HOW I FAILED TO LIVE UP TO MY EXPECTATION
|Offering Marchang, before match|
It was on the 29th day of tenth month in Bhutanese calendar that the lomba/lombo is celebrated every year. It is celebrated in western part in the places of Haa and Paro. The specialty of the occasion is the preparation of our traditional diet called ‘Hapi Hoentey’, which is a cluster of well-prepared vegetable ingredients enclosed inside flour baked cover. As far as our community is concerned, we prepare it on the day itself and consume it during the night. The people consider starting journeys, giving away belongings, dying etc. on the eve of lomba is not a good practice. A small depiction of human being (known as luee) is baked from flour and sent outside with all the ill lucks casted on it with wishes from all family members at dusk with whistles and traditional shouts. The celebration is stretched for three days. The occasion is usually marked by playing traditional games like archery, khuru and rarely other games. While men play the game, women back at home prepare traditional drinks.
This year (2010) too, the lomba was marked with an archery match amongst ourselves and few invitees. I was a bit excited even though I was at the college appearing for my semester papers. I imagined how the game could be made lively and a memorable one. The comprehensive plans were discussed days before. All the players gathered for ground preparation the day before with lots of enthusiasm. The flags were hosted, short grasses were trimmed further for the sake of pleasant view, the players were encouraged and housewives were brainwashed to prepare tea for players and other necessary arrangements.
While I was coming from college by bus, I spotted a few elderly friends including my father in the archery play ground about to shoot the first shot. Instead of going home, I got off from the bus with my luggage and joined them. Everybody laughed at me for the eccentricity I have shown under the garb of sheer love for the game. I could rarely hit the target which are placed 145 meters away. I told myself that little more practice is needed to bring out best from me. I practiced for two days before the day; my head was full of confidence as I am one of the experienced players. I started playing on compound bow since the fall of 2003 and I have been a regular player ever since.
On the D-day we gathered at 7:30am for breakfast in the playfield. The game started at 8:00 am with a traditional marching ceremony which is believed to appease so called protective deities and evade ill luck of the day. I started the day with the hope for highest hit (karey) as I have done on other occasions in previous years. The game went on smoothly with our team leading the score. The game will be over when either of the teams reaches 25 points. There were no stakes but only Nu.100 per game as bet. There was tea and refreshments served by the housewives of the players on regular intervals. I was still calculating the numerous hits from my uncle and guest player (lieutenant) and was aiming for the preset hope, i.e. highest karey. It was just before lunch that I hit a single karey but unfortunately that one was neutralized by my uncle’s karey.
The lunch break was over and we resumed the game. The few rounds were over without hitting but the preset hope sprung eternal in my mind. I thought that it was time for me to try for double hits (dobji) continuously for several rounds in order to outpace the highest hitters on the scoresheet, who already crossed dozens. I was still not convinced that I was one of the lowest hitter with only one tail (dhar) hanging. In the last few rounds, I tried shooting with different bows hoping to produce a miracle but it got worse. There was much deviation from what I usually do and hoped for since few months back.
The time was 5:00pm, the game was over with me being the lowest hitter……..huh. I was very tired the whole day running after my team mates’ arrows, cheering up, encouraging them and singing when they hit the target. We decided that the game will be continued the next day. The quote, “Hope springs eternal in mind” touched my heart and I hoped for the same the following day with the notion that luck was not on my side and I will restore to my best form, the next day.
We returned home and I enjoyed dinner with my family members. It was around 10:30pm, my father’s phone rang and it was my cousin informing that the match cannot be played the next day as it coincided with the annual puja in one of the households in our community. All dreams then dozed off with me. That is how I ended being one of the worst players ever since I played archery. I still have the same hope to become the highest hitter and I am sure that the purchase of a new bow will realize my dream.