Friday, August 7, 2015

The fated one?

When I was a little boy, I was always made to visit village during winter vacations. There I would learn how to plough fields (which I sucked big time & still do) and herd the cattle. We had cows, oxen, goats and chickens. We had orange orchard and paddy field. There was hay stacked up like in any Southern Bhutanese village. The house was built with wood, netted with bamboo and plastered with read soil. The women of the house would get up around 5 or 6am in the morning and plaster the floorings more with mixture of cow dung and red soil.


Village life was interesting. We did have bamboos, an acre of it. We did have straw field for roofings. We were however not suppose to chop down the bamboos, we were just asked to climb those bamboos and bend it. Cut the leaves and feed it to our cattle. Our cattle were much intelligent that spouses in Thimphu, they at least knew how to come home or when to come home.

The villagers were however always dramatic. There was something to talk about. Every day, when we were all done, we would be seated in kitchen. Southern Bhutanese house for commoners have a courtyard, one hut as kitchen and two storied house with attic. In attic we were not supposed to enter as we had relics from our forefathers. And we being from mixed family, it was a big no no for us. We were basically abandoned to enter the attic. I however, being a mischievous kid, would one day climb up to the attic and open up few of the boxes. I would find my uncle's and father's love letters, letters and books. It was then, I got myself interested in economics, anthropology, psychology and modern physics. I still have those books and I am not ashamed to let you know that I haven't completed any of the books. I am half baked in all those fields.

So, while we waited for dinner, the whole family would be assembled and we would listen to folk tales from our elders, like Sunkashi Rani (the Queen with Golden Hair), Humjayeh Ga (a comedian whose name meant 'I will Go'), stories about laure (laure is someone who usually is referred to Gorkha soldiers), how our parents met, how our uncles and aunties met, how much grandfather had to struggle as a supervisor in National Highways, etc etc.

It was one of those nights I heard a story. It was quite unusual one. I don't know how much truth lies in it, but there was this story. There was a pretty lady, in our village. My mother when she came to our village, she had seen her. My mother would describe her as some heroine from Bollywood movies, she would say she was fair as moon and so much out of league for any men in our village to woo her. She found my father's village folks to be not good looking, and I can understand that. Trashi Yangtse has been producing Khandums and Khenpos since unknown era. :p Now this lady was a Brahmin lady. At the age of 18 or so, she was taken by her uncle to visit Gelephu. She had disappeared for ages and so did her uncle. Villagers didn't want to talk about people who had absconded. And after four or five years, she reappeared in village. She told her stories about how her uncle had sold her in Delhi the mishaps that had happened. She wasn't sold to brothel or so, but she was sold to some people who would take out her organs. I believe it is kidney now. She then met with a Punjabi guy and he was in love with her. The Punjabi guy knowing her story brought her back to Bhutan. But the Punjabi guy didn't get his permit to enter Bhutan through Gelephu. He however got stranded there and told her that he would wait there for her. She however after reaching her village, wasn't sent back and she stayed home. There are so many restrictions for being a woman. She would then marry one of the other caste man, maybe he was a Subba. And it is said that after a month, she died.

There is a problem in intercaste marriages in Southern Bhutan. First thing, official marriages have to happen among within the caste, you need to get parents' consent. Then only you can get married. Even if parents are happy and the girl moves in your house before the ritualistic marriage, it is considered to be an act of theft. Then there has to be another compensation to the parents, that's called Choor ko Sor (meaning cleaning up a thief's mess? - I don't know). And the biggest drama queen in any southern Bhutanese marriages are the father-in-laws. They act so cocky that they tend to forget that during the marriage ritual, he has to drink water after washing his son-in-law's feet? Come on folks, some of us might just won't wash our feet for ages and just to get even, might show up stepping upon shits. But then again, Marchang has taught them the trick, they just touch the water and touch the lower lip. Now that's co-existence. :p

All intercaste marriages are considered an act of theft (my apologies, I am not well equipped to describe the proper word in English). No matter how orthodox the society is, people have never stopped falling love and getting married. People are changing and these days, not many are concerned about who gets married to whom.

But the main problem arises in funerals. So if a Brahmin girl gets married to a Subba, the Subba priest or pundit or monk will not perform the rituals for her. None of her own family relatives will touch her corpse.

So, when she died, she being from a Brahmin family, nobody did her rituals. It wasn't her own family and it wasn't her husband's. One night her husband took her corpse and buried her near a river, I was told. Then there were these Buddhist Tamang lamas who wanted to keep her skull and thigh bone. When they went and dug up her corpse, they realized that her skull was of no use because according to their rituals, it was found that she was ill fated. They however took her thigh bones. School students had found that the grave had been dug. And it was presumed that she she was ill fated as her skull was not taken. Maybe she was not ill fated but fated one, as she left early from this world, leaving her organs for others, leaving her bones for a sick person who must be blowing it now, maybe she didn't have to see the worse of world and so much of dramas that we are today surrounded by?

Later years, I would realize maybe her organs were sold and she died out of it or maybe sadness killed. I don't understand how people function at times, she already had so much to go through all her life, a cunning conniving uncle, family who abandoned her & why won't the dead be left alone? So much for caste system 7 voodoos?

And to think of it now, why was I even told that story when I was a teenager? :p But then again, in schools we learned more stories about killings like World Wars, Medieval Wars and Genghis Khan and his far cousin Hitler. 

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