December 10, 2009

The tale of a destitute

It was a cold winter evening, everyone wrapped in old blankets sat around the fire, consuming every single heat the wood could produce. It was Zangmo, her ailing mother and her two younger siblings. They were so poor and on top of that the harsh winter could not let Zangmo find something to feed her family. Though just 17, she had to shoulder the entire responsibility of her house, for now her mother had been bed ridden for three weeks. Not to mention about the medicines, her mother could not even get good diet and every single day she was failing. Every groan produced by her ailing mother brought tears in her eyes.

That night she prayed, if only they were well-heeled, if only her mother got alright, if only the winter was over, if only….she went on until her tired eyes closed.

Sometimes she had a little hope, thinking may be one day the sufferings would all come to an end if a man would come and marry her, and look after her family. Although there was no man she knew who would fulfill her dreams, this brought a little comfort to her.

The weather was not going to change and she had to do something because just sitting there and hoping for a miracle to happen wasn’t working at all. So the next day, she prepared a pot of steaming pumpkin porridge for her mother and siblings and set off to find something better to eat for the family. She made her mom promise that she will take care of herself until she returned. Icy wind blew on her face reddening her cheeks and nose, freezing every inch of her weather-beaten body but she moved on.

Hours later she reached a cottage and saw an old woman carrying a bundle of wood on her shoulder and entering the house. She ran towards her and offered to work for her for a day if she would give her some rice in return. The old woman let her in and listened to her story. In the evening she was given three “phitas’ of rice and she returned home. On her way back, she heard a cry as if her mother was calling her. She thought she had imagined it but walked faster. As she neared her house she could see nothing due to smog, but then she heard a cry…a very similar cry of her mother she heard a few minutes ago. She ran towards it and to her fright, she saw her house reduced to rubble and her two siblings lying still, covered in blood, her mother trying to breathe hard. She reached her mother and tried to pull her out from the shackles of wood but could not. Soon her mother breathed last. Zangmo was stunned, she regretted for leaving her family alone, for not being able to rescue her mother, for being at the old woman’s place for a whole day, for not being able to talk to her siblings in their last moment, and she thought, “if only……….”

(Please note that this is a fictitious tale)

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