Rinchen Rabden

 

“In school, the kids started a rumour about my father. They said he had been abducted by
khegpas. It was absurd. My apa was at home and perfectly fine. Then they said that he was not
my real father. I dismissed every whisper going around. Why wouldn’t he be my father? He was
the best in the entire village. However, things at home started to become strange. Ama would
want to say something to me and my sister. But each time apa intervened and stopped her. Too
young, I couldn’t read between the lines. For years this continued. Things were fine at home
though.

The kids at school wouldn’t let the rumors rest. So one day when apa was away, I had to ask my
ama. ‘Your father went missing, she said. When I was 2 years old, my parents were a newlywed
couple. According to kheng customs, the groom had to live at the bride’s house for 3 years and serve her
family before he could take her with him. My sister and I were born during that period. In the
village, toilets were far from the house. One night, my father went out to relieve himself. When
ama noticed that he hadn’t returned, she went to check on him. Carrying my sister on her back,
she searched the whole area in the darkness and still couldn’t find him. As she narrated the
horrors, her eyes filled with tears. Her parents could only be informed in the morning. The
entire village searched for days but he couldn’t be found. Soon, they gave up. There wasn’t a
single trace to follow.

After that, Ama vowed to never marry again. She feared that a stepfather would not be kind to
her kids. But when the news reached my father’s family, his teenage brother was overcome with
sadness and compassion. In Order to fill the void of a father, he sought to marry ama. But she
rejected him. He was 16 years younger than her. However, seeing the genuine intention in his
eyes, she eventually agreed. All this time, all he did was to shield and protect his kids. He knew
we were too young to understand the truth and he was right. Now, even though I was devastated
and wished to know what happened to my real father, somehow he was never really gone. My
apa is only 14 years older than me but he managed his responsibilities well and cared for us as
his own. He must have truly been made in the image of the father I lost. He pushed his kids to
study hard and gave us the best he could. Today, I’m working as an engineer at DGPC.”

*Khegpa is believed to be a head hunter who kidnaps and murders people and uses their heads as offerings for the
construction of mega structures.

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