Today is the 18th day of the nation wide lockdown of Bhutan. Nothing special but today I decided to be the chef at home to prepare the native meal of my village, the native meal of sharchops, the Bokpi (flour) curry along with curd and butter as we have back in my village. It wasn't the best, but it was worth trying. It brought back all the memories from my life in the village with family and friends as a small kid. It brought back memories with my parents and memories about them. How I wish we could be together specially at this hours of time. The lunch that I prepared made me homesick and emotional actually. I gave a long thought about them. Life is always simple yet beautiful back at home!
Back at home as a small kid, this Bokpi from maize was never my thing, I never liked it though it is the main meal. I only craved for and liked kharang (rice was the top priority though, but wasn't easily available as we don't cultivate rice). I would just frown at my mom for always feeding us with this Bokpi. Most of the time I would just skip meals if it was Bokpi. But now, urban life has changed me completely. I like to have Bokpi more often than usual rice. How strange this life is, right?
Back in village, everything seems to be normal. People are having their usual life. They are hale and hearty in their own way. They may not have much in terms of wealth, but they are contented and they have big heart. They are not well off like others but they have enough to sustain. They may not have all the luxuries yet they are always happy and they have this peculiar smile in their face which says it all. Thinking about all these, I miss my parents more, I miss their care and love, I miss their meals even if it was but a simple Bokpi and radish curry; I miss their genuine effort and care.
Anyways going back to those days when I was a little school going kid. I don't belong to a family with well-off parents nor do I have that able relatives. We are a middle class family. We had just enough to sustain, enough to go about with this so-called life. I had little financial problems during my school days, not because I had plenty, but because my parents worked so hard to arrange it for me and on my part, I was extra cautious to spend. The money that my parents gave in the beginning of year could be enough for the whole year. Sometimes I just wonder how did I manage? They worked day and night, in sun and in rain to give me all that was necessary. In summer they used to work hard in the farm to collect crops for the family's sustenance and during winter when there was no farm work (when crops were all harvested), they used to do all kinds of temporary jobs mostly 'woolah' in return for some cash so they could send their eldest child to schooling which was me. I can't imagine my parents carrying heavy loads to earn some cash just so I could have that pocket money. Where I come from is a remote place with no or little source of income, the only way to get some cash was to do physical work like carry load for the shopkeepers, ration for the boarding school and so on. I still remember me and my dad collecting and counting stones from nearby river, a decent and good shape, which would fetch us one ngultrum per stone for a contractor who was constructing the Gup's office of the Geog that time. In a day we would earn about 1500/-. Fortunately, lots of construction came up those days (sign of development?) And it was a good opportunity to earn something out of it.
That's why it wasn't surprising when I used to get good results at the end of each year, because I knew just well how much my parents were struggling to gather a decent money so they could send me school to get education which made me to work even harder. I put in extra effort to make them smile at the least at the end of year; to prove that their hard work hasn't gone to waste. If you look at the heads of my parents, you will still see the hair fall on the area exposed most to carry load and its most visible on my mother's head.
Today I miss my parent a lot. Although I call them and talk with them every day, I feel sad thinking about all these. They seem to be happy knowing that their son has been able to stand up on his own; that their son has now a job and a family of his own; that their son is in so-called town enjoying the urban life. They don't expect much from you, because they know that life is much harder in town. They know it's all about money in town. I wish I can do more and be better sometime. I wish I could tell its not just that. I wish they stay and live with me some day (for now they just don't like the life in town). Even if they visit me, after a month, they are like 'i wanna go back to village'. I hope it changes soon.
Here are some pictures of my cooking, and how a Bokpi looks like...:)