Drishya's story continued ...

Soon after that he left his job and moved to another place called Alameda where we found 7 other households from Southern Bhutan. We made friends with their children, went to school together and the attachment we had for our country Bhutan and our grandparents, friends and others and slowly faded away.

My father's story

I was a young child when my father brought us here to the US. I hated him so much because I missed my whole life in Bhutan.

But after hearing my father's story, I am very happy and feel that he did the right thing. Every question I asked him, he has explained it to me.

He is trying his best to give us a decent life and education. He wants us to become responsible citizens of the United States and the world and not to forget his people in Bhutan.

My father's name is Dick Bahadur Chhetri. He was born in the kingdom of Bhutan, an underdeveloped country in the eastern Himalaya in South East Asia.

In the 1960s, when my dad was a child, the Royal Government of Bhutan had just started to open its door to the outside world. At the same time the government started development works like building roads and highways, with help from India.

They began to construct a road in our village. When the people from the village first saw bulldozers digging the ground they thought the bulldozer was some kind of herbivore and came up with bundles of grass to feed it. When the driver came down to explain to the villagers that it was a machine they thought he was some kind of super human being and greeted him with flowers and garlands.

My grandparents, who were illiterate, lived in Ossey, which was four and half miles from Surey. They lived in poverty and depended on farming in the middle of a jungle where the domestic and wild animals ate whatever crops they tried to cultivate.

In 1972, on the advice of my dad's youngest brother, who later went on to become a brigadier in the Royal Bhutan Army (only to be sacked in 1999), my grandparents decided to send my father, one of their 10 children, to a school in
Surey. He was nine years old.

Everyday he had to walk barefoot nine miles in the cold. The teachers used to spank him for his tardiness. Later when the teachers found out the distance and difficulties he had in coming to school they were amazed at his excellent grades.

They started using him as an example to others. In 1973 he got a double promotion and became the teachers' favourite student. In 1977 he was sent to the local high school by the government.

He liked school because he was very much loved and praised by the teachers. He still remembers at least one of his favourite teachers, who is now in the refugee camps in Nepal.

My father became the first graduate in the family and the first pilot from southern Bhutan. He won a fellowship from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), who paid for his training.

But fate meant that my father had to leave his country. In 1990 the king of Bhutan started his "One Nation, One People" policy which mandated a dress code and cultural etiquette in an effort to make a homogenized society.

But my father belonged to a distinct ethnic group that had its own heritage. Even though the King had been his role model from a young age he had the courage to disagree with the King's policies. As he believed in truth and justice, he went to meet His Majesty the King three times only to suffer more persecutions.

I did not know until much later that my 64 year-old grandpa was beaten in public by the army. My father was beaten by the police and my uncles were jailed and tortured. I did not know until I came to the US that my Dad's property was confiscated and he was unjustly fined large sums of money. I did not know that my mother, my sister and I were stateless in Bhutan until I heard my father's story.

Now I understand why my mother did not tell me the true reason why my dad was away, and why nobody talked about what was going on in Bhutan. The king evicted the people who did not agree with his policies using insidious methods and by committing extreme human rights abuses.

My father was smart enough to rescue us by finding a way to the United States.