Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Short story: The Relic- In the name of god

The Relic- In the name of god
“Om mani padme hung”, Tshampa Lungten stood from his warm and cozy seat. “Ah! These many years in the mountains has made me yearn to stay longer in the wilderness” he thought as he looked out from the window down the valley. The valley was waking from a sleepy night and the smoke from the chimney greeted the morning birds.
He then took a piece of cotton and wiped the Druk Thuksey medal that hung on his robe on the wall. “Do I really deserve this?” he questioned himself as he glanced at the glittering of the medal. His Majesty, in 2009, presented him the medal for his great effort in restoring and preserving the lhakhangs in the country.
Every year, he spent six months mediating in the mountains and the other six months in restoring lhakhangs in the vallies and the country. “I am born to benefit the sentient beings and I shall fulfill my duty”, he always thought, but wondered, “How I would be able to fulfill the mounting desire of people”.
“I thank His Majesty, His Holiness the Je khenpo and all the sponsors for helping me restore the lhankhang to its full glory”, he said during the opening of the last lhakhang he had renovated.
Sipping his last drop of suja, the Tshampa picked up the bag, locked the door and down he went as the shy morning birds greeted him with their sweet songs. He was on his way to begin a renovation work at a lhakhang in a nearby village.
As he approached the Laptsa chorten frantically, his heart was racing to keep his bag down and enjoy the fresh air. The chorten stood on a small rock majestically looking down the valley though no settlement was near it. Not many people knew about it but the Tshampa had taken rest here for countless times during his journeys up and down.
As he neared the chorten, he discovered something unusual about the chorten. The wall had fallen down and pieces of relics were scattered all around the chorten. “Oh God! The chorten has been vandalized” he told himself. He took out his mobile and dialed 113. “Lopen, the chorten has been vandalized, please come here”. He provided the details and waited eagerly for them.
When the police and the geog officials came, Tshampa was sitting on a fallen stone anxiously, still talking on his cell. “At last Lpoens are here,” he said as he stood quickly from the stone. His face told the team how upset he was yet he managed to explained the scene. The team searched around the chorten and found out that the relics has been taken away except for some old coins and broken statues.
The team felt sorry about the act but thanked Tshampa for informing them. The team took photographs and left over relics and promised the people, who has gathered there, to investigate the case.
The Local Government (LG) did their own investigation in which the Tshampa was one of the members.
The investigating team, not having come up with any concrete findings, the villagers went back to their normal lives. The Tshampa was back at his business restoring lhakhangs.
Meanwhile a policeman was doing his regular duties in the honking and hustling of the Phuntsholing gate. “That’s just a statue for my friend”, the monk said shivering. He was caught by the policemen during the random check.
The monk, then, was taken to the police station for questioning. After about three hours of questioning, he said, “Dorji asked me to take the relics across the border and promised me Nu. 200,000 for my service”. The monk described the man, a businessman and was arrested from his shop in Thimphu. Dorji owned a huge garment shop in Thimphu and was one of the sponsors for Tshampa’s lhakhang restoration works. He was busy negotiating the cost of a silk gho when the police burst in with their team leader. He was question but was dumbstruck. He was the main accomplice who promised to sell the relic across the border. 
But the police was surprised to come across the chain of people involved. Dorji has bought the relics from a man, Aap Sangay in Lhuntse for Nu. 300,000 and was supposed to sell to a lama in India for Nu. 3.9 million.
Aap Sangay was arrested the following day from his village in Lhuntse. During interrogation, he exposed the next member in the team, “A monk gave me the relics to be sold. I paid him Nu. 2.0 million”, Aap Sangay said.
The police arrested the monk, who was Tshampa Lungten from a lhakhang-renovating site in Lhuntse.  The police cornered him with questions which uncovered his character. “I vandalized the chorten on the chilly morning of November 13 and called you all,” he told the police, “and the LG investigating team could not discover anything because they had no idea about the nangtens of the chorten.”
 “I vandalized the chorten because people expected me to do much more after I received the medal from His Majesty. Restoration of lhakhangs required lot of money which sponsors could not render and the government didn’t provide any”, he spoke in his soft soothing voice. He then added “I had no other option than to sell the relics from the chorten for my works; I did to preserve our religion and culture. It was truly in the name of god”
The police also found out that he had a wife and a child who lived in Thimphu. He had promised his family a trip to Bangkok the following winter and for that he needed money. With his limited source of income from reading scriptures, the idea of defacing the chorten was born.
 The chain of Tshampa’s team was char sheeted with and the dzonglhag court, without any mercy, ordered them to be imprisoned for life.
“You will lose me soon, so please take care of me”, Lungten jokingly said when he was taken to the Chamjang jail.
Few weeks went by smoothly and the guards forgot what Lungten had said. One frosty morning, when the guard on duty was doing his cell round, found Lungten’s room neatly arranged but Lungten was not in. The lock was in tack and there was not even a scratch on the tiny window.
Lungten was missing. The guard alarmed his chief who gathered a team and rushed to Lungten’s wife’s house in Lungtenphu only to find the house empty. 

Note: The story, characters and the settings are all fictional and does not resemble anyone.

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