An 80-year-old against the elements

At an age when people are past retirement, Angay Mindu is busy rebuilding her quake-hit home 

Profile: She is in the twilight of her life.  The neat silver crop of hair, the weather-beaten face and sagging eyelids tell it all that Angay Mindu has lived her life.

At 80 years old, she should have retired to a life of prayers or to the comforts of her children and grandchildren, but Mindu, popularly known as Angay Jala to the locals of Sergithang in Tsirang, is still trying to make her old and lonely life comfortable.

An earthquake some years ago, she cannot remember exactly when, has damaged her single storied traditional stone house.  Since then she has been attempting to build another one.  All she has today is a makeshift hut with no roof.  No season is good for the octogenarian, who migrated to Tsirang from Jala, Wangduephodrang at 22.

“The wind, heat, cold and rain-everything is bad when you don’t have a roof over your head,” says Angay Jala.  It is a simple house.  A few planks make up the floor and her bed.  A portion of a torn bamboo mat covers a small side of what is the wall.  The rest is a tarpaulin sheet that covers almost all sides of the small hut.  She has electricity.

The fierce spring wind is her worst fear. “Every night, I go to bed fearing that the wind will blow away my house,” says Jala with a smile.  She wants to strengthen her house, and is ready to ask for help from anyone visiting the village.

If her hut is not strong, Jala has to worry for her next meal everyday.  Without anyone to help her, Jala mostly depends on donations and the monthly kidu she receives from His Majesty the King.  But whenever she has to cook, it is a problem.  The kitchen next to her hut is just a few poles and a tarpaulin sheet.  She cooks all her day’s meal at once. “I can’t make fire three times a day,” she says.

Inside her hut are two portraits of His Majesty the King and the Je Khenpo, who, Jala says, are the only people who gave her hope. “I’m surviving because of His Majesty’s kidu. I’m praying to His Holiness for a better life in my next generation.”

Despite her helplessness, Jala is not going to bother her children.  She gave birth to 15, but 10 died. “All my children have their own children to raise. I can’t ask for their help,” she says.

By Yeshey Dema

6 replies
  1. Babloo Ramisetty
    Babloo Ramisetty says:

    Dear Moderator,
    Thanks so much for providing me with Yeshey Dema’s mail ID. I shall definitely mail her today and see how/what I can do for Angay Jala. God Bless her soul…
    Regards,
    Babloo Ramisetty (babloo.ramisetty@gmail.com)

  2. Sensitive
    Sensitive says:

    This story directly reminds me of Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk’s concern raised during election campaigns about Abi Demola. Now, is Lyonpo reading this story? Is he and his government not coming to this old woman’s rescue? I hope politicians keep their words.

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