Showing posts with label Marriage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marriage. Show all posts

27 January 2022

Is Mathang an In-law or Cousin?

I have a strange reputation among my wife’s kins for ‘shamelessly’ calling every one of her female cousins as my mathang. At first, it made them uncomfortable. But now they are beginning to accept it; either they found wisdom in my justification or they found me too crazy to argue with. 

 I was only stating the obvious that everyone from my wife’s side is my in-law therefore all her cousins become my mathang but by some crazy logic, they say my wife’s mathang (some of her cousins and in-laws) become my ana or ausa and that I must maintain ‘ngotsha’ with them. Wait what? Just because all my sisters become her mathang doesn’t mean all her mathang become my sisters. 

What's Ngotsho?

Ngotsha perhaps has no English equivalent word because the concept doesn’t exist in the western world or maybe I am not aware of. To put it simply, I can’t tell a dirty joke in front of someone with whom I am supposed to maintain ‘ngotsha’ relation, like my mother, sister and other female relatives. But why can't I have some fun with my wife’s mathangs? 

 Let’s understand the meaning of Mathang and Khotkin. Mathang means sister in-law, and Khotkin means brother in-law. So far so good. It becomes little complicated when they are also used to refer to the children of your maternal uncle (ashang) and paternal aunty (ani). 

Your ashang and ani’s children are your first cousins as much as the children of your paternal uncles (aku, Apchi) and maternal aunties (Azim, Amchi). But somehow this old tradition has divided the first cousins into two, making one a lesser cousin than the other. With one group, you are respectfully maintaining ngotsha, and with the other, you are quite the opposite, mischievous and flirty. 

With education, cross culture marriages, and restriction from the law, it’s slowly becoming a thing of the past but not long ago, in the eastern part of the country, your mathangs and khotkins were considered the preferred candidates for marriage. Even the parents encouraged it. In fact, your real Ashang and Ani’s children are branded as Serga Mathang and Serga Khotkin, meaning golden cousins or golden opportunity, to put bluntly. 

The fact that you also call your father in-law ashang, and mother in-law Ani is a not-so-subtle indication that that your maternal uncle can be your father in-law or your paternal aunty your mother in-law. 

So, my argument with my mathang is, how can they call their first cousins and immediate blood relatives as mathang and khotkin while questioning my sanity over calling my marital relatives as mathang?

 Isn’t it? I am, therefore, not going to maintain ngotsha with my wife's mathang. In fact, her mathang will be my double mathang.

 When I heard of Dzongkha Development Commission (DDC) borrowing and approving Mathang and Khotkin as dzongkha words and adding them in dzongkha dictionary I immediately wanted to know what the words would mean in Dzongkha; 

I would personally lobby for them to mean just in-laws and not cousins. Let all cousins be cousins and take away the naughty connotation it gives by calling them mathang.

Disclaimer: The culture of marrying Ashang's daughter seemed to have existed even in the western part of the country. We have a living example in my village, but we are not open or proud about it. Not anymore. 

07 October 2015

Surprise Gift from my Wife

My wife Kezang said she had a surprise gift for my birthday last June. Now that was a surprise in itself. It got be nervous because she wasn’t known for any kind of surprises, in fact she hated surprises.

I assumed she was going to do something romantic for once. If she woke me up on my birthday and gave me a flower then I would be surprised because that was the last thing she would do. She’s very romance shy woman, who thinks what happens in movies and books should remain there.

Anyway, my birthday came and went uneventfully, as usual, without any surprise whatsoever. I didn’t show any obvious sign of disappointment but deep down I was upset that she forgot her surprise gift. Few days passed and when she never mentioned about it I had to bring it up.

Me: Where is your ‘surprise gift’?
Kezang: I already gave you, you didn’t notice?
Me: No, is it kind of invisible?
Kezang: Sort of, it was something visible that became invisible.
Me: Come on, just say you forgot it.
Kezang: No, I gifted you your wife’s health!
Me: What do you mean?
Kezang: I quit smoking since your birthday!

Kezang has been smoking even before we met. In between she quit once for three years, from the time she was expecting our daughter till she stopped breastfeeding. But such was a smoker’s urge, only few days after she stopped breastfeeding she just restarted smoking. In three years her urge didn’t die. Those three years were the biggest sacrifice the mother in her had done for her child.
I tried everything I could to make her quit but she just couldn’t. I had blackmailed her, scared her, sweet-talked her, read articles, share inspiring pictures, showed YouTube videos, and even bought substitutes like nicotine chewing gums. She would agree to every word I said but she just couldn’t give up.

I told her that we had to grow old together and see our children grow. I even reminded her of how her skin rejuvenated and glowed when she stopped smoking for three years. I always told her that she was committing a gradual suicide and planning to leave us alone helplessly.

I couldn’t imagine a life without her and she was smoking her life away slowly each day. Soon I began to feel that if it was so much part of her I mustn’t take it away from her, though both of us knew we would have a wonderful life without smoking. She was fighting her own losing battle against it.

But just when I felt so hopeless my unromantic wife gifting me the most romantic gift ever. She has made her choice before it’s late, when the time is right, where there is still enough strength left in our age to rebuild our health. It’s been four months since she quit and now she tells me that her urge is gone completely.

It was indeed the biggest surprise gift ever and I wish this happened to all the couples that are so much in love and have the longing to grow old together. 

27 August 2015

Life is too Short to Wait for an Abusive Husband to Change

Yesterday by the time I reached home I was ready for a nap because it was a long day at the training centre followed by the long walk back home but I saw my neighbour has taken all their furniture out. I thought the young couple was moving out. Upon inquiry I found out that only the wife was moving out. It sent a chill down my spine because just there months ago I saw them happily moving in together.

She reported that she was assaulted many times, she was almost crying when she said, "Yesterday, he nearly killed me. I cried for help, didn't you hear me?" She showed her bruised body. We sincere apologised for being such a bad neighbour. We assumed that as a newly wed couple they would still be making love. Literally. We misunderstood those late night screams and banging on the wall.

My wife and I uncomfortably helped the wife load her stuff on the pickup along with the three individuals who were related to the young woman. And without a second thought we prepared refreshment for them. 

As I was serving them refreshment I couldn't help saying this to the wife, "We are sorry for not being there to celebrate your marriage but at least we are happy to be here helping you when you chose your freedom out of the abusive relationship." My wife signalled at me to shut up but I went on, "Why didn't you report to the police?" I just wanted the man to hear it. He was actually a good looking man who had a meek smile perpetually fixed on his lips, quite a contrast to his violent nature.

I didn't know who was right or who was wrong, I didn't even ask why they fought at all. The fact that the man has assaulted the woman broke my heart. Who the hell will protect her if the very man on her bed is assaulting her? I could never understand how one could abuse the very person one has chosen out of everybody on earth.

But I was throughly awed by the young woman's courage to walk out of the abusive relationship right away. I have known many women who hung onto their marriages hoping their men would change but the truth is if you don't walk out on the first slap you are just waiting for the next hundred slaps. It's normal to fight in relationships but violence should never be tolerated. Life is too short to wait for an abusive husband to change and it's too personal to worry about public opinions. 

Disclaimer: This post is based on an incident and therefore the focus is on husband being abusive but it can be the other way round too, though not discussed here. 

Following is a story from Miguelon Dell Call about a woman who hung on to her abusive husband. It's widely shared on Facebook.

She's got flowers!

It wasn't her birthday or any other special day.They had their first fight, and he said many cruel things that really hurt her.She knows that he is sorry and that he would not say those things again, because he sent her flowers.

She received flowers again!It was not for their anniversary or any other special day.Last night, he pushed her against a wall and started to choke her.It seemed like a nightmare, she couldn't believe it was real.
When she woke the next morning her body was painful and bruised.
She knows that he must be sorry, because he sent her flowers to forgive.

She received flowers yet again!And this was not mother's day or any other special day.Once again, he has beaten her, it was much more violent than other times.
If she leaves, what would she do?How would she care for her children?
And financial problems?She is afraid of him, but is scared to go.
And she knows that he must be sorry because, as usual, he sent her flowers to forgive.

Today, was a very special day!
She have received piles of bouquets of flowers from all those who knew her and who loved her!It was her funeral.
Last night, he finally killed her. He beat her to death.
If only She had found enough courage to leave,
She would have not received so many flowers today!

11 February 2014

Dayscholars in Yangthang

My winter vacation ended with a brief visit to my village for the lochoey. It pains me to realize how growing up took me away from this place I once thought I can never part from. I never had a dream bigger than living in Yangthang. Perhaps this is always going to be my dream now that it is becoming harder by the year to pay my annual visits.
Vacation ends in Yangthang
Every year Yangthang seems like another place to me, everything about it is changing. There are good changes that I am proud of. But there is a price to pay for changing. Sometime I wonder if everything is worth the change.

Once upon my time in village, family was the most important relationship among my folks. Divorce was just a myth we just heard of. Only death could do a couple apart, literally. But now that's a fairy tale. This time when I was home I was introduced to a new term in the village: "Dayscholar". You know the actual meaning of the word but in my village it's a term referring to a person who has returned to their parental home because of marital issues with their spouse. Coming out as a dayscholar sometimes ends in divorce, like in the cases of many couples there. I met some men back in the village who were married into other villages when I was a little boy. They are dayscholars now.

Beautiful Yangthang from the Highway
This is a sad development in a village where marriage was considered sacred. They believe that this is the price they are paying for using cell phones besides the endless recharges.

14 October 2013

Because My Parents Are Divorced...

Once upon our time divorce was a strange word, and we were made to believe that stepparents are always evil. Interestingly I grew up with my stepfather who proved my beliefs wrong. As a child I waited for him to treat me bad so that I could challenge him and run away from home. I was 21 when he died. I thought I cried enough but I was wrong. Often during my sleepless nights I miss him, in fact I could never overcome the tragedy of his death. A part of me was broken forever.

Not all marriages are made in heaven, some people are never meant to be together, and divorce is not everybody's first choice but there comes a point in relationship where all all logical reasoning ends, where the best chance is to stay away from each other. Lucky are the people who could choose their separation this way, unlike my mother who was separated from my father and even my stepfather by the unforgiving hands of death.

Psychologists say that children from broken families are vulnerable to many social problems, and it's mostly true. Some children change overnight and some bury the pain inside until it snaps. But some children selflessly become part of the happiness that their parents gradually find outside of their irreparable marriage. Sometimes it's good for children to live with happily separated parents than to bear with unhappily married parents, who fight every night.

As a teacher I am witness to so many problems related to children in school and being in School Human Resource committee (discipline committee renamed) I had the opportunity to get to the depth of many issues. We have been very sensitive in dealing with children when they appear before us and before we decide on anything we do a thorough background check on them. But recently a new trend of blaming parents' separation as the cause of their mischief has become popular, probably it could could be because of their initial success with the excuse.

  • A boy bunking classes, says he is doing this because his parents are divorced.
  • A girl caught smoking during the lunch break says, she is smoking because her parents are divorced.
  • Boys caught smoking marijuana in the school dustbin tell they are doing this because their parent are divorced.
  • Girl who ran away from home with her lover says parents are divorced.
  • Boy who breaks class window with his punch says he misses his father because he stays with his mother. They are divorced.
  • Girl who drinks during the weekend and found sleeping on the road say she is depressed because of her parents separation.
All the above examples are not real but do have connection to real incidences compiled from different times and places.

With due regard and sympathy for the children who are really suffering, I would like to urge those children who break rules to be honest enough to accept the outcome of your misdeed on to yourselves rather than shamelessly dragging your parents along to take the blame of your selfish behaviours. Know that there are millions of children around the world without parents, without home and without food, and consider yourself very lucky that you have both parents. When you don't appreciate the enormous luck god gives you now and make mockery of it, you may have to live without it someday.

And remember you have to become parents one day...

13 October 2012

No More Valentines Day, Only 13th October

On this day, 13th of October last year, we saw the most beautiful wedding of all time. Our king had finally found our queen. The most beautiful queen. It was a series of history in the making that day and I felt blessed to have lived in the moment that saw the father king crowning the queen of Bhutan. That moment I didn't care if Kezang was watching me I just let my happiest teardrops flow.
Image Source: The Globe and Mail

Your majesties the king and the Queen, I wish you all the love and happiness in the world, and I will pray each day for your good health. May your loving union bring endless smiles to the lives of every Bhutanese, who will never fail in loving you. May you bless this beautiful kingdom with a beautiful Crown Prince very soon.

I don't know which day to celebrate as our wedding anniversary because Kezang and I really don't remember when we declared ourselves as man and woman like many Bhutanese couples, but since last year this great event on this auspicious day gave me all the inspiration to celebrate our union today. Further, there will be no more Valentines day in our lives, only 13th October. It's the national wedding day.

27 April 2012

Telling Girls the Truth- Our Principal Speaks

Bajothang finally received a man who could nurse its injuries and help her not only walk but run marathon race. Mr. Shangkar Lal joined us as our new principal last February from Gyalposhing and he has already shown us how he could lead us to a great change. For the first time I going to work under a man who would allow me to be creative, who himself is an artist hungry for creativity.
There are already so many reforms this man has brought to talk about in just three months but for now I would like to pick on the speech he gave to our girls some mornings ago.
He is a powerful speaker and uses his own choice of words, and here I will use my own words to express the same thing he conveyed that morning:
"I come from Gyalposhing, a small town that grew because of the Kurichhu Project and I have seen firsthand the impact of huge population fed by project on to our young school girls. And here am I again, in a place where two big projects are exploding the local population, where you all could fall victims of change. You could be sweettalked by any man with hundred promises but you must remember that you are the greater promise. You should know that you are capable of being more than just a mere woman dependent a man. Look at your vice principal here, tomorrow if madam Deki's husband treats her bad, tortures her and kicks her, she could kick him back and choose her on road in life. Because she has created her own life where she has hundred choices. You have the same right to create your life where you have hundred choices, you must resist any influence from men at this age. I am not saying relationship with men is bad, I am saying the time is bad. There is charm in doing right thing in the right time. If you fail yourself today, you are failing yourself for the life time: the when your husbands kick you, you may have to hold their feet and beg for mercy because you have nowhere to go. Don't let that happen. Give yourselves time to grow, give yourselves time to make good judgement, remain a student when you are one."
 This speech was well timed and well framed to protect our young girls from thousands of men pouring in because of the Puntatshangchu Project. We keep hearing rumors of our girls getting influenced into relationships and I hope this goes on to help them know that they themselves are the greater promises of their lives, the happiness that no man can give them.


25 March 2012

Refereeing A Social Fight


Last Saturday I was rushing for my evening class when I was stopped by a fight in a rustic local bar. A man held a woman by her hair and pushed her to the ground. He was calling her a 'shameless thief'. She didn't quite look fit for his description but I was yet to understand the story.
I witness the fight from the first minute but I couldn't interfere because I had my adult students waiting for their after-office class.
He went on dragging her around, demanding answers.
Then the woman said, "That's my house too and I have the right over things in there."
The story soon unfolded before me. They were divorced recently after 8 months of marriage. The fight started when the woman, who had moved out, went and took two blankets, which he claimed was his.
I was still weighing weather to run for my class or to be a referee. There were over ten people watching the fight and except for pushing the man out of the bar, nobody said anything. The man went on, "When did we ever get married? Who says you are my wife? I already told you that I don't want you, why are you following me like a dog?" That's when I jumped in.
"Sir, you can't humiliate the lady in public." He was silent. Everybody went silent. "I think your marriage is not working and you have chosen to go separate ways. But there are procedures to settle it peacefully. Have you followed any course of action to settle the matter locally?"
The lady was quick to answer, "No sir, he ran away locking his room when I went to talk with my jabmi."
"In that case sir, you can't claim those blankets or any other things in your house as your until the case is solved because those things belong to both of you. And most importantly you have no right to assault her. There are these many witness to what you have done to her and therefore you could face charges."
By then I was joined by several other elders and the man eventually calmed.
I turned to the woman and suggested her not to do anything that to lead to such fight until the case is settled. And I advised her to seek help from police or RENEW if he assaults her again.
I was 30 minutes late to my class and took another 5 minutes explaining why I was late. Later I wondered if I was even allowed to do that, because I often heard people denouncing the interference in marital affairs. What would have happened if the man turned violent against me? These were some things I didn't bother at that moment but I am happy that I did something wise people won't do. And that makes me a fool!

30 August 2009

I Let My Wife Leave Her Job, and didn't let her regret...

We had lived apart for over two years after marriage and I thought that was too enough. But coming together could cost us a job, hers or mine. Mine we agreed was more secure being a government one, but what about hers? Well it was hard to agree upon, without having a promising option waiting. Hers was equally decent though private owned and she had a lovely workplace. She had too many good friends to leave behind unlike me, who was just an alien in Bajo yet.

Her friends knew me far lesser than she did so they had all sorts of suspicions; they shared the stories of so many new marriages being broken and women being left helpless. Her plan shocked many of them. After a while even I got myself soaked in doubt. What if somehow our marriage failed, would she find her way back? I have seen so many innocent girls being ripped of their jobs for their love only to fill their lives with tears. I knew deep down that I was not going to make her regret. That was just one side of the issue, while the other still waited for answer.

She was a working woman with habit of shopping for cosmetics, walking into beauty parlors, and dinning in good restaurants at the end of the month. Could I with my dry salary afford to treat her with her womanly basics alongside the regular household expenses and rents and clothing and so on? She may not ask for all these understanding my stand but how could I let her live a life full of silly sacrifices when I had confidently and promisingly led her off her good working life.

I suffered all these fearful energy running through my body. I couldn’t discuss the issue with my dear mother even. I had made all the choices so far and should put up with what comes hence forth. As of my wife she trusted me enough to let me think us out. And there I had made the righteous choice.

I proposed a business prospective in Wangdue. We talked it over days. Many ideas we discussed and evaluated. Cloth wholesale could run well but who will frequent the long road to and fro supplier? Same with the grocery shop and also cosmetics, in which she has greater knowledge actually. We put forward many ideas and crumble them off, as Abraham Lincoln says, “If I have six hours to fell a tree I would spend five hours in sharpening the axe.” We did right that.

Finally, this bold idea of Video Game parlor seemed right for us. We called it bold because in this we only have to worry about the initial investment. Then updating the games is necessary, which means some pieces of CDs. I did a rough estimation of how much we could earn in a month and pleasantly the worst case scenario gave me Nu.30,000 per month, which is more than three times my salary-in-hand.

I went to the bank for loan, and there I met many of my friends applying for vehicle loan. I envied them but I knew I had my priorities in order. I invested just about a hundred thousand in five sets of PlayStation consoles and TV screens. She resigned and we moved together. For more than two months the gaming sets laid in our storeroom. It was a long fearful moment with the loan adding up its interest and we waiting for a vacant shop to start up.

My wife grew pessimist by the day but I didn’t lose faith. In due course I designed the furniture and the signboard.

Exactly the day I was done we got a vacant room in Bajothang, some minute walk from where we live. And we began our business. It was a blast. It attracted young and old alike. We got our names, PlayStation uncle and PlayStation Aunty. When we oversleep on Sunday we would have kids knocking on us to come to shop. On weekdays she could have the whole morning for herself. In evening rush-hour I would go to help her with tea and snacks, and wait for my chance to play. Since I play a lot I discover lots of tricks in the games and kids beg me to teach them. Well I do that and attract more of them. Some kids come there daily and spend hours watching the fortunate ones, so I let them play for free some times.

After a month in the business my wife told me once, “You know, I feel the freedom kissing me. I can walk to the shop at my own time in my own comfortable garments, sit there and watch kids play and get paid. If I want to take rest I can just close the shop and walk back home without having to write an application of leave. And look, at the end of the month I have got more than four times my salary to count.” This was more than what I wanted to hear from my wife. She was happy and so I am.

The last December completed six and a half months since we opened our shop. We have recovered the initial investment besides our luxurious daily and monthly shopping. And last May we paid up the loan which was actually for fifty five months. Then I have applied for vehicle loan and now I drive a car and I still have the shop like the hen that lay golden egg.

I have everything a normal man wants in life; car, computer, laptop, Plasma TV, washing machine, refrigerator, sofa set, luxury bed, and a happy wife. I am not showing off my property here, in fact what I have doesn’t even qualify to be called as property but I am just trying to make a point that I have not let my wife down by let her leave her job for me. It’s all about one informed decision in life.