Thinley Namgay

Thirty-year-old Kinga Gyeltshen from Bardo, Zhemgang, lives with his sister in a makeshift home at Changedaphu, Thimphu.

There is a small altar at home where Kinga prays every day.

First, there is coffee, and he begins to tell his story.

“I ruined my life in addiction,” says Kinga. He speaks softly and slowly. “That’s my greatest regret.”

Kinga was a little boy when his parents separated. His adoptive father took care of him. He hasn’t seen his biological father since.

The first time Kinga tried drugs was in 2006; he was in a primary school then. He had not the slightest idea that life would take such a turn after that.

In 2007, he fell in love with a girl from his school. Back then he was playing cricket and football. He was a smart kid.

Kinga was 15 when his mother died. He was devastated and took to alcohol and drugs.

“My mother had a kidney problem. I regret not spending much time with her. After her passing, I felt I had no purpose in life,” Kinga says.

Despite encouragement from the teachers, Kinga left school after Class VIII.

Relatives abandoned him. Kinga’s addiction was becoming a serious problem. Sometimes he would wake up in lockup. Police did not keep him long because he was a minor.

By now, Kinga had begun hallucinating.

Keeping himself away from drugs and alcohol was difficult. In 2009, he sold momo (dumpling) on the street to engage.

Things got so bad that Kinga tried committing suicide. He swallowed a bottle cap. A friend intervened.

“I knew I had to kick the addiction if any improvement is to come to my life,” says Kinga. And he headed to the rehabilitation centre in Serbithang, Thimphu.

“I was the youngest there. Compared to many there, my addiction problem was nothing,” Kinga says. “I could make it or break it. I had to decide.”

The first few months were difficult.

He was supposed to go to India for a rehabilitation programme upon the suggestion of Lama Zhenphen Zangpo. However, Kinga could not kick the old habit and his addiction.

In 2014, Kinga worked in a friend’s restaurant by day and sold momo by night. He even landed a job as a security guard at the Department of Youth and Sports. He was battling depression then and had to quit.

“I could not sleep at night and was late for work,” says Kinga. “That’s not an excuse. I was really going through a lot then.”

Kinga has been clean for the past three and a half years. He was even hired at Tharlam InfoTech and Solutions.

Sports have been helpful to keep his mind engaged.

“During the recovering stage, we need lots of activities to forget drugs and alcohol,” says Kinga, who is now the captain of SM United, a Thimphu League club.

Kinga is also a member of Feeding Love, a volunteer group that serves meals and refreshments to the elderly people.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk