Having seated in the car for half an hour, playing games on phone; finally, Tshegyel dials Euthra’s number. He called her a few times before but she didn’t answer. He is hurry. He was at the table for breakfast when he received Euthra’s call this morning. He has no money to go and buy something. So, he has been in the car, since Euthra left after parking in front of the restaurant. He cannot follow her inside because of his dress. In addition, he is not sure if she is still inside.
Ringing her again, he keeps the phone down and takes a glimpse of the restaurant, through the window. There is no sign of her. Keeping his phone down, he leans back on the seat and closes eyes, thinking about the yesterday incident. Neither his father nor his mother has time for him, Euthra is all he got. She is everything to him. At the dinner yesterday, his parents called him and asked about the marriage. He called Euthra but her phone was switched off. The next morning, his father woke him up asking about the marriage as Euthra’s parents had not even called them.
Infuriated by this, his father kept him sitting in front of him, till Euthra walked in. Euthra left angrily, after listening to his father’s word for a while. They said nothing after that. Not knowing what to do, he stayed silent not even calling Euthra. Not being able to sleep, he stayed whole night going through his photo gallery in his phone. All photos of Euthra and him. Smiles. Laughers. Parties. She is so beautiful. He was so happy to receive call from her this morning and he thought she was going to tell something about the reason behind her parents staying silent about the marriage, unfortunately, he is here in the car, all by himself, stomach growling for food.
The sudden creak of the door wakes him up from his thoughts. Opening his eyes, he looks at the door and Euthra stands at his door. Lowering the window glass down, he asks, “Are you okay?”
Looking saddened, she stretches her hand and gives him the car key, “Please, can you drive?”
“I don’t have license,” says Tshegyel, getting off the car, taking the key from her hand. As he walks round the car towards the driver’s seat, he finds Euthra’s parents walking out of the restaurant. He ignores them and gets inside the car hurriedly. Then, he asks, “Are they going with us?”
Euhtra says, “Nope.”
Then he takes a glance at the car, parked beside their car, he starts the engine as Euthra’s parents get in that. Driving past the Paro Airport, he looks at her, “Euthra, can you say something?”
Euthra stays silent. What can she say? She is lost. She feels as if the world is revolving around her. Why these things are happening? Her marriage got cancelled. From nowhere, she encounters an old woman. Now, they say she is her mother. Till now, she never knew that she was adopted. At the restaurant, her parents told her starting from how they met a young woman with a newborn child nearby the roadside along the Trongsa-Thimphu, when they went to Trongsa for annual lochoe, 24 years ago. It was somewhere in the Chendebji, below the Pelela. According to them, the woman stopped the car and requested them to take the child with them. So, they thought it was a blessing, as they had no children even after five years of marriage. They took me with them, without even asking about the mother, as the woman said, “I want her to live, please take her.” Then, they never saw her again. Not for last 24 years, but while returning Thimphu this time after lochoe, they found her at the same location where they found her with the child. She stopped the car. Then she said, “I want to meet my daughter once, which you took 24 years ago, before I die.”
My mother didn’t agree to bring her here but my father did. She kept her in my room. Now, she knows why her parents didn’t take her to village for lochoe. They knew that, they might meet the woman and she may take her away.
Back in the restaurant, she cried, “Why didn’t you tell me before?”
My mother replied, “I didn’t want to lose you. I cannot let someone to take you away.”
Closing her eyes, she thinks of how she badly treated the old woman. Am I that cruel? People say I am beautiful, but where is my beauty? These questions bombarding her brain, she sobs, pulling back the water back into the nostrils. Fortunately, her father said, “She is recovering well. We will go back tomorrow and bring her back to Bhutan.”
Now, she wants to go and meet her. Her birth-mother. Her mother. She wants to apologize. She wants to live every moment with her. She wants to be her daughter. She wants to know why she gave her to the present parents? She wants to ask about her father. She wants to meet him.
Tshegyel calls softly, as the gate welcoming commuters to Thimphu City with a huge poster of His Majesty the King hoisted beside it. She has been sleeping for a while. She looks exhausted. Eyes are red. She looks weak. Hair is messy. Looks like something is going on with her. For last few days, she said that she was in the hospital with her Angay. She said not to call her, so he didn’t.
He wants to drop her home, so he has to wake her up now. Slowing down the car, she says, “Euthra, can you hear me?”
Rubbing her eyes, she looks at him, “Where are we?”
“Thimphu. Shall I drop you?”
“Nope, we are going to your house.”
Saying these, she picks up her phone. It flashes with missed calls from his father. Calling him back, she asks, “Where are you?”
He answers into the phone, “At Tshegyel’s house. Where are you?”
Driving for a while, finally, Tshegyel makes a turn and stops in front of his building. She gets out, her body going numb. She feels as if she has lost her senses. Back at the restaurant, her father said, “I am very sorry about your marriage. Let’s go directly to Tshegyel’s house and talk about it with his parents.” That’s why, they are already there.
Locking the car, Tshegyel looks at her and getting closer to her, he holds her hand, “Are you okay? You look sick.”
Faking a smile, she walks into the lobby, supporting her shoulder on his, as the receptionists stand up welcoming them. Standing in front of the lift, as Tshegyel presses the button, her phone rings. It’s Shaycham. Before getting inside the lift, she answers the call. Speaking to her for a while, walking away from the Tshegyel, she walks back to the lift. Looking at her, Tshegyel stays silently. Finally, the lift stops. Walking along the corridor, they walked into his parent’s sitting room. Looking at them entering the room, they smile. Walking gently, she stands beside her father.
Looking at her, Tshegyel’s father says, “I am so sorry for being rude to you yesterday. I didn’t know about your sick Angay.”
“So, we have scheduled the marriage, next week,” says her father, looking up at Euthra.
“Apa, may I ask you something?”
She asks, catching his shoulder, when others look at her.
“What is it?”
“Back in the restaurant, when a monk spoke about the cremation, you walked away immediately from me. When you returned, I asked you, “What was it about?” You said, “It was about an accident.” A few minutes ago, Shaycham called me and said, “Angay is dead. Have you seen her?””
Falling her knees on the floor, she begs, choking with tears, “If she is my mother, she is dead now. How can her daughter marry? Am I that cruel?”
Looking at Tshegyel, she says, “I am sorry. Now, I am no more Euthra. I am a girl dumped by her parents since her birth. Your family deserves better than me.”
Story by: Phurpa Dorji (PJIKKS)
Chapter 8 Tomorrow @9PM