Friday, 26 February 2016

The Circle of Karma by Kunzang Choden

I read lots of book reviews on this novel and had already made up my mind to read it one day. I was amazed to see that my roommate had the book with her. I waited for her to complete it but sadly our winter vacation started before she could complete, so I decided to read it when I reach back. Upon reaching back, I was involved into other books and didn’t get time to read this one. And after our losar celebration this year, I grabbed this book but for around a week I was stuck on the first few pages of the novel.

The right time flowed after the celebration of King’s Birthday and I found myself completely soaked into the beautiful story Aum Kunzang had laid in it. Firstly it drew a clear picture of a typical life of a girl in the Bhutanese village in the olden days probably 1940s or 1950s: a life where the physical work was mandatory irrespective of the gender of the individual, a time where the women gave birth to dozens of children but had only few surviving to call them parents.

The next thing I learnt is the struggle woman had been facing since ancient times especially delivering fatherless child and the society reacting like the growling tigers, gossiping and cursing the woman as if she has committed a great sin by loving a coward man. My heart ached when Tsomo, the main character in the story faces the betrayal of her husband with her own sister. It was not enough there as her second husband also leave her for another woman later on. It is a dirty culture most of the men follow to be unhappy with their wives after certain years of marriage. 

We all function through a machine called karma and no one can ever avoid this. Tsomo faces her Karma of abandoning her family and leading a lonely life followed by her pilgrimage to all the important Buddhist sites in India and Nepal. She does face lots of obstacles but solutions were also not hard to find. Her lives in Kalimpong, DehradunMussorie and Delhi where she meets with so many people from various regions and her beautiful bonding with them was really tempting me to try that though I don’t think I will be able to do it. The most important person she had met was the Tibetan Rinpoche in Dehradun who had a great hand in getting rid of her illness which she carried for years and at the later part, ordained her as a nun for the rest of her life, naming Tsomo as Ani Samphela. How clever was the Karma that though she had been married twice and had been pregnant once, she never had a child gearing her up to be a nun for the rest of her life with the free wings to fly over any religious destination she wished for? Aum Kunzang successfully delivered a strong message at the end of the novel: Do good to be blessed with a good Karma.

While in school, there was a novel:  Dawa, a story of a stray dog in Bhutan by the same author. The novel was part of the Class nine English curriculum containing a fascinating story of a stray dog that was orphaned at the very early days of his delivery whereby he gives himself an identity in their dog community. He wisely names himself as Dawa by looking at the moon on a full moon night. Dawa had the power to understand all the human languages. Later he gets infected with mange during one of his mating seasons but luckily he gets the information about the Gelong Ma Pelmo’s cave at the Thowadrak in Bumthang where she is believed to have cured herself from the contagious leprosy through meditation. Dawa then ventures onto central Bhutan in search of the cave so that he can get rid of his mange. It was a heart-touching story where he finally manage to get rid of the illness. The author made her readers spot lots of human cruelties to stray dogs and highlighted animal innocence simultaneously which is perhaps the ultimate reality.

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