Saturday, April 28, 2012

Voices from the womb


“Sob…sob!” my Ama cried one day.
“You would never listen to me when I said not to drink,” she forcefully uttered in between her sobs.

“Yes you did Ama,” I would say.

Our neighbours came in, “Tshed ley gyeln dhug, sey mee dhilu ya madhem chig mindhug, Om choe ra sem dring dri bey dhoeni mey,” (The saying, ‘Too much of everything becomes poison,’ is never wrong; Please stay strong Om.) Ap Dorji consoled my mom with a soft pat on her shoulder.

Ama tried her best to correct Apa’s unusual drinking habit ever since I was three months old in her womb. He wouldn’t listen to her. Instead he kept tormenting her with kicks on her belly and slaps on her cheeks. “You bitch, don’t hold my hand,” he would shout at her when she tried to help him out. And then there was morning sickness which she had to fight almost every morning.

“Tenzang, please return sober in the evening,” Ama would see him off to his office every morning.
“I know,” that’s how Apa would normally respond huskily.

At home, Ama would keep herself busy over all those household chores. Carrying me all the time – with me growing inside her day by day – it has always been difficult for her. She gets tired easily when she is on some works. Sometimes I could feel her pant heavily, particularly when she had to do laundry and lift heavy things. She cooks food. She sweeps floors. She arranges things in the house. Being a housewife to an employed husband had been her greatest advantage that she didn’t have to face scorching sun or every rain drop of the day. But with extra load in her belly, how uncomfortable it would have been for her even to tidy up those in-house works is something unimaginable.

In between her works she would often manage some free time. During which she would either turn on her transistor radio and listen to old Bhutanese melodies or sit in front of her television set watching Hindi serials. Music always soothed my ears; I would patiently listen to those Bhutanese folk songs and sentimental background music of Hindi serials. Ama would then sit calm and quiet, maybe she felt peaceful and relaxed too like I do inside her by the music. While serials went on she would often chuckle herself. Her occasional chuckles would send a wave of happiness in me, for to see her happy has become almost a rare phenomenon. I would indicate my happiness with slight movement of my legs and hands although these might have only caused further discomfort to my mother.

In the evening when the sun tilts over the west, Ama would gently stroll towards the kitchen to do the cooking. Once dinner is cooked, she would again sit down to watch TV programs. Chanting Mani she would wait for Apa to return from his office. She would wait for her husband to eat the dinner together. But Apa would always return late at night in a totally drunken state. Often when he returned he would pick up brawls with Ama and then go to bed without dinner. I don’t know why? He would always target her belly. Once he hit her on the left of her belly with tremendous force. It was so hard that it sent Ama flat on the floor making her breathless for a moment. As for me, it was fortunate that my legs happened to be on her left. “Why does he have to drink to such an insatiable desire? Why is he treating Ama like an animal?” I would often ask myself.

“He is soon going to be a father and he is old enough. Does he not know the risks of excessive drinking?” I used to think. I just can’t imagine its dreaded effects. I haven’t seen it myself but I do get to taste it when my Ama takes it occasionally. I would feel dizzy and would fall asleep.

Last night, Apa returned late and drunk as usual but he did not shout or pick up any quarrel with Ama. Instead he appeared dumb. He only replied to Ama in few soft words. And for the first time they had dinner together. I was happy to see sudden change in Apa’s nature and this made me so eager to see his face. Once in the bed, Apa asked, “Are you sure this child you are carrying now is mine?”
“Yes Tenzang, I promise Kenchog Sum,” assured my mother.
“Then I’m quitting liquor right away,” and both went to sleep peacefully.

“Tenzang have feka, this might help you overcome last night’s hangover,” Ama was trying to wake up Apa the next morning.
There was no reply.
“Tenzang, you got only few minutes before office time,” she persisted again in vain.
“Tenzang!” my mother cried out at the top of her voice and then bending over his shoulder she wept and wept.

In the next room, I could hear our neighbours gossip –
“It is sad to see such a good man get ruined by the liquor,” said one.
“Yeah…alcohol is a killer! Remember that son of Ap Taupo who died few months back, he died in a similar way,” said the other.

In few days I’ll be out of my mother’s womb. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to see my dad. He is no more now. He let himself get consumed by that toxic liquor. And the liquor did its job exactly, for he is dead now. This day onwards, he is not going to traumatize my mom and me anymore. But the end of one situation has only given rise to another situation, which isn’t any better. When that constant torment comes to an end, my mom is only struck with a lump of sadness, misery and helplessness. And when I enter this world, I’ll not have my father waiting happily outside the labour room to receive me. I’ll be deprived of my father’s love. Like any other child would want it, I would need his love and care too for my growth. I think I’ll only see and experience sadness for I’m growing up in the pool of my mother’s tears since the day I was conceived.

But have faith in me Ama, I’ll one day restore our happiness when I grow up.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Pacifier


“Beep beep,” my mobile phone blinked. It said “One new message,” and I scrolled through to read that SMS message.
And when I finally opened it, it said;
Hi Keypa, I’ve com to meet u J
m at Clock Tower can you make it here
I’ll wait for u J
                                            -JTshering

Before I could think of anything else, my right thumb had already entered a reply to it:
Hi, alrite Tshering
i’ll be there right away
see u thereJ
-Keypa

I pulled out my leather jacket and I was heading out in a hurry. I checked for my wallet in the jacket. It was there. I remember to have left around hundred fifty bucks in it after yesterday’s grocery shopping.

At the Kalabazar junction, I looked around. There was a taxi returning from the Buddha point. Luckily it didn’t have any passenger in it. “To Clock Tower, please,” I got in. Probably it must be returning after dropping some young lovers like me at the Buddha Point I thought as if these taxis had no other jobs then to drop lovers here and there in the town.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Portrait drawing isn't any easy task

Latest sketch
I've been trying out hard, really hard to get exact sketches of human portraits for last many years. Often it has been frustrating to see different results. But over the years, I do see a lot of improvements going on with it. But sad to note that I've still not been able to crack that secret code to perfect sketching techniques of drawing human faces. That's why I get little bit hesitant when I get requests from my friends to draw their faces, because I always get the feeling that what is good to my eyes may not be same to their eyes.

Of all the faces in the world, I still find difficult to draw my own face. But the faces of beautiful women and girls, I believe is never a problem to me...LOL. Well this may not be true! Given below is one of my own face that I tried very recently. When I finally decided it as complete I started finding lots of distortions in it. Eyes - looks like the sketch has been done right after a boxing match.

But I'll never get disheartened with that result when it comes to art of drawing. I'll only believe that I need some more practice. Practice, practice, practice and one day I'll get a perfect sketch of my own face.

Below is a sketch of a women, a renowned singer I guess. I'm not really a fan but I do get to listen to her voice while driving my car. If you are a fan of her's I'm sure you could make out who she is. Whatsoever, for me quality of sketch is important and here it is...it has come out really nice.

My elder daughter below, stylish as always...


I prefer to call it "early rays"...a young child (early age) at the window side as the rays of early morning sun finds its way in...


Sometimes I do get finer portraits...
Friend's daughter

My cousin's youngest son







Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lhuntse Dzong – A brief historical account


Lhundrup Rinchen Tsei Dzong
Lhuntse dzong was initially built by Yongzin Ngagi Wangchuck the youngest son of great Drukpa Lama, Ngawang Choegyal in mid 1540s.

It is believed that, while he was meditating in a cave at present dzong’s location, he saw a vision of local deities following which he constructed a small dzong and named Kurtoe Lhuntsei Phodrang.

Later Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel followed the routes of his great ancestor Yongzin Ngagi Wangchuk and visited Kurtoe Lhuntsei Phodrang. During his visit, although he had plans to build new dzong there, it could not be materialized due to presence of several local Kings who were not in good terms amongst themselves. Therefore, he returned to Dechen Phodrang after having prophesied that a dzong be built at Kurtoe Lhuntsei Phodrang bringing whole of Kuri Dozhi under the control of central government in the future. (This account of Zhabdrung’s visit to Lhuentse is questionable as it is not cited anywhere in the history of Bhutan)

In 1654, Gawa the King of Phagidung and Dharma the King of Kilung planned an attack and killed Timula Dzongpoen Lhadhar without any reason. During that time there had been a civil war between Choetse Penlop Choegyal Minjur Tenpa and Bumthang Choekhor Dhepa. Choetse Penlop had sought the help of Druk Desi and defeated Choekhor Dhepa. The relatives of Dzongpoen Lhadhar were aware of the presence of combined troops of Druk Desi and Choetse Penlop at Bumthang and approached Choetse Penlop for assistance. Choetse Penlop who is well aware of Zhabdrung’s prophecy to bring Kurtoe region under central government consented and whole troops of Druk Desi and Choetse Penlop marched towards Kurtoe. These troops captured two kings and brought Kurtoe under the control of central government. Following this a new dzong was constructed at the location of Kurtoe Lhuntsei Phodrang by the troops of Shar, Wang, Mangde and Bumthang in less than two months and appointed Lam Phuentshok as its first Dzongpoen, thus realizing the dreams of Zhabdrung Rimpoche.

During the reign of fourth Desi Tenzin Rabgye, monastic school was instituted. He also installed new Ku-Sung-Thugtens in the dzong. He assigned an authority to appoint Dzongpoen of Kurtoe to Choetse Penlop. Thereafter Dzongpoen of Lhuntse was entrusted with the responsibility of dzong renovation with the help of people should any damage occur.

In 1962 Third Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck commanded the dzong be rebuilt coinciding with the construction of Tashichhodzong at Thimphu. Therefore, present day dzong with splendid beauty resembling perched pigeon overlooking Kurichu below is the result of our Third King’s noble initiative. Today it houses several lhakhangs including renowned Tshepamey Lhakhang and serves as a centre for district administration.

Praise song of Lhuntse Dzong

The great fortress of Lhundrup Tse
Resembles a perched pigeon
Rendering all the auspiciousness...
...


P.S. I wrote this brief historical account of Lhuntse Dzong while was serving there as an administrative officer from mid 2001-2009 as a background material for the Dzongkhag website.

Monday, April 16, 2012

My weekend with Gomphu Kora and a Rose

This weekend, to describe it as fruitful would be an exaggeration but it definitely didn't go any waste. Working on the sketches of Gomphu Kora and a Rose was little bit more tiresome and boring. But with patience and perseverance I was able to get these two presentable works. Here they are...
Gomphu Kora, Trashiyangtse

To draw a human face is difficult, but drawing this rose wasn't any easy task...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

growing fonder with pencils

Normally at this time of the year, I find myself falling in love with doing pencil sketches. I don't know what Spring season has got to do with my mood it just sets me into doing pencil sketches...and it is really fun. Last year at this time of the year I did quite a few pencil sketches and some paintings too. I did it again this year - couple of sketches and I only see improvements in it although to become or to be called a Master remains a distant dream. Following are some of the sketches from this year's collections:
Goddess Tara 

...and the Spring must not go unnoticed 


My second daughter resting on my chest one early morning

My elder daughter

Buddha Point

Beautiful daughters of my friend

In appreciation of a pencil

A bit of figure drawing practice

A landscape sketch



 Expect some more in the days to come...my interest is only increasing for more sketches!!