It was a weary climb uphill to my hamlet. The path led through scrubs of thorny boughs overhanging undulating route that abutted against barley field on both sides with copiously grown red crowns nearing harvest. The scorching sun tanned me brick red as I walked staggering forth perspiring all the while, when I heard an abrupt commotion in the field. I could hear women wailing and chanting of Mantra that swept through barleys right to me. Having my inquisition tickled and to unearth the bizarre situation, I swerved through the barbed wire fence fighting my way through barleys impeding my way and straight ahead headed for the source of commotion. I descended down a bit taking a detour around a stupa sending curls of colloidal smokes that faded beyond the horizon.
From a distance of score meters or so I could see group of folks stampeding toward the scene and some flocked around a woman, trying to allay her pain who lay there whimpering and wriggling like an earthworm in a scorching sunlight. I jostled my way through, flicking my dark hair behind my ear and zeroing my sight on the poor lady dusted by the earth she rolled upon. Oh! Isn’t she my mother? Her countenance, she looks like her, yes! She was my mother. My father had slipped his fumbling arms around her neck gently stroking her gazing at the crowd and to my mother out of confusion. Brox, our dog was sitting on his haunches, barking in the void facing away from the crowd. They were guarding the field in a temporarily constructed shed.
Terrified, I squatted near my parents gasping air hard, “what happened to her, dad”, I asked my weepy father, stiff wrinkles on his forehead faltering as he breathed hard drawing air that rumbled through his nose.
“I think spirit has gotten inside her, it will be fine. We have summoned saint from the monastery, he would be on his way”.
My mother moaned, and giving us all a surprise glance she asked, “ Could I get a cup of tea, please? I am really thirsty for I haven’t drunken a sip of it in ages, please, please”, she pleaded now and then. My father drew thermos flask from the basket, took out a cup from his *hemchu, wiped it clean with his sleeves and poured tea in it and offered to her who gulped hungrily through her gullet. I think she took four.
Then, she began, “I feel immensely solaced to be finally at home and having my thirst quenched, it makes me euphoric. Where are my children? I want to meet and hug them; it’s been almost a year since I last saw them”. The boisterous crowds were whispering, “it’s the spirit of my grandma who succumbed to prolonged ailment of malignant gastric cancer at Thimphu JDWNR Hospital in 2008”.
My father’s calloused palm clutched my mom as she (the spirit) spoke, “I detest the supervisor who lets us toil hard. In the morning he takes us atop to three-peaked mountains ( Ri sum tse ) and makes us descend down to the confluence of three rivers (Chu sum Dhue) in the evening. The iron boot we are provided with wears off in a single day. Neither are we bestowed with food nor with a drop of water. The wife of my son maltreats my daughter Ngawang who I left with them after my demise. I saw her beat and push my daughter with unbearable tantrums that could deafen ones’ ear. When I stood infront of your door, you all ignored my presence and did not respond to me when all I wanted to know was to assure you all were happy”.
My grand ma’s sister who was amongst the crowd asked my mom (the spirit), “Do you meet our brother in law, your husband in the world you live in?” My grandma’s husband died a year in his senile age before my granny passed away. “No, he was a pious man while on earth. He must have been born somewhere unlike us who by virtue of sin commission is left astray to find our own route suffering all the while. Ask them to come here, my friends are watching me”, my granny pleaded pointing her index finger, to the utter amazement of the crowd who stood quizzically puzzled.
I learnt that our deity who resides in everyone’s house do not allow alien spirits beyond the threshold of the house where they didn’t belong, that’s why the other spirits were standing outside in a spot where my granny was pointing her index finger .
“ I know I am dead and with the weight of sin clung on to me, I cannot find my way out than to undergo atonement. While on earth, you have to earn good merits, help those destitute vagrants who extend their arms on streets, love animals and all sentient beings. Life is but one big test, a test to check your honesty, altruism, philanthropy and the good in you. I have to go now, take good care of my children”.
Soon as she finished saying it, my mom gave a shriek of pain, muted for half a minute and resurrected into herself.
Glaring at the crowd bearing shocking visage, she was like, “why are you looking at me? Has anything happened to me?” she rose up, wiped clean the dust from her dress by few gentle taps and headed home like a small kid, without even looking back for once.
This is a true story narrated to me by my fiancé who after repeated petition decided to get rid of my pestering queries by telling me those tales. To preserve the veracity of the tale, I have written the story putting myself in her boot. The story changed my life; I know now what is there in those worlds after one passes away. If you hear faint chime of bells emanating out of my house and alight quaint monkish attire I wear, don’t get surprised...I have gotten into praying….
3rd of September, 2012