“Tashi Delek”, he said.
“Namastey”, she replied.
“My name is Kaasaa Taasheee”, he introduced himself. “And you are?”
“I am Tuna Ghosh”, she said. ” I am sorry, but i didn’t get your name?”
He again said his name but with pauses, “I am Kaal-saang Taa-shi”.
Before the formal introduction started, the two had already become acquaintances. As the different workshops happened they crossed paths with each other and expressed through their own line of thought which landed them being on the same page. They both turned out to be writers and translators.
He was a Tibetan Buddhist monk. She was an upbeat modern woman. What was it that connected these two souls?
They didn’t know till the day they had to part ways knowing they would never get to meet in life again.
How often do people go on a journey which introduces them to people who they know will be there as long as the distance needs to be traveled! How rare are such encounters where there is only good in the store!
He was an avid lover of coffee and always carried his tumbler full. She was quenching with thirst in a session and he politely asked her “Are you thirsty? I only have some hot coffee to share, if you want?”
She though, wanted to drink, but hesitantly replied “But you are a monk. I can’t take anything from you. It will be a sin. Instead I should be offering you something.”
He replied “It’s ok. As a monk it is my duty to offer. You please take a sip or two and quench your thirst.”
She took a sip and thanked him for his generosity.
Lobsang, a fellow Tibetan observed this intimacy and took Tuna aside. She scolded her and warned her to be away from a monk. She said “He is virtuous. Your ways of being intimate will spoil his monkhood. You are not allowed to drink from the same vessel as they do. They are the sons of Buddha. They are god-like.”
Before Tuna could utter a word, Palmo left and she was left choking in tears.
The sessions were on religion and it was interesting to gain a polished information from the practitioners. As the sessions ended and the participants were invited for lunch, Tuna found herself lost in the thought of why a Monk is different from a normal Human Being.
She picked some items from the buffet and took a seat on an empty table. First came Jared, an American participant and asked if he could share the table and took a seat when Tuna nodded with a smile.
Next came, the Tibetan monk, asked Tuna and he also made himself comfortable.
The discussion on the table was why do humans need a religion. Each one of them had their own views to share but there was an unsaid tension on the table. They continued to eat with a deep thought.
Tuna got up and brought an Indian dessert ‘Gulab Jamun’. Seeing her, fellow mates on the table were clueless about what she was going to eat. She explained that this was an Indian dessert and they should definitely try. They were apprehensive and politely denied.
She made a scoop and asked Jared to say, “aaaaaaaaaaa”, he did, and she stuffed a piece of the round ball in his mouth and giggled.
Little doubtful in head, she also did the same with the Tibetan monk and they all laughed together thereafter. It was a new and delicious dish for them which they all enjoyed.
The days went by in learning about religions and the rigorous workshops followed.
One ritual developed unknowingly amongst the two. Whenever their eyes met they nodded in affirmation to assure each other that everything was well. They started sensing if one needed something and it was only an eye contact which was needed to provide each other with whatever that was required.
They learnt to talk without using words even when both of them were well versed.
It was a day for the contingent to relax and reflect. A self -reflection workshop was arranged where the entire group was made to meditate and silently evoke positive energy in the room. The process was intense and no one knew that the results were going to be what it turned out to be.
When the music stopped, many people didn’t come out of the state of meditation and some were observed crying. The facilitators grouped people into teams of four and once again Tuna & Tashi were put in the same group.
Tashi asked, “Why are you crying?”
Tuna said, “I wish I could tell you what it is like to be a girl in the city. It is not as safe as you think. Everyday is a struggle to sustain. There are so many restrictions and pressures. You have no freedom. There are always morals and ethics imposed by family.” And she continued to weep.
She asked, “Why are you crying? You are a monk. You should have control over your emotions.”
He replied, “I know I am a monk. But do you know I am a Human Being first. I wish I could tell what it is like to be Home. What it is like to be scolded by a Father, to be caressed by a Mother and to live in restrictions. Do you know where Tibet is? Do you know what it is like to be away from Home and know that you can never return back?”
She was in a state of mixed emotions and they both continued to cry.
Tashi said,”I know Life isn’t easy. But you should know it is a blessing to be born as a Human Being. Each day is a gift from Buddha to be truly lived. So stop crying.”
He held her hand and they both comforted each other in skin for the first time.
Each session which happened from then on changed the perspective with which Tuna looked at life.
The city only taught her to be clever and cunning. But here it was all about simplicity whether it was believing in new relationships or developing a compassionate behavior.
The last leg of the journey took them to the Tibetan settlement which was also where Tashi currently stayed. He had found a family in Tuna about which he hadn’t confessed to her.
The journey was about to end but he didn’t wish it to, neither did Tuna.
As the bus was about to leave and it was time for the monks to bid adieu, they greeted the members with a long white scarf called ‘khata’ by putting that around their neck.
When it came Tashi’s turn to offer ‘khata’ to Tuna, he stood still. His eyes were filled with tears and so was of Tuna’s.
He draped the ‘khata’ around her neck and said there was more that he wished to give. He said, “This is for you. It is very dear to me. It is filled with water which symbolizes ‘purity.’ I want to give this to you because in you I see a person who is as Pure as this water. Stay Blessed.”
He folded his hands and said “Tashi Delek.”
Tuna too had something to offer. She had a copy of the Bhagwad Gita which she softly kept in Tashi’s hands and said “God is one. But his forms are many. This is for you.”
Leaving all inhibitions and moral codes behind, they both hugged each other and embraced their love. They both didn’t know when they will be able to see each other next but they know that is how bonds are made.
She said, “Tashi Delek, Kaalsang.”
He replied, “Have a safe journey, Tuna. Namastey.”