I think it was 1998. The New Year’s Day had come and there was a lot of excitement in the air. As usual, my uncle and aunt had planned a family picnic to celebrate the occasion but that did not excite me and my late father because we had never got the opportunity to join them on any of such special events before. Every year, they either joined the community to go on a picnic or arranged the family picnic for themselves on such occasions but I and my late father knew pretty well in advance that we were not part of it. And as expected, we always remained at home taking care of goats, calves and doing routine household chores while they enjoyed and celebrated New Year with lots of good food and drinks elsewhere. At home, we would not have even enough food to eat because my aunt would leave only a calculated quantity of rice in a plate for us and she would lock the rice-container. So, although it was a festive day for others, it was nothing different for me and my late father. This time too, we had not expected to be part of the picnic they had planned. Everybody else in the family was busy preparing for the event while I and father remained aloof. But I don’t know what suddenly went through my uncle’s mind. Just as they were packing up things, he told me I could join them.
I had wanted to stay back with my father because that would give me more freedom, but I could not refuse the offer since my uncle kept on insisting that I should go with them. Finally, with a lot of reluctance, I had to decide to leave my father behind for the day. I rushed to change my cloths and get ready for the journey. The bank of Dhamdhum River, about 30-45 minutes walk from our house was the chosen picnic spot. I suddenly remembered my Bangchung (a traditional Bhutanese basket woven with bamboo for carrying potluck lunch and other stuffs) which was gifted to me by my friend in school. I decided to take it with me to bring back any leftover from the picnic. I didn’t take it to use it as a plate though.
Soon we reached our picnic spot. Everybody was busy with collecting firewood, cutting vegetables and meat, and cooking while I stood on the edge of the river playing in the water alone. I felt lonely without my father. It took a few hours before the lunch was ready. We sat on the sands and I was excited to eat delicious food after a long time. Moreover, I was very hungry. But when I received my food, I was shocked to know that I was served in my own Bangchung. My aunt had deliberately dumped everything into my Bangchung including even curry with gravy. The gravy dripped down the Bangchung like tap water and I had to be very careful to protect my cloths from the dripping gravy. I felt so humiliated that I never enjoyed my food. Nobody cared about me. I almost broke into tears. I had told them earlier that I brought my Bangchung only to bring back leftovers from my plate if any, and it was not to be used as a plate since it cannot hold liquid. Throughout this humiliation, my aunt did not say even a word. I could only get a few pieces of meat and rice. I lost all my gravy. I cursed myself for taking my Bangchung with me because that gave my aunt the opportunity to humiliate me. I didn’t even go for second serving. I wished I had stayed back with my father at home because although we would be left with a carefully calculated quantity of rice, I would not have had to go through such an open humiliation.