Sunday, May 8, 2022

Memory Corner, Miza Books

I was at the Memory Corner, Miza Books—the first person to sit here and take a snapshot of the memory of my visit to this beautiful bookstore today. Not an invited guest, but it's by coincidence. 

It's great meeting Chador Wangmo, one of the most celebrated writers of Bhutan and the owner of the bookstore, and her hubby and talking nonstop about books, reading, writing, book business, pursuing one's passion, our families, Bhutanese value system, the purpose of life, and the list goes on. 

"We writers are wired differently," that's what we have concluded at the end of our conversation. That's why we do what we do. And we are what we are.

I first met Chador Wangmo in 2012, if I remember the year correctly, and she is one person who encouraged me to write and publish books then. That time she had already published several children's books and I was not ready to publish a book. 

I am glad that people like Chador Wangmo exists; she makes me feel that there's one more people like me who is wired differently and that I am not alone in this world. And I missed Ngawang Phuntsho, PaSsu, Monu Tamang, Kinzang Tshering, and Ugyen Gyeltshen in our conversation. 

Over a cup of coffee, it's simply amazing to hear her beautiful struggles, her literary endeavors, her imaginations, her aspirations, her exciting new projects, and her undying love for words. I am so excited every time when I come across any individuals who pursue their passion so passionately. They appear to be courageous and genuine, simply doing what makes them happy and empowered everyday. 

We walked around bookshelves, browsing each classification, picking up the books that we read and familiar with, and talking about the books on the shelves. Both of us have read many of the authors on the shelves. I am impressed by the new arrival of books at the bookshop, and I must say that Miza Books has got the best collection of books in town now. 

I have bought two books: 'A Man Called Ove' and 'From Little Tokyo, With Love'. I wish I could buy more, but that's what I could afford now. 

Thank you for your time and tea la, madam Chador and Ghalley sir. 

Best wishes, Miza Books!

Monday, May 2, 2022

Remembering the First Teacher of My Life

Madam Krishna M Tiwari is the first teacher of my life. 

It was in 1993 when I was enrolled at Tingtibi Primary School, a remote school located along the Gelephu-Trongsa highway in Zhemgang district. Madam Krishna, then, was a young lady, at the peak of her beauty, tall, slim, and fair, and just married to her husband. 

I was nine years old then, too big, old to be admitted in class PP. Our family had just moved to Tingtibi after the upsurge of protests in southern Bhutan posed risks to us and our home in Gelephu was demolished. However, due to good fortune, my father got a caretaker’s job at an orange orchard in Tingtibi, and there we built a small hut and called it our ‘new home’. 

That year, with the support from Madam Krishna, my elder sister and I got admission to the school, which has changed my life forever (for the better). Madam Krishna taught me English in class PP. She was a brilliant teacher, with a great passion for impacting her students with knowledge and values. She would look stern but was always taking care of her students. 

More specifically, those days Madam Krishna gave me special attention and care. Maybe because I was an older student, or just maybe she discovered different qualities in me. Soon after, I was offered a double promotion by the school, which means I was promoted to class II directly. 

Soon afterward poverty ensnared our family, as my father’s income was not enough to feed us. Unfortunately, my sister had to drop out of school to work on the farm and support the family. However, my parents continued to send me to school. During those trying times, Madam Krishna was very supportive of me and my family. 

It was in 2013, after 19 years, that I met Madam Krishna in Thimphu. Thanks to a journalist friend of mine who brought us together. I was working as a program officer at the Department of Youth and Sports after graduating from Sherubtse College and Madam Krishna was teaching at Etho Metho Primary School. In the beginning, I didn’t recognize her and she didn't either. One evening, after work, we were walking to our homes, talking about our work, hometowns, families, and education. 

“I studied at Tingtibi School,” I said after she told me that she had taught there. 

“What’s your name?” she asked curiously. 

“Riku Dhan Subba,” I replied. 

“Goodness, you, idiot,” she cried and punched me in the ribs with great force. 

That punch shook off my balance on walking. I felt that I deserved more than that, for not recognizing my teacher. I felt ashamed. After that, she took me to her home. And I was more surprised to discover that she lived in a building just 20 meters away from my apartment. 

Today I am a proud citizen of Bhutan, contributing to my society with my best abilities and knowledge. But without a teacher like Madam Krishna, I would not be where I am now. So there is no other better way to show my gratitude and appreciation to the first teacher of my life—someone who had shown me the better direction of life—than to wish for her today. 

A Happy Teachers’ Day, Madam Krishna. Thank you for being such a great teacher and thank you for everything!