old house, she did not like it. So she decided not to move with us. This made the situation in such a way that we thought we could have gotten a one room apartment close by the earlier house, for the amount of money we would have to pay for this house. It is a huge three bedroom house and if we don’t have housemates, we will have to pay the whole rent ourselves. Sonam Phuntsho, another housemate moved with us. But he is leaving in April, completing his course. Even he kept saying that he will favor us by moving with us – which is irritating. Anyway, we are now in the new house and no matter what, I am happier here. It is like, we finally are in a real house.
The one in Caulfield had only one room for us. It did not have a lounge and it meant we were locked up in our bedroom all the time. It was suffocating. Even the corridors were packed with furniture that it hardly had enough space to move around. And then the one in Sydney road, though it had an attached bathroom and toilet, the kitchen was in the main house and it was inconvenient for me. When you were sleeping, if I cooked, I would have to go to the room time and again to see if you were still sleeping. You have the habit of waking up suddenly with a loud cry.
Now this current house is spacious. It has a huge backyard and a big front lawn. Though it is old, it is good. I like it. The tram stop is 10 minutes walk and it will go straight to my university. I think things are falling into place finally.
I love you. Good days are coming, I promise.
10th February, 2012
I’m sorry for the long silence. I know I ought to have written to you before long but I got into reading and you know once I start reading, I get so immersed in it and can’t get away. Today I thought I should write to you at all cost and that is how I am here. I feel so good to be at the table, writing to you again. I will make sure to not go quiet for long again. I have so much to tell you.
You are still not at your best but you do walk and crawling is a thing of the past now. You like going out and you keep going to the gate. I have bought four pairs of slippers so that you can walk and the thorns will not prick your feet. Unluckily, the flower which is kind of a creeper from the neighbor’s house is overgrown and it is coming over to our side of the fence. So the thorns are from that flower. I have cut most of the grasses and this house looks more inhabitable now. I feel satisfied.
Just few weeks back you liked birds so much that your eyes would twinkle at the mention of them and would want to go out. But from few days back your interest in birds has died down. You still look at them and point at them but not as much as you used to. You used to point at the birds and would put all your effort to communicate to me that you have seen a bird and you would make sure that I had understood you and seen it too. It would excite me so much and we would both laugh and clap together.
Your life is going to be little different now; it has begun to be a little different already. Your orientation at the childcare started from 24th of December for three days. After that I kept you there from Monday till Thursday. I knew it would be difficult for you and so we kept you there for just three hours, except on Wednesday. We picked you up only at 5. Then the next day we got a call from the childcare that we would have to come back because you were not settling down. I ran back to find you in the hands of a staff, still crying, tears streaming down your cheeks, your nose dripping. But you stopped as soon as you saw me. It was then that they told me that you cry nonstop till you fall asleep. We are told that it is as if you are there only to cry and fall asleep and they want more than that. They also told me that we have to know that there are other children too and they can’t cuddle you all the time. I understand that so perfectly but I hope they will allow me to stay with you for longer time – may be an hour or more, till you mingle with other children and play without hesitating and being at unease scared that I might leave you. I am sure a day will come when you will know all the staff there and you will be happy to be among them. I plan to volunteer there till such a day comes. I am excited by this idea. I love children and I love teaching. So this I think may be my big chance. I will see how it goes. From coming Monday we will start. If I keep you for three hours there, I will stay the whole three hours with you. Which means we are together all day and you also get to play lots of different toys and be with other children. This sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? I will let you know how it goes.
At the childcare, children your age eat food on their own and during the meal time they sit on the chair with such discipline that they do not cry till their food comes and they do not just walk away from the chair till they have finished eating and someone comes to put them away. It is fascinating to see how trained they are. I hope you will come to be like that too though right now, you are so restless. You will learn even other wise, but I just think if you do learn while you are at the childcare, it will mean less painful time for you. You will then come to enjoy their routine and you will want to be there.
My class starts from 27th of this month anyway which means we won’t have much time to be together all the time. Unlike last year, this year, I have full days classes from Wednesday to Friday. If you do well at the childcare, we will put you there on Friday as well. For now, you are enrolled for just three days from Monday to Wednesday. For now, let us pray that the centre director will allow me to be a volunteer there. There is no reason why they shouldn’t allow, except that they might feel intimidated to have a parent with them, which means they will not feel comfortable with the way they work.
Darling, if nothing works out, that is, if you really can’t settle down at the childcare, we will not take you there. We will find a way for you to be home even when I have classes. What is important is that you have a happy time growing up. The first three days you were taken there, you woke up in the middle of the night crying frantically. Only later I realized that you were having nightmares of being left at the childcare without me. That made me think that you will probably be traumatized by it instead of helping you develop. So if it happens again, I will leave you out from there. So be happy for now. I love you.
15th January, 2012
You are playing with your toy laptop just now as I write to you. This is the first time I am writing to you directly on my laptop. You usually don’t let me use [I find that I had not found time to go beyond this line. I think you suddenly woke up and couldn’t come back to continue].
9th January, 2012
The new year has begun and I feel a little sad again. I think any kind of reminder about getting older, about times being past makes me unhappy. I feel like an unhappy person who wants to hold on to believing that the world is permanent. This surprises me because I am a person who thinks of death more often than many ordinary people, a person who keeps thinking of impermanence in every aspect of life. Maybe it is because of this that any kind of milestone makes me sad.
I am sure you will notice that that I started writing to you less. After we moved to Sydney Road I started cleaning the house, doing dishes, and reading novels. The house was a mess. But others didn’t seem to have mind it. They have kept everything where they had been. But I sorted the books, cleaned the shelves, rearranged the sofas, cut the grasses and cleaned the garage. I don’t get a good feeling about having done so. On the contrary, I feel like my housemates thought I am being too – hmm, something like trespassing. I get a feeling that the housemates here had not been getting along well, inwardly. Maybe my feeling is wrong. But we are happier here than we were in Caulfield. You sure get to talk to all of them, which means you are not always locked up in our own room. The park is close and we go there often too. We went there today as well.
Our new housemate from Bhutan came yesterday. She is called Kuenga, ICT Officer in RCSC. I have seen her before. She told me that we actually graduated and started job together. Today we went to the university with her. But once she met her mentor, two of us came back, on foot. On our way back we went to the park and played for a long time. You played swing, your favourite. You got to walk a lot too, on the grass. I think we should go there often so that you get to walk without getting hurt if you fall a little. You have started walking, a lot more. We have been trying to make a video but if you see us using a camera in front of you, you crawl fast to get it. When you want to get somewhere fast, you crawl, because you can crawl fast and without problem.
You will walk without problem soon. Today this new housemate taught you to touch your nose. Now you touch your nose everytime you see her. It is really surprising how you learn things so fast. You saw a bird outside on the fence through the window and you actually communicated it to me. There are always such things that you surprise me with. The first word you have spoken is, ‘duck’. I bought you a picture book and you can actually say duck, your cute little finger pointing to it. My baby, you are really grasping the things faster than I would have ever imagined. It is a wonder to see you grow up. I love you.
19th December, 2011
I have not written to you for a long time. I have been watching movies almost every day when you slept. I am sorry about this, but you know, I cannot keep up with you to play all day long. I hope you will understand this.
We have been busy the past three days. We are now in the new house in Sydney Road. We planned to move by 15th but we could move only on 17th. We had to do lots of cleaning and it was tiring. We have two rooms and a bathroom all for ourselves now and the first day we were here, for the first time in six months we felt like we were in a real home. You know, it was difficult not to feel suffocated to live in just one room. But in life, we must go through all kinds of things.
I have wanted to write to you today. My little darling, you are going to be one year old tomorrow. I have been having a gnawing unhappy feeling the whole day. I can’t believe time flies so fast. I think I am unhappy thinking that you will grow up so fast and you will be out of my cuddle, and care and you will very soon live on your own and I would no longer be the most important person in your life. I know it is funny. I am sure not many will speak it out. I can’t believe that I am feeling this way. I never thought I would feel unhappy to even think about you leaving home to live on your own. I now realize how attached I am to you and I feel like I would feel so hollow and empty and I feel like if I did not have you to care and cuddle, I would not know how to live. But I am sure it is natural for all mothers. It is not like I will not let you go on your own way. I know that you should find your own way and travel the path you choose wisely.
My princess, I love you. We are not throwing a party to celebrate your birthday, firstly because we just moved here and it will be little difficult arranging it and secondly we thought it is not really important since you are too young to enjoy it and thirdly, we thought it is better to make some spiritual contribution rather. Your dad and I love you. But I know, we are going to be in the festive mood all day tomorrow. I have inwardly thought of going out. You will be dressed in a beautiful dress. You must. You should look like a princess. I will take pictures of you so that you can look at them and see what you were like when you were a year old. I know you will like it.
Until tomorrow then, darling. I love you.
P.S. I told you that you were trying to walk. Yesterday, you took your first one step without support.
7th December, 2011
We are home and your father is gone to work. He now works at two places.
Now you try to stand a lot. I have put the tables around the bed and you don’t crawl but instead, you walk around with support from the tables. You are able to stand on your own for longer time now and looking at the frequency that you try to stand, I think you will be able to stand and walk a little by your first birthday.
We have to start packing things and prepare moving from here. By 15th we will be living in Sydney Road. Your father went for night duty today and we are all by ourselves.
Bob and Vina who sublet the house to us have her parents here and it is too noisy. Her parents had come here when two of us have fallen asleep. Though they just got here, they are in the kitchen trying to clean up and it seems like they are cooking all the time. It is good that they are doing the cleaning. I was beginning to feel suffocated with the way they live. I clean the toilets and basins all the time. If we keep them to be just be, they become so dirty that it is intolerable.
Because the house is crowded already and the kitchen and corridors are small, it is so difficult to move around. Last time, I was carrying you and you broke Vina’s bottle. She used to drink tea and water in a bottle (something like a pickle bottle). It was lucky that it was just a bottle. Imagine what it would have been like if it was an expensive cup.
But this will all end soon. The house we are moving to has two rooms and a bathroom all for ourselves. We will play around a lot then. I am sure you won’t get bored to go out and you won’t feel like you are being caged. There is a living room too there. You will get to talk to our housemates as well.
5th December, 2011
We are back from Adelaide. We went there on 2nd. It was a very good holiday for us. Apa’s friend Suzanne who is a Hand Therapist was very kind. Since I did not meet her before and also because this was the first time we would be staying with a foreigner, I did not know what it would be like and I was worried. She is very good but her husband is a little blunt and he doesn’t seem to care much about guests or anyone. She told me that her mother and he do not get along well and it is very difficult for her. She said that it is because she works very hard and her mother is a very hard working too and her husband is not. But it is funny because he is the one who is very stringent and he gave us tons of advice on how hard we must work hard and how we must plan to save money. He says we should even plan what to eat and how much to spend on everything. But that doesn’t make much sense to me because I believe that we must live a moment at a time and each moment must be happy. It just doesn’t make sense to me to work so hard for a future that we do not know exists. I know it will sound difficult to you but darling, Ama believes so much in uncertainty and impermanence and all that stuff. You will come to know them in your life. I don’t know what you may come to live for and what you would believe but it would be really worthwhile for you to believe this as this I know is the truth. I will not write more about it since it might sound like I am trying to indoctrinate you. You will live to see the world yourself and you I know will be kind and generous.
We ate croissants for breakfast and the first day we were there, we were picked up by her cousin Leonni who is a very lively woman. She took us for lunch at a market she said the food is nice. We ate some western style food, something like burger and stuff which I have never really considered to be food. For Bhutanese you know, these things are snacks. We grew up eating just rice and curry and only this set of meals is food for us. But surprisingly, I did not feel hungry and I indeed enjoyed all that. Then we had dinner at her place too on the day we arrived. She has a very beautiful huge house with a huge beautiful garden. She has a pet dog named Ruby. You liked her and played with her, which made me feel very uneasy because I was scared that you might intimidate her and she would bite you. Anyway, nothing like that happened and I was glad. Suzanne was working on that day and she joined us for dinner and then we went to her house together. The next day we went to Cleland Park to see the kangaroo and Koala. Her husband joined us too on that day and the next day. You fell asleep just before we saw the Koala when we were lined up outside the fence to see it. I was getting worried that you were not getting a good food but you coped just fine.
The next day we went to Dr Griffin’s farm. He owns 100 acres of farmland, which in Bhutanese standard is very, very huge. But we were told that in Australia it is not uncommon. We had lunch at their shed at the farm. His farm house is under construction and he and his wife were both there working. He seemed like a very kind man. He got a kind face. We took a picture of you with him, which I will put here. He is a very famous hand surgeon in Australia. We were told that staying at the farm during weekend is to mainly get away from the stress since his work is so stressful. This is another thing that does not make sense to me. I would rather live each moment happily.
You were little restless but then it was understandable. They all had dogs and you liked them but I was scared all the time through because as a Bhutanese I am not used to owning pets and considering it ok for children to touch them and not wash hands. I felt grateful that you did not fall sick.
I went to the Girls’ Christmas party at Suzanne’s friend’s house and you stayed home with Apa. Then after we got back, he went with Gini, Suzanne’s husband to see a concert. We went to her mom’s house where we bathed you in the bathtub. It was really difficult and we could not really give you a good bath. Her mother prepared pumpkin for your dinner which you ate well.
Just before we left today, her mother wanted to meet her. She took us to a shopping centre and bought you toys and then we went to the park where you played swing for the first time. We have taken pictures and made videos as well. You loved it and did not want to come out but we had to since our time was short.
They are all such wonderful people. They were so kind and generous. I was with Suzanne in the morning of the second day outside her house talking. We had just got up and it was so serene. They all beautiful gardens and swimming pool, which is uncommon again for Bhutanese. When I said she had such lovely place, she said, ‘but you must know that a bigger and nicer house does not make you happier.’ I just nodded my head in agreement. She said she was living in just one at the house which is now her clinic before she got married and she was happy.
On our way there since we got up so early, you were sleepy and you slept on the plane but today on our way back, you were so restless. It was good that the flight was just one hour. Otherwise it would have been so difficult. You wanted to stay free and you did not like us holding you. You struggled to get free and you kept making noise and crying which made me feel uncomfortable thinking that we were disturbing others. In such circumstances I remember my mother telling me that a mother who has a baby at her bosom is never at peace. But then that is how it is with everyone and it is only natural that you would cry when you did not feel free and you did not feel comfortable. You know, though there are moments when we feel uncomfortable, I think that everyone goes through this experience once and it should not put us at unease.
Anyway, I am telling you everything that we had gone through. I am sure you will read it one day and though you won’t be able to remember any of it, you will get a feeling of wonder about how much you have seen and been through when you were a baby. s
30th November, 2011
We are at home. We woke up only at past 10. We had our breakfast, washed clothes and now we are on the bed, playing. You are playing your piano while I am writing you this letter. Your father gave interview at a different facility and today is his first day there. In a while we will prepare lunch. I am thinking that you may fall asleep by then. For the past three days we went out all day looking for a pair of black shoes for your father for the work he is joining from today. He finally bought a pair yesterday. We were getting tired not getting shoes that he likes. Some were just too expensive and the ones whose price we thought were reasonable were not what he liked.
The first day we went out to buy his shoes, he did not find what he wanted and I ended up buying lots of things for you. The second day we went, I bought a belt for myself. Then on the third day, we did get his shoes but even that, he did not like much but he thought he should buy a pair since he will be working from today. Now he is determined to work hard to make some money to take home. But I don’t really like the thought of seeing him work hard while I do nothing. I think I have to soon look for a job too. You will be going to childcare from January again and I think I will need to work anyway. What will I do at home all day if I have no work?
I just hope I will get a work that will not cause inconvenience to any of us. Pray for us darling. I love you.
22nd November, 2011
I just wanted to tell you that your father bought chicken for you today and it is the first time we fed you meat this way. Till now we have only given you chicken puree and that kind of baby food. You did like the chicken and I was surprised. You do not like egg. We tried giving you egg several times but you have thrown it out instantly.
My holiday is more than three months which means good for us. We will get to be together without worrying about time. But I am sorry that soon after my exam got over, I watched Korean Series that took away my time. But you have now grown up and you are such cute little darling – you play on your own sitting near me on the bed, playing your toys, making cute noises and coming to me in between, just when you need some milk. It got over yesterday morning and now I have decided not to watch anymore. It leaves me feeling guilty.
From yesterday, you have started looking at my mouth every time I chew, expecting me to give it to you. So I started feeding you directly from my mouth and you enjoys it a lot. I feel funny about it. This morning as soon as you woke up, you came to me and put your mouth on mine. I think you were hungry and wanted to eat food. But it is cute. I love you when you do such cute things.
We have only a week to go to Adelaide now. Since your father will be busy with work, we will have to start preparing to pack. We will mostly need things for you and we shouldn’t forget anything important for you, but for your father and me, we don’t have to take much. We hope you will be a good girl there. We are going to be guests and we must make sure that we do not trouble them so much. I hope too that we enjoy good health and have a good time.
You are sleeping right now. The entire time I was watching the Korean Drama, you had slept for so long. You slept for 3 hours at a stretch for three continuous days that I was surprised. Then from yesterday, you did not. It is as if you were being understanding and gave me time. Thanks for that.
I love you.
19th November, 2011
I have not written to you for a long time. Time and again I wanted to write but I thought I should wait. I felt like I have so much to tell you, though it is always almost the same thing. There isn’t anything new happening in our life. I told you that your father has started working.
My semester exam finished yesterday and now I am only holiday. I told you that we would soon be having so much time to ourselves. It has already started now. We had been invited for a birthday party at Weribee yesterday. Your father and you met me at the K –mart in Sydney Road after my exam. We thought we were late. No other Bhutanese contacted us. We called those who stay in Sydney road but they said they were busy and were not sure if they would go. So we decided to go on our own. We met those Bhutanese from Bell Street in the train. You were sleepy and became agitated. Just when we came out of the shop it started raining so heavily. We had not taken the umbrella but we had the plastic cover for your pram. We made for the train just in time and didn’t have to wait and wail about not being on time.
During my exam you got sick a few times and I couldn’t study well. I don’t mean to say that it is your fault that I couldn’t write my exam well. It is little difficult since you are still very young and mother is who you need all the time. When you get sick, you become very clingy to me. You don’t even want to go to your father. But that is ok. With some luck and our prayers, I hope I will pass.
We have more than three months’ holiday now. I thought we could have even gone home. You would have met your grandmother and had had some good time in Bhutan.
We are decided that we will move to Sydney Road in December mid. We are going to Adelaide where your father’s friend has invited us on 2nd December. We have few things planned now, you see? I hope you will be a good girl at her place and we will have a good holiday.
Yesterday a little before we reached the host’s house you fell asleep and I took you straight into one of the bedrooms to put you to sleep. You wok up after sometime and when I tried to put you back to sleep you couldn’t because of the noise that the children there made. They were shouting and you got excited too. You were the cute little doll everyone wanted to touch and play with. You were still sleepy. I’m sure you were hungry too but you didn’t eat your dinner properly. You have not been having a good appetite for a few days. You ate your dinner well today. You passed stool twice. After you passed stool the second time, you seemed to be in ease and only after that you ate your dinner well. I think you were having some stomach upset.
Did I tell you that you have started taking your hands off the support and trying to balance to stand. You are so addicted to nursery rhymes too. You watch the nursery rhyme videos on the laptop almost the whole day. I worry that it might not be healthy. Then you imitate some gestures from the video which makes me laugh and love you. You nod your head when they sing, ‘if you are happy and you know it, nod your head,’ and you put out your hands and shake them when they sing, ‘she will be singing ya ya yippee when she comes.’ It is really wonderful to watch you grow. Papa and I love you.
Darling, we pray that you will grow up to be a beautiful, intelligent girl that you should be.
11th November, 2011
You slept at 10 today, which is earlier than usual. Your father went for night duty today. I thought of studying after you slept but I am so sleepy. I have only two more papers left now. By next Friday, I will feel so free. We will then roam around a lot, all right? I have wanted to tell you that you have now begun trying to stand without support. You can’t stand yet but you first stand with some support and then you slowly withdraw your hands from it.
When your father picked up from childcare centre yesterday, he saw on the way after two of you have already come out from the centre that you had some scratches on your face, near your eyes. He reacted a little strongly and he called up the centre director and told her about it. He also told her that it was not the first time. We did notice some scratches on your thighs too before but we did not complain to them. But when the director asked the carers, she said that she was told they did not know about it. You could have hurt yourself with your nails but it did not seem like it. I remember hurting yourself that way but it wasn’t that bad. However, the good thing is that, with babies, it heals quite fast.
4th November, 2011
I just wanted to tell you that there was this incidence that left me awestruck. Remember, I told you that you could climb on the chair too. So this time, I turned the chair so that you were facing the back of the chair which is taller. But when I did so, the bottom of the chair which did not have the bar faced towards you. And you know, you knew that you could crawl from beneath that. And yes, you did that! You are smart there, aren’t you? My little darling, you do use your brain. I just couldn’t believe this. I was surprised, so surprised that I took you in my arms, hugged you very tight and laughed like I was crazy. I love you baby. You sure are going to make me proud.
2nd November, 2011
You are now recovered from diarrhea. You used to have constipation and it was only for a week or so before you got diarrhea that you stopped getting constipation. So when you did not pass stool yesterday, we were worried that you are probably going to suffer from it again. however, you passed stool today, which was normal. We find that we worry about you a lot. But we come to find that it is normal and happens with all parents. Right now I’m lying down in bed trying to lure you to sleep as I rest too but you are playing. You have climbed up on the sofa right now. I was surprised to see that you can climb on the chair too. You pull your body a little away from the chair, hold your hands on it and then throw your body on the chair. Wow. I can’t believe that such ideas can come – like – automatically. It is as if it is instinctive.
Your father went for an interview today. He worked in the morning. Since today is cloudy, I did not take you to childcare. We informed already that we will be bringing you there for only two more weeks. Good days are coming darling. We will be all free and happy soon. I love you.
1st November, 2011
You are still not well. We went to the Royal Children’s Hospital which is near my university and very far from Caulfield. You won’t believe that we had to wait seven hours before we could see the doctor. First the nurse sees the patient and then we are asked to wait. We knew only later that the nurses assign a priority number to the patients after their assessment. We saw that our priority was 4, which probably meant that you were not very sick and did not need a doctor to see you immediately. But they did not explain that and waiting seven hours was so difficult that we were losing our patience. We even thought if we should come back home without seeing the doctor. But again, we waited thinking that the hours that we waited already is going to be a waste. When we finally saw the doctor, he said that we were doing good by giving you electrolyte. He said that there doesn’t seem to be any infection and the diarrhea usually last a few days after the infection is cured. Since you had got nappy rash, he gave us a little of what is called ‘nappy goo’ and asked us to buy that from the pharmacy. We finally reached home at 1 am and you fell asleep on the way. It was such a long and tiring wait. We luckily had our lunch leftover, so your father and I quickly ate that and slept.
Baby right now, when I was writing this letter, you were trying to stand and then you stood without support. You are now learning to stand. I blew out a breath by (phu phu) and you immediately picked up. I was so surprised and happy that I shouted to let your father see it too.
Then we took you to my university health centre for review. The doctor had told us to take you for a review after two days. The doctor at the health centre said that you were getting well. Most of the time we are seeing doctors only to get some reassurance you know. Then from there, we went to see where my exam hall is. Since I am poor with direction, I wanted to go check it with your father so that I won’t be lost on the exam day. On the way you seemed hungry. You nibbled on the few snacks we had taken for you and we finally reached home and you got to eat food. But you did not sleep until 8 pm.
29th October, 2011
You are so sick. Your diarrhea has become so worse now. We are really, really worried. You have no appetite at all. You just won’t open your mouth when I try to feed you. It is noon right now. Your father went to work. You were sleeping on my lap earlier but when your father came with the electrolyte solution, I disturbed you by trying to give it to you. [You passed watery stool three times last night and since we are really worried that you may get dehydration, your father went to buy electrolyte solution from Coles as soon as he woke up]. After that you cried so much, so much that I didn’t know what to do.
Your father woke up early and he had prepared breakfast too. He was going to take packed lunch too. When he had gone to the Coles, I packed his lunch but since he reached back only in time to dress and go for work, he left without eating breakfast. We are both so tensed and worried about you.
When you cried so much and didn’t stop, I thought I should call him and ask him to come back from work. [This was written before I had called him. I in fact called him back from work and he returned from work at noon. We were alarmed and worried and tensed not knowing what to do. We decided to take you to the hospital.]
You cried so much that you were inconsolable. After a while, when nothing worked, I felt irritated and sad and unhappy that we are so far from home. Finally now, you are sleeping (as I write you this letter) again on my lap suckling milk. I pray that you will sleep well and feel better when you woke get up. I don’t know why it should all happen when my exam is near. I am praying so fervently that you will get well soon. It troubles me so much to see you go through such pain. Baby, I feel so sorry that I put you in such unhappy situation.
Yesterday brother Tshering called after I mailed him that you were not well. he said he went through the same problem when he was studying and his wife and son were with him in Japan. Also he said that all parents must be going through the same problem. I am sure everyone is. I can’t imagine that even as you begin to make sense of the world you should go through so much suffering. I feel sad that you have a very long way to go. I hope you will be intelligent and wise enough to make sense of the world and not get caught up in activities that will only worsen the suffering that is natural to human life. all I can be positive about is that you have a chance to get rid of all these sufferings and I would like to hope that you will in fact be a serious follower of truth. Baby, this is what life is. All journeys are strewn with pain and sadness and you must know early in life that your only way is to live right and listen to your innermost voice.
I’m continuing this letter again. Your father came back from work. I was crying with you and I was really at wit’s end not knowing what to do when I called him and asked him to take leave from work. I really wanted to ask him to do that but I had withheld it for sometime. By then, you wouldn’t stop crying. You woke up shortly after I talked to him and said that you cried so much but was sleeping. I just told him not to worry when you woke up and cried again like before. So I then decided it was better to have him home and asked him to come home. But then, after that you slept again and I tried to reach him but he wouldn’t take call. He didn’t call back. He must have been busy and it was understandable. I actually wanted to tell him that you were ok and he wouldn’t have to come home. It was late by then I guess.
After this second sleep, you woke up and you were fine. You did not cry like before. But your watery stool did not get better. You took the electrolyte solution as well and ate some food too. You played too. From today, I noticed that you have learned to take the mobile to your ear and started saying something – you have seen us take mobile to our ears and talk for sure.
Since you seemed better, I was not sure if we should take you to the hospital. We started looking for a nearby hospital but found that there was none we would know. We also wanted to know if we would have to pay ourselves or if the OSHC would pay the hospital directly. Still a little unsure, we decided that we should take you to the hospital even though you seemed better, even if it means just to have nothing but comfort us from hearing the doctor say that there is nothing to worry about. So we went to the Royal Children’s Hospital which is near my university. By then it was past 4. When we were in the train you showed signs of being hungry, like taking your finger to your mouth time and again. So we got out at the Melbourne Central Station and bought banana custard for you. You did take it well.
At the hospital, we were asked to wait after filling up the forms and all that. We had no idea how long we would have to wait. In the beginning we were pretty impressed looking at the toys that are installed in the waiting area for children. You played there for sometime. Then the waiting became too long. We started asking if we would have to wait some more. The second time we asked, we were told that we were already assigned to a doctor who was delayed by some emergency case and after that he must have forgotten. So the nurse who said this also told us that the doctor might have to be reminded, which she did and thus we were called in after 7 long hours of waiting. By then it was midnight. Impatience has taken its toll on us that we really felt so depressed and tired. We wanted to come home by giving up but we said we should just wait since we waited that long already.
The doctor finally saw you, who said you seemed active and not dehydrated. We reached home finally at 1:30 am and slumped on the bed. You did eat your dinner at the hospital. You fell asleep on the way and we put you straight to bed. Your father and I quickly grabbed the leftovers from lunch and went to bed. We decided if accessing health care in Australia is this difficult, we have no right to even speak a word of complaint on the way health systems function in Bhutan.
26th October, 2011
I still feel shaken and sad when I think of it. I’m sorry again. You have not been feeling well for a few days now. In fact, you have never fully recovered from the cold you got the first time. Last night you passed stool twice but you fell asleep and I didn’t disturb you. Which means, you slept without it being cleaned. I know you will think I have not cared you well but you were having difficulty sleeping and I did not want to disturb you when you fell asleep. Clearly, you seemed to be having some trouble with your stomach. You would push and then relax after you have farted or passed stool. I was so sleepy too but I would have cleaned you no doubt if I thought you were awake and uncomfortable.
Your father had to go for work early today. Two of us were still in bed when he left. My sleep was disturbed too and I planned to sleep as long as you but you woke up again around 8:30 and then you fell back to sleep in a minute or less. Since I was fully awake, I thought I should get up and go to toilet, wash my face and get your breakfast ready. This, I did in fact after much debate because I am aware of you crawling up from the bed and the risk of you falling down from the bed. I can’t explain why I risked that knowing that it could happen to you. But I think the argument of me having to get up when you are still sleeping won over me. I went to the bathroom and again, I debated if I should wash my face and brush my teeth because I knew you might wake up before I had finished washing. Again, I did carry on. I listened to see if I heard you cry and I swear I did not hear you cry. You know sometime I imagine myself hearing you cry but today nothing. Then when I returned to the room hurriedly, still worried that you might wake up, you were in fact on the floor, crawling. You have reached near the door. I wailed and cried. It made me feel like killing myself. You had fallen down from the bed again. I still feel so guilty and ashamed and irresponsible and I feel like I am a bad mother. Darling, please know that I have no intention of hurting you and I want the best for you. I imagined the pain you must have had and I cried again and again, begging you sorry, asking for forgiveness. I will never let it happen to you again. I have asked Bob about dismantling the bed. I think it is not good for us to sleep on a bed. We will sleep on the floor from now on.
We have got an appointment for you with the doctor at 4 pm today. I hope you will get well soon. We did not take you to the childcare centre today since you are not well. I hope you will get better tomorrow. Since your father is working tomorrow and I have to go for tuition, we will have no choice but we will make sure that you are picked up soon. [We took you to the health centre to get a check up. The doctor saw you and said there was nothing to worry and that if we thought you were not getting better or getting worse we could bring you again. We really do hope you will get well soon. On our way back from the health centre, we roamed a bit in the city. We went to a food court and ate lots of different cake-like food. Your father and I drank a big cup of tea each. We are sorry that you didn’t have much choice but your food. Also, you had to take your food cold since there was no micro-oven in the feeding room.
We planned to buy a big umbrella from a shop we think the prices are reasonable but it was closed. So we headed home.]
This morning’s incidence made me feel like going home. Your father and I keep pondering on whether it was good to come here and the thought that it was wrong keep weighing more. I think it was really a wrong choice. If we were in Bhutan, nothing of this sort would happen to you. There would always be someone near you. Baby, I’m sorry again and I am sorry that you and your father had to sacrifice a lot for me.
Mama loves you darling. I’m sorry for the all the troubles and pains.
25th October, 2011
You are not well again. Day before last night (23rd Oct, 2011) there was slight rise in your body temperature. I really don’t like to give you medicine. I imagine your small brain being exploited by the reaction but your father said it was ok. So we gave you medicine from yesterday. I cooked apple for your lunch today. You seemed to enjoy it. You didn’t eat your breakfast well. you get fed up with food very soon. Sometime your father and I don’t know what we should give you.
Your nose is still runny and now you eyes are watery. Even I didn’t feel well yesterday. My database group had planned to meet for coffee but I had to cancel it. Right now you are playing on the sofa and about to climb on the bed. To protect you from falling down from the bed, I have attached the sofa with the bed. At first you couldn’t climb on the bed from the sofa but you were able to do it very soon. I think you could climb in a week or less. I was surprised. I really wonder at the way nature has designed us. It is surprising to how you can pick up climbing up for example without having to be taught. I think with time, everything comes naturally. It is as if, you already know it and you just have to wait for the right time to show it.
You have got diarrhea too.
20th October, 2011
Your father started working and now, we have become so busy. My exam is near and I have to submit assignments and I am taking extra tutorial on programming. All this puts so much of time constraint on all of us. Today you woke up earlier than usual. Since your father had been asked to bring lunch so that all the staff can eat together to celebrate one of the staff’s birthday, he had got up early. So since we couldn’t bathe you last night, it was perfect to bathe you in the morning since you woke up early. I planned to drop you at childcare centre early too.
We bathed you, gave you breakfast and when I was getting ready, preparing your formula, you passed stool. And then, after I wiped you, you started clinging on to me and when you suckled milk, you fell asleep. You slept for very long, longer than usual that it even worried me. I wondered if you were not well. You had fever for a day and you recovered. We stopped the medicine but have been worried doubting if you fully recovered. Anyway, yeah, you slept for a long time and then I dropped you after giving you lunch. But we had to hurry. It was so hot outside but luckily we got the bus.
Right now I am on my way to the university. I came straight from dropping you. I have to reached the university at 2 and I was worried that I was going to get late. But I am on time. I love you baby. Sorry for having to rush you off to the childcare centre. My exam will be over soon and we will stay home, play all day and roam around together. You won’t be going to childcare centre after my exam. Love, Mom.
18th October, 2011
I just wanted to tell you that we were playing and when I taught to you do ‘bru bru’ with lips, you picked it right away. I was so excited that we both laughed and shrilled.
It is amazing how you learn to do things. I just can’t wait to hear you talk. I won’t get tired of answering all your questions. I will be happy to see your curiosity work.
17th October, 2011
You suddenly got sick last night. You were crying and I woke up to find you had fever. It went down around 8 am and you woke up late. When I was giving you breakfast, your temperature went little high and I gave you medicine. You have been better after that.
It is worrying to realize that you could fall sick so suddenly. We pray for your health all the time and we hope you will not go through so much of sickness in your life.
14th October, 2011
You didn’t sleep at your usual morning time today. You did show some irritation indicating that you were sleepy but you just couldn’t fall asleep. In the morning your father had to go to a childcare centre where you will be going next year. We put application early this time and it is confirmed now. We learned this lesson the hard way. We had difficulty getting one this year but I guess in the end, it was good for us. We wouldn’t have liked you to be in the childcare centre for 4 days a week.
Then after he came back, he went to an aged care centre, where he is called for an interview. Since you couldn’t fall asleep and we felt bored and we ran out of any new ways to play, we came for a walk. We are sitting under a shed by the road outside some house. We came in the direction that your father went but we don’t know the address. I just sent him an sms asking him to call us when he is done. When we started from home, it was so sunny, so we didn’t bring the blanket but now the wind has started to blow and it has become very cloudy. I don’t know if it is going to rain. We will probably have to go back before he calls. Both of us are not wearing warm clothes. The sun was too hot just few minutes back. The weather in Melbourne is so unpredictable.
I hope your father will get a work soon but you know now my exam is near. It starts from November 7 and I am scared that he might have to work just when my exam begins which will make us all tensed. I hope this does not happen. I am a person who keeps things in God’s hands and I am thinking he will figure out a way that will not wreck us. Though your father felt that it was taking so long to get a job, I think it is good for us. If he worked, we would have had to stay rushed all the time. Anyway baby, I think we will have to move back. It is still cloudy and I am afraid it is going to rain. I love you.
8th October, 2011
You can now crawl. Not really fast but enough speed. It is interesting to see how you grow up and learn new things. You notice the smallest speck of dust or a tiny grain on the floor. When I talked to my niece last time when her daughter turned 10 months, she told me that she was not crawling. This made me think if you crawled a little earlier than many other kids.
You know, you seem to want to stand so badly. You take support from every structure that you see and stand up. It is so risky. We are so scared that you will hit yourself so badly that we would end up regretting all our lives. You did hit a few times already and there really is way to completely take out all risks. I think this is how all children grow up, hitting a little here, a little there, crying, laughing, crying some more and just nagging on the mother. But you know what? I love you and feel my heart swelling in love as you cry begging me to take you in my arms. This makes me feel so much loved and wanted as well.
Your father now says that you will walk at 11 months. We can’t say if you would but we are happy to see you grow up so fast. We are so blessed to have you. We love you so much.
5th October, 2011
I am on my way back from the university. I just got in the tram. I still miss you when I am at the university and I can’t get used to being away from you. I called your father at 5 pm and he said he was going to pick you up. I hope you had a good day at the childcare centre. Your father has started feeling very hopeless and sad about not working. He thinks we should have applied at the hotel where all Bhutanese are working instead of doing the aged care training. I feel guilty at such time. He really has sacrificed a lot by coming here and I think it is not doing good to him. He is starting to feel frustrated. I can understand that and I do want him to work but right now all I can do is to console him by saying that it is good because we get to stay together in a really relaxed manner. I think we will decide on applying at the hotel. He can withdraw from there if he gets work in aged care.
You have started playing a lot. We just have to put you on the floor. You stay on your own playing. I love you. can’t wait to be home. I know both of you feel bored after sometime. I know this. Last time when your father was working (attachment for his training), I used to miss him so much even though you were with me. Whenever he is away, I find myself looking out the window to see if he is coming. There is no activity and that can really make us feel bored and unproductive. I am praying that soon he will get work and he will be happy. Then he will make friends and he won’t feel unhappy. We will also be moving with other Bhutanese in December and I am hoping everything will get better then. My exam is near now, maybe little more than a month. I have to study. I am finding one subject very difficult. Luckily I got a friend who is very good in that subject to help me. But the plagiarism issue is very strong here. But I know somehow I will pass and I will never have to face this kind of problem again. I now know what I am good at and what I must study. I will try to go more into management from here on. I am glad I can tell you all this. You will come to know how we lived as you were growing up. your father and I are thinking of leaving up to you to choose what you would like to study. That is so much better. Knowing what we are interested in early gives us a good chance to study that which makes you love what you study. I sometime can’t believe that I chose this course even after knowing from my undergraduate that I am not really interested in programming. But I think this is the last time. My love I am nearing home now. Can’t wait to take you in my arms. I love you. Mom.
28th September, 2011
Now when you clap your hands, it produces the clapping sound. Today, before we slept, we clapped and sang and laughed a lot. And as we prepared to sleep, we even composed a song. We have this habit of singing every small phrases and words. We converse in songs. Here is the 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 beautiful world
Slumber softly in the sweetest dreams
My little princess, you look so beautiful. You satre at us and when our eyes meet, you give us the sweetest smile ever. I was putting you to sleep because you showed you were sleepy but after suckling for quite long with your eyes closed, you woke up and when I started typing the letter in the mobile, you wanted the mobile. When your father gave you his old mobile, you looked at for long and then looked at my mobile. Then after some hesitation you took the old mobile. Right now you are playing with it.
Today it rained so heavily. In the morning it was cloudy but did not rain. Apa dropped you at the childcare. I was trying so hard to study but I missed you and I realized how my life centers around you now. Later in the evening, both of us went to pick you up. We walked in the rain to catch the tram and then from Hawthorn road to your childcare centre. When we reached the childcare centre, we were totally drenched. It rained and it was very windy too. We felt so pathetic and we cursed that our days in Australia should be like that.
When we reached the childcare centre, you were sitting down and playing in front of another baby younger to you, so engrossed. When I called, ‘Zamin…….’ in the singing tone that I call you, you looked up and then extended your hands out to me. Though my pants were wet, I took you on my lap. After that you wouldn’t sit on the floor. We came home in a taxi. We observed that Bhutanese here don’t use taxi at all. I think not many people use taxi anyway. They are expensive, they say. In the taxi you were quiet on my lap and you seemed to enjoy the ride. We are decided on buying a car. You will not go through the trouble after that.
Back at home, we laughed looking back at our pathetic walk in the heavy rain and wind. We found it funny by then. We felt funny for even cursing. This is how life is darling. A mixture of hardship, glory, sadness, joy, failure and success. The trick is to smile in all situations as if we are only a mere spectator and not the actor. We can do that. Then life won’t be so hard. That is when we have the spirit to call it beautiful.
22nd September, 2011
Just to let you know that you now keep removing your socks and taking your toes to your mouth. Such new things you do make us wonder so much. Seeing you grow up has made me marvel at the whole process of nature and life. I wonder how nature could be so incredible that all babies should grow up going through the same stage, their psychology exactly the same.
I watch you enjoy the nursery rhymes, get intrigued by small things such as a flower on the bed cover and your attention caught by a piece of rice on the floor. It is all so fascinating. Whoever designed evolution, designed it so perfectly.
We say life is a suffering. It is imperfect. But I think life is supposed to be beautiful this way. If it were perfect like a stainless white sheet of paper, it would have no colors and we would not know what even joy meant. Darling, just to let you know that, no matter what small hardship there is in life here at the moment, I am enjoying every bit of my time with you and I have come to think of my time with you as a valuable gift.
21st September, 2011
You turned 9 months yesterday. It is surprising how time goes so fast. You will be one year old soon. You are trying to crawl now.
Right now I am waiting for tram at Hawthorn road. I thought of staying with you for an hour or more at the childcare centre but you were playing and since many babies were sleeping, there were staff to attend to you if you cried. I will have to go home and read for my assignment.
The cold you caught last time did not completely cure. You have been snotting continuously and it became worse last night. Your nose was blocked and you couldn’t breathe when you were suckling the milk. I will pick you up early. So I hope you will be fine till then. Your father and I thought you did not like there but they told me that you had very good time. They said you did not cry at all. I couldn’t really believe that. But I do want to think that you enjoy there.
17th September, 2011
You are sleeping as I write you this letter. It is 11:35 p.m. Back at home, it would be unusual to stay up this late but it isn’t in Australia. It is not that I study late into the night. In fact I have not yet started studying as such – by which I mean, for now I am only reading when I have to write an assignment and not otherwise. This time I finished the two assignments I had to submit much before time. For the first assignment I felt the pressure of time and I didn’t want to have the same bad experience. During the first assignments, because I kept them pending till the last minute, I had to really wish you would sleep so that I could write them. That caused me to even feel a little annoyed with you once. I regretted it immensely at once and I felt so bad that I should have been angry at all. I know being mother isn’t like walking a fashion ramp but it has a joy that only a mother can understand. Looking at you and talking to you makes me so happy. There is nothing more special than to get a response from you. Did I tell you that you smile and talk and sing with us? When I say talk, I don’t mean you can actually talk. It is baby’s illegible talk.
You still go to the childcare centre but both your father and I get a feeling that you are not really happy there. This week your father dropped you there on both the days and he told me that you showed reluctance to go to the carer when she took you. You looked at your father and your eyes was welled up in tears. This broke me dear. On Thursday I was in the class and suddenly I thought of you and your image of being among other children at the childcare centre brought tears to my eyes. You sit among them innocently and to me, you seem like the most innocent baby. It must be true that to a mother, her baby is the most beautiful.
Today all of us went to Southern Wharf, a shopping mall where there are branded clothes, footwear and many other things. We went there planning to buy a pair of shoes for your father but we landed up buying a pair of shoes for me and not him. We did not buy anything for you today. It is like if there are no women, the business would run bankrupt. You see women’s clothing and different sandals and handbags and whatnot wherever you look. I would not have bought the shoes today if it were not for the attractive discount sale. I do feel bad that I am buying many things and your father isn’t. It is always like this you know. He is a very good man. I don’t have to tell you this. You will know this when you grow up. I am sure you sense it already. What is more important to you is that he loves you and he came here to be with you and nothing else.
I told you that you got cold. That cold hasn’t completely left you yet. Your nose is still blocked in the mornings and you still get snot. It seems like your nose is irritated. You rough your nose with your hands thus spreading it to your cheeks. I think it is because of that, that your face has become rough. It has become pink and looks like it is going to chaff. I have been applying the same cream and giving the same care but it hasn’t been improving. It isn’t so bad as you might imagine but it is just that we like you to have the best of everything and not go through any tiny bit of difficulty.
The whole time we were out today, you did not cry. You slept in the pram when we were at the shopping centre and then woke up right in time to feed you. Darling, I love you.
12th September, 2011
From today, you started snuggling against my chest and look for milk. You go on opening your mouth and sucking on the clothes. Darling, you have grown so much. You weigh 8.38 Kg now. During the last vaccine, you didn’t even cry much. You did not have sleeping problem either after the vaccine. It is so beautiful to have you with me. I can’t imagine how my life here would have been if you and your father were not with me. I feel it is selfish but we really are happy together. I know you would have been happy among our relatives at home but I tell myself that for you no material comfort would matter if you are with your mother. I get a feeling that your father is finding it difficult here. To be here without earning, taking leave from work, I think he doesn’t really get a good feeling. I can’t describe that feeling. But he is going to work soon in aged care but that is more like a manual labor and I am going to get hurt seeing him struggle. Some extra money will be good for all of us and also if he works, he would have friends and also he would be occupied but the work is going to be hard. His training got over today. As part of the training he had to do attachment in the aged care centre and he had to go so early. He had to get up at 5 in the morning while two of us slept. It is painful. We have heard of people who came here to study make lots of money but we realized that they did not do it easily. We will see how it goes for us. I sometime even feel that it will be good for two of you to go back to Bhutan in December after you turn one year. It is just some running thoughts speaking aloud though. I will be so miserable without two of you. My darling, thank you for coming in my life. Being a mother, it is hard to study but I tell you, there is nothing I will trade for to be with you. I love you.
1st September, 2011
I had to go to the city to pick up your father’s badge from his training centre. So while I came back, I did a small shopping for you. I bought a bag, two nice feeding bottles, and a plate, spoon and water bottle. I am sorry that we gave you cheap things. I am sorry that you have to go through the trouble of being at the childcare centre. I promise things will get better. Soon your father will work and I am sure we will be able to buy a car which will enable us to drop you and pick you up without any problem.
Today when we were at the childcare centre, you wouldn’t even play much. You clung on me. You wouldn’t even let me sit a little away from you. You were scared that I would leave you. This pained me so much. I stayed for around an hour with you but after that I had to come. This seems cruel and it is hard for me but you must know that it is all for the better for all of us. At home you get bored. However, I have decided that you will go to the childcare only two days a week as you do now, unless you enjoy much better there than at home. I think once you grow up little bit more, you will like being with friends. I am planning to pick you up before I go to class so that you get to have some milk. I will be reaching home late from the university.
At your childcare centre this morning, one baby was crying continuously. She did not stop in the one hour I was there, except for a little while when a staff gave her milk. They leave the baby crying in the cradle, unattended and this made me think that you probably go through the same trouble. I console myself saying that this will not go on forever. But there are also some babies, who are happy, playing toys and just tossing around. For now, let us all be strong and happy. I love you.
30th August, 2011
I am sorry that I lost temper yesterday. You have been bit irritable ever since you caught cold. You kept crying and didn’t want to stay on the floor. You kept clinging on me. You became like that after you fell sick with flue. You keep extending your hands out to us, asking us to hold you.
You like to stay outside. You seem to be bored in our room. You cry even when we come back to our room from the kitchen. This makes me think that you probably should have been kept in Bhutan. I think of how happy you would have been with your grandma. You never would have had to worry about not having someone next to you. I don’t get to study at all and this makes me worry, making me irritable too. It makes me look forward for you to sleep, which makes me feel so cruel, as if I don’t enjoy my time with you, which is not true at all. I love playing with you and I love holding you but darling, I would want to go on and what we both enjoy only if I had no responsibility of studying. Every time we try to put you down, you cling on us with an imploring look. This makes me feel so bad thinking that we are not able to give you a good time.
But then again, I tell myself that there can’t be a better thing for us than to be together.
24th August, 2011
You are still suffering from cold but you did not have difficulty sleeping after the first night. Today is your second week at childcare centre. We were not sure if we should take you there today but eventually we did thinking that the staff there will take good care of you. I hope you did not cry much. We had asked them to call us if you cried so much.
I had class and I got home only at half past ten. When I reached outside the door, I could hear your voice. Your father had carried you on his back and you were making sound that you make when you want to sleep. When you are sleepy, you want to suckle to soothe and comfort yourself. You slept after suckling for some time. Now you take out the nipple and play with it. You bring your hands to the nipple. You learn such new things every day. Your father told me that when you got back from the childcare centre, you ate much, much more than usual. You seemed to have been very hungry. I doubt they fed you well. You usually don’t eat much. The thought that probably they did not feed you well and you were hungry the whole time you were there made me feel so much pain.
20th August, 2011
You are not well. You got runny nose and couldn’t sleep last night. When you sleep, your nose gets blocked and you can’t breathe. This irritates you and you cry. Last night all of us couldn’t get good sleep. I feel guilty that we put you in the childcare centre as if you were disturbing our work. Though we meant well for all of us, I feel like it caused your sickness. There are so many children there and there is high chance of infection. I don’t find the centre so clean too.
I know you are strong baby. When you were very small, we took you to Yusipang in the dust and you did not fall sick. I worked in the potato field and breastfed you without washing and you still did not fall sick. This is nothing. My little darling is strong. I know you will get well soon.
17th August, 2011
I am waiting for tram to go home. I dropped you at the childcare centre and I stayed with you for more than an hour. Today is your first day there. You cried a bit when I was getting ready to leave. I think you sensed that I was leaving. It is hard for me. As I sat there with you, you not even playing, tears welled up my eyes. I controlled because I thought it wouldn’t look good if the carers saw me cry, but I couldn’t control. I quickly came out of the room when she was playing with you, distracting you. I looked at you from outside the door for sometime. You were engrossed looking at her but I think you might have cried by now. I am praying that you wouldn’t cry so much. Your father will come to pick you up around 4:30. So you don’t really have a long time to stay there. So I hope you will be fine till then. I am consoling myself saying that this is how all children grow up. You must find your place in the world and you must start to learn now. Darling, you must know that this really isn’t meant to be harsh on you. There are many other babies and I am sure you will enjoy soon. Don’t forget that your father and I love you so much.
As I walked alone back home, your sweet little face and those affectionate imploring eyes kept coming to my mind. I think it is harder for me than you because babies adapt and learn new things faster. I know I will feel the room so empty without you, though it is only for a few hours. I hope I will be able to study and do my assignments when you are at the childcare centre.
I was sitting on the bench as I waited for the tram. A crazy woman who seemed frustrated and was talking to herself sat next to me and started smoking. I am getting up so that I don’t have to inhale the smokes. I love you. I will see you in the evening.
12th August, 2011
We are at the childcare centre just now. We have been here nearly 3 hours. It is tea time for children. The older ones who have teeth are eating cake but you are given some mashed fruit. You seem to enjoy it. You were also put in a high chair like other children and when the older baby who was next to you ate cake, you looked at him with such look that I felt sympathetic. One of the carers is feeding you and you are eating so well that I am surprised. When you finish it in your mouth, you are making noise to indicate that you have finished and she should give you more.
Initially, you cried when you thought I had left. But slowly you started making noise. You felt comfortable after sometime. There are so many toys here. You will like here much better than home. Very soon you will feel like a family. You will crawl and then you will not feel like you can’t play and get the toys as much as other older babies. You will enjoy here, I am sure. I will come here a few times with you and stay with you till you feel comfortable. Once you like here, then I will stay home and study. Apa has gone to put application to another childcare centre where you will go once we move to Sydney Road next year.
He will come back here and we will go home then. Baby, I really hope our intention of putting you in a childcare centre will serve you well. I hope you will be happy.
11th August, 2011
I’m in the train on my way home. I briefly met Apa online. He told me that he bathed you but he was unable to do it well. We cannot bathe you alone right now. It is too risky. We can’t risk for you to topple in the water and hurt yourself. He wrote that you also passed stool but that you cried so much in pain. You have been having this problem for a long time now. We dread to think of your stool time. You don’t pass stool for a4 to 5 days and then when you finally do, it is with so much difficulty. I hope this will get all right. I heard that babies usually have this problem. But it seems like it is common only in Bhutan. Maybe it has to do with our diet being rice and nothing else.
It is good that all my classes are in the evening. I get to stay with you till 4. But we discussed that it will be better for all of us if you go to childcare centre. We got a place in one finally, and we are deciding to take you there from next week – for two days a week on Wednesday and Thursday. We are going there tomorrow for familiarization. I feel so unhappy and sad about it but my darling, you will like it better there. You won’t get bored. You will get to play different toys, have so many friends and learn many things too. It will be difficult only in the beginning. You must know that your father and I will never leave you in a place where you won’t be happy. If you don’t like it there and can’t cope, we will bring you back. This centre is far from where we stay but we decided to put you there and see how feasible it is for us. There is some hassle in the train now. There are people checking the tickets. You know people who travel without valid tickets are fined. Day before yesterday, I got on the train without validating my ticket and when I reached Flinders Street, I could not get out because it was not validated. Though my ticket was valid, I could not ask the people standing near the gate with the fear that I might be fined – though it is illogical since my ticket was valid. I just asked about it to the person checking tickets just now and he told me that I could have asked help from the person at the gate to let me out. You know there are gates that open only when you insert your ticket into it. So there is no way you can get away without a ticket. Right now in my carriage a woman was found without a ticket and the officials checking the tickets took away her details. It gets embarrassing.
Now I am nearing home. I love you. I can’t wait to be home. I have started getting pain on my breasts indicating that it is time for me to feed you.
8th August, 2011
I’m in the lecture theatre now. I reached here early. Your father called me just now saying that two of you have gone for a walk at Princess Park and you guys are now going back home. You are making noise and I could hear you on the phone. You must be sleepy. You do make such noise when you are sleepy. You usually sleep around 4 in the evening but today you have not slept yet. Last night you did not sleep until very late. We talked to grandma and others at home in Thimphu and it was as if you stayed up to talk to them too. You listened to us talk, played with the headphone and mic and did not even cry.
You recognize your father and me now. On Sunday we had gone for a walk till Carnegie. You were sleeping in the pram but you woke up and cried a bit. We took you out and you cried to come to me when our father carried you. You cuddled on my chest affectionately. I feel so blinded by affection when I realize that you are growing up and you are learning new things every day. You still drool but that is ok. I think you are soon going to get your teeth.
5th August, 2011
My letters are becoming infrequent now. W e are becoming busier as days pass by. I just wanted to tell you that from yesterday your left eye became ‘ngizimpa’. I thought it would be like that. I think your eyes are going to be like mine. I wrote that in facebook and my friend Leki said, it means you will have beautiful eyes. Of course you have beautiful eyes. You have beautiful eyes, lips and everything.
Today was my birthday and we thought of going out to eat but later decided not to. We felt kind of lazy and so we just stayed at home.
24th July, 2011
You had the second dosage of vaccine on Friday (22nd July). You had the first one on 24th June and you were supposed to have this one after a month but I asked the nurse and she told me that a week difference does not matter. And in our case, it is only a difference of two days. We took you on Friday because then I would be home with you on weekend, should you react to it and not feel well. You do seem to be little unwell but we are not sure if it is because of the vaccine. You have lost your appetite since yesterday. When we take the food, you close your mouth and won’t open it. But I try to feed you often. Right now you are sleeping. You slept for an hour already. You usually don’t sleep long but today it seems like you will. It may be because you did not sleep well last night.
You still need some support to sit but I think it will be only for a few more days. You will soon sit on your own. God, how I love you when I see you play with the toys. When we give you a plate and a spoon, you can now take the spoon and jingle it on the plate. I still don’t know if you recognize me but you do know when I am about to feed you. You have started playing with my nipple and when you are taking milk, you take out the nipple in between and have to look at me from time to time, as if to say, ‘thank you mom, I love you.’ Then you bring your hand to my mouth, you play with me. You play with my ‘kupar’ and anything that you see on my shirt. Even if it is just some colorful patch, you get so interested.
You have started talking more and you respond to our smile. When we smile, you smile too. Before you would smile only if you were teased. It is surprising to see all these developments. My lovely darling, I can only marvel at the way you are growing up. I love you.
P.S. We talked to grandma and Dendre yesterday. They are fine. They watched the video of you that we sent last time. Grandma said that we have made you cry. Your father made the video when you were sleepy and you were asking him to carry you. Your brother Dendre has done his exam fairly well and though it was Saturday yesterday, he said that he wouldn’t have to go to school because only those students whose marks were below 70% would have to take their guardians or parents to school.
19th July, 2011
You played on your own for more than an hour this morning. You still need some support to sit but I think very soon, you will sit. Now we just have to put little support around you. This morning after breakfast, you sat down and played with your toys. We don’t have many toys right now but even plastic and papers are your toys. It is good that you can play with anything. You hold them in your tiny hands, turn them here and there, so intrigued by them. Then you try to reach for another. You played this way for a long time and then you lay down making a noise to as if to say you are tired and you need rest. That is when I came and played with you. after sometime, you seemed sleepy. When you are sleepy, you act irritated and cry a bit and rough your eyes with your hands. So I fed you and played with your hair, and you fell asleep. You like it when I touch your head and play with your hair when you are taking milk. Yesterday, I carried you on my back and we sang and danced a lot. You enjoyed it so much.
When we play video on the laptop, you watch it too. What I am mystified with is that when we sing, you sing with us. As soon as we mutter a tune, you do too. I can’t help marvel at that. it is interesting how you respond. Baby, it is wonderful to see you grow up. This is how parents must be feeling. I think I will always see you as my baby, my little darling who I will want to care for and love even when you have grown up. I think I now understand this situation. I have seen parents trying to protect their children and their children not liking it. But we all live such circumstances; our turns come. Should you mistake me, I am sure you will know what I am saying when you become a mother yourself. But not all cases are like this. Some mothers and children can be best of friends and they share their secrets. And they understand and respect each other without hurting anyone, while the concern is seen. I hope ours will be like that too. I am sure it will be. I love you. Mom.
16th July, 2011
We are sleeping now. You slept around 5 and woke up around 7. You took your dinner and have been with me talking and playing. We listened to the music too. It is quarter past 10 now. Your father went to Choening’s house since he is leaving tomorrow. He finished his course and is going home. We stayed with him and his wife in the beginning because we did not have a house. They have been very kind and good to us. Yesterday we took them for lunch – we ate noodle at a Chinese restaurant. Since we don’t know any restaurants yet, we asked them to choose one and they said that we get good noodle there. I don’t know if they liked it but we can only hope that they did. After that we roamed around the city.
We went to the South Wharf where the factory outlet stores are. Pema told me that it is where we get good dresses and other products at reasonable price. We looked at different shops but we did not buy anything. I don’t know how much is considered expensive. I looked at a sweater for you and it was $16 but she told me that it is expensive. I still cannot get a fair idea of how much is a good price and how much I should spend in order to be able to save some money. We then went to Docklands, where there is a harbor. We just walked around and relaxed. You did not cry at all. My baby, you are really a darling doll.
It is a beautiful place. I was surprised that in a big city there can be many places where people can relax. The city here seems to be well planned. They have good spaces between the buildings and roads and we don’t feel that congested feeling we do in Thimphu. Melbourne is a beautiful place but I know I wouldn’t have felt this way, if you and your father were not with me. I am so happy that two of you are with me and we can all walk together and see such beautiful places together.
Thank you baby for being with me even though it may be difficult for you.
I love you, Mom.
10th July, 2011
We went for dinner at Weribee yesterday. We have been attending the gatherings for quite sometime now. People find you cute and adorable. Last night at the dinner, people started taking your pictures and when they teased you, you smiled and laughed making them play with you even more.
After you cried so much at the dinner at Jimy’s house, I get scared that you might cry like that again. So I try to be careful – I feed you in time and make sure that your sleep is not disturbed but in such gatherings it is difficult. I took you inside to one of their bedrooms to make you sleep but found that you had woken up before I finished my dinner. But that didn’t disturb anyone much. I finished my dinner inside the bedroom with you. By the time it was time to part, everyone seems a little drunk. The host Apa started teasing you and fondling you so much that I thought he might hurt you. I was worried. I hope his sisters didn’t see that in my eyes, otherwise it would have seemed rude.
This is the time in Melbourne when some students leave after completing their studies and some new ones come here. So it is time when so many gatherings are organized. We thought we probably shouldn’t go to this dinner because we don’t personally know the hosts, but then, on second thought we went because we didn’t want to appear rude by not going. We came back at 10 from there but reached home only at midnight. It is far from where we stay. But you know they have good public transport here. There are trams and trains and buses running till very late at night and we can travel without problem even at late hours. But even with such facility, it is not as comfortable and easy for us as for those without little children. But we still go around a lot. It is not a huge difficulty that we would rather stay home and not take you out. It is nice that three of us can travel together anywhere without problem.
But I think this is the last dinner for this season. So we will be home most of the time on our own.
30th June, 2011
I’m in the tram just now on the way home. You were not well yesterday. Your father had a hard time because you kept crying and there was nothing he could do. I didn’t know that you cried so much until I got home. He didn’t tell me because he didn’t want me to worry and have a stressful time at the uni. He was pretty upset when I got home. But you smiled and started talking to me as I stepped inside. I think you are now beginning to recognize me and start looking for me during the day time when my absence is long. I think you miss me. I know it is difficult for you and father but darling, you must know that it will pass and there are more difficult things than this. I promise it will get better.
I have an assignment to submit but I decided to work on it from home. Tomorrow is Friday and I don’t have to come to the university. Then we have the weekend. We will all be together. Also, it will get better after the IAP ends. So you see, we have better days to come.
Love you. I will see you home in a while. Mom.
26th June, 2011
I have not written to you for a long time. We have all been very busy. We are now in Melbourne, Australia. We reached here on 9th June. At first we stayed with our friend Choening and his wife. We shared their bedroom. They were very kind to put us up with them. Then, we started looking for an apartment. Your father did it vigorously and finally we decided to stay with the Chinese couple who had advertised that they had one empty room to be rented. They were the ones who immediately replied to our queries and we kind of felt that, it was like a karma. So we are here now, sharing house with them in what is called Caulfield. As I write this letter, you are peacefully sleeping next to me. You had not slept well for very long – in fact since we landed here, you had had difficulty sleeping, even at night. And your father told me that you barely sleep for 15 minutes during the day.
There is something called the Intensive Academic Program for AusAID students and it started on 14th June (it will end on 15th July). You see, I had to go to the university as soon as we reached here and then the classes for IAP is fully day everyday on weekdays. So I’m busy and you and your father stay at home when I’m at the university. I sometime feel guilty that your father and you have to sacrifice a lot for me. When we have to go around for social reasons or otherwise, we have to take you and it is usually for a long time – that you can’t sleep in the noise and then you start crying. You feel uncomfortable and you are disturbed. It makes me feel so guilty that I sometime feel like my guilt is going to drive me crazy. But I’m telling myself that this time will pass and we will have better days. You will soon be able to eat food with us and walk and talk.
Yesterday we went to the AusAID welcome and farewell function. It was for us students who came here recently and farewell for those who were leaving the university after completing their studies. All of us went there. Then straight from there, we went to our friend Jimy’s house for dinner. Initially we thought that it was just us for dinner. We learned when we reached their house that they had other friends too for dinner. For some unknown reason you cried so much at their house. I thought you were hungry. Aum Karma, who also stays in the same house with Jimy thought so too and she cooked an egg for you. You ate as if you were so hungry. But before you could finish eating you cried again and then you vomited. Some rash appeared on your chin. You cried so shrill and loud and scary that I cried with you. After so much discomfort and fuss, you slept for a while on my lap and I ate my dinner but you cried again before I finished my dinner. Your father and I then decided to go home. They said we should sleep over at their house but we thought that would cause so much discomfort to them as well. So we decided to come and as soon as you were put in your stroller, you fell asleep. Miraculously. You did not wake up even once on the way. We had to change two trains and then catch a tram and yet you did not cry. However, you did not sleep so well at night – but that has become your sleep pattern now. Anyway, after day break, you slept well. And so your father and I woke up late too. We woke up at 9 and then had our breakfast late.
We finished the Nan (the formula) that we brought for you. We are planning of going to a nearby grocery to buy that. We also planned to walk around to see the area we live in. We cleaned the house and now you fell asleep. So we will go after you wake up.
Baby, I’m sorry for all the trouble. I sometime even feel if it would have been good for you if I left you with your grandmother in Bhutan. But then again, I think it is good that I brought you. I feel psychologically, you will feel better with your father and me. I hope I have done the right thing for you. And I promise you my darling that we will be happy together. I love you.
20th June, 2011
You turned six months today and we took you to a doctor to have your milestone check. We have been in Melbourne for 12 days now. Because of my IAP (Intensive Academic Course) that goes on from 9 to 4:30, I have been so busy. This course is only for the AusAID students, which is for five weeks. We have to do three assignments in total – one called the large group assignment, one called the small group assignment and one the individual assignment. The deadline seems to come before we realize and it all keeps us busy. But it is interesting. It is very helpful. We are taught how to assess an academic writing and how to write one.
Your father has been very understanding throughout. Two of you stay at home when I go to the university. But though I am physically at the uni, I think of two of you all the time and I call from time to time to see how you are doing. Sometime I talk to you. Your father told me that you seem surprised and lost not knowing where my voice is coming from. You look here and there as if looking for me.
You have been a good girl too. Everyone says that you are a very calm and peaceful baby. And I think so too. I have seen babies that cry so much keeping parents restless and troubled. You have come to your father and me as a blessing – honestly, I think so. Since now, there has not been a single moment where you have given us so much worry. Somehow, I feel that you have come to us for greater meaning than just be a daughter as in normal parents-children relationship. I feel, you will have some important things to teach us.
My little angel, you are the centre of our life; you teach us what it means to love beyond two of us and what it means to be parents. We love you.
8th June, 2011
It is 8:15 p.m. Bhutan time just now. We are at the Bangkok Airport. We landed here an hour ago and we are now here at the transit to go to Australia. You did not cry so much but you were not able to sleep on the plane. You must have slept for around 2 hours in total today and I was worried that you might cry because of lack of sleep.
It is hot here. Your father went to buy something to drink. Oh, he got back with a guava drink. We have so many luggage that we had some difficulty but the person who was also going to Australia in the same flight didn’t even offer to help us. I guess it just didn’t occur to him. I felt so bad that your father had to carry everything. We are now sitting and you are sleeping on my lap. I want you to sleep till we go to board the plane so that you will not feel sleepy and irritated on the plane. I’m hoping this plane will be better and more comfortable than the Drukair. Earlier in the plane, you did not want to sleep in the bassinet either. It was not comfortable to feed you on the chair, so I sat down on the floor to feed you.
I called you when we boarded the plane from Paro and Pem Zangmo answered. She told me that grandma went for kora as soon as we left; she did not want to stay home; she felt the house so empty with all of us gone. I didn’t cry in front of them when we came from home but when we boarded the plane, I could not control. I cried on the plane and now too, tears fell without control. I think that she must be missing us so much and then thinking of what she must be doing and how she must be unhappy, I miss her so much. I look at you and wonder how difficult it would have been for me, if I was leaving you. I am so glad you and your father are with me. It never occurred to me that leaving you is an option. I just thought all of us are going together, like an unquestioned fact. Imagine how hard it would have been if your father was not with me. I wonder if I would have been able to go at all. My darling, I love you. Now you sleep peacefully.
6th June, 2011
We will be leaving for Australia day after tomorrow. So I’m relieved from office. Right now I’m home with you. Your father went to office. He said he has to meet Dr. Singay. He has decided to hand over the football club that he has been working for to him.
I logged on internet and I kept you on the bed. When I turned to look at you just now, you have removed your head from the pillow and you were playing with the pillow. You have picked up your pillow on your hand. You have begun to learn to turn. You can turn half the body now.
We have been attending farewell dinners and lunches for sometime now. Today too we have dinner. Your father and I did not discuss whether we will be taking you or not. We take you with us thinking that it would be better for you but it turns out that it is not. Last time we took you with us, it was not comfortable for you. you had a hard time falling asleep. You had to turn around a lot before you could sleep. so we might not take you today.
Yesterday we went for a picnic at Kuenselphodrang. It was Lungten’s farewell. We did not take you with us. Grandma said we should keep you at home and we did. It was good that we did. It was so sunny and we felt so tired.
Baby, when the day nears for us to depart, I feel unhappy that we will have to leave grandma here. Though my brothers are here, I feel that she will be unhappy when I’ m not here. Like I will miss her, she will miss me. You will see how a bond between mother and daughter is different from the bond between mother and son. I feel it is my responsibility to keep her happy. She says that she thinks she should come to Australia to look after you.
I feel so uncertain, anxious and sad. I have always felt sad at the partings that I have to witness. I hope we will not face so much of difficulty there and we will be back safely and your grandma will be fine. Baby, I hope you know how much my mother and I love each other. And I hope you and I will bear a similar bond and you will not grow up to be rebellious as is common in many modern children. I am saying this though I have no doubt in my mind that you will be intelligent and smart.
I love you,
2nd June, 2011
It is going to be 11 now but I’m not sleepy. I rearranged all the rooms and I am very tired but sleep seems far away. Your father is sleeping soundly.
We bought you and your father tickets today and we are now confirmed that we are leaving on the 8th. We have started doing packing too.
We have decided to keep our apartment as it is, rented. We will leave our things and furniture as they are and grandma and Dendre will stay here in our absence. Initially, we thought it would be nice for grandma if Ata Wangdi can stay but it turned out that if they combine, it would become crowded. Three children of his, he and Mathang and then Yangku. That would be six of them staying with Ama and Dendre and there are only 3 bedrooms. Dendre doesn’t want to share the room with others. He wants grandma to sleep in his room if they are going to come. So then, we said that they could stay themselves. But grandma is little uncomfortable. She thinks it is not right for us to rent the house just for them. She is guilty. I tell her that I’m her daughter and there is no need for her to feel that way but she just cannot let it. I sometime wish that she was a demanding mother, expecting me to help her and be there for her always. But the best mother will never be like that.
Later my nephew Sonam thought it was little improper for grandma and Dendre to be on their own. So he decided to move in. He said he will move in at the end of this month and he will pay Nu 3000 of the rent. So it means we will have to pay Nu 5000. We thought it was ok for us to rent the house and for them to stay because in life, we come to know that money is not everything. So we rearranged the furniture and the bedrooms for them. [18th July, 2011: He hasn’t moved in yet. He is moving at the end of this month. Grandma is not sleeping in our bedroom but in the choesham. She told me that it is convenient for her to sleep in there since she gets up early and makes the offerings and says prayers].
31st May, 2011
We went to Paro yesterday to have an audience with Lopen Thegchog. This was to have blessing to have a safe journey. You are having cough and runny nose but you did fine there. When grandma, Pem Zangmo and father prostrated, two of us stood. You stared at Lopen the whole time he said prayer to bless us. When we came out of his zimchung, his consort was ready with tea. So while we sat in their guest room and took tea, someone commented on you having lots of hair and then we remembered that we had to get a ‘trafue’ from a lama. We have a belief that we cannot cut baby’s hair until she is one year old or else we must get blessing from a lama which is called the ‘trafue’. The lama will cut little hair from baby’s head and say prayers. So your father took you to Lopen’s zimchung again and had the trafue. It was Ata Singye who advised us to get the blessing from him before we depart for Australia. Lopen stays in meditation all year round and his audience is rare. So we are lucky to have got an audience and blessing from him.
On the way back to Thimphu, we went to Ana Yeshi Wangmo’s house. Though it wasn’t lunch time yet, we ate lunch there. They somehow always have meals ready. Your father and I usually drop at her house when we go to Paro and we always end up eating there. They prepare very delicious food. Then, after reaching home, your father and I went to office and you stayed with your grandma as usual.
In the evening, we went to Ata Wangdi’s house for dinner. They invited us for dinner since we were leaving soon. It is farewell time now and we will be busy attending dinners and lunches before we leave. The time is nearing for us to leave and it is time for us to prepare our departure. From the rest of the brothers, Ata Wangdi seems to have more time and he drops at our house often. I think is because his children are grown up and he doesn’t have to worry about small children nagging and disturbing him.
Oh I forgot to tell you that after we reached back from Paro, I cut your hair a little – just a small part on the front because it seemed like it was thicker than the rest and looked a little out of place.
I love you. Mom.
27th May, 2011
We got our visa day before yesterday. Though I was told weeks back that we had met all the requirement and they were ready to issue the visa, it took so long to reach here that I was beginning to worry. Your father kept asking me every day if our visas have arrived here and when they did not, we didn’t know if we were going to get them. But they finally arrived and we have started doing our ticketing.
I went to attend pre-departure briefing from the South Asia Scholarships Program Office today. It was only till lunch time. We were served lunch as well. I came home and did not go to office. I’m planning to go to office next week and hand over all my works and ask my senior colleague to relieve me from office. I will meet our president and take leave. Then we will be getting ready, doing the packing and shopping to leave. I got my Drukair ticket today but father and your tickets are pending. Since you are a baby, you only have to pay 10% of the total ticket cost. So it isn’t much. I called up the travel agent and requested them to make sure that they get the tickets for you and your father. I hope they will – else, the whole effort of getting our visas to leave together will be in vain. We will be leaving on 8th June and we have only little less than two weeks. It is time for us to start packing already.
I’m little worried since we are all leaving together and we do not know much about living in Australia but we are being positive and we hope that we will not have much trouble. We hope to be able to settle down quickly without much problem.
While we will be away, we have decided to keep our apartment here rented so that grandma and my nephew can stay. I could ask them to stay with one of my brothers but knowing them well, I don’t want to give them such a choice. I know they will not be happy with them. Also, I don’t want my nephew’s studies to be disturbed when he is going to write his board exam for class 12. Though I am doubtful about how he will do his exam, I want to give him the best environment and facilities I can. Though your father and I don’t have much ourselves, we are prepared to take responsibility for his education. I am not quite sure about your father but I am. I know he will support my decision. Your father is very supportive in such cases. He will say something that he wouldn’t really mean. He is very kind and generous. You will come to know this all yourself of course. That way, you must know that you are very lucky to have a father like him. He loves you so much too.
He is a man who loves to keep himself busy. He is a sports man. He watches lots of sports on TV and he plays too. He is general secretary of Ngangpa Football Club and he is busy these days looking for fund for his club to take part in the upcoming National Championship League. I want to help him in any ways I can but we have not been able to get much yet. In Bhutan, people are not very willing to give such funds. Also, we don’t have many big industries and therefore it is difficult to get support of fund. Even right now, I just got a call that he is at the Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan, putting up a proposal for fund.
He is the only man who works so hard in his office. He wants to manage everything so perfectly and most times, I find him disheartened to see that his staff cannot work that way. He is already worried that his department may fall apart in his absence. But I think 18 months will pass quickly and we will be back before we realize.
Since we are leaving soon, my cousin Kencho Dema has invited us all for dinner at her house tonight. We will be leaving around 6 p.m. You are sleeping right now. I will get you ready and then prepare to leave.
I love you. Mom
22nd May, 2011
We are in Yusipang once again. Mathang Kinzang, her son Sangay Lungtok, my nephew Sonam Phuntsho, my friend Shyam, Grandma, Pem Zangmo and your father are here. I wanted to put you to sleep and then go and help them but you were never falling asleep, so I left you at uncle’s place and went to work in the potato field with others. But later, aunt brought you to the field crying so much. You never cried like that before. You cried so much, your voice so shrill. I regretted for leaving you alone with aunt and children. I’m sorry baby. Right now we are at aunt’s house and you are on my lap. You are not sleeping well. Even when you fall asleep, you wake up when I try to put you to bed.
Baby, I’m continuing the letter again. We had lunch at aunt’s house. Grandma usually wants to eat in the field itself because she thinks we waste time going there and coming back to the field. Though everyone wanted to come home after lunch, she insisted that we work for sometime – that is weed the potato field after lunch. She said that we are not able to go up often and we should not just go back without doing much work when we had gone with packed lunch and all. So we agreed. But two of us stayed at aunt’s house again. I didn’t want to leave you after I saw you cry so much earlier.
The weeding did not take so long. We came back home around 3 in the evening. While the women worked in the potato field, the men put up the iron pillars for land demarcation. Soon the people from the Land Commission will be there to measure the land. We are hoping that it will be before we leave for Australia. Else we will have to authorize your father’s uncle and aunt to do it in our absence. We also want to request the people working in the Land Commission to grant us the small area of government land that is adjacent to our land. We don’t know if they would accept our request but we are going to try.
I will not weigh you down with more things now. I love you.
21st May, 2011
It is 6 o’ clock in the morning. I’m feeding you. Last evening we went to my friend’s house. Your sleep was disturbed and you cried but you slept well at night. I also took you to my colleague’s son’s birthday on 17th. She is a support staff in our office. I knew she was preparing the invitation card but I didn’t get one, so when I inquired when her son’s birthday was, she told me the date and she said that she was inviting only other support staff because she didn’t want to ask officers to come because she is not comfortable with them. She said I could come if I want to, and she gave me a card. So I decided to go. We work in the same room; also, I’m closer with the support staff. I get along well with other colleagues too though. Your father said that he will drop us and come back home since he had so much of work on his football club but he stayed with us when I requested him to. I thought that was more appropriate. There were not many people there. The dinner was served early and we came back around 9 p.m. We dropped other colleagues and then came home.
You turned five months yesterday. Your father and I took you to the hospital to see your weight; it is to check if you are growing up healthy. You weighed 7kg. There wasn’t a long queue and it finished very fast but I came home with you and stayed home. You have grown so much more now. And my darling, you are becoming more beautiful and cuter as you grow up. I love you.
15th May, 2011
We had a busy day today. Though today is Sunday, your father had duty. We came to know that the cadastral survey for Thimphu will start from 18th of this month. So we had to fill up a form called the form for ‘thram drig’ for measuring our land. The problem was that, my friend Leki and my brother are not here. We had to ask them to authorize someone to fill up the form on their behalf. Leki wanted to authorize your father instead of her sister, since her sister was alone at home and she does not have a car. I asked my brother to fax the authorization letter to my office. Since it was Sunday, the offices are closed.
When your father and I went to my office to print Leki’s authorization letter and get my brother’s authorization letter, our fax machine did not work. No matter how we try, it did not. I was so frustrated that I felt like throwing away the fax machine. We called up our friends who we thought might be able to help us – to no use. Then, we called up my brother and asked him to see if his son could find an idea. He went to town and gave him two fax numbers, which didn’t work. So finally, we had to take your father’s uncle’s help and ask him to fax it there. When it was going to be lunch time, we had to run to his office, get the letter and then rush to Semtokha at the gewog office to submit the form. To make it worse, we had an appointment with a friend from India. He had come to Bhutan for the first time. I had met him online and had told him that he could call me when he reached here. I thought it was impolite not to meet him after knowing that he was here.
We finally met him at around 2:15 p.m. Shyam went with us too. You went too. You did not cry much except when you were so sleepy that you couldn’t stand. Then you fell asleep on my lap. Then you had to be disturbed. Just when you had fallen asleep we finished our lunch and came out. After dropping us home, your father went for a walk to Kuenselphodrang. It took sometime for you to fall asleep when we were home. When you slept, I slept too and woke up only when grandma returned from chorten. You were not comfortable with me carrying you to different places and I felt bad that I took you. I thought I should have kept you home. I felt sorry for troubling you so much. Unlike some parents, your father and I are not against taking you out with us. So we take you wherever we go. We feel that keeping you at home will make you look for me and you will be unhappy. Anyway, we are doing what we think is best for you. I love you.
11th May, 2011
I was looking for a Sanskrit name for you and I decided to keep it as ‘Tanirika’ which means ‘Flower’. Isn’t it beautiful? I wanted to keep your last name as Kuntari. It is your father’s grandmother’s pet name. But my relatives didn’t want it. I was not so bold and not quite sure. So I looked for a Sanskrit name that will say what you are. I wanted the term for ‘precious gift’ but the term in Sanskrit for it doesn’t sound so beautiful. I like Tanirika. It is beautiful.
Your father is gone to Punakha and will come back only on Friday. Tomorrow is holiday – Zhabdrung Kuchoe. So I will be home with you. I’m glad that it is a holiday. Ama can go to the chorten.
I will be home in half an hour now. Baby, I love you.
6th May, 2011
You are sleeping. I’m lying next to you and looking at the picture of you and father that I have used as my wall paper. You are wearing a violet hair clip pink half sleeve shirt with ash color striped long sleeve shirt inside. You look so cute. You look like you are going to talk to me. I sat beside you in bed looking at the picture and then at you for quite sometime. I thought I will not write to you but I couldn’t stop. You look as cute in your sleep too that I took a picture in my cell. Grandma says you don’t cry at all now when I go to office. Even when I reach home from office you are either sleeping or else on your grandma’s lap, not crying. You are a cheerful little darling.
Though your father returned, I come home from office at only 3, saving myself the trouble to travel three times a day to and from office. Today was the third day that I drove the car to office. Your father gets down at the hospital and I drive to my office from there. Then when I come home, I go to his office and we come home together and he drives from there because the road near our apartment is very bad. Also, I feel shy and little nervous to drive in front of him, though it was him who taught me driving. Right now, he is gone to attend the death ritual of one person from his village. I called him but his phone is unreachable. I don’t know when he will be home. I’m sleeping now. When he is home he watches TV and I don’t know when he sleeps. Unlike before I get up early – around 6. I then feed you, squeeze milk for you, eat breakfast. I just about get ready in time. For me sleep time is very important. You have to sleep enough to be able to work well. now, I won’t talk more. I love you. Goodnight. Love, Mom.
4th May, 2011
I drove the car today. I am waiting outside your father’s office in the parking just now. He will come home with me. I hope you have not cried. You were little unwell though from cold. I will be driving from today. I feel very scared just now but I know it will all go away. I have not driven for a long time. I got the driving license now. When you go to school I will need all the more to know driving. Your father works in the hospital and he is busy. He cannot tell a patient to wait. So I will have to pick you up and drop you at school.
Baby, I have put your picture where your father was giving your tummy time as my desktop background. You look like you are going to talk – say something. I look at that picture and when I am at the office, I miss you more. I love you my darling. I called home earlier from office. My niece had not brought her baby to our house today. It looks like she got someone to help. It will be better for grandma. Otherwise it was difficult for her, having to look after two of you. Baby I hope you will know how your grandma loves you. You will cherish this time when you grow up. I feel sad that you never got to meet your grandpa. He was a very nice person. He had an imposing personality. I pray that nothing will happen to grandma and you will get to know her when you are around five or six years old because that is the age you will be able to remember when you are an adult. You must know that grandma is the person who taught me what mother’s love and compassion are. She is a person with enormous determination. I will tell you more about her and how hard your grandparents worked soon. Love, Mom
28th April, 2011
You just slept. I have been busy. Lunten got sick yesterday and she is in the hospital. I have been running to and fro hospital. I had to go to different offices for the education loan I am applying. I submitted the documents for it today. Your father is gone to Paro for meeting on Tuesday. He will be back only on 2nd or one or two days earlier. I was supposed to keep the car since I nee to come home to feed you but in the last minute he had to take it. He said he did not see the participant list and he had no one to go with. I decided to sacrifice. I have been having difficult time of course – having to do many works at different offices and no conveyance. So after he left, I started coming home only at 3 pm so that I don’t have to go back to office. Instead of the feeding time from 12 to 1, I took off 4 to 5.
Yesterday morning when I was in the bathroom grandma had cut your hair. We have a belief that before a child is one year old, her hair should not be cut with the scissors but that we can use the flame to make it short. So she did that. Your hair had grown long. Everyone said you had nice hair and you are a baby who really looked like a girl. Many babies don’t have hair. But now, your hair is cut and you look a little different. You look cute still though. You look so innocent and loving that I cried. I thought if you knew what was happening you wouldn’t have wanted it cut short. She was embarrassed to see me cry. She did not know what to make of it. Then she told me that if a baby is to be beautiful, she will be beautiful whether her hair is cut short or kept long – and she said I was crying as if hair solely determines one’s look.
Today we are invited to come for Tombo’s birthday and I felt more bad that your hair had to be cut when we were going to meet so many people. Later I realized you looked good and even cuter in a way. At the birthday party, your cousin Khenden gave you a hair clip. You are wearing it just now. Only few days back I bought two pairs of hair clips for you and then to find your hair gone short, I felt sad. But of course it will be long again soon. It has been three days now that grandma said you have not cried even a little in my absence. She said you now suck the feeding bottle and eat as well. Before the milk I keep was enough for you but now since three days back you had to be fed supplementary milk too. You are growing up day by day and I feel you are maturing fast. Baby as you grow, I feel even more attached and I just can’t think of being without you. I promise I will be the best mother. I love you.
20th April, 2011
You turned 4 months today. You are staying home with grandma and Pem Zangmo when I come to office. I’m in the office right now. There is only 14 minutes more for office to get office. Your father called to say that he is coming to pick me up. I will be home in around half an hour. You usually wake up and cry around 5:30 p.m. I come home to feed you once during lunch time. You seem to be doing fine now; I know you are coping with the situation, though it is hard for you. You know before I would say that if I gave birth, I would take extraordinary leave till my baby was of school going age. But it is not practical. If I were to resign, I wouldn’t get much benefit, instead we will have to stay without having enough money to pay the rent and all that.
You have gained enough head control now. You seem to like to stay upright more than sleeping on our lap. When I’m not home, grandma usually carries you on her back upright. When I reach home from office I find that your shirts are wet. I change them to make sure that you are dry and warm. It happens because when you are kept upright, usually so much of saliva comes out from your mouth.
People say that you have grown up so much. We don’t give importance in giving you food because we think that mother’s milk is enough but grandma says that we should. She thinks when we are in Australia we would not give enough care. But that is not how it will be. We love you and we only want the best for you. I love you baby.
14th April, 2011
I’m at RSTA right now. Your father dropped me here and went back. I’m determined to be consistent with the driving now and get the license. Now with having to come home in between to feed you, my not driving is causing so much of inconvenience. I was driving before but I hit the car when your father was away and after that I didn’t drive. I just wish I would have the zeal to drive. I just don’t feel like driving and that causes all the problem. But today, I’m thinking of making to the end. First, I need to renew my learner license. I will then give the driving test. I feel I will be more confident after I get the driving license and won’t hesitate so much.
Baby, I joined office from Monday. On the first day it was difficult for both you and me. I called home every now and then to see how you were doing. You had cried a lot. So in the afternoon, I brought you to my office. You and grandma stayed at our office caretaker’s house. Since it was my first day at office after more than 3 months, I did not immediately have work, so I stayed with two of you most of the time too. But from the next day you were better. Grandma has to stay home now looking after you. She can now go to chorten only on weekends. Grandma carries you on her back and she works. You seem to like it. I feel bad about having to trouble her like that but I have no choice now. I am actually against making one’s parents look after children.
Baby, I love you.
9th April, 2011
Your father returned from Gelephu day before yesterday. Our friends had organized a farewell dinner for Nopkin and his wife Choni. They were in Australia for two years and then after he finished his masters, they came back. But they had a different plan. They resigned to go back. So your father went for that dinner – he left when we were eating our dinner at home.
Since the workshop in Gelephu is for a week, he could have not gone to work. But he said he was. Then he changed his mind and went for the talk by Sogyel Rinpoche at the YDF hall. He has not returned yet. It must be till 5, he said. But it is 5:34 now. I don’t mean that he should have been home at this time. We are alone at home baby. You slept more than half the day but you are awake just now. I changed you and then you took milk and now you are lying down. You are stretching often. You are stretching down your leg that it is touching my thigh. And then you are yawning too. We talked for sometime. You smile a lot and when you see us smile at you, you smile in reply. And when we talk to you, you reply too.
Now your cry is little mature. You let out shrill cry, not like the cry of an infant. You are growing up fast darling. I sing to you and talk to you about everything. I put into a song everything that is happening with us and you smile with me, enjoying my songs. Grandma finds it funny but we enjoy it.
Now you are saying, ‘ah……..eh……’ in a shrieking voice. I think you want me to come and talk to you. I love you baby. I look at you and when you talk back, I break down. I don’t know, I find myself saying, so it was you, and then I find myself kind of melting.
Oh baby, I really need to talk to you now. You are calling me again. I love you.
5th April, 2011
I call you Womin out of love but it is not a good name if you were to know by it. My mother has always been strict on giving pet names. She says once that name sticks, it is difficult to change and be known by your office name. So right now, as I’m feeding you it struck me that I should call you Sera. It means a present in Sharchop. You came to me and your father as a gift and it is so fitting. You are the person who brings me happiness and luck. I even imagine you writing and using Sera as your pseudonym. You will create a name and a world for your own and I hope I will live to see and rejoice it. I love you. Mom.
5th April, 2011
I watched two movies today. You slept more than half the day. I’m now lying next to you and listening to music. You are talking. You are wide awake. Today you are wearing a dangri and not in the sleeping bag. My niece Kinley came here. She had brought some vegetables from Phuntsholing and came to reach them. Her son has grown so much. His face is bigger than yours. You look tiny in front of him. You are 25 days older to him. Your father called during lunch break. He asked how you are doing. I miss him you know. After you were born, our life has become more meaningful. He loves you so much too.
3rd April, 2011
You got your third injection day before yesterday. I was so afraid of the pain you were going to go through but this time, you did not cry as much as you did during the second one. You did get a little fever on the first night so we gave you paracetemol and then the next day you were fine. Last night you slept well.
Your father went to Gelephu for a week long workshop today. It will be only two of us – I am thinking that I will not ask Grandma to sleep with us. I feel it is troubling her, having to make a bed for her in our bedroom. We will be fine on our own and if I feel we won’t be, I think we will sleep with her and Pem Zangmo in their bedroom.
You slept and then around 4 this evening you stayed awake and talked with me for a long time. It is quarter to five now and you are sleeping on my lap. I’ve been watching movie – I watched three movies today – and I have the laptop next to me so I’m typing this letter with my hands stretched over you. I’m saying all this so that you get a picture of us sitting on the bed, typing you the letter.
Grandma is not back from the chorten. Pem Zangmo went to Tango with my brothers. My brothers went there to offer butter lamps and prayers for my father. They couldn’t do it last time during his death anniversary and so they planned to take it today. I didn’t go because it would have caused us some discomfort. If you have your head control, I could carry you on my back but right now, I thought walking around an hour long path would be tiring with me carrying you in my hands. And Grandma didn’t want to go because she has problem with her right leg. I think I didn’t tell you that she had to undergo brain surgery because of meningioma in February 2008. My brothers were all away studying and so it was just your father and me with her in Kolkata hospital. Your father has been very good all through those troubled times. You will know that he is very, very caring.
When many people say that you resemble your father, I feel happy thinking that you will probably have his good heart too. You will definitely. I know that. I love you.
31st March, 2011
You are sleeping right now. You, Apa and me went to Zhemgang on 26th, Sunday. (I could not write the letter yesterday after those two sentences. I had to attend to some work.)
I’m back here today. Today you got your third injection. But first we had to go to the court. Apa and I went to the South Asia Scholarship Program Office, the office that looks after the people who go to Australia to study. We went to submit the documents for our visa but we were told that we will need a letter from the court stating that I have the legal right to take you with me. And we were late to go to the court yesterday, since the registration is only from 8:30 to 9. So we bathed you early this morning and we went to the court. I was told that both you and your father will have to come for the hearing. So we waited and waited. Finally when it was our turn to go in, the assistant said that I could go in alone and that you and your father could go in only if asked by the Judge. And he did not ask. I felt bad that you had to go and be tortured – I mean, when you have to go out, you usually have to bear some discomfort. And I felt guilty that your father wasted his office time. He had a meeting and he postponed it to 12 o’ clock. Anyway, we finally had the hearing and then went to the Notary Office of the Public. There both your father and I went in. The registrar told us about the few other documents we will need. So we went to submit those documents later in the evening after your father’s office got over. I will have to go and get the letter on Monday.
Yes, I was going to tell you about our journey to Zhemgang. I had wanted to go there for a long time. So when your father’s uncle was transferred there and they discussed about escorting him in a convoy, I decided to go too, taking you with me. Despite you being very young and tender, I made up my mind. I knew, I could keep you with me on my lap throughout the journey and it wouldn’t give you very big discomfort. So we joined the escort team. Other than the uncle’s immediate family members, the other relatives were only three of us. I didn’t want us to cause any inconvenience so I made every possible ways to make sure that you did not cry. The journey was around 12 hours, including the time we took for lunch and tea. You did quite good. You were a good girl again. When you seemed to cry in the formal setting, we stayed in different room from the important guests. And we made through fine. When we escorted him to his new office, the gelongs blowing the jaling, you participated as well. I carried you in my arms. Then, most of the time, during the formal dinners, when the dancing was going on, we stayed in the room in the guest house. You slept so well there. We were at our most comfortable time there. I will put a picture of you sleeping in the guest house.
And today, you had your second immunization injection. We were to go to the hospital in the morning but since we had to go to the court we could go there only after that. I was afraid that of seeing you in pain but this time you cried less than last time. You are lying down in the bed right now. You are awake. I have put on only a thin, soft pants and put on the heater. You seem to like it this way. You are not crying. You did cry but much less than last time. I don’t know if you will sleep well but even if you don’t, that is ok because I know you will be in pain.
Your father has gone to town to cut his hair. He also took my nephew with him. He wants to buy a running shoe for his marathon tomorrow. Your father is going to Gelephu for a week long meeting on Sunday. Then his sister Dorji is going home on Monday. So it will be only you, grandma, my nephew and me. We have now decided to send her to India to study civil engineering. I didn’t want your father and me to be blamed. Samten had made sure that she wanted her to study civil engineering, so I paid the consultancy fee and registered her at the Ugyen Pee Education Consultancy. She will have to go to India only in August.
Baby, now, I will talk to you. You are saying so many things. Sometime, talking to you and singing to you, looking at your innocent face and smile, I break down. It is like I am so touched that nothing expresses it better than tears. You are now making shrieking sounds as if you are calling me. I keep here for now. I love you my darling.
You sleeping in the room in Zhemgang Guest House. It was raining so hard outside. People were dancing in the reception room. We cozily lay in the room, all to ourselves.
26th March, 2011
I got busy. I had started working on the documents for our visa. I went to ministry of home and then to ministry of foreign affairs to make your passport. I had to leave you for a long time at home. Then we had to go for the medical check up for visa. We took you to the hospital for eye check up today. Then we waited at your father’s office while he finished his work. It seemed like a long time.
Baby, we are going to Zhemgang tomorrow. We are going with your father. He is going with his uncle who is transferred there. I hope we will be fine in the long journey.
22nd March, 2011
You have been crying a bit more lately. Your grandma interpreted that you are hungry. You did take more milk too. She wanted to give you rice flour fried in butter. That is what babies in villages are fed. That is how I grew up too. Grandma tells me that I was lucky I did not have problem of not having enough milk. She says, usually for the first born mothers face problem with breastfeeding. In their time, they would feed butter to babies, as soon as they were born. They did not have anything called lactogen, which are now available in the market. She wanted to give you the rice flour long time back but I told her that I wanted to give you exclusively breastfeeding for at least three months. She had kept this in her mind.
This morning at breakfast she told me about it to which I expressed reluctance and she was little angry; or more or less pretended to be angry. She said I could do what I liked with you. (Usually when I disagree with her, she seems to pretend to get angry. Maybe she really gets angry. Your father says she blackmails me that way to agree with her on whatever she says. But she is my mother and I cannot say no of course.)
But after I bathed you and was feeding you she came with it. So today, you first started your supplementary diet. You seemed to like it. You are three months and two days old today. Though you have not gained complete head control, I can see you have grown much.
Baby now I’m told that we may have to leave for Australia in the first week of June. We don’t have much time. We are already starting to work on the visa. We will need to take a picture of you and make a passport for you. I think we will have to take you to a studio in town to do that. I love you,
20th March, 2011
You turned 3 months today. I was so excited about you turning 3 months. I thought you will gain complete head control at 3 months but it is not so. I thought at 3 months, I won’t have to use the sleeping bag. You are right now sleeping on my lap in the sleeping bag. Papa and I try to carry you upward sometime, so that you gain the control soon. You seem to like it when you are carried upright.
Today I went to the Memorial Chorten to offer butter lamps for the victims of the recent Tsunami in Japan. So many people were killed. It is organized by the JAAB (JICA Alumni Association of Bhutan). I’m also a member though I have never been to Japan. I joined it since anyone interested to do social voluntary work can join it. I had to leave in a hurry and couldn’t feed you properly. When I reached back you were crying. You wouldn’t let the nipple go. And now you wake up every time I put you to bed. It is like you are scared that I might leave you when you are sleeping. I felt so sorry for leaving you. But sweetheart, I will be joining office soon. I’m worried about having to leave you home. Baby, I hope you will be fine. You should know that I love you.
You at 3 months.
18th March, 2011
My friend Tenzy came to our house in the morning. She had night duty and called me from the hospital this morning before she went home after her duty. Since we had not met for a long time she said she will come for breakfast. She is a doctor. She was in Rangjung. She was transferred here in January. When I had conceived you, baby, she was the first one to know about it. I had my period on 24th March and left for survey for three months to the East on 20th April, 2010. When I was in the field, I did not get my period. Time ran. It was soon 31st April. Then 1st May. But I still did not get my period. It was not until I was in Rangjung that I could do a urine test for pregnancy. Tenzy’s lab technician said, ‘Madam, it is positive.’ And that was that.
So back to this morning, we decided to go to RIM taking packed lunch for the two guys studying there – Ngawang Dorji and Ugyen Zangmo. They worked with me on this survey I told you. they were happy we came. I took you as well. You were in RIM Girls’ Hostel Baby.
Education has become expensive and getting job is very difficult. We hear that even graduates who graduated around 3 years back are looking for jobs. These two guys are in RIM after getting through the Civil Service Common Exam. Once you get through this exam, you have to undergo a training for a year in RIM (Royal Institute of Management) in Semtokha and your job is secured. I’m telling you all this so that you know about it. Maybe it will change a lot during your time.
13th March, 2011
We are in our bedroom. You just fell asleep. We went for lunch at Kinley’s (my friend. We studied together in Vellore) house. We hurriedly bought vegetables and rushed home Brother Tshering called to say that he was coming to our house. Since your father went to Paro yesterday, we could not buy vegetables. He left hurriedly after office. KP dropped me home. He called in the morning once to ask me if I would be home. Since I told him about our plan of going for lunch, he said he will come in the evening. He told me that Dendre had asked sister to send him some money. I then realized that he did not ask money from me because he thought your father and I had financial constraint after buying land. Every time I asked him, he told me that he had money. Even this morning, he said he had but I gave him 100 bucks anyway. He is taking Physics and Chemistry tuition. He goes on weekends. He wanted to buy a new lunch box but later I found that he did not. When I asked him, he said that the old one was good enough. He must have restrained himself from such shopping because he thought he shouldn’t burden us. This made me pain and feel so much more care for him that I cried. I haven’t talked to him about it yet. I will talk to him later, casually when grandma is home. I don’t want him to feel wrong for doing this. Baby I have to tell you that he was raised by your grandparents. His mother (my sister) got very bad infection on one of her breasts soon after his birth and he was then kept with my parents. So he calls them his parents and his mother as sister.
Your grandpa loved him so much and wanted to settle him. So when he passed away I thought I should see to it that his wish is fulfilled. That is why I brought him with me to Thimphu. If he doesn’t do well in his exam next year, I will have to send him privately to study.
Papa reached back at around 4 p.m. today from Paro. He is in the sitting room taking tea. He said he will come inside after he had his tea. You slept fitfully well last night. Grandma slept in our bedroom to give us company.
This morning when I was applying oil on your body after bath, you cried so shrilly and strongly for around five minutes that I was scared. But you were fine after that. It scared me so much. I didn’t know what was wrong. I felt some insect must have bitten you but there was no insect. Such sudden frightening cry scares me baby, for I can only guess what must be wrong. And most times I can’t seemt o know what you want and what went wrong. However at my friend’s house, you slept most of the time. You were a perfect guest.
Baby, I love you.
11th March, 2011
I’m lying next to you and fiddling my cell phone. When you were about to fall asleep, your father walked in and his careless rattle of the latch woke you up. You are about to fall back asleep now. I put you in bed before you fell asleep after I fed you. Your father went to workshop this afternoon with his friend Gunda (Actual name: Tshering Norbu) and when he came home he had brought with him two of his female colleagues. Then he said he had to go and drop his uncle’s medicines at Motithang. One of those colleagues stay in Motithang. So they were going together. Later when Grandma came home, she told me that she was wondering why your father and she were together always. I told her that they work together. She had not known that. She suspected that something must be between them. I laughed at it. There is a possibility that such things might happen; not with her but with anyone. You know we hear about so many people getting divorced. But looking at us, your father and I just now, it seems like impossibility. We love each other so much. Our friends say that we must be the only couple who understand each other and do not have any disagreement. I don’t remember about any serious quarrel we had so far.
We did not wait for him. I said that his aunt and uncle won’t send him until he has dinner there. She is very persistent that way. He came back when you and I were in the bedroom about to sleep. Then he told me that he took time because he went to the Detention Centre. Nono, his uncle’s son who is studying in India is caught for using drugs. He went with his uncle taking dinner. He and aunt are also in not good terms these days. Aunt has been dating a young army officer. No one really knows what will happen. Your father also said that uncle is now transferred to Zhemgang as the District Judge there. I sympathize him. I don’t know if aunt will go with him. I think uncle must have requested for a transfer from Thimphu so that he could stay peacefully alone. If so, aunt may stay here and she will have all the freedom. I really don’t know what must have made her do such a thing, but you know baby, human beings sometime are so unreasonable. I hope you will learn of human habits and traits fast and you will not fall into the tricks.
I love you,
8th March, 2011
It is 9 p.m. Your father went for a meeting at 6 and he is not back yet. We are alone in the sitting room. You are sleeping on my lap and I’m watching the movie ‘Becoming Jane.’ When there was advertisement in between, I was watching your face, and love swelled in my heart like blood gushing out from a cut and as I kissed you, tears welled up in my eyes. In your small radiant face, I saw my life shining. You slept peacefully, your left hand on the temple and your right hand placed on your heart.
Baby, I don’t know, I love you so much and I feel pained at the same time as if I’m missing you. My sweetheart, I love you so much. You must know that no matter what happens, I’m with you and I will never abandon you, or leave you, or make your life difficult. Even when decision I take seems unfavourable to you, it will be for your happiness that I will be doing it.
7th March, 2011
We went to Yusipang again yesterday. I kept you at your father’s uncle’s house and worked in the field. I asked uncle’s children to look after you and to call to me if you cried. I was covered with dust when I fed you. I was again scared that it might make you sick. I was lucky last week but I couldn’t dare to risk again and again. But you seem fine today. You haven’t got cough and cold. I think you have become strong. I’m sorry if you cried and I was not there to feed you right that moment. I will be joining office in less than a month and I will get to come to feed you only once. I will be gone to office around 8:30 in the morning and will be back home to feed you around 12:30, which means you will have to stay without milk for four hours. You will have to get used to not feeding you frequently.
This time, after the injection you got fever and we had to give you medicine twice in the night. You didn’t seem to feel well for four days after that. You and I went to the Chorten on the 30th of the Bhutanese Calendar to offer butter lamp for my father. It was my father’s fifth death anniversary. I couldn’t believe that it was five years already. I still remember him like he was with me yesterday. Baby, he is the person who taught us values; he made sure that his children were well mannered. It reminds me to tell you that yesterday, my uncle (my father’s cousin), Apchi Yeshi Dondru who was a tshampa passed away at the hospital. I got a call about it from my brother. I haven’t gone to pay condolences yet. I am afraid of going thinking that it might make you sick, so your father will go instead. You know baby, there has been so many deaths in the families I know that I am constantly reminded of it. Even late at night when I get up to feed you, I think of death. I even feel scared. But this should not scare you. it comes to all mortals and it actually reminds us that we can’t live as if we have no end. It also is a reminder for us to be good in our heart. Your birth astrology says that you will be kind and generous person. I have no doubt that you will be happy to help other people. Being kind is important. It not only makes other people happy, it also keeps you happy.
2nd March, 2011
You got your second vaccine today. You let out a very shrill cry at the time of injection but then you fell asleep. We also took offering to your deity in Changangkha Lhakhang after that. Even after we reached home, you slept well. But it was to be only till 11:40. After that for a minture or more you cried so much that you didn’t even want milk. I cried with you and not knowing what to do I called your father. He told me to check if you have fever and to soothe you. I think I wanted him to say that he will come home. So when he didn’t, I got angry. But after you stopped crying, I text him putting a little sarcasm. I want you to take milk because your mouth goes totally dry when you cry. Also you must be hungry.
Baby I know it is painful but it won’t last long. It is for you to be healthy that you must take the vaccine. Please don’t cry. It pains my heart to see you cry like that.
1st March, 2011
I had fallen asleep beside you. I work up to your cry. It had passed 3 in the evening. Your father’s office gets over at 3, so I called him to see if he was coming. Your aunt Dorji was seen crying during the breakfast this morning. She was fine a minute back – she helped set the breakfast and I was mystified when I was told that she was crying. I didn’t know what could have gone wrong.
You know baby, society has it that the in-laws don’t get along. This has always made me fear that I might unknowingly annoy them. So today when I was told about her crying, I tried to recollect if I said anything that might have upset her. I then learned that she didn’t want to repeat in class 12 as your father and I thought. Before she came here, we were told by Samten, her elder sister that she didn’t want to repeat. But later on, she talked about some of her friends repeating and she seemed to show interest in doing so too. So your father and I then thought that maybe it will be better to repeat instead of sending her to India to study. But I think we were wrong. She might have cried thinking that we were now going to make her repeat. I learned that she was bent on the plan of going for civil engineering in India which costs not less than 3 hundred thousand in a year. That is without the living costs and miscellaneous cost that will incur. I don’t know how we might be able to get the money but I’m in no way planning to disturb this plan. It should go as they plan. I’m just hoping that your father and I will be able to contribute without problem.
Education has become expensive now. That is why, I find myself praying that even if there has to be nothing in you, I want you to be a brilliant girl. In fact, you must know that to find a place for oneself in this world, you need brain.
27th February, 2011
We are in Yusipang just now. Grandma wanted to come but I told her that it wasn’t required. I didn’t want to trouble her. She thinks that she has to help me and your papa in whatever ways she can from incurring as little expenditure as possible. We tell her that we are right now not poor to the point of having to limit what we eat. But she isn’t convinced. In the plot of land that we bought here, she wants to plant as many vegetables as she can. But the problem is, soon we will be going to Australia and then it won’t be convenient for her – there won’t be anyone to bring her here. It is half an hour away from the Thimphu town by car.
Since she was not coming, the girls did not come either. And it didn’t feel right to let your father go alone, so you and I accompanied him. We are at his uncle’s house and he is working in the field – making the fence. His uncle is helping him. I’m feeling guilty about him having to help. It is not like sitting on the chair in the office. They are working in the sun, tough manual work. While you were sleeping, I helped them a bit. Grandma was right in fact. If the girls came, there would have been work they could do. I was so dusty when I came to feed you. I was afraid that you might get sick but there was no choice. I can only pray that you will not fall sick.
It is past 4 now but your father isn’t coming. I think we must go home now.
23rd February, 2011
You cried a little bit more than usual today and I was worried if you were not well. Everyone is gone to Yusipang to plant potatoes and only you and me are at home. My mother insisted that the land that we bought be put to use and she won. She lived all her life farming and she is good at it. So though she is old and her body isn’t any longer healthy enough to do physical work, she won’t give in.
I think they will be home only in the evening. I lie down next to you and read books but now I am thinking that maybe I will watch a movie – a nice one. I don’t know. I rearranged the furniture, and cleaned the house. Other than that there is no physical activity for me. I have seen women putting on so much of weight after giving birth. I don’t want that to happen to me. It is not healthy. But you know baby, your mom can never diet. I eat a lot.
But it is only good. Right now, I must eat as much as I can so that I have enough milk to feed you.
At 5:30 in the morning, I woke up and had written this: Dear Baby, I dreamed that you had gained the head control. I’d slept you on the bed and when I had been not looking at you, you had crawled up and was leaning on the pillow. You are still awake but in bed. Last night three of our friends came to see you. Karma Choden gave birth to twins – both sons. The last time I went to see them, they were so small. She has brought only one of them with her yesterday. I was surprised to see him grown so big. They are six months old now. When I saw him, I couldn’t help think of you and how you would look when you are six months. Another friend Keeba had returned from the US a month back. She went with her husband when he went to do his masters and did not return with him when he came back after completing his course. She told me that she stayed there for seven years. Can you imagine? Seven years! She said she babysat there. The two children she looked after were so attached to her that now even after she came back here, they called her often and asked her to come back. That parents haven’t yet got a babysitter yet after she came. I wondered what it would be like to leave one’s family behind and then be so far away from home working for money. I know today money is very important but it isn’t everything. Baby, when you grow up, you must know that while we all have to work to have enough for ourselves, we should not get carried away by money. We should know when to stop and relax. When you are driven by the desire to make money alone, you forget to look at life and appreciate its beauty. The other friend Pema Wangmo was your father’s high school classmate. She works at the hospital where your father works as a nurse. Baby, you must know that you should have good friends around you in your life.
20th February, 2011
You are two months old today. For each day that passes by, I look at you with marvel. Yes dear, you have grown much now. You even got a double chin now.
Yesterday you were bit unwell. I noticed that you wouldn’t sleep at a stretch after your bath like you usually do. Then towards the evening, before your father was home, I noticed that your nose was hot. I was afraid that you had fever. When your father was home, even he thought so. He asked me if we should give you medicine, but I said no since I do not really like taking or giving medicine for every small sickness. I thought you would get well soon with our care without having to give medicine and you did. You did not sleep very well in the night today but right now you are sleeping really well.
When you cried a bit and then did not even take milk, I was worried but I saw that you did not have fever. So we even bathed you.
Your father this morning told me, before we have gotten up from bed that he dreamed you had your head control. I think you will soon. You are now two months old and I think you will soon have the head control. I have been waiting for it. Then I can carry you on my bosom. I love you baby.
Here is a picture of you that I took today.
18th February, 2011
You will be two months in two days. You have grown bigger and matured. At night, I now feed you by sleeping. I do not get up to feed you. You sleep between your father and me and because you are not feeling cold, I have to change you just once. You have been shitting only once as well but two days back you shat thrice. I think it was because I ate too much chili and your stomach was upset. Every time I eat lots of chili and you feel unwell, I regret and think I should not have but then, because my taste is so used to taking hot curry, I can’t stop it. Anyway, I’m trying to control.
Yesterday, we went to your father’s uncle Sonam’s house. They had performed their annual rimdo and all relatives gathered there. At first you cried a little – I thought it was because the fumes from the kerosene heater irritated your eyes, but I fed and you and you slept. Ajang Sonam repeatedly told me to sleep you inside in the bedroom but I didn’t like the idea of leaving you alone inside. But when my legs ached a bit, I did put you to sleep inside the bedroom. I could have asked your father to keep you on his lap but I thought that was not a good idea either. I felt, by making him carry you in front of all his male relatives would mean something like bringing him lower than them. I know this is a bullshit, idiotic, idea which will only let a male’s ego burn brighter, but I did not want to suggest that he put you on his lap.
We came back soon after dinner. It was 9 pm when we came back from there. You met all your cousins from your father’s side. You know you are the youngest among them. I wondered if you sensed them looking at you and talking about you. When you are a little cute baby, youngest among everyone, you are kind of centre of attention, much loved and cared. As they put their heads down to look at you, I felt proud of you for being your mother.
Your father is home dear. I love you. I will see what I can do for him.
16th February, 2011
Today we are going to Lekshay’s birthday. Lekshay is turning 11 today. She is aunty Lungten’s husband KP’s daughter from his ex-wife. Right now we are waiting in the car. Not all our friends are here. While others decide to buy a gift for her, we are waiting in the car. It is raining today, first rainfall this spring. The weather has been gloomy and cold all day. I feel a sadness deep down within me when the sky is downcast like that.
Your father and I also got our marriage certificate today. We did go to the court to process it two years back but then because we filled the form with two different colors of ink, we were sent back. On two different occasions, we were sent back again, something not working. I don’t remember what went wrong then. So after that we gave up, until you were born and we thought we should really get it. And we finally did. We took you with us as well. You were kept in the car with your aunt Dorji while we went for the hearing. And then later, we went to my office since there was a rimdo going on there. It was to clear the obstacles that there might be for the staff of our office. We believe that our office location is in an area that is kind of haunted and thus there are evil spirits around there that could harm the ones whose luck are not very good. Since you are not even two months yet, we cannot leave you behind at home as we go out. Right not you are feeding only on breast milk and leaving you behind when I go out would mean you would be hungry and people at home wouldn’t be able to sooth you if you cry.
It is cold and I’m afraid that by taking you out, you might get sick but I’m praying that you won’t.
You know men cannot really buy a nice gift for girls. When they were indecisive about what to buy and from where, I had to give you to your father and go out to buy the gift. Our friend Sonam Jamtsho’s wife Pema and I bought a nice party dress and a nice party top for her. I am sure I she would like them.
Baby, I’m thinking I will not celebrate your birthday by calling friends over for meal. When you are one year old, I will simply pray for your good health but once you are more than 3 years old, it will be different. Then, like other children, I’m sure you would want to celebrate it too.
I love you, Mom
15th February, 2011
Your father’s sister Samten and her husband were here. They went back today. She has a training in Phuntsholing. His youngest sister, Dorji Wangmo also came with them. They in fact came here to drop her. She finished class 12 this year. Her result is not very good so now your father and her elder siblings are discussing what to do. They have decided that if she doesn’t get into the polytechnic in Deothang, they will send her to study Civil Engineering in India. We expected her to do better than this but I guess we never can say what will happen, or how best our efforts will be rewarded. She is staying with us until it is decided where she is going.
We do not have money these days. In fact we are depending on our monthly salary and we do not have any saving. So, I guess we will have some difficulty in supporting her studies but as an elder sibling, your father has this responsibility and we must do everything we can to help her.
You know in my time and your father’s, it was very different. There were not many students compared to today and the cut off point for professional studies were lower. So we did not have so much of difficulty in getting the scholarship. If we somehow did not qualify for that, I’m sure we would have ended up getting into any job that we could get – be it from class 10 or 12. But luckily, we did not have to end in such fate – and I find myself feeling so grateful. During our time, parents, elder siblings and relatives were not that into educating their younger ones this way. But it changed so suddenly and quickly. Now every middle class parent wants his children complete undergrad.
Also, during our time parents did not have to worry so much about their children getting into drugs and other bad behavior. But now, their main concern is their children getting into drugs. The scenario has changed so much. Before, children disrespecting their parents or being ungrateful was not even a question. But today, time has come to such that children think it is responsibility of their parents to feed them, educate them and give them anything they demand. This is a very, very wrong attitude. Baby, as I see you grow up, I am hoping that you will make me worry about such things. I know you will grow up to be a very responsible and sensible person. Baby, you must know that, while it is the responsibility of the parents to look after their children well, it is responsibility of the children to pay gratitude and be responsible as not to put parents’ efforts of making their children better astray.
You have so much to learn yet, baby and I hope you will without problem.
I love you,
11th February, 2011
You woke up and didn’t sleep as usual after I fed you. I think you were uncomfortable with the kind of clothing you were in. I’m always so sleepy and when you keep awake for long, I wish you wouldn’t. Your father is snoring next to us. Now yes, you are falling asleep too. My right hand is supporting your head while I’m typing this letter in my cell notepad with my left hand. I will now try to put you on the bed. Baby, I love you. You are soon going to be two months. People already tell me that you have become so big. They say you look so healthy.
I pray for your health all the time of course.
9th February, 2011
I feel like I have not written to you for a long time. Time became very busy. First there was the losar and then following that, somehow, we couldn’t get back to our slow paced, peaceful life. We had great time with our relatives but you know after sometime, you get tired of the furry enjoyment and you want to get back to your normal routine.
You slept so well day before yesterday but from yesterday you have been having difficulty sleeping without disturbance for hours. Today you kept waking up time and again. But right now as I write to you this letter, you are sleeping. I feel like I had not written to you for long because my nephew had been using the laptop and I did not want to disturb him. I could have written to you in a notebook but I thought I would better write everything here where I have begun.
My friends and relatives say that you have become big – they say you have grown fatter – which is a good thing. They mean that as a compliment. A relative of mine came to see you yesterday. She said she was busy and other relatives had already come. So she came with her cousin. She said that you look like your father – and that because your father is goodlooking, you are beautiful. Many people say so. And I find myself relishing the compliment. You are a pretty sweetheart to me and people saying that you are beautiful makes me feel happy, though it is a petty thing.
Baby, I love you. your father hasn’t returned from work just now. He still has few more minutes for his office to get over. Today my mother went to Nungney. I thought your father will drop her but she said that the patron has organized a pickup service. She will be back home in three days. I already miss her. I’m sure you will miss her too if you were big enough. And I know that she will miss you. She loves you baby. I see it in the smiling tone of voice that she talks to you. And for a reason I have not been able to name, you sleep so peacefully on her lap. You don’t on other people’s lap if you were crying.
Here is a picture of you that I took today. Later when you are of age to read this, I want you to see how you have grown over the days.
8th February, 2011
It pains me to think that I may have to leave you behind when I go for my study. If I can’t take you with me right in the beginning, you must know that I never wanted it that way. You must know that I love you and I will be so alone and lonely, missing you and home. Yesterday I met my friends Nopkin and his wife who came back from Australia. They had come to see you. They told me that they heard some people say that if a baby is still being breastfed, then mother can take her with her as she leaves. Otherwise, dependents are to follow only later. I wish it were so. Then, you will be going with me.
More than anything, I want to be with you during your formative years. I want to be the first one to hold your hand as you first learn to walk. I want to be the one to teach you the first word as you learn to talk. My darling, I love you so much that I dunno how I will live if we are to be separated. But right now, all I can do is hope that things will fall into place and I’m praying hard for that.
It is early evening right now but I’m sleeping with you. I had a small row with your father about all this. When people asked me if you and he are going with me, I always had to answer that I don’t know because we never really discussed about it. Every time I asked him if he will be accompanying me, he did not get into discussing it. I didn’t dare pursue the discussion either because I thought maybe as a man, he won’t like to go with me as a dependent. But then, if we are all to be together as a happy family, it is important that you two go with me. Else, two of you will be home – I’m sure both of you will miss me. And I will be alone so far away from home missing you two. That will be unfair for all of us. He then asked me to find out the possibility of finding an accommodation there and to enquire about the possibility of getting a job. I think it won’t be so difficult for us. Right now we are thinking of the worst scenario where we may have financial problem and not have even enough to eat or a place to stay if we don’t get job there. But I think it won’t come to that. I’m really hoping I can take you with me as I leave, not follow me later. I will request the concerned persons on this matter and make sure that it happens. Baby, I will make sure we are together always. As I told you last time, there isn’t a priority above you.
I love you, Mom.
5th February, 2011
I am sorry for taking you out. I took you out every day for the past three days. I didn’t even think of keeping you away from the dust. On Losar, day before yesterday, we went to brother Tshering’s house to have lunch together with them and other brothers. After that, at around 3 p.m. we went to Kuenselphodrang where a huge Buddha Statue is built. We had not been there after the statue was erected. The statue is complete but the underground building that is to be the monastery isn’t. Since it is still under construction, the place is so dusty. Then yesterday, we went to Yusipang where your father and I have bought a plot of land. His uncle and aunt stays there and we went there also to have lunch with them since it was still a Losar celebration. Then since my cousin Yangchen was here, our cousin Kencho Dema invited us for dinner and we couldn’t say no. Since it was Yangchen she wanted to invite, it was not really for me to say no. So we went there for dinner and came home late. But my mother and nephew didn’t go for dinner there. They wanted to stay home. My mother had drunk a little more than her limit, she thought it wise to stay back.
Last evening as we came back from there, I noticed that you coughed. Today it is worse. You are having difficulty sleeping. My sweetheart, I’m sorry I didn’t protect you from the harsh environment. I probably should have kept you home but also, I thought, I should let you grow up strong. This is how you will build your immunity system. Though you are a little unwell just now, I am sure this will make you adapt to this kind of environment.
Your father is gone to a friend’s place for dinner. I had my dinner and right now we are in the bedroom. Right now you are sleeping on my lap. I will put you on bed and if you sleep, I will sleep too. I feel tired having traveled on the past two days. Baby I hope you will be all right. I pray for a miraculous recovery for you. I love you my little darling.
1st February, 2011
I have wanted to write you a letter but I got a little busy lately. Now that you are older – meaning, after you were one month old, I felt, it was ok to take you out. Even today before I could sit at my table your father’s aunt and uncle came over and I had to attend to them. They left after lunch. You have been a good girl and you slept well.
Yesterday was your first immunization. You were 6 weeks yesterday. Since your father went for work at 9 and we were not ready – my mother and I bathed you and then went to the hospital. Your father told me to come there only around noon but I listened to my mother when she said that it was better we went there as soon as we were ready. So I carried you in my arms. I told your father that he need not pick us up. I didn’t want to trouble him, but it was bit difficult to carry you all the way to the hospital. My mother helped me. She thought it was uncomfortable for me to carry the handbag, so she insisted that she carry it and she won. She reached me till the hospital gate, though I told her that I could go on my own from the junction from where we were to part. She was going to the chorten. This kind of thoughtful act makes me feel so touched and I wonder at the huge unconditional love parents have for their children. I marvel at my mother’s love for me and I sometime wonder if I could be as good a mother as she is. But baby, I love you and I know I could never ever do anything that would make you unhappy. But you must know that by that, I mean you should also know how to make good decisions. You should not come to me with a stupid plan and plead for me to understand. Right now, I almost feel sure that you would never be a child with undo restless plans. You will grow up to be a very different from the common children.
Now there, you are crying a bit. You have slept for a long time. I’m sure I will have to change you. But I’m not standing from the table right away to attend to you. You know I heard your father say that chilips keep their children to soothe themselves when they cry. That is how they are made to cope with situations.
But I feel that is too much – I feel it is cruel.
I was going to tell you that yesterday when you got your vaccination, you let out a very shrill heart wrenching cry but you did not cry after that. I did not even have to feed you. You fell asleep. So, I went to my brother’s (Ata Wangdi) house. But after lunch around 1:15 p.m. you started crying. It worried me. I even felt tearful. So I called your father to pick us up as soon as his office got over. However, you did not cry much in the evening and at night. You had a mild fever but today you have no problem at all.
Baby, you are growing so fast. Everyone says you are very beautiful. Of course, to a mother’s eyes, there is no one more beautiful than her child. And you are my most beautiful gem. I love you baby.
26th January, 2011, Wednesday
You are sleeping on my lap just now. I’m at my table browsing the internet and now writing you this letter. Yesterday we went to Paro to get blessing from Khyentshe Rinpoche. And so you were on my lap the whole day. I think that made you want to sleep on the lap. I will try to put you on bed a while later. I hope you sleep well then. It is 12:30 in the afternoon and in half an hour I will be taking my lunch. My nephew hasn’t gone for the Physics tuition today. So I have asked him to prepare the lunch.
It was at around 8 am that my brother Wangdi called yesterday. He informed me that he was going to Paro to have an audience of Khyentshe Rinpoche. He said that Bartshampas were arranging a lunch for the people there and the organizers asked him to ask me if I would like to join. I jumped at the opportunity. Your father took leave from office and he joined us too. It was very, very nice of him and I was touched beyond words. This is one area – the spiritualism-- that we share the interest.
I wanted to take you to get the blessing. As Rinpoche had said during one of his teachings—I wanted to create a cause for getting blessings from rinpoches and thus pave a way to be on the path. I am glad you were part of this journey. My mother, your father, you and I went. My nephew had to attend the tuition class. My cousin, Yangchen is here for a workshop from Mongar. She couldn’t go since she had the workshop.
There were so many people – around half of them are our relatives. Close relatives baby. They were happy to meet you and they said you are beautiful.
Because we were asked to gather at the Memorial Chorten at 9 am, we did not have enough time in our hand. So we rushed without bathing you; I did not even wash my hair. But when we reached there, we found that not many people had come. So we waited there for what seemed like an hour or more. But no complaints baby. It is always good to be in time.
I’m putting here a picture of you with me that Apa took. I love you.
23rd January, 2011, Sunday
You cried a bit and then you shat as your little stomach growled. I noticed that every time you stir and move and cry, your stomach growls. I think your stomach is upset because I ate too much chili. I’m sorry darling for not considering you in my diet. From now on, I will try to eat as little chili as possible. I thought you would get used to it. I did not want to trouble my mother in preparing a separate curry for me.
Baby, right now, I’m lying next to you and writing this letter. I haven’t changed you yet because you fell asleep so peacefully that I didn’t want to disturb you. You are sleeping, so, so peacefully, your father’s left hand wrapped around you. God Baby, I never saw a face bathed completely in sheer contentment and joy. I remembered Thich Nhat Hanh’s observance of a little boy:
One day, I sat by the window of a friend’s home and watched a scene I could have watched forever. Across the street was a low roofed dry goods store. Coils of rope and barbed wire, pots and pans hung from the eaves. Hundreds of items were on display – fish sauce and bean sauce, candles and peanut candy. The store was so packed and dimly lit, it was difficult to distinguish one object from another as the rainstorm darkened the street. A young boy, no more than five or six, wearing a simple pair of shorts, his skin darkened by hours of play in the sun, sat on a little stool on the front step of the store. He was eating a bowl of rice, protected by the overhand. Rain ran off the roof making puddles in front of where he sat. He held his rice bowl in one hand and his chopsticks in the other, and he ate slowly, his eyes riveted on the stream of water pouring from the roof. Large drops exploded into bubbles on the surface of a puddle. Though I was across the street, I could tell that his rice was mixed with pieces of duck egg and sprinkled with fish sauce. He raised his chopsticks slowly to his mouth, savoring each small mouthful. He gazed at the rain and appeared to be utterly content, the very image of well-being. I could feel his heart beating. His lungs, stomach, liver, and all his organs were working in perfect harmony. If he had had a toothache, he could not have been enjoying the effortless peace of that moment. I looked at him as one might admire a perfect jewel, a flower, or a sunrise. Truth and paradise revealed themselves. I was completely absorbed by his image. He seemed to be a divine being, a young god embodying the bliss of well-being with every glance of his eyes and every bite of rice he took. He was completely free of worry or anxiety. He had no thought of being poor. He did not compare his simple black shorts to the fancy clothes of other children. He did not feel sad because he had no shoes. He did not mind that he sat on a hard stool rather than a cushioned chair. He felt no longing. He was completely at peace in the moment. Just by watching him, the same well-being flooded my body.
Yes Baby, I felt exactly as he describes here. It flooded my body with joy and I felt myself exploding with it. I couldn’t hold myself back in the bed – so I woke up to express myself in my blog. It is still very early. It is winter you know and the past few days have been very cold. It did not really snow but the weather has been very gloomy and cloudy. Even right now -- I have opened the curtains on my window – the sky is dark and cloudy but it has no effect on this overwhelming joy I’m feeling. People must wake up early. I already heard several cars passing by. Now I hear the birds; I already heard a crow crowing early morning when I got up to go to toilet. I even felt a little scared. I never heard a crow that early and I took that to be ominous. I couldn’t interpret what it would mean but I couldn’t help notice it and feel strange.
But that was gone as soon as I got in bed next to you. I took a picture of you lying peacefully next to your father and got back in bed beside you. Baby I love you. You have brought so much joy in my life.
20th January, 2011
Today you are one month old. Since I’m with you every day, I don’t really notice you growing up but when I check the pictures, I can see that you have grown so much. Here is a picture of you when you are one month old.
Baby, I love you. Soon you will have to go for your first vaccination. People tell me that babies cry a lot when they get that vaccination but I’m hoping that you will be strong and it won’t be too painful for you. I am sure your father will accompany us. Hopefully, he won’t be out of station.
The past three days have been very cold and you had problem sleeping at night though we had put on the heater and the room was warm. But you slept well last night. I did not have problem getting up to feed you. We used the disposable napkin for you for the first time last night. It is far more comfortable than using the cloth.
After the three very cold days, when we woke up this morning, we found that it had snowed a bit last night. There wasn’t a blanket of snow to be cold or for the vehicles to be not able to pass, but still, as is the tradition, it was declared a government holiday today and your father is with us. He is doing a big washing today. I helped him a bit too.
Baby, I’m putting up a picture of you with your father when you are one month old.
I love you.
17th January, 2011
I took you out to other’s place for the first time day before yesterday. We went to my brother Tshering’s house because they were performing a rimdro there. And then yesterday we went to see my niece Kinley’s newborn. On both the days you so, so nice girl. You slept the whole time through on both the days. But last night you did not sleep well. It snowed a bit in the morning. I think you were feeling cold – I don’t know how because you were sweating from your head. Your father was worried that maybe you were not well.
Because my sleep was disturbed, I wanted to sleep during the day today. But when I was about to sleep after lunch, you kept waking up. Finally now you are sleeping peacefully and I’m lying down next to you but it is almost 3 and your father will be home from office. I think I will not have fallen asleep when he comes. Anyway, don’t worry baby. If you need me to stay awake whole night, that is what I will do. I was already telling myself that now my sleep is secondary. You are my priority.
Baby I wrote the above two paragraphs earlier. Later in the evening, your father went to play basket ball. I ate lots of ‘tengma’ with tea and I was not going to get hungry for sometime. So I thought I will sleep till he returned. But you know, you kept crying and I got irritated. I thought your father should be next to me at such time, and I felt irritated at him too. In more sadness than irritation, feeling unhappy and hurt, I cried. Holding you at my bosom, my tears fell on your shoulder. I cried so much. My mother came in and saw me cry. She was worried about me. I could see how much a mother loves her child through her too. She insisted that I eat my dinner; and again she wanted to wash your clothes. I told her that she need not do that because it is very cold these days and she washes the clothes in cold water. But she insisted and she won. She thought I was angry with your father because he went to play basket ball.
The last time I fed you and tried to put you on the bed you woke up and cried. I felt so disappointed and unhappy that I carried you in my arms and then little rudely held you on my bosom in my bed. And there, you were quiet. Then I realized that I should hold you against myself and sleep you next to me in the same bed and blanket. (18th Jan 2011: Yes, that is how we slept and both you and I slept soundly.)
Baby, I love you.
12th January, 2011
You are sleeping next to me. I’m sitting on the bed beside you and working on some personal work. Now, there, you are stirring, making some noise and about to cry. I know I can never grow tired looking at your face. Those funny expression, the sweet smile, and the way you squeeze your brows together – they keep me hooked looking at you. But I get a little restless when I think of the unswept floor, the uncleaned basin and all other small household works. So I put you on bed as soon as you fall asleep on my lap. It is really not because I don’t want to hold you.
But now, I have become a little tired of doing the cleanings after all the people leave for their work. I didn’t clean the house today. You fell asleep in the morning after few small cries and I could wash your clothes that time. I was glad I could do that. I don’t like your grandma having to do that. She is old and you know baby, she was operated for meningioma and her right limbs do not work properly. So I don’t like to strain her. But she does most of the household works like cleaning and washing and cooking. But the house becomes dirty very soon.
I have started taking little amount of chili in the curry now. The first time I took it, I got diarrhea and I was worried. I felt sorry and I regretted for putting you to discomfort. But I think now you are adapted. My nipples aren’t sore anymore.
My niece Kinley has given birth to a baby boy. She had difficulty giving birth. I’m told that the baby was taken out using clampers. After she gave birth and was discharged from the hospital, her legs were swollen and she could not walk. She couldn’t even go to the toilet on her own. And then, in the midst of all these, her baby got jaundice and was asked to keep in the hospital. When I called them two days back, Kinley was in the hospital too and I was told her legs were better.
When I was pregnant I always prayed that the delivery be safe and there shouldn’t be any sickness and problems for you and when I heard of Kinley and her baby going through those problems, I thought my prayers had been answered. I think it really is that. Even now, I pray for you sweetheart – for your good health. There should be no sickness for you as well as for me – where I will have problem attending to you.
I have started praying for them as well. I hope they will be fine soon. We are planning to go to see her and the baby one of these days – soon after they are discharged from the hospital. By then you will be a month old – almost. I will be taking you too, with me and your father.
Baby, I talk to you all the time. I look at you and smile. I sing to you and laugh. I tell you story and admire your attention. This morning, I was talking to you about a comment your father made which hurt me a little and I cried. Your father was sleeping next to us too. It was early this morning: you cried; I told you a story instead of feeding you and then you fell asleep. Sweet little angel, I love you. I go to your ear and say, ‘Ama loves you baby.’ I keep repeating it in a sing-song and I like to imagine that you know what I’m saying.
You are growing up. I am sure you already weigh more than 4 kgs. I can see that you like to move your legs. I think wrapping blankets around you is causing you discomfort. So I wore a pair of pants for you but it seemed to cause you more discomfort. So I will have to do with wrapping you in the blankets until you are a month old. When you are one month, I hope you will grow big enough and strong enough to wear suits.
It is 3 now. Your father must be getting ready to come home.
9th January, 2011
You’re on my lap. You are looking as if you see me. My mother says a baby will see her mother to be only as big as a fly when she is two weeks old and I wonder if you see me hovering around you like a fly.
Your aunt (my cousin) in Paro came to see you today. She brought her daughter’s naughty 6 year old son with her. They left after lunch. When they were about to leave your father came from office and they waited to go with him till town when he went for vegetable shopping. But later he called me – he had gone to Ramtoktok to see her father’s brother who is brought here for treatment. They called to say that they were coming back because the patient as well as the people with whom he stays were away.
Your father has started duty for his staff on holidays. He started it last Sunday. For two Sundays he went for duty. He says it is because right now, all other physiotherapists are in the field doing some survey on the disabled people. So for the two past weeks, he did not have a weekend. He is also planning to play basket ball soon. It will be just you and me at home baby. Even now, your grandma goes to kora after you are bathed – and it is only you and me at home. My nephew is taking Physics tuition and comes home only around 3.
Baby, sweet, little sweetheart, I love you.
6th January, 2011
Today you are a 17 days old. Days are passing really fast. Before we know you will be a month old. I really am waiting for you to see me and hear me talk to you. At 42 weeks, we will have to go to the hospital to get you vaccinated. I heard the vaccine is painful but I’m sure you will take it fine. I know you will baby. I fear the pain you will go through and it will be difficult for me to see you cry – so I am thinking of taking your father along.
Yesterday was the Chunyipa Losar – it is the first date of the 12th month of the Bhutanese calendar. Some people call it the Sharchokpa losar – meaning the new year of the eastern Bhutanese. Brother Wangdi and family came down after lunch. They drank ara and then went back after an early dinner. You know your grandmother is very insistent and stubborn. She is very hard working too. She would not have had any other way but to let them have dinner and go. So she won. I had an early dinner too. I thought it was bit lonely for us to be alone in our bedroom so I took you to the sitting room. I took the cradle but you didn’t agree to sleep on it. So after having an early dinner, we came in our bedroom and there you slept well. Your father and I changed our mind again about letting you sleep in the cradle and instead, three of us cramped on the not so big bed. I slept with my arms around you and you slept very well. I had to wake up once at 2 a.m. and once at 6 a.m. to feed and change you.
Right now, your father is gone to work. Grandmother and your cousin, Ugyen Zangmo went to see the newborn baby of my cousin Kezang Deki. They will return soon, I’m sure. You are sleeping and I’m at my table writing to you this letter. I’m hoping to start writing the story that I have planned on writing today. It will be the love story about your father and me – I’m thinking of writing it till the day you were born.
Baby, I love you.
3rd January, 2011:
I have started working. In fact I started working in less than a week after I gave birth to you. People advise me not to touch cold water, not to drink cold water, not to eat sour things etc. but I did all those already. I don’t find any logic in why I shouldn’t do all that so I went against all the advices I received. Right now, I don’t experience any pain or any problem. My bleeding stopped in 9 days and I’m as good as I was before. I’m glad that giving birth to you was not so difficult. My labour took only around half an hour. I was admitted in the hospital at 2 p.m. and I gave birth to you at 6:44 p.m. The contraction was painful but you know, you came to this world in less than half an hour after I started getting strong contraction and was taken into the labour room. I always thought it wouldn’t be so difficult. I believed that my baby would be understanding -- I don’t know, but I felt so and rightly you were.
Right now, you are sleeping. I’m at the table in our bedroom writing you this letter. You gave several intermittent cries but you have started sleeping peacefully again. Even staying at the table as you sleep on the bed makes me feel like I’m so far away from you and my mind is at unrest wanting to sit next to you and watch you as you sleep. That is how a mother feels for her child baby. A mother cannot help but love their child and this love is nothing like I ever felt before. Baby, you truly are a miracle in my life. I’m so happy that you happened to me. I like to imagine you talking to me as I sing funny phrases and talk to you in the baby-talk that comes naturally to me.
Your father is in the kitchen cooking. He has invited foreign volunteers at his department for dinner. He will go and pick them up at 6:30. Right now it is 5:43. Your father has been working so hard baby. Grandma is washing your clothes too. I don’t want her working so hard but she doesn’t listen to me. Like I love you, your grandma loves me and just as I don’t want her to work, she thinks I shouldn’t strain so much physically.
Baby, you are my New Year gift and I promise I will make this year and many years to come the best for you. Mama will make the world the best for you. I promise, you will be my angel. And I do pray that you will understand me as much as I understand you. Baby, right now, there is nothing better than to tell you that I love you so much.
2nd January, 2011:
It is 2:25 a.m. in the morning. I fed you. Now you don’t want to take any more milk but you aren’t falling asleep. You are sleeping next to me. Now you are starting to cry a little bit. Maybe I will have to get up and keep you on my lap until you fall asleep. Baby I love you. I wish you would talk to me soon.
31st December, 2010:
Dear Baby, it is 3 a.m. just now. You are sleeping next to me. It is so nice to watch you sleep peacefully beside me. I can’t help but love you. I’m going to get back to sleep too now. I love you my little angel. Sleep well.
27th December, 2010:
We came to the hospital as we were asked to bring you for review in two days. The doctor thought that you should be checked for jaundice. Since I had to get a check up too, I had to let you go with your father to the doctor.
Baby, you are one week old today. You have already grown so much. It is a wonder to see you grow up. I’m waiting for you to see me and respond to me as I talk to you. Baby, I love you so much.
26th December, 2010:
It is 3:30 a.m. just now. You woke up. I fed you and changed the diaper and put you back to sleep. You have been sleeping well and it is no longer a problem for me to wake up just once or twice to feed or change you. My nipples aren’t very sore anymore. Some of your aunts and uncles came to see you yesterday evening. I’m as expected staying put in bed with you. Baby, you have brought as much joy as I thought you would bring me. I love you baby and talking to you makes me swell in love. Right now, as I write this, your father is snoring next to us. He has been doing all the household works and attending to guests and I feel bad about it. But your coming into our world has brought us closer than ever and we find ourselves growing more in love.
Anyway baby, mama is going to sleep now. I love you.
25th December, 2010:
It is past 1 a.m. You are sleeping on my lap just now. I feel my brows closing together but I thought I will let you sleep longer on my lap. Since you slept without a cry for hours, I felt you deserve it. Our friends came today to see you. Oh I was doing baby. You have even pooed. I will change your clothes and let you sleep.
23rd December, 2010:
You have been crying more today. It is only past 1 a.m. just now. You are sleeping on my lap right now. You are asking me to feed you more milk. My nipples are sore and it is very painful, but I hope the pain will go away soon. There little angel, you are crying again.
20th December, 2010
I’m alone in the bedroom right now. I have started making a time table of what I will be doing during my two weeks leave from office before the delivery. I just finished teaching the morning lesson to my brother on English Grammar. I have given him some exercises to work on.
I went to the hospital on 18th as was asked by the ANC. The nurse who checked me said that she wasn’t sure about your position and I was asked to do ultrasound. This scared me a lot. Only on 3rd December I did ultrasound and they said everything was normal. I inwardly panicked a bit. I hoped nothing was wrong with you and as I waited for my name to be called for the ultrasound, I prayed that everything would be fine.
Your father was with me this time. He took me for the test. However, since he was not on leave, he had to go to his department to see some patients after my prescription was submitted inside the ultrasound department. My name was called after a long time but he did not return. As I lay on the bed and the nurse worked on my belly to check your status, I prayed again that everything was fine. I understood how hard it is for mothers who are told of any small fault in their fetus. I thought it would be comforting if he was with me and I found myself looking at the door every time it opened to see if it was him. But he did not come. I consoled myself that even with his presence, there was nothing that could be changed. And so I went through the test. However, everything was normal and there wasn’t anything that we needed to do more.
Since I carried a book with me, I thought I will wait for him and read the book in the sun outside his office. But a while later he came and told me that he had a meeting at 12:30 p.m. and it was better for me to go home. So he dropped me home. I told him that I would be waiting for him for lunch and I did. I washed the clothes and even at 3 p.m. he did not turn up. I knew something like this could happen, as it usually does. His meeting is usually never ending. I finally warmed the porridge he prepared for me in the morning and sat alone in the sitting room to start my lunch – but shortly afterwards, he came home. I was tired by then so I took rest for a while after lunch. We had been planning to go and see his cousin who works at the Royal Thimphu College (we went to see him yesterday). We were not sure if we should go that day but since, he came home late and I was tired, we cancelled going there. So instead, we slept till it was dark. We didn’t get up until my mother came home from kora.
Baby, we also read the scriptures (bum) for three days. It was done after Ata Singay’s recommendation. We had not done any kind of ritual to clear the evils on our path and this was the first time we did so. Mathang Karma and Mathang Kinzang helped me do the cooking but still, I was involved heavily in the household works and it left me totally drained.
It was last night that I started getting the pain in my pubic region again. I woke up at 3:48 a.m. with a feeling of wanting to pass stool. It was then that I noticed a drop of blood. I got pain like I do during my period. I thought maybe my contraction was starting and so I made hot water and washed myself. But I had fallen back asleep. A nagging slow pain persisted and it is still there. Though Karma asked me not to do the cleaning, I did it. He called me just now to see how I’m doing and just then I started getting pain again and I had to go to the toilet to pass stool. I found again that there is smear of some blood in my underwear. I’m thinking of washing my hair and call him. I will call him to come for lunch so that we can go to the hospital together. I get a feeling that this must be the start of the contraction and I should be in the hospital. Let us see what happens. If it is so, I pray that everything be smooth.
Baby, I know there aren’t many days before I will see your face. I love you. Know that your mom is waiting with a big, big hug to welcome you.
13th December, 2010
I’m at home right now. Yesterday was the ‘Meeting of the Nine Evils.’ We call it the ‘Ngan pa gu zom,’ and we celebrate it as one of the festivals. People in the western part of Bhutan do not celebrate this day. All my brothers came over to our place and we had a lunch together.
Your father and I have planned to read the sutras ‘bum’ for three days starting tomorrow. So your grandmother, your cousin and me did a thorough cleaning of the house. We even changed the arrangement in the room. Since today is the 8th day of the 11th month of Bhutanese calendar – which is considered an auspicious day, I said a long prayer after the cleaning and arrangement was done. Your grandmother, as always went for the chorten kora. Your cousin has a habit of staying inside his room the whole day. I think he mostly listens to the music from the FM Radio.
We finished lunch and I’m now in my bedroom. Your father’s office will get over at 3 p.m. but he usually comes home late. So I think, it will be much after 3 that he will be home. I look forward to see him soon but you know, we all have to learn to keep our expectation at check.
Since we believe that on the day of the meeting of the nine evils, even if we do something good, it won’t bear corresponding fruit, we are discouraged to pray. So, my mother sat with me and your father’s cousin Tashi Lhamo and we talked for a long while.
Two nights back, I was with her in her bedroom talking. I was sharing with her my fear of you not growing up to be a healthy baby if my breast milk is not enough. She shared with me that when she first got pregnant and at seven months when she saw the colostrum come out of her breast, she cried. She said, then, because there was no hospital, getting pregnant was very risky. They used to say that, when a woman was pregnant, she had one of her feet stepped into death. She gave birth to your eldest uncle at the age of 17. Imagine how innocent she must have been then. What struck me funny as well as witty is her comment that a woman doesn’t store milk like a cow. That comforted me and I’m thinking that I will have no problem with giving birth to you or in bringing you up.
Oh baby, I was going to tell you that from today I’m on medical leave. I will not be going to office now. It is advisable to stay alert, and rest two weeks before the due date. As the due date nears, I get impatient and at night, I find myself wishing that I get to welcome you into this world sooner. I feel lucky that despite the occasional pain in the pelvic region, there is no huge discomfort. You have been a very good baby all this while.
Baby, as I wait for your father to come home I will type the ‘long life’ prayer for your grandmother. The text in the prayer book she got is very fuzzy and unclear.
I love you.
10th December, 2010
I’m still in the office working late. I will be taking medical leave from Monday and I wanted to wind up all my work and submit to the office so that I will be at peace. But somehow, the work seems to never get over. I’m so tired now that I heave huge sighs now and then. And then when I sigh like that, I think of my father – your grandfather dear. He was a very hardworking, righteous man.
I could have chosen not to do this work but since the girl who was assigned this work went home because her father is sick, I took it over and I told my colleague that I will complete this pending work. But it is a hard job. Anyway, in 10 minutes, I it is likely to be over. My hands are aching from having worked on the computer the whole day.
As I worked so hard endlessly, I thought of you. I started worrying about you and that is why, I thought I should drop you a letter and tell you that I’m working hard not because I want to harm you. I’m doing it so that we can take the rest of the days off and relax at home. I love you dear.
28th November, 2010
Your grandparents left today. We a thorough cleaning of the house after they left. Not that they dirtied the house – we had to make a bed in the sitting room. So we put the things back to place. All of us – me, your father, grandmother and others participated in the cleaning. After that your father went to the workshop to wash the car and I prepared lunch. I had called two of my friends – one is a friend from class 12 who I had not met for many years. In fact, we have not met after we parted from class 12. But she didn’t come. Only Sangay Dema, my civil engineer friend who works in Bhutan Telecom came. She brought her son and baby sitter with her.
While I was preparing lunch, my cousin, Tshewang Penjor, who was a monk in Mysore before and had sat for RCSC exam last year and currently undergoing teacher training in Paro came over. I asked him to stay for lunch but he left after having a cup of tea. He told me that he finished his final exam and he is now waiting to go home – to the village where his mother is. He told me that, unlike before, now those who are undergoing teacher training from class 12 (Bachelors in Education it is called) will have to write the Royal Civil Service Examination after completing their course. Before, once the training was over, they were placed in different schools without having to appear for any exam. Having being selected for the course itself showed their eligibility to be a teacher. We talked of how competitive it has become now to get a job. And I wonder what it will be like in your time. However, I somehow feel that you will find your way through. I know you will. My dear, I know you will grow up to be a very sensible, wise person. You will. You just have to believe in yourself. Now, don’t worry about your future. Sleep well in there. Goodnight.
26th November, 2010
I must have been worrying more about you. Day before yesterday, I dreamed that I went into labor, before the due date. There wasn’t much pain. There were few people to help me. I have kept my legs wide apart to give birth to you – and then, without much of any pain, I was told that you were delivered. But then, they tell me that it was a miscarriage. When I told about this dream to your father in the morning, he said, I had nothing to worry because it was impossible to happen at that stage. And I hoped he was right, but I still could not really put my worry away.
Your grandparents and others had gone to Samtse. They also went to Gomtu to meet your father’s uncle, who works at the Gomtu Cement Factory. He is a liver cirrhosis patient. He has been sick for a long time. Not many months back, since he was told that there was no other option left for him, he underwent surgery – his wife, who is from Shillong donated the liver. They are both not well. They were found to have Hepatitis C infection – and now, they have to take an injection every week, which costs Nu 18,000 for one dosage. The surgery was a very expensive one too. I couldn’t believe living would become so expensive. I don’t know why I’m telling you all this. Yes, your grandparents went to meet them, since their life is so fragile at this time.
When your father’s eldest uncle passed away, your grandmother couldn’t come here for his ritual from the village. And your father said, so that there won’t be regret if anything happened to this uncle, she should go and see him. And she did.
They are coming back from Phuntsholing today and they told me that they will go back to Tashigang on Monday, which is not very far. When they told me that they were planning to come to Thimphu I thought they might take longer leave but they had very tight schedule. I even think that if she stays back here in Thimphu, it might help me and your father to see to the guests who will be flocking over at our house after I give birth to you. But then, we can’t expect her to do that. She has to look after Samten’s (your aunt) son. He is an amiable little boy. He crawls and stands a bit but doesn’t walk yet. I’m sure you will soon come to know him.
Lately, I have started feeling cramps in my legs and pelvic region. I looked up about it on the internet and found that it is natural for a woman to feel this pain during the 8th month pregnancy. So there is nothing for me to worry. People say that even the feet swell but I don’t notice any swelling in mine. I don’t feel much discomfort; you must be a very helpful, kind baby. The article I read about for help said that the baby at this stage will have grown big, would have developed the sight and hearing senses. The baby would be crawled up in the womb. He/she will hear the familiar voices and music. I am sure you hear my voices and your father’s too. I have started imagining you more and more now.
Baby, I really can’t wait to welcome you to this world. I’m sure my world will become so much more beautiful after your arrival.
I love you, Mom.
22nd November, 2010
Your paternal grandparents are here in Thimphu. They come to get a thorough check up at the hospital. Your father’s sister and her husband, and their son are here too. They reached here on Saturday. All of us went to Paro yesterday to your father’s elder brother’s house. I was very tired when I reached home.
Been doing a lot of the household works these days. I’m told that I should restrict traveling long distance now. I won’t want any accident at such time so I will be careful not to be over active. Baby, I can feel you growing bigger. And I’m happy. I love you.
15th November, 2010
Baby, it is nearly 7 in the morning. We are in Paro. Honey came to drop me. He will go back to Thimphu now. He got up and he is in the bathroom right now. I already miss him. You know, this love sometime entangles me so much that I pain to part from him even for a short moment. I should be back home tomorrow and it is just one day and a night that I will be without him but you know, even it seems too long.
You are already more than 8 months old. I’m counting the days I will be receiving you in my arms. Baby, don’t cry in there, ok? I love you.
12th November, 2010
I got diarrhea again. It has been four days now. I thought I was better but last night, it struck me worse again. However, I was able to work in the office without problem. Karma is gone to play basket ball. I prepared the dinner today. I ate a lot.
While I wait for him I’m working on my kira’s fringes. I lay down for a while to rest since I was getting back ache. Yesterday Tenzy, Lungten, Sangay Dema and me went ot see Ganga’s newborn. Baby, nothing much is happening around me. Last night, I cried because I felt weak and I thought it was unfair that I had to be sick when I was bearing you in my womb, and was important that I be happy to let you be happy and health.
Anyway dear, I’m much better today. Love you, Mom.
9th November, 2010
I think I overworked. I could bear it no longer an then I lay down to rest. I wanted to make a small change in the arrangement in my bedroom. I was looking for a table runner – I thought I had a new, unused one. Even after I checked all the boxes, I couldn’t find it. I gave up and I’m in bed now. I’m feeling a little better.
In the morning, I have to attend a seminar and also make a presentation on sir Dorji’s behalf. I have two more presentations to make on his behalf. I was exempted from going to the field to do survey because I’m pregnant but staying in the office while others are away, all the works come to me. I don’t want to be under so much stress but sometime there is no choice. Dear, I just hope you will be fine. I’m sorry if I’m stressing myself so much sometime, as if I’m forgetting to consider your wellbeing. Please know that I love you and I will not do anything to harm you.
5th November, 2010
Today was the day for me to go for check up. Since Karma went to Nepal, I went to the hospital alone. I found that the ANC is now moved to the old Pediatric OPD. I went from home with my mother – she was going for kora at the Memorial Chorten. I get a feeling that, she will have so much role to play in your life. You will come into this world to find that your grandmother is an incredible woman. Hardworking, very determined and caring.
The nurse told me that my BP is low. I met Ana Kinga, a lecturer at the RIHS. She asked me if I was pregnant and when I told her that I was, she was surprised that for seven months, my belly had not grown. Then when I had to lie down and nurse feel for you, she told me that you are tiny. I hope that doesn’t mean that you are not healthy. I will have to undergo ultrasound next month. As the day nears for you to come into this world, I get more and more excited. Though Bhutanese doesn’t have the culture to prepare a baby’s room, I even find myself wondering if I should prepare one for you. It will be in my bedroom of course. I may even decide to decorate it to welcome you.
The check up completed first today. I did not have to wait in long queue like we usually have to. I came home after that and did not go to the office. I’m in my bedroom right now, listening to sad emotional English songs. And I’m writing this letter to you by sitting on my bed. Your father has been gone for six days now and after the 3rd day I started missing him so much. I miss him so much now. Especially in such times, when I feel lonely missing him, I feel that I will feel so much better if you were with me. And now as I say this, I can feel you walking beside me, you having begun to speak and pick the curiosity of the world.
I just received a call from Peljorkhang. I had spoken to them about some goods that they had not delivered. They have mistakenly thought that they delivered it. They disturbed me. I think I will start preparing lunch for me and Pem Zangmo. She is studying hard these days, since her exam is not even two weeks away.
Baby, I love you. You do good in there.
With love, Mom.
3rd November, 2010
I’m home. I’m lying in bed, taking rest. I feel a little unwell. Honey is gone to Nepal. I came home by taxi today. I feel little down and I’m thinking of him more today. I didn’t sleep well last night. I kept seeing unclear dream about being in the hospital. And then when I woke up in the morning, I felt you moving a little unusually more. I hope you are doing fine. I worry about you baby. I can now feel the difficulty in bending down to pick things up or when I sweep the floor. Honey asked me not to stress myself much.
Anyway Love, I’m going to hospital for check up day after tomorrow. I’m thinking they might ask me to do ultrasound then. I will know how you are doing then, much better than I do now. I love you. I will see if I can close my eyes and take rest. Hoping to feel better when I open my eyes.
26th October, 2010
I’m in the office just now. We finished our lunch. I could not eat today. I ate Britania fruit cake and I thought I was full. I didn’t force myself to eat my lunch. I will eat later if I get hungry before I go home.
I’m feeling very tired too. I am trying to get a quiet rest of few minutes at my table. I’m resting my head on the table. I feel as if I’m sleepy as well. I want winter to be here soon. It is when weather is hot that I feel so tired and uncomfortable and at unease.
I can’t believe that you are already 7 months old and in only 2 more months you will be in my arms. Baby, I can’t wait to hold you. I know I will have more difficult times as you grow bigger, nearing to come into this world. But I’m trusting myself to be strong. I know there is nothing I can’t go through to have you in my arms. Baby, I love you. Rest in peace in there till then.
21st October, 2010
I’m home and finally sleeping, taking rest. I’m sorry I put you through lots of strain. I walked so much and didn’t sleep last night. We had to go to the airport at 3 a.m. It is 3 p.m. Bhutan time now. I love you. You rest well too now.
I’m getting pain in my abdomen and it is worrying me a bit. I’m thinking I will take off tomorrow afternoon from office.
20th October, 2010
It is second day of shopping. It is nearly 5 in the evening but we have sat down for lunch only now. I’m sorry if you felt you were not fed in time. There are times when you have to forego your needs even when tears sting your eyes. You just remember that I love you. Last night, I burst into tears. I couldn’t control. I sometime think I’m an unhappy person. For most part, in fact I have begun to believe that I will never be happy, unless I dare beyond human convention and go beyond my convenience. I hope you will only see my need and help me work on achieving it instead of making me fall in the mass category of making you my reason for getting blinded in desire and struggle. I love you baby.
Mom can’t help marvel at the world. You see what I’m saying when you grow up. It is just incredible. You need to be strong and sensible in your judgment, no matter what.
19th October, 2010
I’m in a huge shopping complex right now. There is so much noise and different music played simultaneously. I don’t even know if I feel alive. Dear, I feel alone in the midst of a crowd. I miss home so much. I wish you would give me the company and yet, I know you are totally unaware of what I’m going through. For all the fault I might have done to make you unhappy, I beg sorry. I love you. I promise I will do all I can to make you happy.
18th October, 2010
I’m in Bangkok just now. Lying down on the 28th floor of a Five Star hotel, I’m looking outside the large window to the tips of different clustered buildings. A sense of loneliness and sadness numbs me suddenly. I don’t seem to know the purpose of my life. I’m carrying the Tibetan Book of the Dead with me but I can’t find the mood to read it. TV is irritating but for some reason as if I’m afraid of the silence that will follow. I can’t put if off. Baby I feel I would feel better if you were on my lap, talking to you. It would be better if you were lying on my lap and I’m talking to you.
It would be better of course if Honey was with me. I miss him so much. I couldn’t fall asleep for a long time last night. I feel like crying. Baby, I really want to look at you and talk to you as you try to imitate me. I can feel your movement every now and then and when I’m lying down like I’m doing now, as I take my hand on my belly and feel you, I get an enormous feeling of love and happiness – and yet strangely, I feel like crying. Baby I don’t know but there are times when I feel so extremely alone.
13th October, 2010
I felt your heartbeat so strongly as I lay down to rest. Honey felt it too and then he got so excited that he wanted to read the Baby book. Baby, as I imagine you lying coiled up in the womb, I feel a love so real and deep. Baby take care. Grow healthy.
25th September, 2010
I’m not well today. I saw the doctor but nothing much she has to say. I have caught cough and right now I’m sleeping. Honey went to play basket ball and I heard him return just now. But he hasn’t yet come to the bedroom. My nose is blocked. My throat and lips are dry. I feel uncomfortable and ill at ease. You know dear, sometime I wish you would come into this world sooner. I don’t even know what suffering and discomfort you may be going through. Since all of us have been feeling unwell, I’m thinking that we may have to do some rimdro. I’m getting worried about how you are faring there. I love you. As you grow bigger I’m coming to love you more. I can’t wait to have you in my arms.
With love, Mom
2nd July, 2010:
Honey went to the football ground to attend to his players’ practice for National A League match going on these days. He left before it was even 5:30 a.m. I had fallen asleep after he left. But I woke up to find that I had severe pain on the left abdomen. I got so worried about you. The instant thought I had was, if something was wrong with you. I worried that I might lose you. I immediately wanted to call him but I didn’t thinking that I was probably over-reacting. And slowly the pain subsided. I pray that nothing ill will befall you, that I will be able to show the world to you and you to the world all in full glory.
Baby, Honey is so happy that we are going to have you in our world. I can see it in the way he cares me. He is always holding me close to him and it is like ever since we knew about you, we have fallen in love all over again. We are all the more in love and we are always thinking of you and how different and happy our life will be when you are in our hands. We love you baby.
19th June, 2010:
I’ve been talking to you all by myself for many days now. I found that I talked to you more often when I was not well. In fact, I talked to you for the first time, when I was sick and was lying down in bed. I took my hands over my belly and felt you for the first time. I don’t yet know what job it is to be a mother but as I thought of you lying there in my womb, I felt so warm and my love extended beyond me. I love you baby.
Though you happened without a plan, you are so welcome in this world. In fact, I feel, it is an honor for me to bear you and bring you in this world. I can already see you growing up to be a very intelligent person, a person who can figure out his life, all on his own.
I actually knew of your news when I was already in the field for the 2nd GNH Survey. By then, I was pretty late to turn back to Thimphu and so, I had to walk pretty hard mile. But yesterday, after a very hard week of sickness, I have reached Phuntsholing. However, a truck hit our car when Honey was on his way to Phuntsholing to pick us up. I have missed him for two months and it was a great reunion yesterday. We have been thoughtful of you of course. We both love you.
He is right now gone to workshop to figure out the car repair and I’m in the hotel room alone, thinking of you. I did not go with him because I have become very fragile these days. I get sick when I am exposed too long in the sun.
This is all I have to say for now. I love you.
26th August, 2010
I’m talking to an old friend just now and I was telling him about my masters and when I will be leaving. I had to tell him that if I can defer my course I will go in July which means I can take you with me; because you will be six months old then. And suddenly, when I uttered this, I felt tears in my eyes. I don’t know, if it is overwhelming joy. I just see myself looking at you in your eyes, you clutching on my breast and all this and then, I find myself swelling in love. Sometime, it is as if, my life has completely changed. But I know everything is good.
Baby, no matter how much I have to cry, I will make everything good for you. I love you.
16th September, 2010
Mom fell sick day before yesterday. I went with Honey to the hospital on Monday. It was a holiday – Thimphu Dromchoe. But he wanted to go to the hospital because he is now planning to start duty for his department on holidays. You will see what a determined and dedicated person he is. I stayed in his office for more than two yours. I’m aware of you and I always try to pray for you. When we had to wait for him for another half an hour more, I sat in his office and said prayer. And suddenly it struck me that I was sitting on the bed on which the disabled people do exercise. I became so sensitive that I prayed it didn’t mean anything ominous.
Then we went to the workshop to wash our car and we ate lunch there at a canteen. The lunch was good and fresh but both of us got diarrhea that evening. He cured after one day but I didn’t. So I took leave yesterday. I’m better today and I’m in the office.
You know baby, your father is a wonderful person. Very affectionate and caring. He coos me, loves me, holds me and I can’t help feel so lucky that I have him as my life partner and my best friend. He understands me so well that I sometime cry wondering at this good blessing. You will love him too. You know baby, on 13th September, we went for dinner at our friend Lungten’s house for her birthday dinner. It was dark and raining. I had umbrella in my left hand and torch in my right hand. And suddenly, I slipped and fell so heavily and he got so, so worried that he thought you might be hurt. I was so worried too. But luckily nothing happened.
You see, that is how much he cares for you.
You are coming to us to show us a light on life. I know that. And I come to love you more as you grow up.
17th September, 2010
I just finished saying the evening prayer. Your father says prayer regularly too. He prostrates and meditates every day. I’m telling you this so that you come to know us better. I say this so that you hear our prayers; I say this so that you know that we pray for you.
I did not tell you that my cousin, Ata Chaten was here from the village. He was brought here for treatment after he was told that the hospital in Mongar and Tashigang said that they could not diagnose his disease. However, once he was in Thimphu Hospital, he was diagnosed colon cancer and was found that it has spread even to liver. He was told that there was no treatment that a hospital can provide. So he was discharged. Today, it is 3 weeks since he was brought here. He passed away last night at 11:45. I felt so unhappy that he had to die at 48. You know baby, he has two sons who are studying just now. His younger son is only in class five. This fact makes me so sad. How hard it will be for them to grow up without their father. I wish, nothing like that will happen to you. I pray that it won’t. Dear, you have to be strong. From now itself you must know that, once you come into this world, once a life is given, there is something called death, an end, where you can take nothing, no riches, no wealth.
Especially because I’m thinking of this truth so much these days, dear baby, I wish you would grow up to be a person who will understand this truth and want to propel it into bringing benefits to so many people. And in this line, I wish you would in fact grow up to guide me better in my path. You know, I see everyone say that their reason for struggle in life is for their children’s future. This scares me. It scares me that I might fall right into the track people have made. I don’t want you to be my reason for being unrealistic about the truth. I don’t want you to be my reason to forget the dharma. Baby, I so earnestly want you to understand. I wish something like a miracle will happen and you will see my need to get away from this materialistic world. I’m hoping that in fact, instead of you wanting your mother and father to make everything ready for you, like yielding for you whatever you ask for, you will understand that in this world, there is no limit to our desire. I hope you will grow up to be a very reasonable person. I’m sure you will. I don’t want to love you simply because you are my child. I want to love you because you are a good human being. You will understand all this when you grow up and you will see exactly what I am saying.
My friends had the reservation that it probably is not good to go to the house of the dead when I’m pregnant. But I had to forego all such uneasiness. You know, this cousin of mine who died, he is a very good friend of my two elder brothers; besides, his father is my father’s first cousin and I grew up seeing their good relationship. They were very close. And that is why, I couldn’t help not go. Baby, now, I think I will sleep. I love you.