Despite my knowledge of all things being impermanent, I have always had difficulty in accepting death as natural. No matter how I try to convince myself about it, I always cry when someone close to me dies or when I see someone crying for such losses.
The biggest crash I had was when I had to accept that my father had left my mother, me and other siblings. Pain probably would have been bit slow and less, if only he died a natural death through sickness. But he was swept out from the face of earth in one sweep of accident that caught my entire village in choking fear. I lost my father in the razing forest fire that wiped out acres and acres of forests in Bartsham. I could have cursed the person who did this mischief but there was no use. We always forgive the culprit in such cases because we know that the dead isn’t gonna come back, even if we wage battle against the wrong doer. This is a very human, logical thought I have seen in Bhutanese.
As my brothers and me reached home late evening after two days drive from Thimphu, my mother crashed in tears. I still can’t forget her fragile and broken image of an old woman. I never saw my mother so weak. It was only then that I realized my mother had aged more in the last one year than I had noticed since my childhood. I always saw her same but that time, she was a fragile, shattered woman. And though, she was a stubborn strong woman who disagreed to go even as far as Tashigang Town—around 20 km from our home, she agreed to come with us to Thimphu and leave our home where she had raised seven healthy children.
As I watched the fire raze, I knew that that was the last time I was seeing my father. I stood tall and prayed but there were intermittent break down of uncontrollable tears. This was the man who walked me to school, who carried rations to my school, and this was the man who sold every small agricultural product from his hard toil and sent me to school without problem. This was the man who made me feel rich even among the children of educated parents. This was the man who taught me that humility won over pride; honesty won over lies; and persistence won over misplaced intelligence. Here was this strong man who fought his destiny even as a young boy when his father was chased away by the whole village because fate stricken him with leprosy. And here was my father, my dear beloved father who told me endless stories, sung thousands of songs, and taught me to whistle as I walked in the forest and listened to chirping birds. This was the hardest goodbye I had to say but in a way, even after four years I feel he lives with me. There are still times when I see him in my dreams. And simply because he was a very straight, honest man with a natural virtuous heart, I feel he is now somewhere in this world, back to sow seeds of humanity.