August 6, 2009

Dawa: Chapter One (2009)

This summer I was in Thimphu. I was attending a training-workshop. On the last afternoon of my stay there, I had gone to the market to buy some chocolates for my friends back east. And I was alone.

Then the clouds waged war against the sun and it started to drizzle. Cursing the rain I ducked into the nearest shop which turned out to be a cloth shop (the general kind). Feigning interest in some jeans I was waiting for the rain to stop, when I thought I heard someone call out “Dawa”. Now normally only my parents, my kith & kins, and a few special friends call me Dawa. The others just call me by my real name. (As you might have guessed… yes, my real name is NOT Dawa). So I just ignored it, for there must be other Dawas there in that shop. But the next instant someone nudged me at the shoulder. “Dawa?” a voice said softly from behind.

I froze. I knew that voice. Why wouldn’t I? I had loved that voice. I had loved the face behind that voice. I had loved the heart behind that voice. Yes…loved.

I willed myself to turn around. Yes… it was she… same as always. Seven years of separation hadn’t affected her. Instead she had grown more beautiful. She had always been beautiful, but the person I saw today… was more.

“Hi…” I stammered… I didn’t look her in the eyes. Instead my eyes were drawn to the young girl she was holding the hand of. She was the prettiest girl I had laid my eyes on for a long time. “Is she…?” I asked.
“Yes… she’s my Chèchè Dawa Dem…she’s in class two…”

“You named her Dawa?… Dawa is a good name for a girl” I commented.

We were silent for some time. Somebody was haggling over the price of a shirt. Then the drizzling stopped, and we went outside on the busy sidewalk.

“Are you working here too? I heard you were in Samdrup Jongkhar” she asked.

“Yes I’m in SJ. I’m just here for a workshop … How are you doing?”

“I’m good. You?” she countered.

“I’m good too… just shopping for some things to take back home”.

“How’s your family?”

“They’re fine” I lied. I didn’t tell her that I was still single. How could I tell her that I had given up the idea of marriage? Why should I ask for her sympathy? Or should I?

“So… how is Dorji?” He was guy she had left me for.

“He’s in… Australia… further studies”. She mumbled. She was visibly stammering.

“Mummy… who’s he?” her Chèchè pulled her.

“Chèchè, he’s you uncle Dawa… your daddy’s best friend”.

Yes, I chuckled inside. Your daddy and me… we were the best of friends. Why are you lying to your child? Don’t lie. Tell her the truth, I wanted to say. But I didn’t.