Adriano sat on a bench and stared mesmerised towards the confluence of river Mo chuu and Pho chuu. The distant view of the Punakha Dzong, built by Zhapdrung Ngawang Namgyal, sitting in the lap of a mountain shaped like an elephant hump added to it’s beauty. It took away his exhaustion from the last one day’s trip. As the male river Pho chuu embraced with eternal love Mo chuu, a female river, the occurrences of the past played through his mind.
He was grateful to his forefathers since, they have preserved the manuscript well. Being a student of modern history he felt lucky to have got it in his heirloom. More so because nobody before him, in his previous six generations found it worth a look. “Perks of being an academician in a business family,” he had beamed in excitement after getting hold of the untampered masterpiece. After completion of his own research at the place, on a missing piece, he was determined to publish this work by giving due acknowledgement to its writer.
However, his determination has started to shake after visiting the place and its culture. Its been more than twenty four hours he has landed in Bhutan. Since, then the occurences of the past and his present experiences are flipping in his mind like a slideshow. Figo Acosta, great grandfather to his great great grandfather, a 17th century Portuguese traveller had witnessed the last days of the great Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal’s rule, and his next two generations.
“His account of his travel, bears so much relevance in present day,” wondered Adriano.
Bhutan is known for pioneering the concept of gross national happiness. Only if the people of Bhutan knew what sacrifices were made in history to restore peace and happiness in the country. How could they know? Figo Acosta’s work had remained unpublished, since, soon after he returned to Portugal he passed away. Later generations didn’t make an effort to publish his work, and comfortably passed the manuscript to their descendents, and as luck would have it, it landed in the hands of Adriano.
Since, the time he had landed in Paro, he has been accompanied by Mr. Pemba, his driver and guide. A middle aged petite man, who neatly wore his Gho, and a warm smile on his face.
Adriano’r trip from Paro to Punakha, earlier that day, had so many things to offer. He had enjoyed the surrounding majestic views of the hills and it’s edges adorned by colorful prayer flags. His trip was also filled with different frequent queries put by him.
“So Mr. Pemba, it seems there are no traffic lights in your city.”
“We have traffic signals, and good street lights. We don’t face any difficulty,” Mr. Pemba had replied with a wide grin.
Adriano had observed, their calm nature and their traditional values of respect to their King and deity are very deep rooted. He had seen people on the streets busy with their work with an air of content on their faces and proudly and comfortably adorning their traditional wear, men Gho and women Kira. He was astonished to find that Mr. Pemba and a few others in front of them had stopped their cars, when the royal convoy was passing. Mr. Pemba had also taken off his hat. On being asked why he did so, he had replied with reverence in his voice, “It’s a decorum we citizens maintain when anyone from the royal family passes by or whenever we enter a Dzong.”
On arriving at Punakha he had requested Mr. Pemba to make a stop outside this spot which he had longed to visit after going through the manuscript.
As Adriano sat there, all the characters from the history came alive around him,as the sun started to set behind the distant Dzong.
“Look at the fishes Ugyen, sometimes they dive deep to get food, and sometimes they come up in air to breathe. This teaches us how to deal with life. Sometimes you have to push yourself to extremes to do the right things, to survive”, Ugyen recalled what his grandfather had taught him, sitting on the bank of river Mo chuu & Pho chuu.
He adored the distant Dzong constructed by his Grandfather. He missed him a lot. Its been two years he has passed away, leaving the country under the rule of his son, Dechen Namgyal. He would often come with his grandfather to this spot. This is the only place he could find some solace, other than meditating in front of Budhha idol at the Dzong.
The Zhabdrung would say, “We are Buddhist. Buddhism teaches us inner peace. But peace has also a price to pay. You may have to fight sometimes to bring peace.”
But he never knew he will have to annihilate his own. In spite of being extremely resilient and unshakeable he could not hold his eyes from getting moistened, as he saw his consanguineous blood dripping from the dagger held by him. The guilt of patricide for the sake of his own country and people would soon fade away though, with the life path he has chosen.
His chariot and men waited to take him to a distance place as ordered by him. He had gained a strong mutual trust amongst his men unlike his father. They would say his traits resembled that of his grandfather. It was them who stood by him, when he took this extreme step.
Now, it was time for him to leave. He threw the dagger at the confluence of Mo chuu and Pho chuu and watched as the pristine water engulfed the red blood and carried away in its flow the dagger. He then left with his men to a distant land.
The next day, Adriano made a trip to the Dzong, the local Library preserving old scriptures of Bhutan and the Museum in Punakha. To his surprise, there was no mention of any desendents of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. As if they have disappeared in history.
With Mr. Pemba’s help he met some of the local historians. They too, seemed unaware of Dechen and Ugyen Namgyal.
As his return flight took off from Paro, he pondered over his trip. He took out the copy of the manuscript and went once again through a part of it-
……No one knew who had slit Dechen Namgyal’s throat when he was in deep sleep. He had made quite a lot of enemies in his own country as well as neighbouring countries, by his whimsical ways. He had allied with the Europeans to cause disturbance in Tibet and in turn disturbed the peace of his own country. People called him a “weak ruler”. It was his son Ugyen Namgyal, to whom the country men looked upto in times of distress, eventhough he was just eighteen years old. His virtues resembled his Grandfather’s.
Ugyen could bring his country’s peace back, which under the rule of Dechen had become distracted from the path of Buddhism. They were losing faith in the king and their country’s tradition.
But after the mysterious murder of Dechen Namgyal, Ugyen left for somewhere unknown. People say he has become a monk….
The missing piece in Figo Acosta’s manuscript was unveiling itself in front of him. How and by whom Dechen got murdered, he could sense it.
“The biggest cover up in the history may be,” he thought. “So much to preserve peace and happiness of a country!”
It haunted him to think whether it would be just to publish the manuscript. He comprehended, “May be some truths are better left unspoken.”
Zhabdrung- title used when referring to or addressing great Lamas of Tibet.
Dzong- A religious and Administrative centre built like a fortress.
Gho- A knee length robe tied at the waist with a belt called Kera. A traditional national wear for men in Bhutan.
Kira- ankle-length dress which is wrapped and folded around the body. A traditional national wear for women in Bhutan.
Note: The plot and all the characters are fictitious, except the historical figure Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal was the unifier of Bhutan as a nation state. In the 1630s he also sought to create a distinct Bhutanese cultural identity separate from Tibet. The Punakha Dzong was built under his rule. After his death the power was passed to the local governors, however, his death was kept a secret for 54 years. [Source- Wikipedia]
This is an entry for the event #Exotic, a Feathers Club Exclusive event.
We appreciate your rating this story out of 10 in the comments.
Check out event guidelines here: https://artoonsinn.com/exotic-feathers-club-exclusive-artale-greenhorns-1/
Check out Sanchari’s space here: https://artoonsinn.com/author/sanchari-banerjee/
Photo by Sanchari Banerjee