My heart dances to the tune of fond memories, as I lay down with my laptop intending to write a tribute to my god like fourth king on his 60th birth anniversary. Seldom sipping on a cup of sweet tea and letting thoughts infuse into words, it’s a wonder how the present walk me back to good old times.
Have not really sat and looked back for all these times, but realizing this very fact took me by a huge surprise. Engrossed so much into moving ahead and trying to catch up with the crowd, has actually blinded me to the point, where I have already forgotten how November 11th used to be one of my favorite days in those, long and not so long bygone years.
The set of November month would set the whole nation into a celebration mood. Every school and institution, near or far flung into the woods would ready for it and even from a distance, one could hear the beat of the drums and clashing of the cymbals in sync to the crowd’s roar, “Left, right, left.” Oh, yes, “Left, right, left,” since I was a little boy I would always love to see the military parade, the military band and the long marching queue, marching past the podium where our fourth king would stand watching the queue.
I remember vividly, how I used to nag my parents to go as early as possible, so we can get some seats in the front row of the old Changlimithang Stadium, and then if lucky get a or two chances to see my king face to face when he visit the crowd. Because, we hardly get any chance to see him in person, if not for November 11th. One cannot afford to miss the day and at the same time who would want to miss it any ways? For, there was no TV to broadcast live and also to rebroadcast, as they do today. In a way it was like, watch live and live in the present.
For my late mother it was like Thimphu Tshechu and Thruebap hangover for the past one and a half month, except she would reap smile often this time, for she knows her siblings would die to see their king. And she would take the day very seriously, so her ritual of getting up early, cooking and chores begins before the dawn. Packing lunch in a huge bangchung enough for six, after getting herself dressed in a beautiful kira then she would wake us up. Waking up was so easy, although in those days November would be as cold as January with ice and frost all over. If there was a dripping from pipelines, then it was sure you will have beautiful icicles the next morning. I still remember how I with my brothers and sister used to make ice creams. We just had to fill 1/3 of a cup with water, add some sugar, dip in a small spoon and then place them on the roof top in the night. By next morning we would have our ice creams ready.
After everything was set and done, waiting for taxi from Olakha to Changlimathang Stadium was quite a ritual and fun to recall at the same time. If we miss a taxi then we would have to wait at least 30-40 minutes before another taxi shows up. If not we should either walk to Lungtenphu or go down to Simtokha mani dungkhor to get a taxi. And in those days taxis were all maruti vans and a few mahindara jeeps. However, on that day we were lucky, my mother knew a taxi driver who lived somewhere in Simtokha and she had it booked a day before. He used to own an old but one and only green ambassador taxi in Thimphu, may be in the whole country. Such a proud taxi owner he was and we would love to commute in his taxi too.
Sitting in the front row in the sea of people was so much fun, with lub dup growing stronger every now and then, when I hear people sitting adjacent to me saying, “Oh, King is coming.” I would stand so promptly and stretch my tiny neck to confirm if it was really my king coming. But no, “Such a liar,” I would get angry however, my homemade ice creams would take me into another world and forget the man next to me.
Finally, my mother whispers into my ears, “There comes our king.” “Wow!” I would go wow, and I still remember the happiness it would give me, when I see him walk past the gate and onto the podium. I would admire everything about him, his speech, his personality, his love for the nation and the people and his concern for the future of our nation. My father would tell us, “Our King is saying, you all are the future of the nation, so you should try and study hard.” I wasn’t in school as yet, still I would be inspired by his speech and so much driven to study hard. Such was the power of his speech and my king really meant it. With the onset of the day’s program I remember, how I would shout at the top of my voice and throw my hands so proudly into the air, “Gaylo, Gaylo, Gaylo” with all the spectators. I found that moment really touching. Even today I feel a little emotional when I hear, “Gaylo, Gaylo, Gaylo.” I don’t know why, may be because it takes me back to that little boy me, shouting in the stadium longing to see my king.
Like the sun that must set, for us the celebration would be over with opening of our huge bangchung for lunch, sitting under the willow trees. People would sit in circles nearby with their own packaged lunch. The now archery range was once our lunch ground. It would be like lunching on Thimphu Tshechu for the second time.
So many years have passed since then, and so many things have changed. Yet, one thing for sure has remained the same, “The way my king used to inspire me.” And I must tell you my king, since the time I was a little boy I have tried my best to work hard, so I can be someone in my life serving the nation. Sadly, I have failed so many times and been through a lot in my life, no matter how much I have tired. Today, I am neither a doctor, nor an engineer, not even a civil servant. But my king, I am happy working in a very small private company. I am happier for I could afford three meals a day and if I am left with a little bit more than I need, then I share with the needy ones. Thank you for giving me free education, because I have learnt all these in schools. I and my family are less sick today, thank you for free medical services. As I was typing this, I ran into late night and still continued as if in the sunlight, thank you for everything my king.
Words fall short to say thank you, so in my small way to say it in action, I am doing books collection drive for the students in the far flung villages and also for all the enthusiast readers across the country. For, I personally believe reading books opens one’s mind and it impacts the way one perceives things in and around her or him, which is more important than anything else. Accordingly she or he acts. It is my sincere prayer that after reading books, folks will develop their mind set in a way that whatever she or he does will benefit the society, nation and eventually the whole world.
My King, on this special day, as the nation celebrates your birthday, I want to wish you a very happy 60th birthday to you. May you live a hundred years and may happiness continue to prevail in our country and throughout the world.
A warm Tashi Delek to you, my beloved fourth king.
|A black and white photograph of fourth king when he was a young boy.|
Pic courtesy Facebook and Google