“As you all know, 17th of December is celebrated as the National Day of Bhutan every year. It is a day of utmost importance to Bhutan and her people. 125 years ago on this day, all the people of Bhutan appealed to and agreed unanimously to enthrone Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck as the first hereditary monarch of Bhutan. Therefore, this is the day when Bhutan saw the dawn of glorious reign of the Wangchuck dynasty. On this day, it is a moral duty of every Bhutanese to pledge ourselves… And I wish everybody present here Tashi Delek,” Tenzin stepped down from the podium and sank back into the cushioned sofa especially arranged for him. The other guests were also present and were seated next to him – he was in the middle.
After some time the cultural items began to be announced. “To begin with the auspicious day, we have the Cultural Club members with the Welcome dance. May I invite them to perform,” announced the coordinator.
All the students and the people from the nearby areas who had come for the celebrations were seated around an empty space which was meant for those dancers, in the school playground. The cultural items were performed marked by refreshments and drinks from time to time.
“Now we have a rigsar dance by the class seven students.”
Despite the glaring sun that shone above them, all the spectators were enjoying the day. Some could be seen shielding their heads from the direct heat of sun with their rachus or kabneys, and some with small pieces of cardboard paper. Various entertaining games like blind hitting of tin, musical chair, etc. were conducted in the middle of the cultural items and other programmes.
The celebrations seemed never ending and it got prolonged for a considerable time. By the time it got over with Tashi Lebey, it was around 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The crowd dispersed for lunch before everyone headed home after a very entertaining day. They were hungry by then. Many could be heard saying, “Today we even forgot our lunch due to celebrations.”
“Move faster please, lunch is hungry for us,” a loud laugh followed.
“Here, here, come here. We will eat here.”
The students were having their own share of rushing and pushing as they were trying to get into the line as early as possible lest they would get lunch very late. “Please, don’t get in the middle of the line.”
“We are also hungry. You also understand, right?”
Had it not been for the teacher’s presence there, there was going to be a fight for sure. “Boys don’t fight please. You will get your share. Wait for your turn. Be patient. There is enough lunch,” said the teacher. They seemed to become a little quiet after that. The guests were moving towards the school mess for lunch accompanied by the Principal and other teachers. As Yeshey was trying to calm down the students, Tenzin heard him and looked towards him. He saw him and was struck by some sense of familiarity. He was Yeshey. I didn’t know he was here, he said to himself.
“Excuse me sir, can you do me a favour?” asked Tenzin to the School Principal.
“Yes, sure. You may ask me.”
“Who’s that teacher? I think I know him.”
“Oh! Really? He is Yeshey. He joined the school recently. He is very sincere and always works hard. See, he wouldn’t come with us now. He always guides and advises students and helps them a lot,” responded the Principal.
“Okay, yeah, I know him. We studied together before in the same school. So, can you ask him that I want to see him after lunch sir?”
“Yes, I will inform him. I will tell him.”
The guests had their lunch and dispersed and Tenzin waited for Yeshey. Yeshey, whom Tenzin knew very well how he kept his words, was seen coming. From the way he made his strides, Tenzin could make out that he too was no less eager to meet him though with a bit of hesitation. Despite Yeshey’s knowledge of Tenzin being the Chief Guest, he could not easily approach him for he was a kind of guy who would always hesitate with a sense of respect to converse with persons in the higher positions.
“Hello Yeshey. We are meeting after a very long time. How are you?” asked Tenzin.
“Yes la, after a long time. I am fine la. What about you?” Yeshey responded.
“I am also fine. Come on Yeshey, you need not be that formal. We are still friends. No la please.”
“Yeah, we are still friends but you are …”
“No, Yeshey. Don’t feel like that. Come near. Sit here. We will talk about something else.”
Yeshey slowly shifted near Tenzin and sat there.
“Aye Yeshey, I am very pleased to meet you after a long time. You must be enjoying your life in the school with young learners. How do you find it?”
“Yes. This is all I am worthy of. Yeah, I am happy to be teaching the young minds. They are the source of my hope and inspiration. They give me the force and energy to stay strong and move forward in life,” Yeshey replied.
“It’s nice to hear that. It is not only that they help you. In fact you are doing a great service to them. You are helping to build their life. It is great, man.”
“Yes, you are right. But they also do help me a lot. I am always inspired by the energy and enthusiasm the youngsters possess and work with. They often remind me of my boyhood days – those days we spent together. And I always pray that they don’t meet with the kind of misfortune as I did. I want them to do well and shine in their life,” as he share his experience, Tenzin could feel a sense of melancholy in his voice and his eyes too blinked faster.
“Yeah, it is true, but it’s fine dear. Don’t be upset. I respect and admire the way you faced the challenge in your life. It’s rare. You did it man. I know what you would be like if it were not for that mysterious misfortune. Be happy, you did it very well,” said Tenzin consoled him.
“Thank you, Tenzin for your kind gesture to have called upon me to see you. It was a great pleasure. May I take your leave now? You must be getting late.”
“Hmm…yeah, I need to go. Don’t be sad. Do your job well. It is really great to see you work here. I know you can help them a lot. Let us keep in touch. I am glad I met you today. And again no la please, Yeshey, next time. Okay?”
Yeshey nodded and slowly rose from his seat and made his way to the exit. Tenzin released a sigh and leaned back to the chair. It was almost evening and the sun was about to touch the western mountain. The shadows of objects thrown by it had grown so long by then – many times longer than the real objects. It was late. I should be moving home now, Tenzin said to himself. As he was about to get up from the chair, Wangchuk called him.
“Tenzin, oye Tenzin. Get up man. Get up,” Wangchuk knocks hard on the door. “Come on, we are getting late man. Wake up.”
Wangchuk hears some murmurs. After a moment, Tenzin opens the door – his eyes half opened.
“My God, faster please,” reacts Wangchuk.
“I am sorry man. I was in a good dream. Wait. I would be ready in a few seconds,” says Tenzin still rubbing his eyes.
“Let us go. I am ready now. What is the first period?”
They walk to the class.