October 5, 2008

Childhood Memories

My father is a Dzongkha Lopen, ex-lopen to be precise. He is currently in our village, back in the place where he was born. He returned back to till the soil and live off the land.

But as I mentioned before my father was a Dzongkha lopen. He was old school; promoted from a gomchen to a drungye under the Trashigang Dzongpoen, and later due to his fluency in written and spoken dzongkha was provided a slot in the teaching field.

He held the position in different schools spanning Trashiyangtse and Lhuntshe dzongkhag before being sent to Lamidara Junior High School, in Tsirang.

I started my formal education in that school, continuing up to class II when something happened. It was mid-year. The infamous attempted rising by some mis-informed fanatics unsettled the balance of the region, and we were in the middle of it.

Within hours friends turned to foes and the likes of my father were targeted.

The details of that afternoon are too painful in my memories. But we survived it – an afternoon filled with fear for our lives, in our lone home that was situated in the middle of paddy fields. Father and mother were in constant duty with patangs and drozoms by their side. Even though I was small I knew that something was happening that would change our future, something disastrous happening to the happy and care-free world around us.

In the dark of the night father espied some lights flickering down the path that let to our home. Silently he slipped out with his patang to ambush them. Mother closed the door and herded us (3 sisters and 2 brothers) into hiding. She instructed our eldest sister to keep an eye on us and returned to her post at the door, with a sickle in her hands.

After some tense moments we heard father’s voice at the door asking mother to open the door. They were the other lopens who had come to escort us to the headmaster’s residence. Father had nearly sliced one’s head before he could cry ‘lopen’.

We were being evacuated on Dungpa’s orders. Hurriedly mother packed some clothes and we were off. From there we were transferred to the Dungkhag office where the others had already congregated.

There were the families of teachers, dungkhag officials, health officials, forestry officials, police personnel- everyone who used to be scattered among the valley of Lamidara had been evacuated here.

(to be continued…)