“My family moved to Thimphu from Paro when I was very young. My father was a carpenter and was employed in the construction of the Royal palace in Dechencholing. I was the youngest child out of 4. When I was around 4 years old, my elder sister passed away during childbirth.

My mother had a friend who was much younger than her, she was a master Weaver at the Royal Palace. We were made Dorji puens (sworn sisters) and I grew very close to her. One day I visited her at the Royal Palace and also met Her Majesty the then Queen mother. The Queen mother was so kind to me. Although I was already 25 years old by then, she teased and hugged me like I was a child and called me endearing names. My heart filled with joy and I felt like a little child being loved and pampered by her own grandmother.

She invited me inside the palace and asked me a lot of questions about my family and things at home. My father had already passed away by then, and my mother had become very old. My two brothers had moved away for work and used to send home money. All the housework and farm work was on my shoulders. When I told her about all this, Her Majesty was moved by my hardships. She assured me that I needn’t worry about anything and told me to ask for help anytime.

I took her leave and was outside the palace’s gate. I saw Her Majesty’s master servant come down the stairs with a big load of clothes. He said it was a gift for my daughter from Her Majesty. My heart filled with joy but also a deep sadness, and my eyes welled up with tears. I told the master servant while sobbing that Her Majesty must have known that I gave birth to a daughter 4 years ago, but what she might not have known was that my newborn had died at only 2 months old. The master servant consoled me and asked to accept the gifts for the children I could have later in life.

Few weeks later, my Dorji Puen Sister visited me at my house. She bore so many gifts and it was all from the Queen mother. Her servant had apparently told her about my daughter and she had sent the gifts as a symbol of her condolences. Amongst all those gifts, there was a giant block of pure highland butter and a big bundle of dried yak meat – they were quite rare in those days. I felt so grateful to her. Her Majesty was an incredible woman whose motherly love and kindness for her people were boundless.

I adopted my elder brother’s daughter and loved her as my own. My husband and I had already separated a year after our daughter died. I never married again and lived an interesting life as a single woman raising a daughter.
My Dorji Puen sister took a break from her job as a weaver to visit her village in Tashiyangtse. There she fell ill and passed away. I couldn’t see her in her final days and this regret always moves me to tears. I wanted to light a thousand butter Lamps for her but couldn’t do it because of my economic condition at the time. I saved butter from my own cattle and offered them all to the Tango monastery. There I prayed for this wonderful soul with whom I had the fate to be a sworn sister.

I am 75 today and have 3 grandchildren. Life has been quite fulfilling for me. Being a single woman in my time wasn’t easy but I liked it because it gave me independence and freedom to do what I wanted. My ex-husband is a good person. He has carried out all his responsibilities well and also lives a life as long as me. Whenever we meet, we talk with each other.”

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