How a ‘Drayang girl’ supports her son, parents and siblings

Not many people love Tuesdays. It’s officially a dry day, which means most bars, discos and entertainment centres are closed, and the weekend is three days away.

But for Kelzang (name changed), Tuesday is the day she looks forward to. Working as a performer in a Drayang, a song and dance bar, Kelzang gets her day off on Tuesday.

There is too much to do on a single day – cleaning, washing, visiting relatives and shopping. The best part is spending time with her 12-year-old son and her aging mother.

Nine years ago, Kelzang left her village in Trashigang and came to Thimphu with her husband in search of a future. She was 18 and illiterate.

She divorced when her youngest son was two and life literally came to a halt. She was alone in the capital city and no one was willing to help her. Then she landed a job in a drayang.

“Most of the time my mother and son are asleep when I get home,” says Kelzang. Her works starts at 5 pm and ends by 11-12 pm.

“Despite the social ills related to the profession, this is the only job I can do,” she says. The job is difficult because of the odd working hours and Kelzang says there are other challenges like sexual harassment from customers.

The salary is inadequate but Kelzang has managed to support her son and her parents and siblings too. She is proud of her elder son who recently graduated from university. Her son is proud of her too. “I am glad to born as her son,” says Lopzang. “Despite the difficulty, it was her support that enabled me to complete my studies.”

Her youngest son, Penjor is now 12 and studies in schools in Thimphu. “I can look after Angay (grandma) and myself, as mother is busy all the time. It is not always necessary for parent to guide us,” he said.

Penjor believes that a lot can be achieved with positive thoughts. He is also proud of his mother. “I really miss her company, but I can understand her situation. Whatever she is doing is for us,” Penjor said.

He helps his mother with the household chores and is not affected by his mother’s profession or working at odd hours. “Sometimes, my friends and teachers talk about my mother’s job, but I just ignore it,” he said. “At least I respect her job.”

Kelzang’s neighbours appreciate what she is doing. One of them said, “She weaves to supplement her income during the day, she manages her life fruitfully”.

For now, Kelzang has no plans to leave her job. Her only concern is her son’s education. She wants to see him become successful in life.

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