Thursday, July 17, 2014

They who knew friendship.

They who knew friendship.

Do you want to hear a story? Okay, let me begin with, once upon a time, there lived a man, who wasn’t rich and had gotten married to a girl. But I ask you to make it to the end, then only will you enjoy this story.

The girl was the younger sister and he had left his home town, Sarpang. He got married to her, probably because he was Tamang as well. During those days, inter caste marriage was equivalent to Halley’s Comet.


He would work as a road side supervisor which was known during days as Lhajab. Even during those days, Lhajabs didn’t make much. He was very much in love with her, and they had seven children together. But the sad part was, she died when her youngest daughter was few months infant. By that time, they already had a house, a small southern Bhutanese type, made out of bamboo, timbre, red mud and cow dung. When she passed away, she took the fortune of her home. The darkest days were ahead for this family to face.

His name is Chandraman Tamang.

He was a far sighted man, and it was because of his far sightedness, he wanted all his kids to go to school. He didn’t bother much about the social stigma, and sent his daughters to school. He believed in education. But not many could succeed in studies. During those days, it was different; women empowerment wasn’t a promising idea for Southern Bhutanese people. That was their paradigm; that was their bubble they never wanted to burst; that was their own self-created inferno.

He was a Lhajab when the work on National High Way from Phuentsholing to Thimphu began in the year 1961 or so. He was there till the road reached Chapcha. Then he left and came back to work in village. He later again joined PWD as Lhajab and it was only six or seven years ago, he quit his job. Even the Engineer in Charge appreciated his work, honesty and integrity that he was told, when so ever you are  ready to resign, you can resign. During his last days of service, he was in Tsholingkar area, which also happens to be our village. He resigned because he started to fall ill and he had started to hallucinate. I don’t exactly know how old is he? Perhaps, he must be in his late eighties. Not a big deal in Bhutan, because during those days, not many bothered to remember the Dates of births of any soul. It is quite interesting that people would say: I was born when there was a huge earthquake or in the months of maize harvest or when Dhan Maya married Yogesh or when my uncle was run over by a Mithun or when landslides occurred on the other side of the hill.

There was a Dzongkha Lopeon then, as his house in Tsirang happened to be next to the school, most of the teachers were known to him. It so happened once that this Dzongkha Lopeon got ill to the extent that he would die. Perhaps, it was the heat of Southern Bhutan or some high fever or some viral disease or even malaria. It is said that during these days, Lhajab helped him, while not many in the village did. Tamangs are basically Buddhist people and in his locality of all Chettris and Bawns, his family formed the only handful of beef consumers. Today, I presume everybody eats, but nobody wants to get caught.

Anyways, there were three to four Tamang houses in his locality. Few of the houses were richer then so they didn’t bother or they didn’t want to be out casted by the so called Brahmins. How humanity failed then? However, when the Dzongkha Lopeon retained his health, they became good friends. They became friends to the extent that they even agreed to be Mithis (Mi-tees: if I pronounce it right, is a term used to call your friend whom you have chosen to treat like you own blood brother, it is equivalent to soul sister in Chinese I presume).

However, they became good friends.

He was a rational and practical man. He wasn’t that much of a superstitious hunk then. It is said that the lamas told him that his son would become a Ghak-ri (a sage). But remember, he even sent his daughters to school, and this man during those days, wanted to educate his children. He didn’t believe in any sorts of superstitions then. His son had long brown hair during those days, and as per rituals, he wasn’t supposed to cut them before he reached 8 years old and that too, was supposed to be cut by his maternal uncle. But Chandraman probably didn’t care and got a pair of scissors and cut his hair. It is said that when the first bunch of hair fell on the ground, Chandraman started to shiver and out of balance, he nearly fell down. He found his support on a house pillar.

It was unusual site for Chandraman. But it is said that in his clan of Tamang, he belonged to Grang-dan. Grang-dans have always been good in performing the ritual of illusions and most of them were probably Lamas with black magic techniques. It is said that at one point of time, there were two prodigy brothers, who lived and had crafted the mastery of these art, that they could make two tips of bamboos collide, distinctly from the herd. It is also said that later days, the rivalry between these two brothers grew so deep that they cursed their clan to be disintegrated, disappeared and vanished from the Tamang herd. For this is the reason why most often Tamang people believe that most of the times, daughters are born in Grang-dan family. I am not sexiest, their beliefs are, for they think that it is only in the bloods of sons, the clan prevails. (Perhaps, who so ever came up with this idea was smoking bong and wasn’t paying any attention to humanity).

Anyways, there he was, shivering. But let us not forget his friend Mr. Rinzin who was Dzongkha Lopeon. They had become close and during those days, without telephone: landline, mobile phone: what’s app, internet: facebook site , or television: BBS, they maintained their friendship. How do I know this? Read on.

Mr. Rinzin then became Dasho Rinzin and he became a Councilor. It was said that during those days, even Gups had so much of authority that an actual Dasho could have granted you land. And henceforth, Chandraman was offered a place to settle down. He was taken to Hongtsho for site seeing. All he had to do was accept the fact that in future land rates near Thimphu village then, would shoot up. But then again, I told you, Chandraman was a very farsighted man. He thought about his new neighbors and his kids, the climate at Hongtsho and refused.

He however asked his Dasho friend to look after his son. He sent him along with his friend. It was out of Chandraman’s atonement for cutting his son’s hair, he asked his friend to put him in Wangdue Dzong as a Gelong. His son stayed there for two years and left: from gelong he became Getay.

But the twist in their lives came when 1990s struck Bhutan so hard that it sadden her till this date. It was during that era of Anti National problem. It was during that time, when Chandraman had to hide in maize fields. For it is said, during those days, people were tortured and tormented by the Anti Nationals. Everybody loves their lives. It was during those very days, that his friend, who was still a Dasho or so, came with few policemen to provide him with security. He stayed there for few days or weeks. He would scold Chandraman time and again over for not settling down in Hongtsho. Mithee, saro par dai cha haina, kina chai moiley baneko ma ney nas? (Blood brother, isn’t it difficult and tough now? Why didn’t you listen to me then? )

Chandraman Tamang is my grandfather.

I however, met with grandfather’s friend when I was in class four, when we stayed in Kharbandhi. He would stay with us whenever he came to Phuentsholing. The last time, I saw him was when I was in class seven. After that, I would never see him. I would hear stories, grandfather’s friend’s stories. How he had to amputate his leg after suffering from diabetes. How he had lost all his land to his mistress. How he lived his life. But I haven’t seen him. It has been over eight years that I haven’t seen my grandfather either. I have been so busy that I couldn’t go to my home town for four years: now that we have settled in Samtse and our grandfather is in Tsirang.
                     
I however have this memory of my grandfather sitting outside the porch, rolling his tobacco in dried maize covers and having puffs. He was always a chain smoker. Oh, I also remember that during my bed wetting days, my grandfather insisted to sleep with his grandson which of course my dangerous aunts objected to: he found himself in the pond of urine early morning. Lhajabs always have to get up early to leave for their duties. 

  Oh, and we are not supposed to eat pork. Perhaps, it does make sense as well. Tamangs are debated over and over again. Not many know how this tribe came up. It is interesting to know that Tamang’s favorite musical instrument is Damphu, and it is also called Tambourine in English. Bob Dylan, did you see this coming? Am I Dawa Tambourine Man?  But it is argued that Genghis Khan had a tribe who knew the language of the horse and was his favorite tribe. Perhaps, this tribe later came to Tibet and they were sent to Katmandu to patrol that valley. Perhaps, after that the name came Ta- horse & mang-warrior? Worrier perhaps, these days. Some folklores state that during those days, there were 500 of them. Today, it is estimated over millions all over the Himalayan region. Ain’t nobody told them about the contraceptive measures?


Ps: And yes, I am getay’s son. And when my grandfather settled down in Tsirang, he was known to be Eklay Buro (loner old man) because he was the only person from his tribe. Today, his third generation descendants have four sons and six daughters.  

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