A Hundred Gourds 5:2 March 2016

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Sonam Chhoki – Bhutan

Paper-cut Hope

Year of the Monkey. Dema will be seventy-two. She is both excited and filled with trepidation. What will it bring for her and her first-born grandson? At the Sunday market, the local astrologer’s stall brims with new calendars, healing herbs and amulets. She buys paper-cut monkeys in red, blue, white and green. ‘I got the birth sign of your son in the colours of the four elements. Put these by his cot and the windows of your house,’ she says, holding out the package to her son, Penjo.

He smiles politely. His wife, Sacha rolls her eyes. Their mod con flat is in a block of newly built apartments. The perspex windows are clean-edged without any ornamentation.

‘I put your birth year amulets by your pillow and around our house and look how you’ve been blessed!’ Dema says. As she leaves, she strokes her grandson’s head and murmurs, ‘I brought you blessings for the new year, little one.’

Penjo shoves the paper-cut monkeys into a box in the guest room.

winter bloom
in the bare Acer—
silhouette of sparrows

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