Choki Wangmo | Tsirang

Pema Gyeltshen, 32, from Reserboo in Mendrelgang, Tsirang, who went missing on January 5, was found in the forest of upper Barshong after eight days, pulling out parts of his fur jacket and eating them.

This, however, is not the first time he has run away from home.

Mentally challenged, his case has become worrisome for families, relatives, and neighbours.

According to Pema’s younger sister, Cheten Zangmo, her brother completed non-formal education, was a capable young man, shouldering responsibilities, and providing for siblings at home. That was nine years ago.

One day, he got severe mood swings, took off his clothes, was aggressive, avoided crowded places and strangers, and stayed outdoors. He doesn’t sleep well and wanders around places for two to three days.

“He was once brought back from Darachhu and at another time from Barshong,” the sister said.

This time, even after days, the family couldn’t locate him.

More than 20 de-suups, police, and community members searched the forest between Mendrelgang and Barshong gewogs.

“We were worried, as bear sightings in these forests are frequent,” Cheten Zangmo said.

Although the family consulted lams and astrologers and conducted rituals accordingly, Pema’s health has not improved. Smiling at whatever he sees, his eyes constantly twitch and he talks to himself. Except mumbling a few words to his younger sister, he talks with no one in the family.

Sometimes Pema jumps from a moving vehicle.

The family hopes that healthcare service providers and psychiatrists will visit them at home. The neighbours are looking for organisations and centres to help the family treat Pema.

Cheten Zangmo said that the family was planning to build a separate shelter near the house for Pema so that he doesn’t sleep outside in the cold.