Fourth October 2007, 6 am, my cell phone rings. It was a call from a distant land. It was a wakeup call. A friend does care and wouldn’t want me to miss the 7 O’clock bus. Switched on the boiler and my bathroom mirror greeted me. Coffee got on my table, few hot sips got down my esophagus. Small little bag hung down my shoulder and big leaping steps got me right on time.
Pelyab Transport Bus, seat no 2 got me glued on my way to Gelephu. Sun peeped out of the blanket blue and the golden rays heated the Thim Chuu (Wangchu). “….Get in and lets go”, shouted the bus driver. The wheels rolled and we accelerated. Apples on the streets below Dochula gave a reason for us to stop a while. It was my lunch pack to be picked up from a Tibetan woman — I bought some apples for my journeying lunch.
Dochula stood with all the charisma and far across Jomolhari give a picture of the world’s complete magnificence. Nature greeted us, birds welcomed the passengers, the long black zigzag road guided us and of course the bus driver drove us. All along the ride, music was never heard but it wasn’t a boring journey at all. My ability to imagine got boosted when, on the other side I spotted a pair of “lesbian like girls” falling asleep in each others arms — it was a moment of car sickness, I believe — it is no pun here. Speedo-meter rose up and soon we were at the Wangdue police check post. Wangduephodrang Dzong stood in a classy manner on the sleeping elephant’s nose like hill. The fishes in river below assured us of a peaceful and enjoyable journey ahead. The winding road got straightened as we moved along the green river. The nature was in its best ornaments and wedding gown. Imagination of humanity in relation to the truthful scenic beauty of natural landscapes kept me busy all the way.
Crossing the giant river over the bridge, build with Japanese technology at Waklay tar, our bus engine started making louder noise. We began to climb the hills and expected to see lots of paddy fields. In a small little corner of the road, an old lady, may be in her 70s stood with a young man. Let me call that old beautiful lady by the name “Maya”—the symbol of love. In the bright and hot sun, and in expectation, they stood to get lifted to Gelephu by any merciful vehicles coming across. Maya was sick and her grandson wanted to accompany her to the hospital in Gelephu. Our bus had no empty seats but the driver was ‘twice as merciful’ — (doubly merciful because he would also make some money on their travel fare). Bhutanese are unique in a sense that we care for sickly and elderly people—no matter where he/she is from and what looks they wear. Possibly it is more religious and humane approach to feel the aching heart of the needy ones. We are proud for possessing such virtues. We need not graduate from Cambridge, Harvard or Oxford to understand such needs. In a matter few seconds, sitting arrangement was done and Maya had a comfortable journey. Maya’s face and her sickly body hunted me. I tried ignoring “those thoughts” but it flashed over and over again. It is a universal truth: what we ignore keeps coming. What we don’t want, become ours. I just admitted and wanted to let any thoughts creep in and build the castle in my imaginative planet.
And thus my imaginative mind began its journey……………………………….
It was some 50 years ago. Maya was in her 20s. She was born in a small hilly village of Lamidara. The village had no access to modern amenities but happiness and peace prevailed. Her parents lighted the woods, burned the fats to light up the darkness. They had their windows painted green, the floor polished with cow dung. A small little stream ran behind Maya’s bungalow. Corns were hanging over the verandah. There was a small cottage about 50 meters to the south of the house. It was known to them as “Pali”—a typical Nepali term (I want to prove that I also know a bit of Nepali lol) (Pali is generally a cottage/store where the ploughs and other field tools are kept). And few meters towards the east was the kitchen. Green trees and brown fields fed them round the year. Goats, oxen, cows, crows, dogs, cats shared the common play ground. Humming bees, dancing flowers, singing stream, whistling trees and the whole village survived in peace. Beauty was what Maya was gifted with. Her surrounding was the largest world she could imagine. And her world was beautiful.
Golden stud on her nose (Phuli—the Nepali term), her long knotted hair and her warm innocent face could win over thousand men. She grew up to dream of her charming prince. She wished a man on his white horse would soon ride up to her father to ask her hand. Maya began to notice her heartbeats and often smiled all alone. Her smiles and youthfulness were blooming. Time was tickling for her to get married off. Her mother was more worried of her wedding then Maya herself. Maya had lovely parents. She wouldn’t want to leave behind her childhood memories and her parents. But culture, traditions and societal norms get in the ways of individual choices. She dreamt of her man and her parents dreamt of a man for her. Getting up at 5 am every morning and going to bed by 6 pm was the routine in Lamidara those days. Travelers were few and magicians drew occasional crowds in her village. Religious festivals and other events brought the small community together. It was on such events Maya hoped to meet her dream man. Life always hands us the gift pack of “unexpected happenings”. One fine sunny day, a tall gentleman, unexpected and ‘never thought of handsome man’ came ridding his white horse. He was on his way to extract salt from Sarpang, the then nearest commercial town.
He liked Maya’s innocence and pure smiles as she offered him water. She could read his heart. Their meeting/date was very brief but the impact/outcome was huge. They both watered the seed of love in each other’s fertile hearts. As per the tradition in the south, a week later, the gentleman (her new found Love) came with his dad to woo Maya’s hand. “Happy moments” were in abundance. Good life was just about to begin and the whole village geared to merriment. Ceremonial wedding took place and they tied the eternal knot. Unlike the present day love affairs and “marriage commitments”, theirs lasted for ever. Even to this day their romance of the “white horse riding man” and the water offering event is fresh in their memories— why can’t modern day love affairs bloom in “these colors” and marriage have such luster? Can some one answer me?
Suddenly I realized, I was fully sweating (of course, we reached Gelephu then) and the bus stopped. Maya in her old tone (at the age of about 70) thanked all those passengers and her grandson escorted her out of the bus at the Gelephu bus stand….