It was 2:30am when my phone rang abruptly. I wondered who the hell was (awake) at that early hour disturbing my sound sleep. But it was my (distant) friend calling from Bumthang (who had never called me before). He was coming to Thimphu and wanted me to book his return ticket for the very next day, to the east.
I wondered why he was coming to Thimphu for a night. He is a teacher at some school in the extreme east. The distance is so long and journey wild. I knew no one would travel without a genuine reason. So, I assumed that he must be with a genuine mission for he was taking pain to travel all the way from east to west, crossing passes and valleys. When I asked what he was coming for, he told me that he would be telling me in the evening. And in the evening, as promised, he told me that he was coming to meet his Facebook lover.
For a moment, I could not believe but having read the trouble Najab took to meet Fahtima in Love Across the Salt Desert, I was made to believe that love can do everything impossible. His was, I thought, Love Across Dochula.
Understanding his request to be urgent, I agreed to book his return ticket. I got up unusually early on the weekend and ran to the bus station. Counters were not yet opened. I waited near the prayer wheel chanting. Finally the counter opened. I paid Nu 323 for his ticket and retrieved home cold.
As soon as I booked the ticket, I confirmed him so that he could breathe in peace. If he doesn't get the ticket, he would be late for his classes. And his students would wonder where their Hero had been! He had not sought leave but took advantage of the four days’ holiday and ran to the west to meet his lover. With two days already over on his journey, he was left with only two remaining days to get home. And to reach his school, it would take more than two days but he was willing to spend whatever amount and travel by taxi in case bus is not available.
He was happy to be informed that a ticket has been booked. He thanked me and begged sorry for making me run early morning. I told him that it was a good exercise for me and I thanked him in return.
That day evening, I received a call from him saying he had reached Thimphu and was waiting near the hotel for his darling from Haa. She works in Haa and she was supposed to come to Thimphu that evening. And what would happen after their meeting, even fools can predict.
I gave his ticket to a friend in the town to hand over to him when he comes and left for Kabesa to attend my sick grandmother. When I received his call, I was with my grandmother. I wished him best of luck and he readily accepted my wishes with much happiness. Who would not be happy to meet his beloved? He is usually a moody friend but he had become talkative that evening. With much laughter, he cut his phone bidding good bye to me. He had already started imagining about how good his night would be. I wondered what gift the love has brought to a (actually) moody man.
My friend, with whom I left the ticket, told me that he did not pay for the ticket as he had no change. He had Nu 300 and Nu 20 but he had no change for Nu 5. So he left saying he would pay the next day when he gets the change.
But the next day, I was told that he waited near the hotel, whole night, for his lover to come. His lover, who said she was coming, never reached Thimphu. All trouble he took to travel from east to west went in vain. He did not get warmed as he expected. His imaginations remained vivid as they could be. And probably, he left that early morning, before anyone could see, like a defeated ghost. There was no news whether he got the “change” to pay me or not. But I knew that he got the “change” to fit in his life. Nothing could have been better in teaching him the unforgettable lesson than the cold winter night.
I wish he realize and value his life before he waste away. I wish he realize paying Nu 2 more to a friend is worth than spending millions to an unknown lover.