29 September 2022

A Letter to Author

It's not every day that I receive a mail from a reader who loved my book or otherwise. There are not many readers, and not many readers take their time out to write a review or a mail. That's why when I do get a message, I really treasure it. 

Following is a heartwarming email from a young girl who finished reading my book in two days. It goes to show that she really enjoyed it. From a short mail, I can make out that she is quite a reader, and for her to like my book is a significant compliment. 

Besides that, the timing is important to me. It's been over four years since my book was published, and all the hype is gone with the wind, yet for someone to read my book a
and write to me makes me 

Dear Author,

This might be an odd way of expressing my appreciation, but I couldn't find a better way of connecting with you. (I preferred email for my lengthy message )

I must say, you are really an inspiring figure for youths in our country. I have heard a lot about you and your contributions to Bhutanese society from others. Still, to really be honest, I never actually knew who you were. Perhaps I never tried to discover the works you have done, or I haven't read any piece of your collection yet. 

Just recently, I finished reading your book "PasSu Diary", which I got as a recognition prize during the reading week in my school. I am not a bookworm, but I do enjoy reading. However, I hardly read a book till the end as my interest in reading truly depends on how the writer expresses each line. This might sound weird, but it has been my style ever since I was a kid. 

The moment I read the first lines of your book, it just gravitated my soul towards the next page and so on. Trust me, I was done reading your book just in two days. Reading your book was like getting an opportunity to be part of all the events in flashback. Your writings also give a sense of pride and a raw perception of being a Bhutanese. The sentences in each chapter boosted my thinking capacity. No other prize could have been better than this book.

As I went on learning about you, I discovered that besides writing, you had been a social activist in various fields, and above all, you are someone that youths can look up to. Your writings have motivated me to become a passionate reader and a responsible citizen.

A bunch of thanks to you :) 

 

- Sonam Tashi Lhazom


If you are interested in my book, here is the link to get it from BOOKNESE or buy the eBook version from Amazon

27 September 2022

A Dangerous Thruelbub Belief


It's dangerous to believe that you could wash away the sins (Lay) you have committed, bad deeds you have done, or harm you have caused to others just by bathing on
#Thruelbub or visiting a temple.

No, you have to be good and do enough good to outweigh the bad you have done. There is no erasing or washing away the bad you have done. You can only drown them in the sea of good you do.
Don't be fooled into believing that a shortcut exists. A day like Thruelbub is rather a good day to stop being an a**hole and start being a good human that everyone is capable of.
Thruelbub is a good holiday to celebrate with your family and feel blessed. It's not a day that will wash everyone's sins and set them free to commit more sins for the next Thruelbub. No, it can't be that easy.
Sorry for the bad news, but I hope you had a good time.


19 September 2022

Bhutanese Monarchy and Queen Elizabeth II



When Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8, 2022, the news touched every corner of the earth, including us, who never had anything to do with the queen. While some grieved the death of the queen they had loved all their lives, others celebrated the profound life of a monarch who ruled for seventy years.


Their Majesties, the King and Queen of Bhutan, are attending the funeral of the Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom. From the short video clips, we could feel the profoundness of the moment, where a young monarch pays his sincere tribute to another monarch on the other side of the planet. We can only imagine the significance of such a gesture. 


Isn't it fascinating that Her Majesty was born in 1926, the same year our First King, Gonsar Ugyen Wangchuck, passed away? It was the same year Second King Jigme Wangchuck ascended the Golden Throne. He ruled for 26 years and passed away in 1952, which coincidentally is the same year Queen Elizabeth began her era. 

So, in 1952, Third Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, ascended the golden throne at the age of 23, while Queen Elizabeth did the same at the age of 26. He was three years younger than her. If he had lived his full life, he would be 93 years old. Unfortunately, he died too soon, in 1972, at the age of 43. 

With the untimely demise of the Third King when the Crown Prince was only sixteen, our country was pushed to the edge of a dark era, but this blessed Kingdom was rescued by the young King in the most historical way. His Majesty, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, ushered Bhutan into an era of unprecedented peace and happiness.  



In 2006, when His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo abdicated the throne at the young age of 51, he surprised the world in more ways than we can ever comprehend. If there was one lesson the world and, for that matter, the late Queen herself could have learned from our Great Fourth, it was the detachment from power and empowering the next generation at the right time. He further engraved his wisdom for eternity by putting the retirement age of 65 for future kings in the Constitution of Bhutan. 


In 2006, when our Beloved Fifth King ascended the Golden Throne, he was coincidentally 26 years old, the same age as the Queen when she took office back in 1952- over half a century ago. The coronation of His Majesty, Jigme Khesar Namgay Wangchuck, was the happiest coronation in the world where the healthy father King crowned the son who was more than ready. The wedding of their majesties and the birth of two princes in the presence of the Great Fourth were events of profound happiness that the Kingdom of Bhutan experienced for the first time.  

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, lived across the era of four Bhutanese Kings- from Second King to the Fifth. It was also within this period that the United States of America saw fourteen Presidents come and go, 13 of whom met the queen.  Her life and death are, therefore, of significance to the world. 

May Our King and Queen be blessed with Queen Elizabeth's longevity. 

May the Queen rest in peace. 

PaSsu Diary is now available in eBook on Amazon

 




Click on the picture or HERE

15 September 2022

The Bhutanese Front-page from April 2016

While looking for something in my trunk, I found this issue of The Bhutanese Newspaper carefully preserved in a folder. My wife says she treasured it. I am grateful to The Bhutanese newspaper for printing this picture, which is the greatest moment in my life, on the front page of the April 2, 2016 issue. It was during the initial years of Bhutan Toilet Org, that we were making feeble attempts to change the state of Bhutanese public toilets. 

This moment that's captured in this picture is significant because it was there His Majesty the King put his hand on my shoulder and blessed me on this long journey to change toilets in the country. It was this picture which convinced my mother that I was on a mission far more significant than her disappointment in my resignation from the government job. 




27 August 2022

A Good War in 2003

The old saying that 'there never was a good war" was proven wrong in 2003.

No Bhutanese from my generation or older will ever forget the December 2003 war Bhutan had to fight against the Assamese separatist groups along our southern borders. The outlaws had relocated their camps in our territory after the Indian Army conducted operations Rhino and Bajrang in the 1990s. For two decades, they occupied the deep jungles inside our southern borders and wreaked havoc on both sides of the borders. 


The peaceful Kingdom of Bhutan has not known war since 1865. With a small army, we avoided all conflicts even when the militants were bullying us without a care for our sovereignty. The outlaws would roam freely in our southeastern town with their guns. Our choice for a peaceful resolution weighed heavy on the friendly relationship we shared with India because the militants were launching attacks on India from their bases in Bhutan. India could have easily destroyed those camps by conducting a military operation and air strike, but they respected our sovereignty and refrained from any aggression on our soil. 

His Majesty, the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, firmly believed it could be resolved peacefully and tolerated their aggression for a long time. He would humbly sit down for peace talks with petty militant leaders who would make outrageous demands. When all hopes for peaceful resolutions were shot down by the unreasonable militants, His Majesty the King made the painful decision to take up arms against them.

I had just finished high school and was serving as an apprentice teacher in the isolation of Sombaykha, entirely cut off from all the news and confusion of an impending war. By the time we turned on the radio on the National Day of 2003, the war was over. It was brief, and the victory was ours. All the myths we heard and our fear of the militants were defused. Finally, after two decades of aggression, kidnapping, extortion, murder and lawlessness, we got our gift of peace back. 

The war was significant for many reasons. It's perhaps the only war in modern times where the country's King led his force on the frontline. His Majesty the Fourth King showed the world what it means to be a true leader of a country. His bravery and compassion have no examples in the world.  He even refused to celebrate the victory. He rather conducted big prayer ceremonies for the lives lost on both sides. 

The end of the war brought unprecedented peace to the people of Bhutan and Assam. Today, when we travel from Samdrup Jongkhar to Nganglam or Gelephu or Phuntsholing without a worry, we must be grateful to His Majesty the King and his brave soldiers who brought peace to the region. 

However, beyond the gift of peace and security to the people, the greatest beneficiaries of that war were the wildlife in Manas, both in India and Bhutan. I watched a 2016 Discovery Channel program, Manas: Return of the Giants, where they showed how Manas was destroyed by a two-decade insurgency, resulting in an almost complete loss of wildlife. The militants killed every animal that fetched a good price in the black market to fund their operations. The biggest victims were the Tiger, Elephant, Rhino, and Gaur, among the hundreds of endangered species. The lawlessness led to the illegal felling of trees and the killing of animals for trade and food. 

The award-winning documentary has covered how the end of the insurgency saved Manas from total destruction and how wildlife is slowly reviving from the brink of extinction, but they have failed to acknowledge Bhutan and our King for the 2003 war that ended the insurgency for once and for all. 

Regardless of their admission, I teared up in pride as I watched the return of the magnificent animals to Manas after the war, knowing well that our King led a war that has not only brought peace to people in the region but also saved entire wildlife. That's when I felt there was a good war, and it was led by King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. 


29 June 2022

An App for Caring Parents

Dear Parents,

Your children are going to hate me for revealing this secret to you but I am sharing this because much like I love my daughter and I care about her wellbeing, I am sure you feel the same about your children. 

My daughter is among the first generation of children who are mostly babysat by smartphones and tablets. They know how to handle digital device far better than us. We don't even know what they are doing on their phones, do we? What apps they are using? what contents are they accessing? who are they interacting with? How long are they on their phones?

Giving smartphones to your young children is like sending them on a solo trip into an unknown city. There are two ways you could ensure their safety on the journey; 

  1. either your child is well prepared to fend for themselves against the evil forces out there
  2. or you accompany them on the journey and make sure they are safe. 
I wish our children are prepared to fend for themselves in the cyber world but that's not the case. Everything happened too soon too quickly for them to be able to prepare. Therefore, the only option is to accompany them on the journey;

How? Much like literally accompanying your children on a journey, you have an app called Google Family Link that gives you parental control over your children's devices. It allows you to set screen time for your children, approve app downloads, restrict contents from certain websites, monitor their activities and also physically locate their devices using GPS. 



Physical Well-Being 

Children may not like this but it's only for their safety and wellbeing. During the last lockdown, my daughter was using her phone more than her usual time and I was worried. Her eyesight worsened and she even developed a frequent headache. I suspected it was because of her long screen time but she refuted. It was only after I used Google Family Link that we discovered she spent over 12 hours on her phone. It was a revelation for herself too. She didn't know she used phone that much. Then we mutually agreed to budget her screen time. Things improved. 

The excessive time our children spend on their phones have a huge impact on their physical and social wellbeing. I don't have to tell you much on these subjects. Therefore, it's best to budget their screen time using Google Family Link. You will be shocked to see how many hours our children spend on their phones. Do we even know when you children are sleeping? We are literally blinding them and allowing them to become socially awkward beings. 

Mental Well-Being 

The other more dangerous aspect of being out there in the virtual world on their own is their safety and their mental and emotional well-being. Do you know what sort of contents are they exposed to? Do you know who they are interacting with? Internet can be so unkind to our little children who may not be ready to digest some contents or interact with strangers. They may be at risk of being scammed or being fooled into doing things. If only you knew what sort of apps or websites they are visiting then you will be able to monitor, isn't it? Well, with this app you can do just that. You will see if they are really in the Google Classroom or straying on Tiktok; if they are shooting a video and editing it or simply chatting or gaming. 

My daughter agreed to wait till she attains the legal age of 13 to join Facebook and for now her mother and I are managing her Page Ninzi Show. She's also prohibited from joining other social media platform until the approved age, but that's not without an incident. Every now and then, she is on Instagram or Tiktok. She even has a Facebook account. But we agreed to wait and I know for sure that she isn't breeching her terms because if she did I would know from the App. Many parents have allowed their children on social media way before they are 13, including my nieces and nephews. I hope they are safe. To ensure that, at least see how long they spend on each app and if they spend way too long on certain apps then see what they are doing there(by checking their phones physically, because you don't see what they are actually doing)*.

*Google takes into account the privacy of the children and therefore don't allow parents to spy on everything they are typing or looking at. I am sure they have the children's legal rights taken care. The children must be informed of the features. 

If need be I will soon do a demo video to show how to install and use Google Family Link. 

This awareness post on children's wellbeing in the digital world is brought to you be TashiCell. It's a part of their initiative to create a safe environment for children on the internet. 

The Raven Squad- A Film Review

The Raven Squad was trending so much on social media to ignore. My daughter Ninzi Show insisted on watching it. Moreover, it was long due for me to watch a Kinley Rigzin Dorji movie. I love the young man’s character, attitude and maturity but haven’t watched any of his movies yet. Same for Sonam Max Choki Page.

First thing, I didn’t expect the hall to be housefull after so many days. The stairs were filled with young people who are aspiring to become something like the Raven Squad.
The movie is about a doting father who fails to appreciate his little MJ son. He realizes it a little too late. He loses his son but to keep his son’s dreams alive, he brings many broken dreams together to form the Raven Squad of success. He sacrifices everything to keep the squad dancing because for him that’s the process of healing.
The story may not sound quite new, but the characters and their dance talents make all the difference, not to mention the occasional jabs of humor that are so well crafted and timed. The background of each squad member has a story that is meant to connect to every youth out there; you are one of them. The new faces have done a good job in magnifying those roles. Kids are going to love them so much.
It’s a motivational film; it will inspire a lot of youth to pursue their dreams in not just dancing but in every form of expression that’s there; I loved the way the film has turned the profession of dancing and cab driving into something so attractive. Good Job, Sonam Maekay Penjor. You played the father figure well. I am tempted to play that role.
Besides the youths, the cab drivers are going to love this film. There is one song that I foresee every cab playing from this day on. It will spread love and kindness among them.
And Dear Kinley Rigzin Dorji, I am blown by your flare in acting. You are born for stardom. You have it all in you. Your director, Karma jerry has managed to showcase your talent to the max. Now, I know why the young kids are so in love with you. It’s my first film of Sonam Max Choki too. And O’ boy, she is a breath of fresh air. I am going to watch more of her movies now.
Wish you big at the box office!

05 May 2022

Blame Not Your Country. It’s the Committees

I was chatting with a friend who was reprimanded for writing stuff on Twitter, which, according to a 'disciplinary committee', violated the civil service code of conduct. He said the committee has decided to withhold his promotion for a year as an administrative action. 



He said he didn't write anything so out of the ordinary to be punished. He said they scrolled up and down his Twitter feed to see if he had really written anything so wrong to violate the civil service code of conduct. 

I told him to appeal to the committee and ask them to prove their charges because the official letter states he can appeal within 10 working days.

"I don't think that will work. I might land up making it worse. I will rather resign and go to Australia." He said. 

"If that has pushed you to the brink of resignation, then what's the problem in appealing and facing the committee? What could possibly go wrong? Even if things don't work out, you could still resign." I said.

"Awooo, laakha du mena Bhutan na." He said, which shocked me. His statement paints a different picture of Bhutan. It sounds as if it's dangerous to speak up in Bhutan. 

So, I told him, "Man, don't bash your country for the action of the so called committee that is made up of a bunch of pleasers who think they are doing their job with utmost dedication. Your country didn't fail you; the committee failed you. You are not fighting against your country; you are fighting against the committee. Please know the difference and separate the two."

It was easy for me to say this, but for him, holding that letter in his hand, the fear was real. God knows what sort of big words and names they must have dropped when handing the letter to him. Here is my personal request to all those committees, please don't let ordinary citizens bash their country for your actions. You have to own it up. You can't use names and acts and clauses to threaten people and make them shit bricks. You are doing big disfavour to this country. These committees are whittling away at Bhutan's unique democratic culture that the successive kings have painstakingly built over the last decades. 

The best ways around to help civil servants avoid violating clause 3.3.16.2, Chapter 3 of BCSR 2018 are;

  1. Conduct social media literacy to help them use the platforms productively. 
  2. Create open internal platforms for dialogues with the assurance that they won't be reprimanded.
Otherwise, it will only breed hostile anonymous communities that will go beyond attacking policies into defaming individuals, family members and even their beloved country. That's worse than violating the civil service code of conduct.  

03 May 2022

Do You Help Your Neighbour?


If a loaded truck pulls into the parking lot near your building, you know that a new neighbour is shifting in. You know it from the load in the truck. No matter how you pretend, you know there has been an empty flat in the building since the last occupant left. You even know why they left and where they moved to. So you have been expecting a new neighbour.

But in Thimphu, you somehow don't come out to welcome your new neighbour. You peek through the window but don't even open your door to say hi. You don't think it's your business. 



Having come from a village --where we come together as a community to help each other build houses, harvest crops, celebrate birth, grieve deaths and so on-- when I see a new neighbour, I go out to greet them and help them unload the truck and carry their stuff up the stairs into their new home. On the other hand, my wife will either prepare tea or arrange cold drinks for the newcomers. We extend the same courtesy to outgoing neighbours too. 

If a friend or a relative is shifting their house and I'm aware of it, I go to help them even if it's not anywhere near the neighbourhood. If necessary, I will take my pickup truck along. And my wife will prepare tea or a meal depending on the necessity of the situation.

When I went to help a friend shift his house today, my expectations were low from his neighbours. Sure enough, no one came out of their homes to help us. Neither in his old neighbourhood from where we were moving nor in the new community. Forget about helping us; there were two incidents where we were asked to move our truck so that they could drive into their parking. They could kindly park somewhere else for a while.

My wife offered to make tea for us, but I had to drive all the way back home to pick it up, so I scrapped the idea. But I thought there would be other friends and relatives with all sorts of refreshments and lunch. Guess what, we had to order home delivery food. I lamented how Thimphu has quickly outgrown our beautiful Bhutanese way of life, community ties, and traditional values.

When I pointed that out to my friend and his wife, they said it's still way better than in Australia, where they can't bother their friends, so they hire professional logistics whom they pay by hours. They are grateful that quite a few of us came to help. Someday even this might become a story to tell. 

25 April 2022

The Process of Writing- My Debut Hosting on Bhutan Echoes

I feel honoured to be given this opportunity to host a session on the process of writing, a subject that is close to my heart, a subject that I worked so hard to understand when I co-founded the Writers Association of Bhutan and a subject that's at the heart of what I do with BOOKNESE.

You will see how natural and spontaneous we are during the discussion, not because we rehearsed so much but because the subject was as close to their hearts as mine. My guest Tshering Wangchuk, former CEO of Business Bhutan and BBS, is the author of A Thousand Footprints. My Other guest Utsav Khatiwara is an editor who works as a lecturer at Royal Thimphu College. Within an hour that I spent with the two outstanding personalities, with whom I haven't had so much associations in the past-- especially I met Utsav for the first time on the day of the shoot-- I felt a lot richer in terms of my knowledge on writing and publishing. 

Save all your questions until the end of this show;

21 April 2022

My Floating Bed #DIY Project

You don't need a floating bed to have a good night's sleep, but if you must, please invest in a good mattress instead because that has a considerable effect on the quality of your sleep and, therefore, the quality of your life. I don't have to dig into the science to prove how good sleep influences a good life. 

If it's the mattress that matters, why did I work on a bed? A floating bed, rather? At first, I was into making a headboard for my old bed. I spent a long time reading and writing in my bed, and it was painful not to have a soft and sturdy headboard to lean on. 

I worked on a headboard that I always wanted to have. I had a mental picture of one. The ones I saw in the market were not within the budget I could afford and not quite the kind I wanted. My Headboard came out better than I thought. I went beyond wood and carpentry into foam and cloth. I didn't stop there. 

 

Why did I even want a headboard in the first place? I wanted to read and write in my bed; that's when I felt the need to have a reading light attached. Now that I have an electrical item attached, I thought, why not add another feature to make life easy; I added a mobile charging station on both ends of the board for my wife and me. No more messy extension cords and chargers on the bedside table at night. 

Initially, it was a standard two-pin plug, but a friend suggested I have a USB charger and remove the need for an external charger. Likewise, I had a reading light that had a small switch that was difficult to locate, especially when I was sleepy and trying to turn off the light; therefore, the same friend suggested I go for a light that would turn on and off by mere touch on any part- and no switch.


Only after I had the magnificent headboard built and attached to my old bed did I realize that I needed a more matching bed. I wasn't so confident about making a bed. But when I saw the floating bed concept, I knew I could do that. I knew I could do better. Thus, I worked on it, and I had the bed done within a few days. I brought it home and coupled it with my headboard. 

Going strictly by the recipe, I even added an LED light underneath the bed to glorify the floating effect. I stole the LED lights from my daughter's room. 


The satisfaction of having done the bed didn't last long because I felt something was missing. The headboard and the bed looked like they were from different planets. 

From my experience of working on a friend's zen bed, I knew I needed to wrap my bed in the same cloth as the headboard. I went back to the fabric store from where I bought the foam and clothes to get an additional cloth. 


There you go! The bed seemed like it had grown out of the headboard. It looked soft and comfy all of a sudden. It came out the way I loved it to be, far better than I thought I was capable of making. It was definitely an accidental success, and I have learned so much from experience. I am willing to share them. 



And finally, I have my floating bed. My daughter has taken away the LED light, but it looks great either way. The concept of having the bed floating is both aesthetic and functional; there are no issues when sweeping the floor around and underneath the bed.  



And yeah, Good Night!

19 March 2022

Wooden Bathtub (Wa)#DIY

Wa (ཝ) is a wooden tub that's generally used for hot-stone baths. It's an outdoor thing, but I have always wanted one that I could keep in my bathroom. I have asked my brother Samtey to make me one in his furniture house in Punakha. It took a while, but he finally delivered it early this year between the two lockdowns. 


 
I loved it, but his version was not the traditional shape that I wanted. The base area was equal to that of the mouth, which took a lot of water to fill. My 50-litre geyser was useless. So I planned to remodel it to suit my taste. 

My Remodeling Plan

It was a scary experience. I was tearing apart a well-made tub without even knowing if I would be able to put it back into the shape and size I wanted. I was ambitious. I liked the Wa to have some modern features to make it easy to use. 

I cut off almost half of the original tub and achieved my desired shape. It looked great. But because of the angles I have added to the structure, I had to play around with slopes on all the sides, including the bottom part that comes into contact with the base. I added a waste coupling to make draining easy.


When testing with water, there were multiple leaks. It seemed like a failure. Thanks to my indigenous knowledge, I know the leaks are normal. There are two ways to contain them;
1. stuff the gaps with cloth pieces using a sharp object
2. keep the tub filled with water. The leaks will disappear gradually.



I tried a new trick. I applied silicone sealant. More than half the leaks were gone. The tub was still leaking. Then the good old method of keeping it filled with water solved the rest. Now my bathroom smells of a sweet pine tree. 

Inside of the Wa

The Wa in my bathroom

This interesting project gave me the confidence and desire to do more. I have worked on over six small projects. The Wa project is the second biggest and my second favourite. The number one on my list is an unusual bed concept I worked on:- Floating Bed. 

17 March 2022

Four Simple #DIY Projects

During the lockdown, the two things that I avoided were thinking about the lockdown and talking or writing about the lockdown. I didn't want to pretend not to be affected by it. I rather didn't want it to affect me. I set out to work on some carpentry projects to keep myself busy. I didn't know I was good at it. Maybe I wasn't good at it first but as I did more projects I improved. It surprised me and my wife. 

3 Shelves for the kitchen


I found a dozen bottles of oil and sauces behind the gas stove. They are there because of the frequency of use. Placing them any further from there could disrupt the process of preparing food, therefore I built a single layer shelf right behind the gas stove. 


When the oil and sauce bottles found their place, the containers holding tea ingredients and other spices were jealous. They were in a plastic cabinet, which was eating up a lot of space on the kitchen table. So I sacrificed my supposed-to-be bookshelf for them. 


For the pots and pans, I found the easiest way out. I got some angle clamps from the hardware store and built two layers of shelves for them. 


One Shelf for the Bathroom

One shelf led to another. With inspiration from The DIY Life with Anika, I made one for the bathroom as well. 



These are the simple ones I worked on. The next two will be much bigger, more complex and of course, my favourites. 

28 February 2022

A Simple Tip Before Buying a Phone

It's not everyday that we buy phones. We save, we wait, we sacrifice a lot before we could have enough to buy a new phone and say goodbye to the old one that's giving us all sorts of trouble. 

After all the waiting, you don't want to land up with a wrong phone or wrong price, therefore, see if this short video makes sense to you:


I am a Samsung loyal and so is my family. It's a combination of being reliable and affordable at the same time. It's a smart choice. And before I upgrade my phone I always spend a substantial amount of time studying the phone and comparing prices on TashiCell website, where they have transparently published everything including the big discounts. 

By the time I go out to the outlet I know about the phone more than anyone and I don't look around at all, I just grab the phone I have chosen online. 

Ani Passo - A Tribute

Date: 2020-10-25

My ani Passo was a gentle lady who loved my father, her youngest sibling, so dearly. My late father, Phub Dorji, was as young as her children and therefore she took care of him like one of them. My father, being an uncle to her children, made sure that he lived up to the status he had in the family.

Their family was devastated when my father was killed in an accident in 1984. He was their bread earner and as much as he was a dearly loved brother and Asha. I was a baby when this happened. People looked at me and cried. Every time they saw me they felt pity on me. I didn't have a father anymore. Besides my mother, who lost her husband, it was Ani who felt the deepest pain. Seemingly, she saw her brother in me because she loved me dearly. She won't say it aloud but I knew she did.

She was a quiet lady. Her husband was a powerful Nyeep of Gangtay Palace then and she was said to have spent her younger days in the company of Royals at the Palace. But her luck soon ran out, when her husband was terminated from the palace for alleged abuse of power. He was later said to be arrested and imprisoned in Paro Dzong after the assassination of the Prime Minister, Jigme Palden Dorji in 1963. 

Her husband, after his release from the prison, never came back to her. He left for Gasa and married another woman, and perhaps few more later. It was a fair deal to do so back in their times. A man could travel and father so many children in their ways, and not even be responsible for them. My Ani is said to have been so hurt that she refused to talk to him. As a child, I used to remember him visiting Haa and staying in the same house with Ani and her children. I thought he was still her husband. I never saw anything uneasy about him being in the house. 

But later I understood that her reunited with his children only much later in their lives. She and her children were left to fend from themselves all their lives. Acho Dorji related to me the story of how he met his father in Thimphu when he was employed for the first time in Thimphu. He said their father left them when they were still small and only then they met him. He started reappearing in their lives from then on. 

Ani was a nucleus of the family and she attracted people from near and far in her days. Her house in Yatshotenkha would be the venue of the festivities even during the lochay. Nowhere in Yangthang, I remember people having so much fun during lochay. Even though their house was in the woods, far from the village, people walked to be there. After the lochay was over, we used to have dozens of people sleeping over. Ani was such a warm person that everyone would show up. She has raised her children to be equally warm that even they were no less. 

I have paid her visit at least twice a year as long as I can remember. I looked forward to meeting her as much as she did. She won't show much but I knew she loved seeing me. Later, I went to meet her with my wife, and soon I went with my daughter. She has seen me as a baby and now she was seeming my daughter. It became a full circle in her life. In her own family, her granddaughter gave her a great-granddaughter and they have a beautiful life. 

But I feel, like all families, when Sonam Yangchen went for Paro to work with her husband and she Ashi Yangzo was away each day, Ani must have suffered the isolation badly. She must have felt lonely and sad but she could never articulate it because that was the life she knew. I wonder whose idea it was to build the house at Yasotenkha, away from Yangthang. It was a romantic idea in the beginning but with age that was a wrong place. 

Ani started losing her sense of hearing and vision. Or maybe she was alright but she was losing her mind. When I visited her in the last few years, she has only two things to say, that she can't hear me well and that she can't see me well. I think she could see and hear. She just couldn't comprehend. It wasn't much later that one night she forgot her way home. The whole of Yangthang was alerted to look for her in the forest. It was a cold winter night and we couldn't imagine she would survive. She was found the next day from near Talung. She hadn't walked much. When she was brought home, which was filled with people from all over, she didn't even know what was going on. She didn't even know she was lost and found. She was lost. 

She became a child again. She was gradually forgetting everything. She family, her speech, her ability to walk and eat and even go to the toilet. She back a baby in the diaper. She would look at you love a small baby and make sounds like a baby would do. If she was a baby we would find that cute, but when an old woman does that we found it crazy. I don't know if her children have done enough. I am just a nephew. 

I felt a sense of liberation when she passed away. I couldn't imagine her being trapped in that body that won't even move. I realized why death was important. And later, I felt a little sad that such a beautiful soul who didn't even harm a fly had to die that way. But again, I thought she died that way because that's the most blessed way to die; neither she felt the pain nor us. Everyone welcomed death. 

The storyteller in me was seeking a poetic justice in the fact that Ani never spoke to her ex-husband even though he appeared in their lives every year for at least 20 years. And the fact that she died without speaking to him was a satisfying yet empty feeling. Did he hurt her that deep? 

Why did my ani lose her peaceful mind?