Ap Saktengpa of Mendrelgang in Tsirang gets all the attention in the village. He is unique, the only specimen in the village who goes about making fashion statement of a sort.
The 67-year-old Phurba is from Sakteng. He resettled in Mendrelgang with his wife some 15 years ago on a kidu land. Hot or cold, however, he has never worn anything besides his traditional brokpa (highlander) dress.
On weekends Phurba can be seen walking about in Damphu town, curious eyes following wherever he goes. He wears leather pant, a big red woolen jacket, and a hat that is felt disc with pointed fringes made from yak hair.
“People can easily make out where we come from looking at our dress. People often ask me why I wear such thick clothes even in hot summer,” said Phurba. “I just give them a simple answer: ‘I want people to know where I come from’. I wanted to preserve the tradition and culture of the place where I come from.”
Phurba needs new set of brokpa dress. The ones he has, he had them for years, and they are now old.
“Shops do not sell brokpa clothes. I have asked my daughter in Sakteng to arrange some for me. I plan to go to my village this winter when all the work here is done,” said Phurba.
During Prime Minster’s recent visit to all the gewogs in Tsirang, Lyonchoen spend some time with Phurba and asked some questions. Phurba said he was in the army and was one of the expedition members that summitted Jumolhari. In Darjeeling, India, Phurba met the famous Tenzing Sherpa.
“We wore warm think clothes with three pairs of socks inside our trekking boot,” recalled Phurba. “We made to the summit and were awarded medals. It’s a happy memory.” To prove that he did actually climb Jomolhari, Phurba makes a quick dash and return with an old album. He hands an old black and white picture to Lyonchen.
Phurba resigned from army after serving for 11 years. His father in-law was seriously ill and there was nobody to take care of him. While in the army, Phurba’s cousins had taken all the ancestral land. He, however, managed to get a small plot of land where his daughter and his son-in-law live today.
Phurba applied for kidu and got “the most wonderful gift from King”. That’s how he ended up in Tsirang.
By Yeshey Dema, Tsirang