“My grandmother was everything to me; she was there for me when life was at its hardest. My parents used to argue a lot, and as a child I would find refuge in my grandmother’s embrace when they did. She would protect me and provide for me what she could. She managed to send me to school with whatever she earned selling vegetables on the streets. My father lost his job when I was 17 and he had to start working as a driver. My mother ran away with another man, abandoning her husband and 4 kids. We were left to face desperate situations with no food or money at home. My father, who had to travel around a lot as a driver, was forced to look for a job in Thimphu. By the time he found work at a construction site, our house owner had kicked us out because we could not pay rent. So my father found a place for us to stay in the jungle; it was among the remains of a house with nothing more than a pole and some cement flooring. He built a hut there out of some plywood and this became our new home. It wasn’t easy; we did not even have electricity and I constantly felt like my two sisters weren’t safe there. I feared that they would get molested or abused by random people when I was not home.

One day on my way home from my tour guide training, I saw a pumpkin in a garden. I stole it. My siblings had not eaten for days. The situation had only gotten worse. We had no food at home even during Losar and so my brother had decided to go hunting for a bird but in vain. A neighbour having overheard us offered us some meat. She used to be my mother’s friend. Although we were thankful, she had only given us some bones.

Luckily, I found a job soon and things changed a little. My work took me to many countries on tours and life became much more stable. We lived in a proper house now and I felt like I could finally give back to the people who had helped me in my darkest times.

Unfortunately, my grandmother fell terribly ill shortly after things started looking up. She passed away soon and this left me terribly broken. I cried for days. No hardship and pain so far had prepared me for this. When I think of my childhood and happy days, I always think of her. She was in every one of the memories worth remembering. It has been 5 years since she passed and my love for her has not changed. To this day, her memories bring me so much pain. After everything I have been through, not having my grandmother with me hits me the hardest. I wish she could have known a better life.”

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