Almost three decades ago, my mother says she gave birth in a lonely hut. Hot, full of snakes and deserted the place was. Yet December it was, she recollects. My birth certificate says I took my first breath in a hospital but my mom argues my lungs received the dark soot, tar, laden of dried maize stalks that burnt in the hearth that lonely night. A cat was the only witness. I trust the cat more than the certificate. Unlike today, I got no photographs to show the first cloths I wore. My feet sure was bare and toys I had none. Yet I grew like any other child in the neighborhood. My mom sat by the verandah as the evening came gliding by. Dawn demanded her attention to attend the yelling and yawning cattle. Days were hard, hot and demanding. She left me wrapped in the tattered rags, in charge of the hut, guarded by our faithful dog. Now I reflect back and relate it with the “Snake and the Mongoose” story. Thank God!!– I survived. How lucky I am.
Four seasons came in a row, at times it was time to sow, at others it was to reap. Many times, I am sure my mother wanted to weep yet she kept the hearth burning and the pots boiling. I was to grow and become a good human being after all. I grew up in a simple land, had just a simple life, perhaps the simplest of a dream. I wish I knew how to weave and how to sieve. If only I knew these tricks, I would have woven the best dream, sieved the best cream of a human life. Lifting water from a pond only increased and improved my bond with my mother. While she went to fetch water away from our lovely hut, she used to carry me on one of her hips and on the other a “Gargra” (Water carrying jerry can) – Thank God, I was not a fat baby (not even a fat boy now) — How lucky I am.
I heared that a kilogram of butter then would cost only Nu 3.00 or a little more and my dad could earn only Nu. 200.00 a month. And unlike today I couldn’t wear decent underwear. Bare feet, nude and naked, “threadbare shirt wearing” shabby, boy I was. Basking in the sun, learning how to run, I only knew how to bully my mom and make fun. What dream would I ever have? Yet age pushed me higher up. Taller I became, longer my feet grew and harder our “times” got. Thank God no one ever offered alcohol those days, even for sale near our hut, otherwise my dad would have followed Meritocean’s dad. — How lucky I am.
Those days heat was known to be boiling in the southern part of the country and my dad got transferred to the east (Mongar). And my mom never dreamt of leaving our little hut. I was then supposed to grow up in the unknown lands. Begging for better and good life, I stretched my hands. Childhood days were the most memorable ones. I can’t forget all those “torn and worn out cloth wearing friends”, (I was no different from them). We stole plums, threw stones to break the bulbs (I relate it back to the story of Govind Singh). We twisted the tails of the cows to have fun when the animals got irritated. We saw One Ton Truck (Gari) driven by Panjabi – the jaw zir zir man and we sang “Tandin Ongmo, Khaling ma gau yo, Panjibi Gari Jaw zir zir” (Tandin Ongmo went to Khaling with a long bearded Panjibi) – No offence meant to any one here. I am sure my best friends of those days would admit that we were naughty yet good. Ugyen, was a young Gyleong (Monk) of the Mongar Dratshang, a very good friend of mine. I am sure he is a learned and wise khenpo some where today. I have had influence of such wonderful people at that very age — How lucky I am.
One day I saw a boy running in a green nylon dress carrying books in his hand. That event gave birth to a totally different Shyam (me). I began to dream. I started to have an ambition. I went back home and nagged my dad to admit me to a school so that I could wear the Green nylon gho and carry books. I cried until my dad took me to the school for admission. Since then I went to school own my own. And it is funny that I even went to school on Sundays. Big boys would toy me. Beautiful girls would tease me. I wonder if I was grown up enough to please them. I won friends, teachers liked me and I loved them all. I was naughty yet I never forgot to study, for I began to have a dream and an ambition.
My parents never told me to study yet I never forgot the lines like: “Simple Simon, met a Philemon, going to the fire……..” I still remember the famous: “Today is Losar, we are going to the Dzong”. Dorji is short and fat etc…. I used to love my book “Druk and Drukpa”. And my lopen taught me; “Kasha Zer me di cha map bay hong, kasha pangthang nagi tsham thues na dep inn, kasha gi tho lu nep keoy inn and the like…………. When I was in class four, we had a royal visit (Her Majesties, the queens) and when asked, I proudly spoke of my ambition to become some one professionally great in Bhutan. But today I am guilty of having promised so big to Her Majesties and not being able to live up the promises I made. And I am also sorry for dreaming too big and aiming too high. However, I have realized; we live, may be; only one life and we can only be happy with what we get to have. Adversity was my university. Yet I am happy that I was able to read, write, dream and have an ambition – How lucky I am.
For more than a decade and half of my life that I have spent in the schools and college; the pages of my life’s history has recorded lots of wonderful events, places, people and memorable moments. Now as I sit alone in the dark and silent night, thoughts creep in, to make me smile and feel good about having been born that lonely night in a hut.As I walked the streets of life’s making, I got lots of soft shoulders to lean on, many cushions to lie down on. Lots of them offered me the walking sticks; some showed me the way, lots of them lighted the candle to lead me ahead. Many wove me the dreams once again and fed me with the milky creams. I am infact a mere prawn in the chessboard of life’s game but my friends and well wishers (all of you readers included) have given me the reason to win the whole chess game of life.
I would like to open up my arms to show that I am thankful for all your love, shown and proven long since and even recently. I got especially touched when you all (my friends and well wishers, readers and writers ) wished me better life. Some of you even took the burden to leave your wives, husbands, girlfriends and boyfriends and traveled all the way to drop me of to my new place. I knew you all were wonderful people, and you did prove. I CAN ONLY ACKNOWLEDGE AND ADMIT THAT I AM SO LUCKY: Thank you all for making my life a better one. I wouldn’t prefer to build castles in the air but I sure would have loved to have had a better and a realistic dream. Thank you all so much !!!