I was in the hospital for some check up as my stomach was not feeling well since morning. In the waiting hall, there was a child. He was playing with a toy and was lost in his world. He was a handsome child, but his clothes were dirty and his nose was filled with phlegm. Something about that child fascinated me unusually. I couldn’t question my instinct; some divine like power brought me closer to the innocent kiddo. I went near to the kid and asked his name .He said, “ne gi ming sonam enn la,” ie. “my name is sonam”. I asked where his parents were. I was told he has only mom and presently went to get some medicine, I knew it was from the dispensary. I fished my pocket and found some chocolates, gave it to him. He was excited and interacted more. I asked his whereabouts, he was from zhemagang. Just the prior day they have reached to Thimphu. They came to meet his dad, he said that his dad was very rich and has a big job. i said “well nice to meet you sonam, see ya .” i took out some notes and gave him . As and when I was leaving out of the hospital I saw Tshomo. In her hand was a big plastic, inside i could see the black x-ray files and plenty of medicines. On her back was another child who was momentarily asleep. She did not see me and I didn’t want to face her. Hastily I scampered out of the hospital. I went few yards and stopped short, glanced inside through the polarized window. I saw sonam running towards his mom, showed off the notes that I gave him. . i wished I had given him little more, my heart ached. Tears welled my eyes, I drove homewards. The reason goes back to past and I recalled it vividly.
It was during one of the summer vacation long time ago, I decided to pay a visit to my brother in Tashigang. He was newly employed and stationed there. The voyage was not very cheerful, roads were in bad condition. There were couple of landslides and the rain kept pouring. The bus had to move slowly to avoid the risk of sliding while from the window I could see the height of the cliff over which we were rolling, It made my stomach sick. Presently I crossed my fingers and prayed, the cliff descended several thousand meters below. The road connecting eastern Bhutan has lots of bad reputation, especially In summer it’s a death trap. I recalled one major accident, when a bus went off the cliff killing almost whole passengers. I closed my eyes and waited for the bus to pass that prone area quickly. We heaved a sigh of relief, as the bus reached the other end of the cliff. That was story of my first journey towards the east, but the story doesn’t end here.
The hamlet of zhemgang was very beautiful and serene. All was green and the elegant bamboos surrounded the village. The wind blew through the bamboo and they danced in delight. The grasses were tall, and cows grazed to their hearts content. There were not many houses; even the main town was tiny. People were very courteous and their hospitality was beyond words. Children played all day long, in sun or in rain they played alike. The women were very beautiful and simple. Even with little or no makeup at all they look amazing. The women were somewhat workaholic, and sincere in their task. From dawn to dusk they would be engaged in some work and staying idle was out of question. At night every house hold sent somebody to guard their crops from wild animals. Usually man did the night patrolling but woman were also obliged to undertake such daunting task. Just as the night has fallen, the village awakened by the shouting and beating of tins to scare away the animals. The tiny light beaconed from several makeshift houses enchanting the sky like thousand twinkling stars.
The next day I met with more friends and acquainted with friends of my brother as well. We had get-together and gossiped like girls. Dinner was always sumptuous and plentiful. After dinner we would have alcohol boiled with egg , and chopped-up chilies as salad. One night I asked them about the famous custom of night hunting among boys in zhemgang. Although I felt awkward for putting up that question, but they weren’t in contrast. In fact most of them had ventured into the hunting at least once. I realized I was the only guy without that experience. Later after the dinner some of them already left for night endeavor but I had no stomach to take the move. Thereafter, our fiesta was mostly filled with talks about night hunting and their success rate. Most of the mission was accomplished but often they encounter tough resistance from the woman, who would not dread to kick and hit with whatever able at hand.
My vacation was nearing end, I was enjoying every moment in that beautiful place. However I was not ready to leave that place without experiencing the aspects of night hunting. I was determined to go at least once. Few days passed and I couldn’t go still. I was scared of the darkness and I was scared to encounter resistance. Eventually the night before I was due to leave that place, I resolved to go in search of fateful prey. Towards the midnight I could see some dim light of the torch walking in vast field, I knew they were other men who were also on the same operation. Unlike other men, who went randomly searching every hut for girl , I chose my destination. i knew one girl called tshomo and I knew where her field was. Straightway I headed for her hut and tried my luck. The hut was raised on a pole and stood at the far edge of the field. I prowled with my torch off. With some difficulties I reached the ladder and ascended. The door was frail made from bamboo, and any one inside could be seen easily. I saw her alone ,weaving a cane basket. I gently pushed the door and entered, she was taken aback. thank god! At least she wasn’t enraged to see me. For some time I couldn’t say anything let alone touch her. Simply we laughed and sat by the hearth. We chatted for long time and took some black tea. Suddenly it started to rain, it stamped heavily on the roof. She told me she was sleepy and assigned me to pull the bell to chase away the animal. The night was filled with reverberant sound of raindrops. My Temptation surged up, before I could realize, I had already took hold of her soft hands. She did not resist. Gingerly I kissed her lips and she became statue. The fire in the hearth had long died, I slowly blew off the flickering lamp and it went pitch dark.
That was the memory. It has deprived my sleep and my appetite. The feeling of guilt and betrayal was stabbing my heart from every angle. i knew who sonam was. I understood he was missing his dad like any other child; he wanted his rich dad to take him and buy an ice cream. He wanted his dad to buy him a bicycle. I wonder whether his step father is treating him well. My minds were tormented. The next day, I didn’t even go to my office, straight away I headed for the hospital. I searched every nook and corner, but I did not see sonam. My eyes flooded, I went because i wanted to confess to him that I am not rich, I do not have big job but still I am the dad he was looking for. My search was futile. Suddenly my phone beeped, it was the manager. He was infuriated and scowled atop his voice, “ where the hell you are?” the cows have trespassed ,damaged the garden” and he hung up. I realized my blunder; I has forgotten to lock the office gate last night.