Friday, January 29, 2016

The day I got lucky…

was the day I became an older sister to a chubby little boy. It was January 29, 1989. Today, I want to let my brother know how lucky I am to be his sister, to have shared the same womb.

I don’t remember the early years of holding him in my arms. I just remember him following me everywhere around in the house and outside in the playground. Then we were going to school and I was this big little sister who used to protect him from all the bullies at school. Mother used to dress us in similar clothes. It would mean passing on my clothes to him as I outgrew it. 

Soon after I hit the teen years, I was away to a boarding school. We were not able to spend much time together except on the school holidays. Letters were a big part of our communication in the absence of telephone and internet those days. Sick from homesickness, I used to look forward to his adorable letters every weekend.

Though we were not able to spend a lot of our growing up years together, the years took its toll on us, in a beautiful way. His kindness and generosity appalls me. Even as a young child of 8 years old, he would be so kind to the strangers and people around him. If we had guests at home, he’d be the one to be the most courteous of all and never failed to make people around him comfortable. 
I still remember how he was overjoyed when he was gifted a guitar as a small boy. He took to his guitar lesson so well that soon he used to play and entertain guests at home during the cold winter days. He grew up to become a fine young man.

Last winter, a particular old neighbor of ours, Babai (Grandpa) who is in his late 80s fondly remembers of him. He asked me where is that ‘little boy’? Brother never forgot to take the old man sweets and gifts whenever he visited home.  

His circle of friends ranges from the cow herder back in the village, from small kids to old people like Babai and Amai. It astounds me to know the size of his heart. Wherever he goes, he leaves every piece of his heart and yet completes himself. I’m sure that trait must have passed on from mother, who has a big heart herself. 

His love for dogs is so infectious. He brought home a month old black apsoo dog the previous summer and named her Chelsea, declaring his love for his favorite football club. I’ve never been a dog person before. But soon the fondness crept into me and I started to love Chelsea dearly. 

My mother who can never stand the sight of a dog before also started to love her. Now Chelsea is the baby and the heart of the house. She will take the meal if fed by my mother only. Sometimes, I look at Chelsea’s pictures and it hurts me so much from missing her. It amazes me the love he showed us to embrace upon before he left for his studies.  

To Adeep : Happy Birthday to you, my dearest brother. May you be blessed with all the amazing things in life. Now that you are big guy, I’m confident that you will choose to live well like never before. I’m sure that you will never cease to amaze us with your kindness and generosity. We are so proud of you. 

I don't remember our exact age here, but this was just before I was enrolled in school.

I couldn't help but post this photograph of ours here, this being the favorite of mine. No matter how old you grow and drift apart, you will always remain this cute little chubby brother of mine. I may not have said it often, you're the greatest gift from our parents to me. Thank you for being my brother. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Book Review // Chronicle of a Love Foretold

Monu Tamang’s Chronicle of a Love Foretold published in December, 2015 is a young adult fiction based in Raichur, Karnataka, India.

It’s the story of the Bhutanese students in India, their initial struggle to blend in with the locals in the south and how they unite as one when necessary. The book is slim and an easy read but packed with themes of love, loss, betrayal, forgiveness and uncertainty of life. 

It definitely takes you back to your college days when life was all about experimenting and trying to fit in and discovering yourself in that process, making you a better person or worse for that matter. It makes you yearn for your younger days when you were experiencing love for the first time ever, in your life.

Kinga Lhendup is a young Physiotherapist at Paro hospital. At the outset, he leads a dreamy life; working at the hospital during the day, reading and writing at night or drinking whiskey. And jogging in the morning or tending to his beautiful flower garden. It’s a completely fulfilling life. Yet, deep inside, he is a broken man. Sleeping pills are the only antidote to his insomniac nights.

Monu takes us to the college days where we discover that a guy and a girl meets, likes each other and falls in love but…but there is a third person. Somebody who loves the girl and that’s when the matters get complex and also that’s when the charm unfolds.

Kinga Lhendup is on a scholarship to study Physiotherapy in a college in India. As a young Bhutanese, fresh out of high school, he has a whole life laid before him like a map to explore. Starting from experimenting to drink and smoke, flirting with girls and playing pranks on his lecturers, Kinga is out on an adventurous roller-coaster life. Until he meets Namsa Lhazin, the girl who sweeps him off his feet.

The book sends a strong social message of the difficulties faced by a child born out of wedlock and how that impacts the mindset of the child as he/she grows up. It also gives an insight into the life of a medical student. In that process, we also learn something about the medical terminologies which helps you understand how important your health is.  

Monu has emerged a contemporary writer and has definitely paved a way for other inspiring writers. He makes you feel ‘hey I can also write a book,’ which is so inspiring! If you have a story to tell, write it. It’s as simple as that.

It’s astounding that 30 copies of this book sold in two straight days soon after its publication at DSB Enterprise, a local bookstore in Thimphu. And word has it that he already ran out of his first printed copies. Such a huge feat in itself.   

While the story is light and can be completed in two sitting, there are certain disappointments. For one, it lacks character development. We never know how beautiful Namsa Lhazin is or how good looking Kinga Lhendup is? Beautiful and handsome as to how? The reader cannot imagine the eyes and the nose of the characters. Thus, giving a full stop to the reader’s imagination of the characters. I couldn’t bring myself to fall in love with the characters, no matter how hard I tried. 

When Namsa is first introduced, she is wearing a black shrug and a frock. What a combo! The writer definitely lacks sense of fashion. A shrug is a cropped, cardigan-like garment with short or long sleeves, worn over a vest or tank top or over a dress. Isolating shrug as a piece of cloth stops the reader from further imagination of Namsa. It doesn’t make you feel invested in the life of the characters, which is so critical in a story.

A light influence of Haruki Muarkami is distinct in the book. The love making scene when its pouring heavy outside is one that is replicated from Murakami’s Norwegain Wood, I reckon.
Gaurapa’s road to recovery is something which we can resonate from the film Munna Bhai MBBS. These are a few examples of an influence from the books and film which I felt had the author influenced, which of course is very natural and forgiving.

However, it saddens me that the story doesn’t live with you, long after finishing it and doesn't make you think about it for days on end. After finishing the book, it doesn’t make you hug it because it stops you from investing in the book emotionally.  

Nonetheless, this is a good start. Monu definitely left me craving for more of such stories. Stories which are distinct in Bhutanese and close to our hearts, stories which would make us hug the book at the end. We look forward to reading more of your stories. Way to go Monu!     

And yes, the design and cover layout is of international standard. Its just so convenient and perfect for a light travel read. 

P.S : I apologise for the honest and brutal review which is done in good faith of course as an ardent reader and a well wisher. I hope the author will take it positively and come better like a phoenix rising from the ash in his next project. 


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