‘The Circle of Karma’, a novel written by Ashi Kunzang Choden centres around the life of Tshomo, who is depicted as an illiterate girl from a typical rural Bhutanese family who grew among the busy schedules of farm works and household chores.
But she wasn’t an illiterate by her own choice instead by social convictions. ‘We are woman. We are different. We must be less ambitious and more subdued. We aren’t like men’ were stereotypical limitations known through her mother. Moreover, her father though was who taught religious scriptures to the village boys, she was left out saying that a woman can’t measure up to as a good religious practitioner.
So life for Tshomo was just back-breaking work in fields and endless chores in the house. The family was large. Her father was for having more number of children. She had to help her mother in both works; field works and household chores. No sooner had she attained fourteen, her mother was pregnant with thirteenth child.
The life of Tshomo was in a new chapter when much complications and labour pain claimed her mother’s life; the baby was born without birth breath. Yet Tshomo didn’t have time to mourn as whole of family affairs and field works fell on her.
It was later on 1stDeath Anniversary of her mother, Tshomo was sent to Trongsa to light butter lamps. She was to go all alone. On the way, she met a nun accompanied by her brother Wangchen which she knew later. They traveled together. As time proceeded, Wangchen proposed Tshomo which she accepted without much reluctance. Wangchen then accompanied her to Trongsa to light butter lamps. She stayed there for quite some time though she was to return exactly after a week. Thinking about her family back at home, she went home though it was completely against the will of Wangchen who didn’t accept to go with her.
On reaching home, Tshomo was taken aback to see her father being married once more though he was more than sixty. However, load for Tshomo reduced with her younger sister Kesang becoming able-bodied to work and support her.
Tshomo was pregnant. She was at constant mental turmoil to face customary actions of bearing a fatherless child if Wangchen won’t there. Her delivery was nearing yet she didn’t have time to rest. She was more than worried how her step-mother would do for her younger sisters and brothers.
When the delivery was almost due, Tshomo was struck with much complication and pain like her mother. Her baby when delivered was breathless. She was emotionally broken and bed ridden. The miscarriage left her with a swollen belly.
Then her husband started showing interest more to her younger sister Kesang than her. When this became more known, she felt old and discarded. Tshomo then left home without a set destination in search of place; where she could hide herself from Kesang and Wangchen at peace.
She then later thought of going Kalimpong to meet her elder brother. In the course she got herself recruited as a labourer in making of Thimphu-phuentsholing high way. She also met a friend called Choki who was somewhere from the east. Then later they went Kalimpong together. Tshomo met her brother. He being a serious religious practitioner had no much time to be with them. So he left for mediation after few days of together.
Tshomo and Choki continued to live there. Choki later married a landlord’s son and went away. Now Tshomo was all alone by herself.
Tshomo then thought of going for pilgrimage at Dorjidhen. But she had no money. So she had to sell her old kira for one American. On her pilgrimage she met many Bhutanese. Among them was Lhatu, who later became her second husband.
Tshomo then returned Kalimpong with Lhatu. Being with Lhatu who was a good calligrapher known to many, Tshomo could gain access and then blessings from many Rinpoches in the region. She could also receive treatment for her swollen belly. But Lhatu showed his true self later as being a liar and gambler. Tshomo with no choice had to leave him. She then under a guidance of one Tibetan Lama, she became a nun.
Tshomo then again returned Thimphu after many years. She then could meet her nieces, nephews, her sister Kesang with Wangchen; Tshomo’s former husband. She stayed there for quite some time and again went away to find spiritual solaces. So at last Tshomo is depicted as a nun-a serious religious practitioner who successfully broke the stereotypes placed upon her once upon a time when she was a girl back at home though she had never learnt to read and write religious scriptures.