Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mother's Dilemma

I got late to office today. As I parked my car and got out, it was 9:45 a.m. Now, being a mother isn’t a cup of tea. I console myself saying that my parents lived in a more difficult time and therefore, they went through more hardship – which means, what I go through now is nothing. But does that work? Rarely.

I got late because when I dropped my four-year-old daughter to her daycare, her principal asked me and all other parents to come inside their school to look at their first term progress report. I went to my daughter’s class, her hand clasped in mine. She started bending her head left and right, showing that coy behavior that she wasn’t so willing to go with rest of the children to the assembly. Her daycare has introduced a parrot green tracksuit as uniform for the children. My daughter doesn’t want to wear it to school. Today, she put them in her bag saying she was going to take help from her teacher, Madam Pasang to wear it once she was at school. Now, as I stood in her classroom, waiting for her madam to show me her progress report, she told me that she would like me to help her put on the uniform – and I did. Slowly, she began to nag. At first she wanted to give me a kiss, which she did. Then she wanted me to watch her say her morning prayer at the assembly. She said, ‘mummy jang rab ze yithro phiwa goth pa lek la’. I said I will. Now, maybe I yielded too much. She then said she wanted to go home. She didn’t want to stay at school today. I explained, reasoned, and told every little thing I could to let her see that being in school is more interesting than being home. This only made her cry, clinging on me. But she was not the only child who wanted to go home. There was another boy her age doing the same. There was yet another boy crying quietly inside the classroom.

When no explanation worked, her principal came and took her off from me. It had to be forceful. She screamed and cried and fought to let her off. Once she was locked inside the altar room with other children where they were gathered to say the morning prayer and national anthem, I could hear her shout, ‘Nga chhi na jo ni’ – (I want to go home!) at the top of her voice. I faltered wondering if I should give in. I called my husband. He said I should leave her at school because she has to know that she can’t just have everything her way. I asked my husband’s sister who is home to go out and see if she was playing as usual in the school playground in a while.

A mother’s heart burst into pieces hundred times everyday. There is a dilemma of such kind in each small activity. The routine of making children brush. The discipline of making them not watch TV while they eat. The routine of making them sit and eat in the manner they should. The list goes on. And no matter how helpful your husband is, the major chunk of the responsibilities fall on the mother. And mothers usually don’t complain. Do they? Children also prefer to nag mothers more.

And you know what makes it worse? Just as I parked my car and came out, my boss came. The two times I had to go home at 4 p.m., I met him on the way. I keep bumping into him when I reach office late, or leave office early. It nags me because bosses do not always see deeper than these minor irregularities. And I feel like I should resign. Would there then be more peace?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Love with a stranger

I am not quite sure what enticed me to this place. And where did I meet him? I must tell you, I have a really bad memory and I can’t remember where I met him and when. And how we got to know each other. But suffice me to say that, I remember the best part of my life with him. The moment that comes vividly to my mind right now as I write it down is the moment I felt so much love. That feeling of complete bliss, the feeling of butterflies in my stomach as he hugged me, his hands locked in front of my bosom, his head nestling on my shoulder, kissing my neck, softly uttering, ‘I love you. You are the best thing that happened to me.’

Would there be a better place for me? There was not a single doubt in my mind that I had found my soul mate. The most important thing was that he made me feel beautiful, and completely at ease.

And of course, not all things last. This changed. Suddenly. And I was left with no consolation. I had no friends, and no relatives to seek help from. I fell for a person with the sweetest words. I cried day and night. At that moment, I felt more shocked than betrayed. I couldn’t believe that a person can utter love without feeling the tiniest of flutter in his heart. I wondered, ‘did he need practicing it many times to lure women to his arms and then leave them heartbroken?’ I was dismayed over the fact that a person can be this heartless. Over the fact that a person can find no better way to earn a living than to lure women into matrimony, rob them off their valuables and then leave them helpless.

But I believe women are stronger than men. If they have the guts to cheat on them, betray them, or rob them, women have the power to come back. I also wondered if I appeared gullible to him. I am not a girl who hangs out late. Knowing myself well, I had no one to blame but my fate. Right now, all I tell myself is that I am unlucky in love. On the other hand, I am grateful that he left me before I was pregnant. I always believed that love could never turn to hatred but at the moment, having gone through the unbelievable twist of fate, if I had to see a face that resembled him on my lap everyday, I feel I would hate the world itself.

Anyway, I went back to being single from married. And because he disappeared before I could introduce him to my friends and family, I was spared many questions. I am recovering from shock and sadness at his behavior and I am beginning life anew.

Friday, May 29, 2015

We may cry but it is for a greater joy

Dear Dechen,  

I have not written for so very long and it is in a way sad that I am writing today because I had to be harsh to you and right now while you are sleeping next to me, I am crying in remorse. There are times when it gets so difficult that I don't know how else to treat you to make you do what you have to. For example, this evening you didn't want to brush your teeth. I coaxed and praised and explained and did everything that I could but you just didn't agree and then I had to scold you and spank you on your bare arm with my hand. You finally brushed but you were still acting very stubborn. I just don't know how to make you not do something against my advice. 

You were in a very good mood before all this. I got home late because I had a meeting. I explained to you in the morning when I dropped you to school that you will be picked up by your grandma and you were okay. When I got home, your daddy went for dinner with Aunty Suzanne and group and it was just you, me and Abi. While I cleaned the rooms, you were so engrossed in drawing, cutting out your drawing and then pasting them on the wall. And just then, abi said dinner was ready. So she and I started eating dinner in the sitting room while you were still continuing the drawing in our bedroom. 

After the meeting, while I was at the Baby Point looking looking something for you, I met one Aunty and her daughter looking for Elsa's hair because she has to dress as Elsa in the school for a skit or some kind of a show. Then Aunty Kezang Deki who was with me told her that you have a hat that is supposed to be Elsa's hair and I had to agree to lend it to her. So while Abi and I were eating dinner that girl and Aunty kezang came and situation changed a bit. Aunty kezang ate dinner with us and she stayed on till it was time for you to sleep. The fuss of brushing your teeth started before she left. You said you wanted your daddy to brush it for you. It is always like that you know darling---you will keep swinging it between him and me and it kind of gets unpleasant after a while. Anyway, because I couldn't hold my patience, I had to be forceful.

You must know that I never spank you to hurt you. I cried getting frustrated, not knowing how best to deal with you. In such times I feel like I am all full and I have reached the end of all means. So, all I can do is pray to the almighty to help me, to guide me to a better way of dealing with you to make you grow into a fine person.

I have seen children your age who are very quiet and obedient, sitting next to their parents in the crowd and not moving an inch. I must tell you darling, while I see that it is very easy for the parents because they don't have to worry about having to attend to them getting hurt accidentally or accidentally knocking something off, I would still choose an active child like you over the ones like them. 

This is not what most of our days are like though. We are best friends most of the time and to think of it, in fact such little fuss in between shouldn't even warrant a letter. Last night, before we went to bed, we were so happy drawing different things like fish and flowers and ice creams. It was surprising that all you had to do was think of something--for example, you wanted to design a Kira for me and you had it on the paper. Similarly you designed a jacket for me. And I must tell you, it was such pure joy to sit next to you, watch you draw and explain what each drawing meant. One time you drew watches for yourself, Abi, me and daddy. Then you made a button and some kind of a frill. Until you explained, I didn't know that it was light flickering brightly when the switch is turned on.

So you see my darling, we create different worlds in our own small world without requiring much of anything but ourselves and or imagination and I tell you, it is this  that gives me happiness and makes me feel content. It is during such times that I feel complete and know for sure that there can't be more in life. 

So forget the little fuss. That is part of us growing up for the greater world and better us. I don't like the feeling that I might probably have made you feel helpless but it is not mummy's intention. It is always love, darling. And I hope you will know this someday.

I love you,

Friday, March 20, 2015

Who do we call human?

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Baby, it is you

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

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

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

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

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

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