Thursday, December 9, 2010
Again, The Same Pains…
It’s 11:47pm. It’s dark and quiet outside. I’ve been trying to fall asleep but I’m unable to do it. My friends have gone today, happily, to their sweet homes for semester vacation. And it’s with them that my heart has gone, following them like a five year old child for her mother. I’m an early sleeper who can hardly stay beyond 9pm. Now, it’s almost midnight; yet I haven’t been able to fall asleep. Something is disturbing me genuinely—and it’s my heart that’s sobbing in utter pain and agony.
I don’t understand why my heart doesn’t understands me. It has been giving me the same pains every semester when my friends go to their homes. It’s time that it understands my conditions because I’ve been counseling it time and again. I’m a poor fellow and do not have any money to go home. My parents are far away, in the remotest valley of Shingkhar Lauri. They have no money to send me and even if they have, there is no channel through which transactions could happen.
My father left me when I was in class IV and since then I grew as a widow’s son. I know the difficulties faced by the people of Shingkhar Lauri because my God seeded me there. I know how much tears my mother shed for my education. She’s sweated for me. She’s sacrificed for me.
Today my Government has sent me here—far away to the extreme south of India. They pay me, of course, for rent, tuition, food and exams. Whatever they pay me is whatever I spend. I grow up as a national pig—reared by the Government. I’m thankful for what my Government does. No country could be that kind to educate any individual who learns for himself. My country prepares me, moulds me and refines me. If I do well, she’ll take me. And even if I fail, she’ll not grumble like our parents who groan in regrets for educating their sons and daughters—with a huge amount of expenditure— when they do not succeed.
My Government pays me a monthly stipend of Rs. 3600. I allocate Rs. 100 for each day and in total—in a month—I spend Rs. 3000. One may think that Rs. 100 is too much for a day. But it’s too less for what they call a ‘metropolitan city’. Everything is attached with this hackneyed term and nothing comes in cheap.
For morning breakfast, Puri with omelette costs you Rs. 30. Lunch: Meal with Alu or Gobi Manchurian costs you Rs. 45. With the remaining amount of Rs. 25, what do I eat for the dinner? What do I get for Rs. 25? Perhaps three or four thin pieces of Roti—as thin as the domesticated fowl’s tongue. But I’ve long developed a habit of eating rice for any meal and nothing—such as this Puri—would satiate my belly. I think of taking only Meals and doing away with those costlyManchurians for cutting down the expenditure but it’s difficult for a foreigner—with different taste buds— to swallow the Indian spiced-food.
It’s at this moment that I curse the creator who made us to have three meals a day. Had it been two meals a day, I could have easily managed with what my Government pays me—perhaps even better foods I could have eaten other than those what they call Meals. I hate meals; maybe I have overeaten it as it’s the only cheapest and affordable food item here.
The best solution, I ever have in my hand is to skip or give up any one meal: sometimes dinner and sometimes lunch because breakfast is affordable. I would pretend that my belly is full and persuade my rich friends that I have had. I have eaten from them for several times and I feel embarrassed for my state of being dependent on them. So to avoid, sometimes I would simply tell them that I don’t feel like to eat, despite a burning hunger inside. I am suffering from a pain inside my stomach. I pray if it’s not ulcer.
With a little amount of Rs. 600 that I save every month, I buy shirts, pants, hair oils, toothpastes, soaps, pens, books and so on necessary for my education. I have to buy toothpastes and soaps weekly. I wish that they last long. I’m very grateful for my tooth brush. It is three years and is still strong. I brush my teeth with utter care not because my gums would fall off but because of the fear that my toothbrush would wear out. If it wears out, it would be nothing more than an addition to my expenditure.
Sometimes I have to go for study tours which involve a huge expenditure. Most of the time, I escape pretending to be unwell. I can’t say ‘I have no money’. Nobody would believe. People of India, whenever they see a foreigner, they assume them to be a money plant. I have missed so much of what my classmates have learned in the field. It’s my fate that has reduced me to this state of pennilessness. I yearn to be like them but I couldn't discover the secret of their way. I see them affluent and envy a little for their wealth. I wish I had wealth like them; I could have learned all the fields that the world offers. I missed so many opportunities. I wanted to do side courses but that too requires money. 'No walk without a pocketful of money.'
At the end of the month, I will be left with nothing—not even a Paisa for God’s sake. And journeying into yet another month—which will equally be challenging or even worst—would be unthinkable. More than on my studies, I have to concentrate on the financial insufficiencies. That’s why my grading took a drastic fall after every semester. Thinking about money was no help to me. If I could skip a meal, I had done a great thing for the day. The more I skipped the meals, the more inwardly my body doomed.
And an evening like this is never new for me. I’ve suffered every semester when I had to hold behind myself, in a silent room like this after my friends left for their homes. I have felt the pain before too. And the same is troubling me today again. My heart doesn’t understands me. Poor heart! What can I do? I’m helplessly hapless.
You may think that I’m alone in this world. No. besides my mother, I’ve two younger brothers and one elder. They are all settled and heading their life ahead. I also have many relatives. But they have no interest to know me. And why should they? After all I’m a poor fellow with nothing in hand in this luxury-seeking world. I’ve four uncles and two cousin sisters in Thimphu. One uncle stays in Sibsoo. My cousin brother works for PCA and another one in Army. But who cares? When I go to Bhutan, my homeland, I’ve to stay in others’ homes. They are just my relatives and that’s all. Just by blood. Outsiders are much helpful than those bloody relatives. If you have got leisure time, you may live your life in expectation. Or else, begin your own. Though it may bring a pain in the beginning, sweetness will come at the turn of your life.
I went back to my country once since my arrival here in Bangalore. You may wonder I had money of my own then. No. My ticket was booked by Karma Tshering, who understood my state of being. And the expenditure for foodings in the train was bore by Dorji Wangchuk, my senior. He was a jovial friend whose heart effortlessly bends to the down-trodden. There are thousands of buildings in Thimphu; yet not a single room belongs to a Shingrongpa like me. I had to stay with Karma Sir.
Life’s difficult if you aren’t wealthy enough. My heart doesn’t understand this philosophy. My heart wants to go again to see beautiful Bhutan. Yes I know, my heart misses her a lot but what can I do? My hands are tied and legs are fastened. I can’t move. I know my heart even misses my mother because they haven’t met for three years. But no way! Just sit here! Read something; write something- Yet it would not listen.
I’ve tried to bury my head under my pillow and sensationalize my ears with the ear phones (borrowed from one of my Indian friends) tucked tight into the tune of a melody. But that too isn’t a medicine. Rather, the melancholic song fuels my burning heart.
That’s why I’ve gotten up. My hand moves steadily in emotions. My falling tears are wetting my paper. I think I’ve to end up. But will my sadness end?
Who would be happy to remain behind alone—in this alien land—if it’s not poverty that is pulling one’s legs?
You are right—my heart.