Monday, April 18, 2011

Here is a Story of my Mom and Dad

In the summer of 2008
 By Profession, I am a carpenter.  My world into carpentry all started when I debuted my skills as carpenter with construction of a small monastery on the cliff of Sumthrang in Ura for a lama cum lopen known more as Chhoeje in our locality.

With this, I have built numerous houses both in my locality and afar. Some of my finest craftsmanship is today visible in the beauty of Tango monastery in Thimphu and magnificent and towering Dzong in Punakha  to which I made my contribution under the divine decree I received from the fourth dragon King of Bhutan. In similar fashion, my wife was a traditional handloom weaver. She used to weave many beautiful Jachen Kisho thara  and woolen yathra for our Naktsang Ama then.  Ironically, we have no certificates what so ever to prove our profession here.
At our local level, we both originated form a well off family. Both our parents had everything necessary that would sustain livelihood of the family, -Starting from herd of cattle in the low lands to yak in the alpine, added by  group of pony and flock of sheep at the door step.  That was the definition of rich then, -so called the chukpo in local terminology.

Since we are both from the same village, there was nothing strange when we got married in our prime twenties. To say, I was the best looking man in my village, it would rather sound blowing my own triumphant, but I sincerely would like to assert here that my wife was the definition of damsel during our time.

 Few years into our gleeful marriage we were blessed with a good looking son. Sadly he  didn’t make to his adulthood. His demise was painful beyond our words.  However, we were again blessed to have a beautiful daughter followed by two sons. This obviously called for a concern from my late mother-in-law with whom we shared the house, because too many mouths to feed meant severe economic pressure on the constant family livelihood.  

Somehow, she wanted us to live separately. Her decision, by any means was subtle. When that thing got combined with other nitty-gritty family feuds, our small family had no option other than to take a shelter in a shade used for cattle. All we had was a small copper pot and a load of locally stitched blankets and mattress.  That was it, we received little support whatsoever form both our parents.

The days turned to weeks and weeks into months.  The years passed and passed swiftly.  The otherwise beautiful and idyllic valley was nothing but a mere barren plateau for us. So to make our life worth living and more so to make use of my young-fatherly strength, we migrated to lower lands of Kurtoe. There, we worked tirelessly on Government land. We planted maize and chilli. To make ends meet, we even resorted to easy picking like raising piglets for pork!

It was not only me and my family, who were at rough sea. There were other events unfurling as well. My younger sister was denied her access to our house when she decided to marry a man against our late parents will. There were also rumors that she moved to different place altogether.

Until my late younger brother took over, I used to be the strongest man in my village. That strength came in handy for me. A father of my status required it all. Those were the days when I, first experimented my carpentry instincts.  I became carpenter out of necessity and by default!

Isolated and cutoff, those were the days of great depression for my family. The competition was fierce and those in possession of land fairly progressed and prospered. We prospered and progressed as well, but in terms of having children! If progress was to be measured in terms of having children, then we surely beat all our competitors. In gap of eleven years, my wife again gave birth to four loveliest and cutest daughters.  That took my family to nine including two of us.

We then decided to move back to our native place on permanent basis. Even though we survived hand to mouth, we were also able to save in terms of grains, because my carpentry skills and my wife’s weaving skills came in handy. Few years later we not only decided to build a house but also started domesticating few yaks, a pair of pony and a flock of sheep.

With all those hard works and perseverance, we finally managed to pull ourselves into the flow of life as any other locals.  By then two of our elder sons were already admitted to school which was closely followed by two daughters.  We had little to feed but surely had lots and lots of amusements. My children would come home every Saturday evening and display every lessons they learnt, -starting form nursery rhymes to folk songs, from national anthem to march-past song and from Che-Nye-Sum to One-Two-Three. They learnt it all  by heart !

With few kids into the school and few at home, still crawling and toddling, my wife again gave birth to a healthy son when I was in full swing with the construction of our much awaited and anticipated house. My little son grew up like the way our house took shape, stone by stone and wood by wood.

Four years later, my wife again gave birth to a daughter.  She became our ninth children. The tenth and the final one soon followed after a gap of four equal years. The mere numbers created plethora of predicament in varying magnitudes. The food ran scarce and so did the cloths. Amazingly, to the envy of our local leader, my iron like kids looked well feed and well clothed.

Predicament kept mounting, day by day and the credit grain I availed from a rich man in Kurtoe couldn’t even sustain my large family. I even had to discontinue sending few of my children, who had good record academically, to school. When pillar and post ran short, I had no option other than to run to Thimphu to beg for kidu from the king himself. He graciously consented to my plea and I was given a land on which I could cultivate and feed my growing and voracious kids.  

That was also the time I first met my youngest brother who recently became dasho along with few other dashos like him from our place. I came back home with all the good  second hand cloths I have collected from my relatives and  with the empty but but of high utility oil cans I have gathered from the bins of the city. For my youngest son I managed to buy a new Pangtse gho as I have promised.

Our lives have improved as a result of Kidu form the king and I made up my mind never to keep my kids out of school. When my three youngest children started schooling, life became relatively easier than it was decade ago. Just like their brothers and sisters, three of them also did well in school too.

Today all my ten children have grown up and have a family of their own.  We could educate only five of them and all are doing fine. Remaining five, today are following our footsteps but in much better circumstances. Some of them have become grandfather and grandmother themselves!

Some are religious and some spirituous. Some have a tongue as sharp as serpent while some are down-to earth human. Some treated us with utmost respect and dignity where as some bothered least. They are our kids by heart and by soul. Irrespective of all their treatment towards us, we love them all equally form the bottom of our heart, because we believe at one point or the other, we have sacrificed our lives just for them.

Recently, I am being diagnosed with high blood pressure and as a result of which half of my body lost sense including my mouth. I can speak no more but understand and hear them all. As per indigenous doctors, they say, it’s because of my over exposure to the burning flames of Meme Ragula, also known as Zaa in Bhutanese context.

To enlighten me, all who come to see me say that it’s a curable ailment and that I should remain emotionally stable, pray to Guru Rimpoche and take blessings from as many rimpoche as possible. It’s my hope against hope that that it works, because I don’t want to die dumb. I have many prayers to say for my lovely children, my grand children and for my great grand children, before I bid farewell to this beautiful world.


  1. wow.. I very much liked your article on this la..
    it is with utmost respect that I express my deepest appreciation to you and your parents Sir, for this is the true story of Bhutan. Where a King serves his people, where people still come up to be self-made-men in spite of poverty, where the bonding between the parents and kids are there.. where the sun shines in spite of dark days...
    Keep posting la..

  2. A wonderful post. Enjoyed the entire length and finally glad to learn that you are also one of the fortunate sons of the ailing old man. May he recover soon.

  3. This is both interesting and emotional Kuenzang. If the last part about Zaa is true, I would recommend you to take your apa to Nyinzergang temple in Wangduephodrang. People suffering from zaa gets well from there.
    Best of luck to you and your wonderful family. ;-)

  4. A very wonderful post la. Hope your dad recovers soon. I really enjoyed it. I used to read your blogs and today I felt a need to comment because of two reaons than one. Firstly, it is enjoyable and second and more importantly to put up some suggestions la. I, as a aspiring writer, am always in want of suggestions and comments and I think you too wouldn't mind if I suggest something though you are already a very good writer, brother. Some are obviuos typo errors and you may correct them. Regarding others, I would like to mention them here: bro., is it not 'twenties' rather than 'twentys', 'whatsoever' for 'what so ever'? some typo errors: 'heard of cattle' for 'herd of cattle', 'four year later', 'form the king', etc. Brother, I suggest all these things to a senior writer than myself with a good intention and I hope you wouldn't mind for this. Keep writing and I will be looking forward to more posts from you bro.

  5. This is wonderful writing. I enjoyed each and every line and it remind me that i have gone through then same stage where my mom and dad have gone through all kind of suffering. Thanks to my late mom and daddy for bringing me up to this stage.

  6. good works and nice post. I can feel your life as i my parents were also gone through the same kind of stages. Thanks for posting and plz. do take care of your dad. He is wonderful and respectful man for you.

  7. Hi Dawa, Lethro,Tshering and Lingchen,

    Thanks you all for visiting my blog and liking my post. This is in fact a true story. I have narrated just as the way my father narrated to me.

    Thanks you all and ya Lingchen bro, I am soon going home to get my father here In thimphu first coz i want to see the neoro surgeon first and I am definitely thinking of taking him to Nyzergang too.

    @ Langa,
    thank you for being very critical about my article, At least language wise and spelling wise.
    I appreciate your effort and and please do keep commenting, point out my errors because its through constructive criticism we grow...

    Thanks once again

  8. It was a taste to a journey of life.. how it changes... and the writing was awesome and well put. Bro, you should consider writing... keep it up and a book can be welcomed....tooo....

  9. Thanks Samten,
    If you say so with conviction then I will have to rethink and it seriously.

    perhaps a biography of my apa and ama... ha ha

    anyways, thanks bro for liking the post. I appreciate the fact that you have visited my blog and had a kind heart to comment on it.

    keep visiting and thanks once again.

  10. Hi,
    Yours is really a big family, lot of brothers and sisters to look after you :).Deepest appreciation to your parents for bringing up 10 children which is not easy task. Reading this article, I understand some of your sentiments what you might have gone through though not completely . In spite of all the difficulties you have become a prosperous person . will pray for Guru rimpoche for his recovery.

  11. HI Anu,
    Thank you so much for your good heart. As you rightly said, Life wasn't easy. I still have vague recollection of how my family fed on credit grains form our neighbors. scarcity was the definition of my life then.

    finally, as we marched into our adulthood, things have changed.

    may be your prayers have worked, i think my father is doing better now compared to his condition a month ago.

    Please keep doing the same thing. I need lot many prayers for my lovely apa.


  12. Kuenzang,Dear Brother,

    You seems to have done an in-depth research on the Heros, above, the kind, I wanted to do myself but never got around to do it.

    As a kid, I remember liking the the twinkles in his eyes when he smiles, even while drenched in sweat. I never understood the sweats though, back then, but always understood the twinkles in his eyes. It was his heart, talking..through his eyes.

    And one important factor I discovered after reading your that you as are so much like him, in terms of love and affection to the people around you and the way you put your heart and soul into something you want to achieve. And there is always that twinkle in your eyes too.

    I really enjoyed every line.


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