Monday, December 2, 2013

The Stranger



I did not believe when people told me that he is a cheat, liar and a thief.

I saw a familiar face while walking down the vegetable market last evening. He was staring at small kids playing in the busy street of Thimphu. His innocent, deep eyes were too familiar to not notice. I walked down to him and offered to take him for tea. He was emotionless but he agreed.
“Where do you live?” I Inquired.
“I live wherever I want” he mumbled.
“Which grade are u in?”
“I don’t study.”
All the while he never looked directly at my eyes. He was avoiding me for some reason. He hung his head low whenever he spoke. I learnt that he dropped out of school from 9th standard. He was from the east and he had nowhere to go. I invited him to spend few days with me before his return to village. I was living all alone as I was posted three hours’ drive from my wife and kids. Tshering Zidane Tenzin was his name and 17 was his age.
I laughed at his name and asked, “Where is your mother?”
“Don’t know”
“Your father?”
“He is not important”
I could ask him no more questions after that. The sun lazily raced towards the horizon and the dusk soon gave way to darkness. Tshering’s head was still hung low and was shifting his legs every now and then. I prepared us dinner and ate in silence. 
He had a bite on his neck which showed that he had a lover and his hair was dyed to orange yellow. I heard from my neighbor that he was riding a stolen bike. He was found loitering with other hooligans for almost a month. But no one knew where he was from and why he came to Thimphu. But I felt no threat from him and his acts did not bother me much. Meanwhile, the geyser had prepared for my shower. I glanced at Tshering and went inside the bathroom with an uneasy mind.
Thirty minutes later, I found out that I have been bolted in the bathroom from outside.
“Tshering…Tshering…..” but I got no answer.
“Tshering!!!” I shouted and then banged the door hard but to no avail.
 I shouted for help from my bathroom window but in vain. I had to spend the whole night in the bathroom. The next morning, my eldest son drove from his mother’s place. My wife had sent him after I did not receive her numerous calls.
 He quickly unlocked the door and exclaimed, “What happened dad?”
I was startled for a moment and hesitantly responded, “It was your brother”
“What??? He is with mom at home”
“No, your other brother”
“Dad, com’ on, Sonam is just three years old”
Then, I hung my head low and said, “Your half-brother”