I have learned to live within my income, so did my family. We do not really yearn for things that lies beyond our reach. So, we have more time than our rich neighbours. Perhaps ‘time’ may be the only obsession where we are richer than most of the people around us. I often spend my leisure cherishing my experiences and finding a place to pen it down.
Today, as I sat down to write another piece from my past, I feel happy and satisfied for having served in various remote places within my country. I have worked with people who, even at their 60s had never experienced car-ride, never saw a truck and many more. On several occasions, I enjoyed a privilege to occupy the central position offered by them. Sometimes, they gave me more than what I deserve and made me feel more popular than what I was. In reality, it was only like being the tallest among seven dwarfs but their genuine feeling of warmth was something special that I always enjoyed. There were occasions where I have to tell them 'I am not Dasho' and request them not to misuse such honorable title.
I do not know how fair I had been to reciprocate their kind gestures. As far as I remember, I have never been ungrateful to anyone. We always shared harmonious relationship and our partings had always been painful.
However, my tenure for more than three years in Borangshing-Yowong in Nganglam under Samdrup Jongkhar district in eastern Bhutan was slightly a different one.
In our villages, a rumour of Khekpa is feared very much. It is believed that Khekpa abduct humans, behead them and bury their heads under the foundation of important structures and hydro-power constructions. Khekpa is is nothing but head-hunter. I also grew up fearing Khekpa back in my own village. Therefore, whatever the cost, I would never become one but, by the time I knew I was already Khekpa in Nganglam. The entire village was convinced that I was operating Khekpa group. Among themselves, they addressed me by 'khekpa Lopon'. How disgusting! I do not blame every innocent but who could be the one to start with such awful rumour which was absolutely untrue?
It was an assumption-turned-rumour that found its way so easily and convincingly. I was working there as In-charge for the construction of 132kV Substation & Infrastructure developments. There were more than 200 people working in 25 Acres of land. No doubt, by local standard, it was a mega project and some people must have seen it as power project that requires human heads.
Also, I came to know later that, villagers had several rounds of meetings, observed curfew and were prepared with poisoned arrows. Thank God! the nature of my job kept me engaged all the time and could not visit their village though I had interest to do so. Had I roamed through their village particularly during odd hours, I would have had their poisoned arrows. More fortunately, there was no case of missing person from that village during the entire project duration otherwise, I would have been the first to face their wrath and subsequent consequences.
Today, I am not worried how convincing I am to clarify them but I am still feeling sorry thinking how much they must have feared my presence. Those days at Nganglam, we lived under constant fear of Indian militants who were camped inside our land. I still remember how I felt when one of the militants pushed me with the muzzle of his AK-47 rifle.
My dear fellow countrymen-the people of Dechheling village, if you have feared my presence that time, I am extremely sorry for that awful rumour. I was not Khekpa Lopon as you have taken me. I am not and will never be. In today's day and age, I do not know even Khekpa exists.