If you put a price tag on yourself, what would be your worth? This is a question that I have been asking myself lately. What determines a person’s worth? What determines my worth? This past year, my feelings regarding this have been pretty negative. I am a teacher, and for the past eight years I have been dedicating myself to my profession. I have served in two higher secondary schools in eastern Bhutan. Up to 2007, I was in Nganglam and after that I was in Orong.
I’ve given five years of my life to Orong…five years. I’ve worked under three principals during that time. I’ve had colleagues who had left Orong after 3 or 4 years but I stayed for five years. During my stay, I can proudly say that I contributed a lot as a subject teacher, class teacher, house master, club advisor, scout master and also under other managerial roles. My contributions are evident through the newsletters, school magazine, sign boards, gazebos and the academic results. Yet the great beginnings weren’t ended properly.
When I left Orong in February this year, I had served there for 5 years while my wife had done so for 3. But we were worth only two bedsheets. Two lousy bedsheets! That was the farewell gift from Orong HSS. No farewell dinner, no speeches in the morning assembly, no gathering, not even a tea party. I was let off silently.
Nobody wants to go away silently. Everybody wants a bang!…an explosion of emotions…a celebration. But not for me, for I was let off in silence. In movies even the antagonist have an explosive ending. Not me, even though I would most certainly be a ‘hero’ in my own story. It wouldn’t sound fair if I don’t share my leaving from Nganglam.
I left Nganglam in February 2008, and my send-off was very approving. There was a camp-fire and dinner session, where wine, beer and whisky flowed freely. There were speeches from colleagues, applauding me…appreciating me. There were dinner invitations to my colleagues’ homes. I spent two weeks eating in their homes ‘coz everybody had invited me for farewell dinner to their homes. And the farewell gift for me…it was a dinner set. A complete dinner set. That was my Nganglampa friends, very lovely and they knew how to make somebody feel special.
After I reached SJ I remember sending them a case of ‘fosters’ beer as a ‘thank you’.
But Orongpas? Nah! I never felt so unwanted. I never felt so unimportant. All those years of laughter and tears and enjoyment…everything made valueless by that one lack, by that one un-gesture. I was sad of how low the Orongpas had stooped to. I felt sad for the human qualities they lacked. I felt sad for everything; my stay there, my home there, my life there.
Then I asked myself…did I do anything wrong to them that made me deserve this? Did I buy this? Did I do anything to disappoint my principal?…or my VP who also happens to be a very close friend?…of the staff secretary?…of the other colleagues?
I wasn’t happy. I blinked back tears as I crossed the school gate and started for SJ. The tears weren’t of sadness…it was of a different kind. I also cursed myself, because I had chosen to come to Orong in 2008. I had chosen Orong. Now, as I leave Orong, my colleagues decide my worth to be nothing. I am nothing. My contributions mean nothing. My friendship means nothing. My life means nothing.
Then I am reminded of ‘Self Awareness’; a life skill I learned in scouting. Who am I? I am nothing. My Orong family doesn’t acknowledge me and my Orong friends seem to have forgotten me. I remember all the farewells I had organized. I remember all the parties that I had organized. I remember them all. I also remember the party that wasn’t organized for me.
Then I reach Gaselo. There is a strict discipline and ’norms’ here that I am wary of. But here also, something very similar comes into being. There is no welcome party, no welcome celebration. Quietly I am absorbed into this family. Quietly I am allotted a ‘routine’ which was already pre-designed for me. Quietly I accept it all. Am I being too quiet about all these? Comparatively I am one of the senior teachers here, and I have served more in this profession, and I deserve recognition for this. My ex-students have entered the job market after finishing their degrees.
And here I am! Unacknowledged, unaccepted …have I become a dinosaur? This isn’t me. I am just 30 years old and having experienced many experiences, I deserve to be known. If they don’t respect me, they ought to respect my contributions to this teaching industry. But I can’t wait for it to happen. My ex-students still call me, and offer their respects. Thank you for that, but I want to be acknowledged by my colleagues. I don’t want to be a ‘period’ at the end of a sentence; needed but unacknowledged.
There must be a way, a way to show them their faults and their misgivings about me. There must be a way to put everything right. There should be a way, ‘coz there is always balance in this universe; anything wronged will be righted one day.