Gongpong is a quiet plateau. It is small. Not many people live here.

Gongpong is about eight kilometres from Zhemgang town towards Tingtibi.

Houses here are all single-storeyed. But the houses are used only during the rituals at the Duetul Namgaygang choeten. Otherwise, the houses remain locked. In a hut behind these houses, deep in the forest, lives a couple. It is perfectly silent.

Sonam Tenzin, 75, from Zurphai and Pema Tshedon, 70, from Panbang, sit in front of their hut, thrashing paddy in a metal mortar and pestle that was meant to make offerings. Their walking sticks lie nearby as they sit down to do something.

Sonam Tenzin served as monk with Zhemgang Dratshang for nine years. He keeps reciting prayers today with his wife.

Pema Tshedon wears glasses. Sonam Tenzin has a problem with his leg.

The old couple does not have children and it was the reason why they resorted to come and live here. They recite mani and circumambulate the choeten.

The couple said they owned cattle and land but they had to give up since they could not attend to them. They also could not work in the field. One of their relatives helped them settle here in the small hut.

Sonam Tenzin said they were living in a small hut until dzongkhag administration, along with other offices in the dzongkhag, constructed the hut for them recently.

“We are thankful for the help,” Sonam Tenzin said. The couple can cook using electric appliances.

Sonam Tenzin goes to his pocket book to check the date. The couple has been living here since 2008.

“My wife has some relatives, but they can’t help us since they have to make their on living,” said Sonam Tenzin.

Pema Tshedon said that they have enough vegetables at this time of the year. The couple has a small vegetable garden right in front of the hut.

The hut has three small rooms.

The couple survives on the Nu 1,500 that the Choethuen Tshogpa gives Pema Tshedon every month.

Nima Wangdi |  Zhemgang