It is a little before eight in the morning. My daily routine takes me to the parking lot below Lungtenzampa, where I drop, nay literally shove my younger son and his two like-minded mates off the car and drive on to Dam Dazo – upper Motithang.
As I swerve around the famous ‘double turning’, I enter one of the poshest residential areas of Thimphu. Except for a few families with school going kids, the neighbourhood is still quiet. Inmates are still snoring their last snores. Even in the hustle-bustle of the morning school hour, I usually find this area quiet. Perhaps everyone is schooled and educated and there isn’t anyone anymore going to school. Perhaps, Motithang Standard Time is half an hour behind BST! I don’t know. I can only conjecture!
As I take the last turn to enter my office premises, I come across two dogs. They are obviously tired, what with all the competitive and one-upmanship howling and barking that our strays indulge in. One of them is resting on its paws. Its posture does not look very different from one of the many Baba Ramdev poses. Perhaps it is performing ‘Sirsasana’! The other dog is staring at a solid turd; perhaps it is contemplating breakfast!
Just beyond the meditative dogs, are two Motithang HSS uniform attired boys. They are looking up at the sky. ‘Brilliant boys’, I thought. ‘They must be reflecting on their geography or physics lessons.’ Now they look at me; I look at them as I slow down to park my car. Soon I realize that it is neither geography nor physics that has caught their imaginations. It is the red ripe apples on a tree by the kerb of the road.
One of the boys keeps a watch of the house, which presumably owns the fruit tree. The other, lankier, straightens himself up and with a swing of his hand plucks three apples from the tree. Mission Accomplished! As they gather composure and start walking towards the school, a girl in Motithang dress appears. Was she waiting for the boys to complete the crime? Again, I don’t know!
Three apples – three young citizens – future of our country. The boys keep one apple each and hand over one to the girl. After a very brief dishonest hesitation, she grabs the apple. Then they walk happily towards the school. All the while, they ignore me completely!
Afterword & Reflections: Boys are boys. A girl in need is a girl indeed! Stealing is a crime, but sharing is loving! You can certainly NOT sugarcoat crime, but this one was dipped in camaraderie and, perhaps a dose of puppy love. What does the penal code of Bhutan say about two young boys picking three apples from a neighbourhood tree?
For a fleeting moment, the three MHSS students throw me back to my own school days in Neoly Bhutan, now Pemathang. After all, I was part of a ‘gang’ that once stole guavas from Dhungyel Jetha’s orchard on our way to school. That was 1979! We must preserve our culture!!