Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dechog's first day at School

March 1, 2012 Dechog, my elder daughter woke up excited as she would be going to school. So was me and I called up my wife who was that time in Thailand undergoing a short training, that our child is going to school that day. By then, I had already bought her new set of uniforms, shoes and a suitable school bag.

She happily followed me to school. Neatly dressed in her new school uniform she appeared bright and pretty. Upon reaching the school there were old students as there were new students - some happy, some scared and some totally lost. And there were noises of children meeting each other and parents seeking directions while teachers greeted everyone coming in. Amidst all these, Tring-tring-tring the school bell rang.

Meanwhile, I was closely observing my child. I know it was a shock for her to see such a crowd. Gradually she started to wear different facial expressions. I could see her getting scared. I could feel her loneliness. I could see her become sad and loose her confidence.

"You are like any other child. Look at them how they're playing. They're happy and you should be happy too," I said. My words had no impact on her. "Come on, say you are happy. Aren't you?" I persuaded again. That time she did force me a cute smile. As I guided her to the line she broke down into tears and then kept staring at me. And as morning prayers went on she started to cry out loud which drew the attention of Madam Principal. She was then summoned in front of the assembly along with Madam Principal herself.
Madam Principal tried her best to stop her from crying and made announcement, "It's just that she has a bit of stomachache and that's why she's crying. Otherwise, no one should be crying in the school." But my daughter kept crying. When others got into their classes she would not want to go but kept holding my hands. That was the time she need me the most beside her. And now emotions were slowly taking over me too. I could feel my eyes get wet and the suffocation build up over my throat. I didn't know what to do. I was thinking may be I should take her back and enroll next year. To make her cry whole day long would be the most painful thing to do as every tear drop she shed came like an arrow piercing my heart.

As we stood at the classroom door, a lady teacher came to us with a chocolate, "Have this my child. You will be fine here and now get in the class," she guided her in the class. But for me, I could not leave her in that state. I went to the back of their class room and peeped through the hole to see if she's improving. For about ten minutes I waited there until a teacher friend of mine came and assured me, "It's always like that sir. She should be fine now. You may go now but in case she still keeps crying we'll let you know."

Then I headed to my office still worried about her state. And in the office too I was not in peace but fortunately I did not receive any calls from the school. That was her day one at the school and one of the most painful days in my life.

Today, November 21, 2013 (coinciding with her father's birthday) she sits for her final examination in class one. She's now happy in the school as well as she is happy with me.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Monks have worries too

During one of my official visits to Pemagatshel recently, I came across three young monks memorizing Buddhist scripts. In front of them was an elderly monk seated reclined over the window, proudly monitoring these young monks. While these children enthusiastically memorized these holy scripts, a simple thought ran through my mind - "For these children, their only dream could be study hard and rise to the ranks of Lopen, but for that Lopen in front of them, he must be already worrying about his old age (although his appearance at that point of time did not show any signs)."

I get this thought because while I was working in the district I had couple of monk friends (all Lopens) and we would often jokingly discuss over this contentious issue of monks losing their celibacy.

Why you monks have to marry?  Why girls are after monks? Once you have become a monk, does our religion allow you to involve in sexual affairs? Why some monks leave the Dratshang and marry? I would throw up these questions to them.

"I don't know what is in their (the ones who marry and go) mind?" one would say.
"These people are tarnishing the image of monkhood", the other would agree.
And on some occasions, "Wai sir!" they would say on a serious note.
"If we think seriously, what do we monks have?" they would begin.
"Being a monk we aren't spared by this constant process of aging.We get old like you and we have to die one day like any being on this earth. By the time we get old, our parents are long gone and our relatives are in their own world trying to meet their ends. Where do we look upon when we become sick? and, who do we look upon to take care of our body when we finally leave."

These put me a big full stop and may be this is why someone has rightly pointed out, "Never judge a person, we never know what kind of problems s/he is struggling with."

And this is what makes our monks worry. I guess it's true.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I kissed and then kicked - my confession

When I was in Junior High, I had friends who were quite familiar with this plant and its hallucinating effect. At that time, I only knew one function of it - use of its barks as fibers. In fact I grew up with it. We call it Ngenam. It grew in plenty in the forests of my village. It grows as high as double my current height. Every autumn I would accompany my grandmother in the forest filled with this plant. Its pleasant aroma still pleases my nasal chambers. My grandma would carefully peel off these barks and take home in bundles. She would then process it into fine threads using a wooden spindle. She would then weave Bundri (a flap of cloth with a string on one corner used for carrying cloths and other belongings) out of it. I used to carry Bundri to my school until I could afford to buy one green coloured (Made In India) bedding. I was fortunate then, not to have known about its other uses. Or else, I would have adopted these forests for my life.

"You wanna try "pot"?
Back in school, my knowledgeable friends introduced me to this so called "pot".
"Its a marijuana mixed in cigarette."
Yeah! I was already a good smoker by then.
"Take a deep inhalation and then exhale gradually," they suggested.
I did few rounds and I could already sense irritations in my stomach and believed its kick starts from my tummy.
After about few minutes, one of my friends started to puke while the other started non-stop laughs.
A water for the puke and a company for the laughs...other than that, I had nothing to do. And, I did not get its kick. That was unusual.
I tried it again during my winter vacation. Again it failed to give me any effects.
From there I decided not to go any further...I kissed it but it failed to give me kick, so it was my turn to kick it away and I kicked.
Let's say no to drugs and any other forms of substance abuse. Once it kicks us, to get up from that kick isn't any easy task.