Phuntsholing: January 6, 2008.
It is 6:30 PM. I am in Moon Lit, waiting for Sherab. Serious (Ugyen Namgyel) and Kinley Jamtsho are with me. Serious is busy attacking a plate of chow-mien while Kinley and I are drinking fosters.
After a wait of further five-ten minutes, Sherab arrives accompanied by two girls. He introduces them as Dechen and Sonam, his ‘country-men’. Currently they are staying in the adjacent hotel from ours. Their parents are also here.
I pull a chair beside me for Dechen. They are returning from Nganglam where they had gone to vote for their uncle. We make small talk but my eyes do not leave Dechen. I am smitten by her.
My offer of coffee is rejected, but they ask for ‘hot’ water. My eyes rarely leave Dechen. She seems to notice it but does not mind. We finish our drinks and Sherab asks me to accompany him in escorting them back to their room. I smile. As we say our ‘byes’ to Serious and Kinley, they give me an approving look. I grin.
On the road, I suggest going for a walk. It is only 7:30, the night still young. The girls agree. I am not a Phuntsholing-kid so I don’t know the places where you can take a girl for a walk. We just keep on walking along the road. Slowly Sonam and Sherab drift off ahead. Now they are almost 7-10 paces ahead of us. I am shy. I don’t know what to say. I think she is uncomfortable with my silence.
I don’t remember where we actually go but I know we don’t cross the bridge. After some more silent walking Sherab and Sonam look back at us and giggle. We are yet more uncomfortable. They beckon for us to find sit somewhere by the road. They are doing the same. Slowly we open up. We share some personal information.
She is Dechen Lhamo, and has currently done her ISC papers. She is worried about her results. Her father will give her ‘dose’ if he thinks that her results are not satisfactory. She asks about me and I share her some information. I am so nervous that I want to smoke. I actually do. She doesn’t seem to mind, but still asks why I do it. I have no answer. So I crush the cigarette.
Am I in love? I don’t believe in love at first sight, but she is beautiful. So I want to know more about her. At some stage I ask for her phone number, and permission to call her. She smiles and asks takes out her cell. She asks for my number and gives me a ‘missed-call’.
Now the time is 8:30, and she is worried that her father might reprimand her for staying out late. But Sonam and Sherab aren’t budging from their seat. We wait. After what seems an eternity they stand up.
We return back to our separate hotels. Sherab and I take them to their hotel lobby, and return. But my head is reeling. I ask Sherab about what they had been talking. Nothing. I tell Sherab that I have found my life partner. He just chuckles. He doesn’t believe me. Later in the room I tell the same to Kinley and Serious. They just laugh. They know me too well.
That night at eleven, I receive an SMS from Dechen thanking me for a wonderful evening. ??? I reply apologizing for my disappointing stance. She doesn’t mind it.
The next morning, Dechen and her parents leave at 7:30 AM. I know this because she has sent me a SMS to the effect.
I leave for Paro the next day. My training continues for the whole month, but I call her every night. I don’t get time to visit her because of my daily assignments. After the month is over I return to my place of work. I do not meet her ever again.
In July she leaves for Bangalore, for further studies. I can’t call her anymore, but we exchange e-mails. She asks for my photograph which I attach to one of my mails. I ask for hers in return. She provides me with her hi5 profile, and there she has uploaded her recent photos. As I go through her photos, I realize that I had forgotten her face. All I remember is her hair, hair voice, her accent. But now all that is supplemented. I can see her. So today I call her, but her number is unreachable. I try again and catch her. The accent is same, even the voice. She says that she misses me. I do too, and I make it known.
Is she the Mrs. Karma Kuenzang? I don’t know for sure, but I do miss her like hell. I think I am in love with her. Maybe I ought to tell her that. But then she may not acknowledge it.