28 February 2022

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? 

1 comment:

  1. Loved this article sir. Always motivated by your article. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete

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