“Dug him up on Tuesday he hardly aged a day, taught them all they ever knew, they never knew so much before, they may never know so much again” Masons Children
May has revealed lurid beauty and as a write this I rush back and forth like Neal Cassady to catch glimpses of the evening cloudscape over Tawang swirling around the crowned peaks and my revered tooth. As the eye penetrates deeper into India the valley tightens like the inner folds of a lotus. It is god’s country if gods or countries actually existed. A million shades of green spruce up the rugged terrain and in the foreground near my hanging laundry sparrows comically dart pecking at seed. The sparrows are a fascinating bird to watch in their rapid flights and floating acrobatics as they rush about darting into classrooms, shops and dancing at the feet of the students. The kids are also comical in their gho and kira boisterously speaking sharshop and laughing. I feel close to them and it’s a more genuine closeness than last year when so much time was spent in the throes of acclimation. I am still adjusting as each day one must adapt to their niche to survive and contribute to the good of the community. The straining light turns the world into a silver song and the dirge of the student’s prayer floats to my ears and the scent of cedar smoke burnt in offering reaches my nostrils. It’s all very natural here except the unnatural repetitive chatter of my brain. But there is space to forgive my shortcomings and space to help others. This is good therapy for the soul and good karma for my next life. Meanwhile prayer flags ripple in the soft breeze sending invisible strands up to the atmosphere. What’s more is that love exists for me here; the love of land the love of students the love of spirit. On my desk sit thirty five portfolios and tonight I will be burning the candle marking essays. Social Service Club was productive as we purged the football grounds, entryway, and the village of trash. About half of the members bust their humps, a quarter of them lollygag, and the remainder do nothing at all. Dawa Dema my sweet and simple captain works hard responding with a hearty “Yes Sir” to my inquiries. In my teachers day card from Pema Tshomo who transferred to Kinney she wrote that she picks up papers at her new school so it’s nice to imagine I am helping change habits. School is busy but going well and I am teaching letter writing and grammar next week leading up to exams. Sometimes the students are naughty but I don’t want to be strict with them yet today I raised my voice imploring them to settle down. They respect me enough to obey my commands but still feel comfortable enough to be themselves which is fine by me. That’s the line a teacher must suss out for classroom management. Meanwhile the gloaming swallows the mountains as nocturnal deities prepare to romp. Mr. Tim prepares to mark essays but before that I will have a bite with Karlos at the shop and maybe a coke and a smile.
“The way Odessa do me I got to move and change my name”
My life in exile becomes more like a life at home with all the benefits and drawbacks of that fact. I am endlessly fascinated by the students and their inner realities and dynamics. They treat each other well for the most part as community at a boarding school is a necessity. Today the ceiling of clouds hangs on the ridges but I can still gaze to the snowy saddles of Tawang peering down the gullet wondering what’s on the other side of those mountains? I woke up tired but a bucket bath revived my senses and a full day of classes engaged me. One must work very hard to stay on top of it here. Chores constitute much of one’s time out of the classroom. For me its gathering and storing water, dishes, laundry, sweeping, preparing meals, and lesson planning. My free time is spent reading, writing, roaming, and entertaining students. It all makes for a busy life in a rural setting and Bhutan comes with challenges but not too much stress in the traditional sense. I rage against internal turmoil which all the while seems quite ridiculous in such a splendid situation. But ones constitution gets exaggerated in the Land of the Thunder Dragon and as one former teacher put it, like a giant mirror reflecting your soul. One thing’s for certain I complain too much and have become co-dependent on Becky’s good humor to see me through. Like a pitcher in the throes of a based loaded jam one must constantly check their nerves and summon the courage to throw a strike. In the U.S.A my nephew is celebrating his fourth birthday as my life proceeds independently in The LOT. Everything that configures my life, my challenges and potential triumphs are the nut inside the shell of each moment. How to crack that nut? But somehow I am still dreaming and don’t quite know how to wake up as this dream has been a long one. Clouds swirl around the trees and mountains and Scooby Doo mist drifts through campus. I feel crispy and strung out like I want to return to civilization after a long campout. But it isn’t time to go yet and there is still so much to see and do but only to refresh my weary eyes and crusty spirit. Oh my kingdom for one solitary hug or a fat juicy cheeseburger with bacon and guacamole. But presently your author (Mr. Tim) staggers onward trying to forget about the result and enjoy the ride. After all what a beautiful ride it is on the top of this hill overlooking the emptiness of creation and working with sweet and sincere students who enrich the dream.