“In the early ’70s, my parents and I decided to move to Thimphu from our village at Dungkar, Kurtoe. I had been recently widowed after my young army husband passed away. We walked for 7 days to get to Mongar and hitched a ride on a bus from there to Samdrup Jongkhar and then to Thimphu. The memories of that trip still give me chills. I was almost full-term into my pregnancy at the time and gave birth to a baby girl right after reaching Thimphu. Life here was not easy. None of us spoke Dzongkha and getting a house to stay in was hard. In just a few months, we moved to Punakha. There we managed to rent a house and found work on people’s farms. I worked from dawn till dusk with a child on my back but somehow making ends meet was still difficult. After 2 years, I remarried. We were back in Thimphu but this time things looked different and my new life was more comfortable. But after 4 kids, my husband left me for another woman. I was back where I had been years ago, and this time the hardships were greater. I was a single mother of 5 kids living in the capital with no one to help me. My parents were old and passed away soon after. I did my best to raise the kids on my own. The 6 of us lived in a 1 room shack where I drowned myself in weaving work. My children’s education suffered in all of this, and slowly they all dropped out. Only my youngest finished class 12.

I weaved clothes well into my 50s. My dwindling eyesight posed a barrier to my work and the horror of destitution loomed over our family. I’d to find an alternative and that’s when business occurred to me. I borrowed 50,000 from a friend and bought my first sack of garments from India. I sold them at a make-shift vendor at Kawajangsa and was able to put food on the table for my family. The profits that I made were used up on paying bills at home, and the next round of shopping had to be done on credit. It wasn’t very profitable but at least we had enough to buy food. For the next 15 years or so, I sold clothes which I bought and carried from India. We sell them at a cheaper price because the rent here is much less when compared to other places. We hardly make any sales now and the lockdown has hit us the hardest because garments are not considered an essential commodity.

At 71, I can barely stand or sit without arthritic ache in my knees. Hauling big loads of garments is hard but the need to survive in Thimphu doesn’t allow a single mother of many the excuse to retire. My kids have grown up but given our economic situation, I still work hard to help them raise their own families. Living in T/phu for 50 years and officially registered in the Thrim-Throm for 40 years, I’ve no house of my own. It hits particularly hard when one is my age.”

Humans of Thimphu pays tribute to all mothers everywhere. Thank you for raising us, loving us and being there for us.

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