The Queen of All Countries

I remember that afternoon very well. I was back to my quarters with a heavy heart because my eldest brother, an Assistant Professor of Economics at the Sydney University, was returning to his family from our ancestral home in Calcutta.

I called my youngest sister, Tapasi when Barda, my eldest brother, was waiting in the lounge of the Airport. The relatives who came to see him off, were all back home by then. My brother-in-law and sister were still there giving him company.

Sister handed the mobile to Barda knowing that was why I called her in the first place. While talking, we laughed over Barda's habit of never turning back whenever he proceeded to board the flight. Today, I understand how painful it must have been for him to leave behind the people he had grown up with. People he loved and cared for. My wife, having already bade him 'goodbye' while switching the TV channels, caught the last few lines of a popular song on a Bengali Channel. The poem turned into a song, was written by the poet D. L. Roy. The lines were :

Bhayer mayer eto sneho/ Kothai gele pabe keho,
O Ma tomar charan duti/ Bokkshe amar dhori.
Amar ei desetei janmo jeno ei desetei mori.
Emon deshti kothao khuje pabe nako tumi,
Sakol desher rani se je amar janmobhumi.
(Where will you find such love of the mother and the brothers?
O, Mother, let me hold your feet on my heart.
Let me die in this holy Land I was born.
For nowhere you'll find a country like mine,
My Motherland is The Queen of All Countries.)

I couldn't hold back tears when I heard that song. I felt so deeply about it that I called Barda again. I really felt that there can be no country like India - the land of the sagacious saints and hermits, statesmen and philosophers, world renowned teachers and authors. A country that promoted universal love and harmonious coexistence between the teachers and the taught; husbands and wives; sisters and brothers. I felt very proud thinking that there can be no country like INDIA.

In my hour of grief, I had forgotten about my 'home away from home' - BHUTAN. The Country that had welcomed me in 1990 when I landed there, trying to make something meaningful with my life.

I often heard Barda, who had toured most of the countries in the world, say that if he had not settled in Sydney, he would have definitely settled down in Tokyo as it is a very beautiful city. While watching live coverage of The Olympics in the capital of Japan, I recollected the words of the late Barda ( he breathed his last in April, 2020) time and again. I realised why Barda was so very appreciative of Tokyo. I even told my daughters that only Tokyo could have organized the Olympics in that manner during the dreaded pandemic. There is an air of warmth, camaraderie, love, peace and bliss, something ruthlessly professional about Tokyo. I have never seen the coaches of the vanquished going around, shaking hands with the winners. Something I have never seen in any countries where the Olympics were held before.

How I wish that it was within my means to visit such a glamorous country with such a vibrant culture. But then I comfort myself by telling what I'd tell my students often at the end of a class:

"I must have done something good in my previous life to be sent to Bhutan in this life."

Without letting my words sink in, (the Bhutanese are a fiercely proud and patriotic people. They love BHUTAN like you won't believe!) I hastened to add, "Or, may be, I was born a Bhutanese in my previous life.)

Wise words those, considering how BHUTAN has impacted me over the years.I have become a huge fan of the erstwhile Himalayan Kingdom. BHUTAN, in my opinion, deserves the title of The Happiness Country because the people, including the outsiders, are happy there. It is said to be poor but they do not go around displaying their poverty. In fact, I've never seen a begger during my stay of nearly thirty years in that god-blessed country.

The Bhutanese are extremely hardy like any other mountainous people, intelligent in a different way. It was driven home to me when I spent some two weeks with 4 friends sharing two rooms of a house. We all were staying there in connection with the evaluation duties. The Examinations over, we, teachers of high schools from 4 different dzonkhags ( districts), were invited to evaluate the Class-XII papers. I realized during my stay how innovative, intelligent, self-made those friends were. They were, in a lot of ways, miniature representatives of the people of the country.

BHUTAN has qualities aplenty. I can honestly go on writing about them. But that is not possible within the scope of an article (the word limit is 1000 only) of this nature. So, I will conclude with what defines BHUTAN and its PEOPLE best.

It is undoubtedly their sense of spirituality. Compassionate, the Bhutanese value even the tiniest of life. Many a times just before The Morning Assembly, I have seen colleagues or students, picking up a fly and keeping it out of harm's way from students on the run.

Back in my native place, I respect this ingrained Bhutanese quality more when I visit the meat shop on Sundays. The slaughtering of the chicken does not sadden me any more. In due course, I may even get used to the sight of human slaughter. I will try to think of the most gorgeous, glorious country in the world then and thank them for reducing my sin by praying for the well being of sentient beings all over.

Nay, it is not INDIA anymore but the title of The Queen of All Countries in the world has to go to The GNH Country, BHUTAN. God bless BHUTAN for eternity. 

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