We are culturally brought up with the belief that whatever the elders say is true and that we should respect it. As a result, many beliefs we have inherited from our ancestors still remain mysterious. When I was a child, I still remember my parents often scaring the shit out of me by telling unbelievable stories whenever I disobeyed them. When I refused to take bath regularly and got infested with lice, they would warn me that crows would attack me on the head and that I would be flown away. Then when I whistled at night, they would warn me that whistling at night would invite ghosts to the house. Likewise, there were several superstitious beliefs that my parents and the elderly people shared with me and other children in the village. We would be scared like hell. But when I look back now and reflect on those lines, I am beginning to understand that those strange beliefs could have been the tactics used by our ancestors to actually discipline us. A careful analysis shows that there is a possible logic behind each superstitious belief our ancestors have left us with.
In Bhutan, we generally believe that there is the right time for everything. If that hour of destiny does not strike, nothing will happen even if the situation pushes you to the furthest edge of your life. But if the right time has come, nothing can stop you from facing the reality no matter how bitter it might be. I think because of this belief, we can cope even with the loss of our loved ones quite easily. If we are not destined to die at that particular hour, even death seems to forget its purpose. I have faced a couple of situations where I could have been either injured or even killed. People may call it a luck but I believe that the right time for me to die had not come then. Following are a few episodes of my life during which luck was in my favour.
There was a time when my aunt was the most powerful person in the family. She was very strong and authoritative. Even her husband, my uncle, did not have much say in the way she managed the domestic affairs. It was she who oversaw the overall management of the family and nobody ever had the guts to challenge any of her ideas or actions. She often got into disputes with neighbors and I think she had many silent enemies in the village. When she was around, I used to freeze with fear because the moment she saw me, she would always yell at me for one reason or the other. Because of this, my winter vacations were never a fun apart from getting to meet my father who was living with them. She would always assign me with various tasks, all requiring physical labor. I worked in the fields harvesting millets, gathering firewood from the surrounding bushes, fetched water from the spring which was about five minutes walk from our house and often did the dishes at home. I actually loved the jobs I was assigned although I never got acknowledged for my hard-work, but what I hated the most was the way she discriminated me and my disabled father from the rest of the family. She always kept an eye on how much we ate and what we did in her absence.
I must have been little more than 9-years-old and I was still recovering from the painful experience of having lost my sight. As a visually impaired child, I had been busy finding ways to adapt myself to the new environment which I had lived in only at nights. But as days piled up into weeks and then to months, I slowly began to find some comfort in my new world. My life started rolling back to normalcy as children of my age in the neighborhood resumed to play with me although I was never the same person who had played with them before. It was in Trashila in Wangdue Phodrang where we had to travel on a cable-box from Chhu Zomsa. My father was working for a company which produced charcoal. Most of the people working there were from our village in Chengmari, Samtse and hence, we lived as a small community.