Sunday, 24 February 2013

Golden Oldie

As a young, I loved sleeping near my grandpa, Khando Tshewang. His endless stories were the most enjoyable and at reminiscence of his tale, it is still rejoicing. I would spend long hours listening to his story and vicariously, enjoying with the joy of characters and paining with the sufferings of characters. His stories were more of emotional that immortalized those stories passing orally through many generations. My Maymay’s (my paternal grandpa) was an adroit narrator. He had different versions of narration as per the listener. I used to get the story characterized by the profusion of detail owing to my intermittent enquiry. Those were the times I loved my Maymay as a narrator.
Maymay Khando

Later, when I attained reasonable age, with my Maymay still healthy, there was a lot of story about my Maymay. I not only enquired his age mates but also Maymay himself. His years of darkness were rather important to be recorded not as his grandchild but as succeeding generation too.
My grandpa was faithful and loyal man. His loyalty and faithfulness were often used by our village heads abusively. In his time, village heads so-called Garpa, were the lions in villages.  They had power of king as they were the only educated (in Dzongkha) folks. Their authority over people was huge that my Maymay endured for long years of his life. When I make critical analysis now, I feel my Maymay so loyal who served his leaders with utmost dedication.
My grandpa was known for his strength. It is said that he was the strongest man in his community. H e was a man who could easily carry 80kg of rice from Assam till our village (a day long walk). Tightly tied in the jute sack, rope over his shoulder and propping belt on his head, my Maymay used to see only the dust–ridden path to our village. Every male in his village envied his strength not his intelligence.  Some wise village men including my grandpa’s own brother never carried huge loads like my Maymay. They were involved in business. They carried light paper money back home. But my Maymay was strong who liked carrying huge loads just for few pennies cheaper in Assam.
Later, one of the village heads knew the strength of Maymay. He started using abusively. Labour tax in those time was as popular as PIT as of now. No household would escape labour tax unless you raise a pig for government (Garpas).
One day, one of the Garpas went to Dewathang for meeting and instructed my Maymay to come with his pig till Dewathang, two days later. The pigs raised in name of government were exchanged with rice by Garpas for his family. Assam was near Dewathang and they could easily get huge amount of rice with the fat pig raised by innocent villagers. Everyone in village knew their megalomaniac heads, yet none could complain. It was only the waste of time going to the court with complains. The court was at Zhongar (Mongar at present).
As ordered, my Maymay had to carry 60 kg live pig to Dewathang. With the help of his village men, they packed live pig in huge bamboo-woven basket. Poor creature started moving violently. With indisputable strength, my Maymay tied tightly to his back. With few wishes from his mates, he started his tedious journey. It was a journey which would take him one and half day. Solitary traveler in the elephant infested jungle was not fun. Moreover, the unfortunate pig kept moving; yanking for life. The village head would fetch huge amount of rice taking unpaid pains of my Maymay.
On the way, the pig moved convulsively, often threatening my Maymay’s life. The seldom trodden road was huge obstacle for my grandpa. When he reached Lazor Braag (The rocky steep slopes at Lazor), with the pig’s jerk, my Maymay was about to fall off the cliff. He became so furious that he cursed his head man. The anger he threw towards the innocent pig rather amplified the movements.
Finally, taking his large family in account, he slaughtered the pig. It gave him comfortable load. He carried the carcass so easily that 60 kilograms was nothing to the Hercules of my village. When the village leader heard the incident, he became so furious that my Maymay had to plead like a beggar. Later, when the village head came back from Dewathang, my Maymay was sued against disobedience. There is story that my grandpa had to give away a cow as the compensation for his misconduct.
The barren area as you can see in my grandpa’s head; it was the result of the load he carried. I am not sure what made him in that form, but he says it was the load. I go with his words.
When I hear such stories, I feel my generation as the lucky one. We now have the right to speech and we are never treated in that form. Knowing history heightens my sense of belongingness to my community.
I pray for my Maymay’s long life. He is 84 now and for your surprise; he collects firewood at present too. That’s his passion to carry loads!

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