"Be nice to people on your way up, you may meet him on your way down!" I have always lived by this belief. I am [still] reading the The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin which convinces me more that happiness comes in acknowledging the small things in life (which I have always believed it to be!).
What I am going to narrate here is a short story, a real-time story which happened within 25 kms of car drive, dated December 2, 2015.
KP, Lolo and I were returning from Phuntsholing after dropping our parents who were enroute to Samdrup Jongkhar and further onward to Wamrong. We stopped the car at Rinchending (Karpandi) for entry. Just as KP got back into the car, a soldier - a lopon Pelpon asked for lift till Kamji. A quick glance and we said OK.
Our Lopon Pelpon, as he shall be named hence was apparently going to Kamji to seek boarding admission for two of his children. He said he is at temporary posting at Phuntsholing from Tala, and that he would be seeking resignation soon.
In that less than 25 kms, here are few snippets of wisdom we learnt from him:
"Irrespective, we need to head back to our villages upon retirement - from where we came. By then, we are devoid of any strength or energy to work. Neither do we have enough savings to run our lives nor energy to till the fields. Hence, I have decided to return to the roots when I am still able, and may be work hard to retire in old age."
He had such perfect command over Dzongkha that his wisdom spoke in words like, "Rhe chhe sa lay chhe, dho bom sa lay bom, (the ridges would have broken, the stones would have grown)."
He plans to start cultivating cardamon. When KP remarked that he would be a wealthy man in three years, he replied with a tinge of smile, "Sir, that is my plan for now. But I can't assure what 'Kenchosum' has in store for me. We may be alive today and gone tomorrow. Life is uncertain. Yet, we need to keep hoping for the future."
Funniest was, when he said, "Few years ago, when we civil servants visited our villages, we were given grand welcome. We were invited for tea, and the villagers expected something in return. Today - you go to the village, no one notices us. I am afraid they CAN'T differentiate whether it's the wild animals or public servants who have come to the villages!" (Ha ha ha!)
And he added on, "Then, our village folks didn't even have a good house to stay. Their huts had no fence...no support," and again in his eloquent Dzongkha, "Lung-ma na lay phun, pha lay theeen. Pha lay phun, naa lay theeen," meaning to amplify the state of discomfort (and I am deliberately not translating in fear of distorting its essence). But today - today, he says, "They have at least a two-storied concrete house." More to that, "They are collectively paving roads for their business."
I wanted to faint right there!!!
"I joined the army at a mere salary of Nu. 700. All right, I earn close to Nu. 10,000 today but look at the price of our commodities. Even a bar of soap costs thrice the amount today. My children's demands have also doubled. Nowadays, Nu. 5 is not the baseline - they ask for minimum of Nu. 10/ Nu. 20 - every morning!"
We approached Kamji. Our Lopon Pelpon hopped off with a soldierly salute.
Minutes later, we realized that in that trance of mesmerisation we forgot to ask his name. Whoever he may be, he fuelled our conversation for the rest of our journey. And his passionate eloquence in our national language made us shameful.
Note: Dear Lopon Pelpon - we wish you all the good luck for your endeavour. This article is written in memory of the wisdom you instilled in us. Until we meet again!