Monday, May 18, 2020

The Colony Diaries: Episode I

There is something weird about your own childhood, you only remember bits and bytes, and since you do so, you don't validate others who do remember things quite vividly, or perhaps, when we all sit around fire and talk about olden days, we differ to our versions of memories and disagree to agree. Eventually, all agreeing to the main punchline, however agreeing or disagreeing to certain events, that's when we all sit on a same rollercoaster to remember little things from the past. 

RK Narayan's Malgudi days might have been a work of fiction, but sometime when those episodes were being featured upon Doordarshan, we on the other hand were living the same in the very campus of Kharbandi. I was told that I was born there, and when I was born, there was full moon. There's no rocket science that my parents went on naming me Dawa, because my mother was taken to hospital on a Sunday and I was born sometime on Monday morning. Now, Dawa means moon, but Sunday is also Dawa, which in itself is what we say: Lost in Translation case. 

There is something beautiful and ugly about being raised in a colony, because like ants, we were all related and at the same time, we were all so different. 

I was told that the two huge trees were different, that one was a banyan one and the other was a fig tree. One point, I remember climbing that big fig tree and eating those figs. However, I also remember that the next season I wasn't enjoying it much. And I remember when puberty hit us, we were all hitting each other with those figs. 

Kharbandi had its own charm then, that during those days, even if a deer or a duck died in that campus, everybody would come and share the meat. But then again, had there been something embarrassing, everybody would have known. Unlike other colonies of Bhutan, we didn't have much of infidelity or maybe they did have, but there were not many divorce cases.

When the gift of memories had been bestowed upon me, I was already in school at the age of three and half. I would urinate and poop in my classroom, that most of the times, Gurung Driver would make me NOT seat in his bus - yes, some felt the smell of my poop, and I didn't mind standing, silent yet, I was stubborn from the very age I could sense and remember anything. Perhaps, being bull is one of my gifts, so is patience. 

It was one morning that the trees were bent, and debris on road were seen, the meadows seemed to be asleep like having bad hangover, that I hung to the window grills, as I remember, that my aunt told me that now we have a sister. I would tell her that I can now eat pan, as I am the eldest and a big boy. Me and my brother were inseparable then, and I was always considered to be the dumb one, or the naive or just "lata". 

As I now look back to our colony days, I find our colony just the same like others. Not many were entreprenuers and those uncles who tried to make extra cash were fired by the administration, because, now I realize that jealousy amongst elders could blind them to fire men from their jobs. We were kids and we didn't know, however, as we became adults, we would hear stories of infidelity, and just like in any colony, we would address all the men elders as Uncles and women as Aunties. The new year eves were celebrated with bonfires and adults would get drunk, while we children were humiliated to the core, by being asked to dance or sing. And just like in many colonies, aunties won't get along, and there were too many office politics and colony politics. In a funny way, there were competitions and gangups amongst the colony aunties. While the men were all laid back, with their hopes pinned upon their pensions and stable jobs, nothing much came out of majority of them. But, when someone had some issue, no matter how much one hated the other, everybody came together for one another to help. With time, as the colony would separate, a lot of men and women would shed tears, and a lot of men and women would find solaces in being separated from that colony - to each their own. But eventually, there was a bond that had formed amongst the folks in colony, that even to this day, they keep in touch and have a different relationship which is unexplainable, as it is not brotherhood, nor friendship, nor that of work colleagues, but that of band of brothers, who had shared the same foxholes in world wars. And everybody's children were like their own, and seldom would we see some racist people, but eventually everybody would celebrate Diwali, Dasai, Blessed Rainy Day and Losars. It was like a TV serial, just that it was a colony, and it was a big damn colony with their products as students who would join the market force as certificate holders. 

Perhaps, from that colony, not many would succeed, but those who did, would shape Bhutan in many ways. 

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