Thursday, March 22, 2012

Yak Nearing Extinction in Shingkhar


More than five years ago, I persuaded my father to sell off his most prized possessions. It consisted of little over 50 yaks, both males and females, milking as well as non-milking.  The reasons were simple and straight. Notwithstanding an adverse economic implication at home, I wanted my parents to come out from that nomadic life for once and for good. As an educated son with a decent job, honestly, I couldn’t bear to see my parents still toiling after beasts in the wilderness, -all round the season.

But I was surely not the first offspring to persuade him. In the past, many such attempts have been made by my elder siblings too, but none succeeded in influencing dad. Those radical advices and persuasions simply failed to lure or divert dad’s perspective.

Having survived the harshest possible life thus far, it was his notion that living his life, his way, on his terms was something that amused him more than anything else. As an ardent hard working farmer, laboring was something he cherished and so were his hardships with yaks in the high up mountains. To him it was just another season that would pass like any other ordinary days.

In all those long years, I thought my dad was right. I thought he has made an apt decision not to relinquish his possessions, because Shingkhar has been for ages, an ideal place for yak rearing and therefore his decision to continue the legacy of yak rearing was right by many folds.-He was right culturally. He was more right traditionally, ecologically and economically.

But with time and space even the fortitude as that of my dad’s is also subject to change. Change can neither be imposed nor can be forced. Such is the state of affair with my dad now. He now realizes that his ailing health is no longer energetic to answer the calls of the duty. He feels the crippling effect of old age. With no more options left, he is now on verge of becoming the last Shingkharpa to relinquish yaks for good.

His relinquishment would mean that yak is facing extinction in Shingkhar! the worst nightmare, long feared by my dad are soon becoming reality. While making that decision, My dad surely must have felt thousand steel hammers beating and tearing his heart apart.
My dad Milking yak
When the yaks are long gone from Shingkhar, 

I will remember them as follows:

I grew up with yaks, 

They are the animals that my dad loved 

Because they were source of our livelihood.

On my rare trips to his domicile, 

I remember myself being fed with butter 

That sized larger than the plate 

And a tea prepared not with water 

But with cent percent milk. 

In summers he would go lavish 

Sending me and my siblings 

A parcels of butter wrapped in etho-metho leaves 

And cheese in white sacks. 

5 comments:

  1. Great piece of writing.
    Leading a nomadic life does not look easy for people like us, spoiled by so called modern luxuries. Decades ago, even the policy makers did not see the advantage of having our nomadic people residing in such harsh environment. Many people always thought nomads to be filthy, not until, people realized the most important task they are doing in teaching other people to be self sufficient and more importantly taking care of our country's boundary, helping Bhutan to be sovereign nation.
    I spend most of my time with nomadic people as my job and my love to these people has always pushed me towards their livelihood and to understand more about them. The more I relate and spend time with them, the more I learn to appreciate them.
    Anyways, great that you tried to make your parents to do away with their traditional way of living and shifting with you to the modern means of living a comfortable life with you. But what is very great is, your dad having realized the importance of his living very long time back. That's where we have to learn from elderly people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sangay sir,

      thanks for the comment. I really appreciate your thoughts.

      i think my dad is making the most difficult decisions of his life. My only hope is that he don't break down like he did when he lost 14 yak calves to the fire outbreak in 2010.

      I also pray to almighty that he bring the yak back to shingkhar to some day..........

      Delete
  2. The Last CowBoy Standing in Shingkhar is finally giving up. The most difficult decision of his life I can imagine. Will be very very tough for him.

    ReplyDelete
  3. so extinct might be the sheep in shingkhar then.
    Well, until I was in class 10, i was a sheep herder during my winter vacations but today, not a single head of sheep is visible. Sheep has indeed got extinct from my village, but yaks have started pouring in from Bumthang to our villages, and as of now, there is no hint that the beast will fade from Sephu valley.
    Interesting read at a sad note.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @ Leoparcia

      Don't be surprised if my dad's herd make it to sephu too. I would rather feel very happy if his herd ends up with your family in Sephu. I know sephu is one of the last hopes for yaks' survival in Bhutan....

      by the way thanks for the comments

      Delete

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