Our family was traditionally cloth merchants with a shop
in the largest cloth market in Asia. For the past 55 years, three
generations, including myself, had spent life time in these profitable
environs. In late 1990s the traditional shop, where we sat cross-legged on a
gaddi, was renovated into a modern air-conditioned shop. With this the shop
was ready for the next generation, my sons, so I thought.
The elder son, Sonam joined banking and was doing well in
his field. So my eyes were on Nawang, who was expected to run the business
for next decades. He started attending the shop and would take interest in
the trade, just as I had started almost 30 years ago. I had trekked and
climbed extensively in the Himalaya along with the business, which was ably
looked after by my uncle and father when I was absent. Moreover in our
family all had good education and had developed other strong interests in
sports, reading and arts- all sometimes taking up time away from business.
Nawang was no exception. He was a great cricket follower,
especially of our Mumbai team, and had watched many matches with me. He had
accompanied me to mountains, including to the Siachen Glacier. Thus a
variety of interests were ingrained in him by the time he started attending
Many days I will come at the shop later in the afternoon,
hoping that Nawang was attending to the customers. Soon I realised that
whenever I saw him, there was some boredom, sometimes sadness in his eyes.
It was evident that his heart was not in business. We discussed this and I
used to tell him that ‘Look this is an air-conditioned comfortable showroom.
We have goodwill and traditional name. All you have to do is to take it
forward based on this. You can spend your life comfortably here, earning
well in this cool shop.’
As always, in his calm tone, Nawang said, “This is an
air-conditioned jail for me! I would love to be in any other field, in
adventure, exciting life and something where I can dedicate myself to a
cause”. After all he is my son, I argued with myself, and like me he has
taste for Nature and adventure. So it is fruitless trying to persuade him to
stick here. He must go to his liberation, as much as he desires. Nawang
chose to join the army ! Rest, as they say, is history or destiny.
I started winding up business no sooner Nawang was
selected to join the Officers Training Academy and by the time Nawang was
commissioned in the army business was closed and the shop was sold. I too
devoted my future life to trekking, writing and lecturing – my own
liberation thanks to Nawang.
Still many old business associates ask me, whether it was
a right decision to sell my business and allow Nawang out of the
‘air-conditioned’ shop and to go to a life of risk. You cannot stop a
person, or put him in any confinement, who wants to fly.
After all his aim was to fly to heaven.