To many of you, this is just a history, but for the ones who lived it, it was a nightmare. I can still remember when I was in in Dichilling, Nyamgal when my father received a telegram saying, “matter urgent come soon.” He rushed to Gola, Sibsoo, to find my brother, who had fled Bhutan and was living in India. Dechilling is a remote village. It is so remote that I didn’t even see a bicycle, and the people were so poor that they lived on frogs and oranges. It also holds so much of my fond childhood memories. My parents were in charge of the dispensary (health post). It was there that I first learned that we were designated ngolops (terrorists) in overheard conversations amongst my few father’s friends who subsequently boycotted us when my father didn’t return. My father left only to return after eight months and was arrested. He spent eighteen months in Samdrup Jongkhar jail and was released. We left Bhutan after a week or so.
I was in fifth grade when all this happened. And my life changed. A big guy slapped me so hard one day because I was a Nepali: my first taste of discrimination. After fifth grade, I packed my bags and my brother—he had returned to us—helped me relocate to Nyamgal for higher education. An eleven-hour walk from Dichilling. This was were I came face to face with racism—in a institute of higher learning. I spent only a month there when I was called one day to the headmaster’s office and was asked to leave the school. No explanation was given.
After I left, I went to Daranga, India near Samdrup Jongkhar to continue my education. My father was imprisoned at the jail in Samdrup Jongkhar. We could not visit him as was the rules. I clearly remember a day when we went (brother and mum) to a river near the jail, shouting each other names and nicknames so that he would hear us. I don’t think he ever did.
The day he was released, I went to see him. He looked well and had a long beard. I was so happy. We went to meet our mother in Deothang where she was transferred and after a week left Bhutan.
After eighteen years in camp and now working with refugees in finding them jobs in the United States, I am still searching for the meaning of my life. And in my search, I have made Facebook friends from Bhutan. I befriended them not to question or seek explanation but to understand them better and hope to find friendship and acceptance and recover what was lost and to forgive and forget.
Jul 4 2012 - 3:28am