Sunday, January 29, 2023

The Tea Girl from Dawakha 2

I located her – my Tea Girl from Dawakha.

She saw me approach her and called out; “Kuzuzangpo la”, with the same beaming smile brightening up her youthful face.

This time she was not selling tea but tending to her sister’s grocery store. This time she did not offer me tea because she obviously remembers from our last tryst that I do not drink tea - particularly not tea with milk.

I asked her; “Where is your tea?”

She replied; “I have it here – do you want to drink?”

I said;  “Yes please.”

She poured me a cup from her Chinese made flask. I began drinking.

An offering of unparalleled value and significance

“So what do you do these days?”

“I help out my sister with her shop here. At other times I help out my mom who runs a store next to our house. My life is just like that.”

My life is just like that” - do I detect a hint of surrender and submission?

We spoke of the reason for her time in Dawakha, number of years she spent there, her age, name of her village etc. We spoke of the humane conditions of Dawakha Open Air Prison - how the atmosphere there bordered on the normal and the regular - nothing like a prison.

Over time, our conversation veered off to other inmates who were there during her time at Dawakha. In particular we spoke of the young willowy dancer of great talent who moved as if she had no bones in her body. We spoke of the successful entrepreneur gone astray, and her remaining 4-5 years still left to serve. Our conversation moved on to another beautiful young girl who bludgeoned her husband to death. And while we did not speak about her, I remembered a lady inmate who renounced her own life to serve time at Dawakha - in order that she may spare her husband’s son from being consigned to a life of imprisonment at such a tender age, even before his life began. A sublime act of compassion and sacrifice.

Not all inmates are criminals - in many cases they are victims of circumstances. But in every single case they are criminals because they had the misfortune of being caught in the act - if they hadn't been caught, they wouldn't be known as criminals. There are tens of thousands who are bigger and more sinful criminals in Bhutan who roam freely - driving Land Cruisers and living in swanky villas - ridding high horses and dispensing morality. Their only virtue is that they are smart enough not to get caught and, even if they are caught, they are powerful enough to hush things up and move about as if they were God’s gift to humanity.

“So, I hope you will now behave yourself and do nothing that will result in having to go back again to Dawakha.”

“No Sir, I will not.”

“Good - hang on there!”

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful read as always. I only only wish we could do something for her and many more. An answer to the question ihave never found.