“Pep…pep!” a brand new land cruiser overtakes a Mahindra Bolero uphill as we were about to cross over the road to Tiny Toes – a nursery school at Changgedaphu. There were several cars parked on either side of the road, leaving little space for other plying vehicles. Thimphu has really become crowded with cars and if one isn’t careful, these cars particularly Taxis wouldn’t mind even dashing you. I was then, taking my daughter Dechog to nursery for the first time. Fearing any such mishap, I ensured her hand is held firmly with mine as we crossed the road.
At the gate, my daughter was greeted by two ladies probably her teachers, “Hello! Good morning.” There wasn’t any reply from my daughter. What an embarrassment to those two ladies? I felt awkward too and murmured, “Madam Ga good morning Yekcho lay” (Say good morning to your madam). She stared upon me and just showed a brief smile. Her mind was preoccupied with something else. Yes, I remember now. About couple of weeks ago my wife and I, when we were on one of those rare walks have lured our daughter that if she goes to school she would be playing all those play things that are laid beautifully as we enter the gate. Keeping that in mind, she straight away wanted to go and catch hold of one of those. But it was her first day. She has to first get registered there. So I took her to meet Madam Principal. I handed in the form containing our family details and other information specific to my daughter. My daughter was then shown her classroom where three children of her age were already sitting there with their teacher. She happily joined the group without any complaints.
As I walked out the gate, I thought her grandparents would be glad to learn about this. I got into my car and dialed my younger sister at home hoping to talk to my mother. Unfortunately, she wasn’t there as she had gone to render “Woola – a labour contribution,” for Lhakhang construction in the village. “You can call her number, she took her mobile phone with her,” suggested my sister.
In no time I was dialing her number to convey the good news. “Halo” she received my call and I could sense difficulty in pulling through her breath as she was literally panting. I asked, “Ama, is woola that much heavy.” “Yes it is. This is my fourth day now traveling uphill to extract timber from the forest,” she replied still panting heavily.
Hearing her voice and knowing the trouble she was undergoing I experienced sudden flow of emotions in me. I paused for a moment. I was saddened by the fact that, all throughout her life she has undergone enough hardships in bringing us up. Now that all her children are grown up and some of us are already earning decent salary in the civil service. But my mother is still not free from the sufferings of all these hardships. Thinking over this, I could feel tears roll down my cheeks. I said again, “Ama you are old now, how can you afford to do all these jobs which otherwise is a man’s job? Can’t we pay and let others do for us?” But emotions caught hold of my voice and I was beginning to stammer as I talk to her. At the other end she sensed my emotional breakdown and replied jokingly in her peculiar Dzongkha accent, “Rog lu jin dha, teru gatilay wongni sa.” I knew I cannot go on any longer, so I straight away told her about Dechog going to nursery. She was in fact looking forward to hear this. She said that there has been no any news over this and she thought that Dechog was left out this year.
“Alright Ama I got to rush to my office now. I’ll talk to you later about this,” saying this I put off my phone and slowly peeped through my car’s window if there were any people watching me. All other cars have gone and there was none. I wiped my eyes, started the car and drove off to my office carrying a bit of hangover from this emotional breakdown still with me.