Chinese Tea and The Girl Who Played Bamboo Flute


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It is a Sunday afternoon. A lazy Sunday afternoon, in fact. I am reading a book by Haruki Murakami. 'South of the Sun West of The Border', is its title. He is a Japanese writer whose central theme of writing is  magical realism. Characters in his books are quite often confused like me. Or am I confused like the characters in his books. I am not sue.  As I read, I am also listening to Mozart Symphony number 40. A small cup decorated with Chinese characters sits on my table. There is a flask of hot water too. In a yellow plastic, I can see a strange root. I have never tasted it before. I recently got it from an acquaintance in China. I carefully take out two small pieces of roots from the yellow plastic, put in my cup and pour some hot water. The color of water changes to sky blue. As I lift the cup with both of my hands, and bring the cup nearer to my mouth, I can see a strange thing in my cup. There in the cup, I see the girl who was playing flute, again!

Am I alive? Am I dead? I pinch the skin on the back of my right hand. Yes I can feel the pinch. I am not dead. I rush to the bathroom, dip my left leg in the shallow bucket of water. I try to create an imprint of my foot on the dry tiles. I can see the imprint of my foot. Confirmed. I am alive. But why do I feel like I am dead. Is it because of the mysterious experience that I had one weird night in Sangay Gang, where I woke up shivering? I am clueless.

But the beautfiful girl, appearing in my cup, in my sky blue root-tea seems to be calling me. I can see she is beckoning me and smiling at me. I am compelled by a strange desire to follow her. As she plays her flute and leads me through a very narrow, snake like path that takes us to a hill on the mountain. Within minutes, we are on the mountain. There are aromatic herbs of every kind from balu, sulu, agaru to blue poppies. For a moment, I open my arms and take a deep breath of fresh mountain air. I am not dead, I remind myself.

The girl still keeps playing the flute and shows me a flat stone. In four corners of the stone, I can see four small wooden rods pushed deeply in earth. On the wooden rods are tied nylon ropes. It appears like a suicide spot. The girl and I don’t talk at all. I just follow her. Somehow I understand her thoughts. She tells me this is a cremation ground, where dead bodies are fed to the vultures. She makes me lie down on the flat stone slab. As soon as I lie down, I am surrounded by a sea of elegantly dressed men and women. They are all holding bells of different size and shape. The air is filled with the chiming sound of the bells. I don’t even bother to wonder what is going around me for the experience is so out of the world!

My mind is at ease. I am filled with happiness. I am not in a zhingkham or something, I am sure. I am not on earth either. But I am also aware that I am lying on a flat stone on a mountain, where dead bodies are dumped. It seems like the best example of confusion, but I feel no confusion at all.

Ting, Tong! I hear this sound. A sms notification on my phone.  I realized that I was looking into my cup for about an hour. I was not on the mountain but in my sitting room.  I made myself a cup of instant nestle’ coffee. This time I am afraid that my mind is hallucinating me. So I drink my coffee and take out my guitar. I play an old Bhutanese song and try to sing a few verses. As I sang, I realized all these experience where revelations of the infinite possibilities our human mind can create. Mind can create magic, hell and heavens. It depends upon the use! I also realized there was no flute, no dramngyen, no beautiful girls but all were just my own creation. This fact was refreshing and enlightening. The rest of the Sunday went exceptionally peaceful!


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