Setting aside all my work, I am falling for this article not because it’s more important than the others but may be because what I have to say here might as well fill in the hearts of a significant proportion of exiled Bhutanese.
As the leaves start falling down and the trees start looking naked; drizzles of chilling rains start making their way to the ground; days become shorter and shorter, nights prolong; something in my heart is saying the world isn’t the same anymore. This time of year is supposed to be warm and sunny, loud and fun. Instead, everyone seems to be busy with their usual chores. There’s no sign of energy and laughter. The world around me seems rather cold and passive. And what an awful chronological disorder: Dashain actually is nearing us – and to many people’s heartache, nothing seems to suggest so.
Not so long ago, Dashain used to be the most anticipated day of any year. Not only for its newness and creativity, but something even more substantive: its ability to bring families back together, happiness on the face of so many (and I should mention, hardships to volumes). Shopping, traveling, getting-together-dinners, just to name a few, used to be very symbolic. Kites for the young, dice and cards for adults, shopping for girls and excitement for everyone…these were not just a mere display of happiness but happiness itself.
But for so many of us who have come so far from our home, those memories are a common source of frustration. Sadly, Dashain here doesn’t come in our doors and windows, not in the streets, and frustratingly enough, not even in our hearts and minds! It only comes on a wall calendar. Some cannot miss their jobs or schools (I actually have a midterm exam on the day). Many do not feel the same level of excitement they used to even if they have necessary time and resources. Some lucky ones do try to make the most of their time, despite not so friendly environment.
If Dashain is supposed to be a unique day when everyone puts aside their daily chores, leaves behind their strains and fatigues and comes out with open heart and mind to celebrate the victory of the good against the evil, may be October 24, 2012 is just another Wednesday. If Dashain is a synonym for victory and joy, the upcoming one no longer resembles the same level of enthusiasm. Here in a foreign land, we are bound by the conditions set by our schools and employers and can hardly deviate from them. Unfortunately, there is not much we can do about this situation except that it only begs the question of the importance of establishing a coalition that can best represent all exiled Bhutanese and can voice our cultural concerns to our respective governments.
So this year’s Dashain is going to be rather hollow – as like the last four years’ have been. After all, what a Dashain without shuffling a deck of cards with friends and family? Without coming all together for a few days of charms and cheers? Without seeing distant relatives that have been out of sight for so long? And most importantly, without accepting blessings from wise old people that matter to us? For all who are looking forward to the day: Happy Dashain! For many others, and me it’s just another Wednesday.