The BNS editorial team expresses the heart felt condolence to Pokhrel family on this 13th day of his funeral rites. May his soul rest in eternal peace and his writing to exile media remembered for many more years.
Born on 10th of May 1967 to a farm family in Lower Bockray, Tshirang Bhutan, Late Omnath Pokhrel was the third son born to Badrinath and Sabitra Pokhrels. Having been born in a big farm family, he was fortunate to join schooling at Damphu Junior High School from his tender age. A rare child should have such inborn qualities, was seen in him by everyone from early. He was said to be the talk of the village. His dealings and uncommon manners had subdued the attention of his teachers, neighbors and peers.
After completing his lower secondary education from his home town school, he was placed by the Ministry of Education at the thenYanchanphug Central School (YCS), a very renowned school in the capital, Thimphu for his secondary education. He was then, sent to Sherubse College, in eastern Bhutan for his pre-university degree. He failed to stand second in any of the levels. This merited him government sponsored scholarship to pursue his University degree from Hindu College, in New Delhi.He stood fourth in the National Civil Service Examination in 1990 and went to Zhemgang for his National Service. Due to an abrupt political situation Omnath’s dreams shattered. The unfair No Objection Certificate (NOC) system introduced by the government stood as a wall between him and his aspirations. That he was deprived of the document due to the implicated involvement of his sibling is still a mystery to be solved. Omnath’s dreams of serving his nation and materializing his dreams became a distant reality. His mates got employed but he was not. This was the beginning of his decline. However, he didn’t give up hope, for hope is the rope that swings life through.
He began his career with private sectors. Later he tried his luck in the field of teaching. Though he had joined with a great reluctance he outshone in this profession and churned out hundreds of smart students. He was declared the best teacher by the district administrator of Wangduephodrang. Believe it or not, his ex-students are a testimony to this.
Apart from his professional career, he was an avid reader too, and, that enabled him to pen dozens of contemporary short stories. His mastery of vocabulary was enviable. He often solved crossword puzzle in minutes. He often travelled in Bhutan, India and Nepal to bring out the common threads that bound the people of South Asia. His stories are cantered around the theme of injustice, inequality and the need to build a more just and equitable system. Often taking a fictional style Om’s characters are the same typical South Asians that are the victims of poverty, injustice and political suppression. Whether it is Pagal Karma wiping his Dasho’s car or intelligent Barun’s expulsion from the country; the coincidence shown in Consanguinity in Jeopardy, Omnath wove black humour with suspense and entertained as well as informed his readers fully.
Omanth was a victim of a closed system. Fearing repression he even created U Sharma, Babesa, Thimphu Bhutan to launch some of his work. A dozen or so of his work were published in Bhutaneseliterature.com, one of the much browsed literary websites run by literary persons from outside and inside Bhutan.
Om’s acquaintances know well that he was a writer in the making. Definitely he didn’t earn a Booker or Pulitzer, but he had the potentials. Many of works are still awaiting publicity.
Fate would have it Om could not complete his writing career. As most writers are he had a certain sense of idiosyncrasy. Despite all the efforts of his family members he chose to tread a path that reached him to a dead end. We received the news of his sudden, sad demise on 1 November 2012. He left us in deep sorrow without letting any of his relatives; friends and readers know that his tenure to remain amidst us was nearing. He heeded his Maker’s choice and surrendered to cruel fate. His physical absence has caused irreparable loss to his family and to all who that know him.
Here is a first hand memorial written by one of his closest cousins, who remained very close to him in all his life and has felt his inner fill in.
Adieu my Brother Om
Welcome to Hotel California, It’s such a lovely place; it’s such a lovely place… I remember you in the lines. I remember you in your own fine lines that you created and wanted to publish someday. I remember you in the innumerable jokes you used to crack. I remember you in the fun we used to have. I remember you in the debate we used to argue; I remember you in the humanity you served. I remember you in my home with my children and family. When I drive my daughter back from her Day Care Center, she still points to your place (though it was short lived) and tells me ‘baba lets go to Om Bada’s house, he lives over there”. I remember you amidst circle of friends. I remember you in our difficult times and in our joyful moments. I remember you in your intelligence; (and sometimes of your stubbornness). I remember you in the lanes you treaded and the bars you have combed. I remember you for all that you lived thus far. You drank your life to the lees and are no more any more, my brother.
Perhaps you have influenced my life more than any other person on earth-more than my teachers, parents and friends. You added colors to my life and existence. You helped me shape my life from my childhood. You were for me more than a brother- a true friend. At times you were bad to yourselves but always good to me. I am already judging you. I am not here to judge you my brother. Almighty as all of us will be.
When I walk back the memory first flash that the memory is of your energetic childhood. Playing rug-balls in that undulated village pitch you used to play and joke. As we walk back from school you and other seniors would speak in English. It was then considered elite to speak English. At first it was all Greek. But you left that impression on my mind for me it was following your footsteps. Many instances I narrated define your identity; they represent you.
Like me, there might be who would have benefitted more than me form your influence, inspiration and above all your company. You were simply a rare man of our time but gone unnoticed like the flower that flowers in a forest and withers before reaching to anyone’s altar. I am mindful of your struggle to avail education. Born in a big family amidst poverty, yours was not a smooth sailing story of success. I don’t remember you failing in your school and your grades were always first class. You were an epitome of our village, a real role model to emulate for your younger ones. When the rich guys failed and never made it to high school you outshone and went to a boarding school. You were simply the pride of our village, clan and above all your family members.
Being my senior, you brought back experiences and shared with me during vacations. I still remember you drawing a map to guide me reach my high school in 1986 when I had to leave our village. You introduced me to English country music early. You loved to enjoy life.
Your friends report that you always excelled in studies all through and I fully endorse it. Sometimes I wonder that if you had landed up in the right place after attending degree the course of your life would have taken a u-turn. You would not have ended your life untimely and you been placed where you ought to have been placed. For this, I must blame the then prevailing situation in the country. His is fate of course. In this short account I cannot recount your entire anecdote. I cared you my brother more than I cared anybody else. I helped you through several opportunities to survive and to live. Yet, you choose a different path that led you to your dusty end, untimely. Blame destiny-you were born in wrong time.
We shared moments that I will always cherish. I can only say that you were cruel to me for you never fulfilled my dream that I had dreamed for you. You loved me and I loved you. Only that I could not be present to see you turn dust. You lived a rich life I should say but the end was a sorry sight. You have a reason to take a rebirth.
My only prayer will be for you to be reborn as your daughter’s child again. Goodbye my brother, you will remain in my mind and memory at all times”.