My childhood has been interesting. Everyone who knew me as a boy has unforgettable stories to share. From the outside they must have found it adventurous. But I have been trying to forget everything because there weren’t many beautiful moments I could cherish. I don’t want to be hateful. I want to be different.
My childhood was kind of a dirty street where only few kind people had walked by and I mean the real kind ones whose kindnesses were compassionate and unconditional.
1997, Paro: I was in junior high school fighting for attention. I would be in trouble every other day. I wasn’t scared of any form of punishment. Life would have been different if I was cute. It could have been forgivable if I was rich, or at least talented. I was miserable in studies, sports, music and everything that could have made life easy in junior school. I was rather into fighting most of the time. I would get beaten often, and if I survived I would have it from the teachers.
But there was one girl who looked at me differently. She was quiet and gentle. She was perhaps a little older than me or a little more matured. She’d told people that I was her adopted bother. I went numb when I heard that, as if I had waited all my life to hear that. It was a culture in 90’s to adopt brothers and sisters but like I said you had to be special to be chosen.
From that day I began to hide from her, and whenever I was going to do anything undesirable I would scan the whole place to make sure she wasn›t around. Soon people knew about this spell that worked on me and started using her name as key to control me.
Perhaps she must be the first girl to whom I spoke softly; I called her Aue Nima. Her name was Nima Chunda. When she called me to seat with her and share her lunch, I would be the quietest boy with all the decency that I didn’t know I had. That summer, I didn’t have money to go home and she had heard that. She took me to her family and gave me three best days of my childhood, until she got enough money to buy me tickets home. I had good food, slept in soft bed, visited her relatives and watched endless movies. She would take me to videocassette shops and make me choose movies. Imagine the joy of getting to watch movies of your choice in 90’s.
She would often send me her lunchbox so that I could taste a better home-cooked food. She would call me by the riverside during the weekends and help me do my laundry. She would send me gifts and goodies. I was new to all these act of kindness; I only saw those happen to other boys in the hostel. She made me feel like anyone in the hostel; wanted and normal. I suddenly began to see the world differently.
To this day I wonder how a small girl of her age had such compassionate heart to care for me, who didn’t even have a cute smile to return. She was the best thing to happen to me in my junior school.
My mother would often ask, “Where is your Aue Nima now, what’s she doing?” and the last time she asked me I told her, “Aue Nima has become a nurse. She is in Thimphu Hospital. We are in touch.” My wife and daughter heard Aue Nima›s story from me more than once and we met several times.
Today, when I could help a random person somewhere I remember Aue Nima, because I know the DNA was passed down from my adopted sister.
Opinion by Passang Tshering
The writer is a Teacher at the Royal Academy in Paro