December 10, 2015


I grip the steering wheel tightly as I take the curves at 60. I am alone, and I am shit scared. It is late night and I usually don’t drive alone at night. With a cigarette clenched between my lips and music blaring from my car speakers, I snake the treacherous roads of the hills above Wamrong.
I have to reach Mongar tonight….because my darling lay in the Hospital, crying out my name, waiting to deliver our baby girl.

My cell phone rings yet again. With an eye on the road, I pick up the call.
Ata KK, where did you reach?” It’s her teenage sister Thinley. I can hear panic in her voice.
Wamrong. How’s Sonam doing?” I speed on.
“She’s ok…I guess. Just keeps asking for you. Please hurry….” And the line goes off.
I throw the phone towards the empty seat and floor the gas. I want to be by her side faster. I speed in the night…. a lone car with a lone driver, cutting the darkness with the headlights.

Cigarettes after cigarettes, songs after songs, corners after corners, I drive on….flying by the Sherubtse college gate, ignoring the speed breakers. I care less for my car, more for the soul in pain lying in the maternity ward.

Again the phone rings. Again I grope with my left hand and press the receive button.
Kota…where did you reach?” It’s Sonam’s mom calling. I can make out the urgency in her voice.
“I reached Rongthong. You two?”
Apa and I crossed bJeezam”. They started from Thimphu upon hearing about their daughter’s complications.
Ya ya. See you two at Mongar. And please hurry” I plead to my in-laws.

Silent prayers move my lips even as my eyes scan the road ahead. My hands, feet, ears and eyes move in unison, taking me nearer towards my beloved wife who lay in Mongar Hospital, two months ahead of her delivery time.

My grey i20 barely sees the break-lights as I speed across Chazam. The road is wider, my speed faster.
Again the phone rings. My eyes barely leave the road as I grope for the phone.
“Hello…hello…ong?.” Yes? I ask.
Ata KK…Oga shekpa ya?  Dozo odo lay…” Where did you reach? Come faster.
I can hear the fear in her voice.
Thinley…I’m coming as fast as possible…” I reassure her, as my speedometer steadily climbs over 70.
“Here…Ana wants to talk to you.” I can hear the phone changing hands.
“KK….jang yong khena…. Dozo odo lay” I’m afraid. Come faster please. She pleads. My darling pleads.
“Yes, I’m coming….about to reach Rolong.” I reassure her.

Silent tears roll down my cheeks. I feel terribly sorry for my wife, and for her teenage sister who’s alone with her at Monger Hospital. The pale road follows the Drangmechhu downstream, and lonely me speeds along it.

I seem to be in a dream, almost hazy….must be the long night drive, all the way from Samdrup Jongkhar. It’s still dark outside but the Hospital is brightly lit. I can see my darling wife, occasionally writhing in pain, lying on a bed in a small room. Thinley is holding her palms and seem to be whispering encouragements, for briefly Sonam smiled, her rosy cheeks pushing the pain away.

Suddenly the door is pushed open; its Apa and Mom. With a huge step, Mom hugs Sonam, as Thinley falls crying into Apa’s bear hug. As much as I crane my ears, I can’t hear what they are saying. I can only see their lip movements.

What’s happened to me? I don’t seem to be….on the ground. The hospital cabin, my wife on the bed, her parents, her sister…it all seems to be like in movie. Like a scene from a TV…too distant.

I see my wife saying something to Apa, who takes out his cell phone and dials. After a while he shakes his head. Sonam’s eye brows are raised in question. Again he tries…and again shakes his head.

Kuensel @KuenselOnline: Today morning at around 3 am, a grey i20 went off the road near Rolong, Trashigang. The driver, a man in his early thirties died instantly.
[And these roads invite danger...]