While I was busy gulping down beef fried rice and suja in one of the restaurants in Thimphu, my friend, Tenzin, had his eyes glued to a waitress. The Waitress was also flashing a look every now and then from her shy eyes. This encouraged Tenzin to throw his smiles at her while she daintily served other customers. I knew what was going on in Tenzin’s head but I was more interested in the beef fried rice. It cost my friend another two meals before she gave her mobile number. She was smart as she did not tell him her real name but not smart enough as she has given him her mobile number.
She was a fine woman, in her early twenties that any guy would like to be with. I left them alone after that as, I knew my friend was just playing a game and, I was well aware of his intentions. He also had a wife studying in a college in India. So, the waitress was just a temporary catch. I didn’t even care to know her name.
These stuffs did not bother me as I was aware of it happening all around me. I knew it is a phase in a man’s life before he settles down and also a phase in a woman’s life when she is trying to settle down. It’s a topsy turvy world where everyone is trying to gain something out of everything and lands up getting nothing. No one really gains from it. All these made no or very little sense to me, so I never embarked on this road. I just ignored it.
But for how long can I ignore it?
After I was placed in Trashiyangtse as a kidu officer, a realization hit me like a bolt of lightning. My job demands me to visit rural villages and identify poor families and household in need of kidu intervention. On one of my many visits to the villages, I was ushered to the poorest household of the remotest village in Trashiyangtse.In a single-storied hut, a family of four lived under a leaky roof. The door did not even have a latch since there wasn't any valuable worth stealing in the house.
A 71 year old grandmother along with three children was its inhabitants. The children don’t know the whereabouts of their fathers (all the children were from different father) and they lost their mother to alcohol. The grandma, though old and weak, tilled their acre and half kamzhing to feed the hungry children. The children were all studying, the eldest in class VII and the youngest in Class II. The middle one was a shy girl studying in class IV. Her shyness was too familiar to not notice. They had an elder sister who dropped out of Class VIII and went to Thimphu to look for a job in order to support the family.
My brain instantly flashed back the image of the waitress in Thimphu. The shy eyes of the little girl in front of me confirmed it. But, now she has mothered a fatherless child. I was sad. A girl from a poor household from a remote village goes to Thimphu to earn for her family, but lands up not able to support herself. She tries to uplift her family out of poverty but land herself in poverty, pulling her deeply into its vicious cycle. Somehow, I felt I am also a reason for her misery. I could have dissuaded my friend. I could have been a better friend, a responsible citizen, a savior to that girl but I just ignored it. Now I know the realities and hardships of the poor. I have seen a daughter pull out of school and become the backbone of a family.
PLEASE DO NOT BREAK THAT BACKBONE!!!
[This is a story of many young village girls who come to urban areas searching for better economic opportunities. Most of them are from poor families and the whole family back home depends on them. But we know the harsh realities they face; the difficulties of getting a job, the cost of living, workplace harassment (in drayangs, bars, etc) aggravated by betrayals and false promises. But I feel we can make a difference in their lives by not taking advantage of their vulnerabilities. Who knows, a poor family may be pulled out of destitution by one of these girls.]