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A devil with a human face

It was in March 1998. I and my late father were on our way to my school in Khaling. My uncle and aunt with whom we were living at the time had given us only Nu.500 to go to Khaling which was not enough even for the one-way journey, forget about the round-trip for my late father who had to return home after reaching me to school. But fortunately during those days, we used to get money from the school for the return journey which used to be enough for our escorts. With Nu.400 in the pocket after paying the bus fares, we boarded a passenger bus in Samtse bound for Phuntsholing at around 8 o’clock in the morning. My uncle and aunt also boarded the same bus to go to Phuntsholing to see aunt’s brother who had met with an accident and was in Phuntsholing hospital. But from the moment we got out of the house, we walked as if we were strangers. They never bothered to talk to us even in the bus. When we reached Phuntsholing, they had left without saying a word to us.

I and my father walked to the bus counter to book the tickets to go to Samdrup Jongkhar the next day, but to our disappointment, all the tickets were already sold. With limited money, we were in a big dilemma and we didn’t have anybody to stay with in Phuntsholing if we had to wait for some more days. We sat down near the Blue Dragon hotel reflecting on what should be done to reach the school on time. Suddenly, a young man approached us introducing himself as Karma and claimed that he was a businessman. He asked us where were we from and where were we going. My father explained that we came from Samtse and that we were going to Khaling where I was studying. Seeing that I was blind and my late father was partially paralyzed, he seemed to sympathize with us and invited us for a tea at Blue Dragon hotel which was just nearby. He appeared to be very friendly and honest with us. He ordered two cups of tea for us while he had his lunch.

While having his lunch, he asked us how much money we had. When we hesitated to confess, he promised that he would help us if we did not have enough money with us. That was a great news for us because we knew the amount of money we had was not enough to get us to Khaling and we were happy to hear that he was willing to help us. “His uncle had given us only Nu.500 and after paying for the bus tickets at Samtse, we now have only Nu.400” my late father told him. “And we are worried if we would be able to make it to Khaling with that much money because it’s often difficult to get bus tickets to Khaling”, I added. He assured us that he would help us but he requested if we could show him our money. “I will add some amount if it’s not enough for you” he insisted. Then when my father finally showed him four Nu.100 notes, he noticed that two notes were Indian currency. “Could you give me these two Indian notes because you might not need them. I will give you Bhutanese notes” he told us. We couldn’t protest when he took Rs.200 from us promising that he would get us the equivalent Bhutanese currency notes. He paid the bill for his lunch and two cups of tea, and left the hotel saying he would come back in a while with Nu.200.

When he failed to return as promised, I and my father wondered if we were robbed. Anxious and worried, we came out of the hotel, still hoping that he would return sooner or later. My father walked around, looking for the man but he was nowhere to be seen. We knew we were robbed in a broad day-light. Suddenly, we saw our uncle walking to the town to get some eatables for his brother-in-law. With no other option, my father called out for him. “A man robbed us of Rs.200 saying he would return Nu.200”, he told him. But he instead scolded us in the public for showing the money to a stranger and he hurriedly left leaving us alone to deal with the situation.

I suggested that it would be better for us to go to Pasakha and seek help from my maternal uncle. Then we took a taxicab to Pasakha and narrated the whole story to my maternal uncle who was very kind and understanding. Since he didn’t say that he didn’t have money, we remained hopeful that he might help us. He was our last ray of hope. As expected, he was so kind to give us Nu.500 which, together with the remaining amount we had, was enough for us to cover the entire journey to Khaling. We were finally saved by my maternal uncle for which I am still grateful to him.

That was the most terrible experience I have ever gone through. I had never expected that such kind of people co-exist with us in such a small country. I was not only robbed of my money but I was also robbed of my confidence to trust people. Fortunately, I have not met such people in my life since then. I am still wondering what kind of person he could have become today. God have mercy on him if he is still alive.

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4 thoughts on “A devil with a human face

  1. As always, a heart-wrenching story. But very insightful one. By writing here about those times and incidences, in fact, you are bringing to us the reality of Bhutan. Loved going through it. Thanks for sharing, Amrith Sir!

    Liked by 1 person

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