June 23, 2009

Social obligation and its associated dilemmas

Being Bhutanese is one thing. Being a Sharchop another. Schooled and raised in Thimphu I could boast of being able to speak Dzongkha without the attachment of the vernacular accent. However, that’s limited to my speaking to friends only. Make me read Dzongkha and every soul could make a directional guess of my hometown.

Still, the glitch would not amend my whims of my being simply Bhutanese and anything else. Being settled in Thimphu for a score and a decade now and not having stepped to one’s hometown for the past 12 years would do this to you. But time would hammer its blow to remind us of our transcendental roots. It happened to me this Sunday.

An hour towards noon and the uncle is at my bed urging me to wake up. I squint through my sleepy eyes and can see that this man means business. He’s in a hurry and he has only time to be blunt. He reminds me that the clock is ticking and I am not getting any younger. I need a wife too and he has thought of a perfect match for me, his younger brother’s daughters. One is still studying so he suggests that I go for the elder sister. He tells me he has been working out on this for months now and he sees only flourishing prosperity in this sacred communion. Before I could reply anything he wants me to think and hence gives me 3 days. My answer in alacrity, he assures me, would only make me repent in leisure. I haven’t half recovered from the daze and he has zoomed out of the door.

Wow, this is the 21st century and I cannot get to pick my own wife? What’s worse, the daughter in question is my first cousin. Of course, by the standards of the average eastern Bhutanese, this bond is considered legal; or, to be precise, preferable. But I grew up here in Thimphu where such bonds are considered a taboo. Balancing yourself between having to fulfill social obligation and be at arm’s length from social stigma would indeed be a challenging feat.

Anyway I better get thinking before he comes calling again. My time is almost up but I haven’t an answer yet!


  1. Hmm I guess it is good to be tying a nuptial with cousin (sharchop style) but I have read that it is proven scientifically wrong .And I always thought “marriage” should be one’s choice. Anyway,your life,your wish.Good luck.

  2. Do one thing; marry both the sisters, so that when one of them faints from sitting too long listening to your chirpy talks, the other will come and replace the wilted listener. Besides there are too many women in this world now; the ratio must be 1:2. I need some men free for my daughters and grandaughters as well. Let the bad be taken first :P

    Other than that, I enjoy your blog most of all. They alys give me a reason to smile :)

  3. I wonder how our ancestors picked up this system. But you will be surprised to know that this system of inter-marriage is also practiced in South India, the 'telugu' sections of Andhra Pradesh.

    It is interesting in a way because not all cousins can marry. Likewise only the sons and daughters of a male a female sibling can marry, but inter-marriage between the children of female siblings or male siblings are not allowed.

    Well, my telugu friend tells me they had this system mainly to protect their wealth. I wonder what we Sharchops had to protect, a basket full of potatoes dug in the wild? Perhaps, it's because of their down to earth and shy nature that they were very timid to venture out into a heroic journey in search of damsels that they thought it suiting for their lazy selves to just sit in the house and pick their life partner. For a fat lazy pig like me, I cannot help but applaud the wisdom of my lazy ancestors.

    Ok you two, lemme sit back and worry about how I should steer my life out of my uncle's demands.