Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Meeting the Dead Man Alive

With both of us working and having two children, we had a very difficult time not having a baby sitter. We were frantically looking for a babysitter everywhere.

Our search came to an end when a young sharshop girl in her teens agreed to look after our child. The only background check that we did was asking how she landed up from eastern Bhutan to Paro. She told us that her father was guarding an apple orchard somewhere near Bondey. We discontinued asking further questions fearing that if she fails the background check then we would be left with having no babysitter. In desperation we employed her.

When she showed the extra initiative of washing the clothes and cleaning the rooms we were just elated. But that happiness was short lived when her mother came to visit her with tears in her eyes saying that her father passed away the night before. We were heartbroken, more because of the misfortune that struck her than us not having a babysitter. She stayed with us for a week only but we paid advance for 6 months and give a bag of rice, a tin of oil and couple of kilograms of milk powder. She promised that she will return to us right after completing all the funeral rites. We gave her more money to ensure her come back and showered her with genuine sympathy for having to bear such catastrophe at such age.

We managed like before without the babysitter. It was almost more than a month passed and I thought of going to my babysitter’s place and see what hampered her to come back. Right after office, my brother and I went to her place. It was almost dark when we reached there. There was a hut in the middle of the apple orchard. There was no sign of misery or any mark of rituals like prayer flags that normally Buddhist hoists for the dead.

We met a man clad in gho that was so shabby worn like those by the clowns during the school cultural shows. He looked ghastly with long gray beard and knotted hair. We thought that he must be some uncle of her. But when he tried to vanish in the thin undergrowth of grass, we doubted that it must be her father and if he was dead we just met a ghost, that also a clumsy ghost. How are ghost supposed to be? I have never seen one before but just heard and read in stories. The timing to meet ghost was just perfect according to what I heard – it was dusk a little overpowered by darkness.

We nearly went back in fright. Had we gone back we would have never known the truth. Having come this far we pushed our way forward into the hut and there we found mother and daughter duo chatting over a cup of tea with no signs of sorrow. She was quite surprised to see us and later admitted that her mother lied that her father was dead. The admittance of lie made our return journey less dreadful but I could not come to terms with how people could stoop so low to cheat.

I was just dumbfounded and signaled my brother to move back, all the way imagining that people in destitute conditions are in that condition for a reason. Or is it the conditions that they were in forced them to do what they did to us? The advance payment and all the stuff that I have given are like us supporting their livelihood for some time. My only fear was that our not telling anything may encourage them to resort to same trick again.

Later we found out that we were not the first one to be tricked by them. And we will not be the last one either if you fail to go through this…