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Chengala and Chudrukla: Peas in a pod
Chengala and Chudrukla dancing at home
Everyone is Choskhor valley, Bumthang, knows the Chengala and Chudrukla brothers. Chengala and Chudrukla means 15 and 16 in Dzongkha but the brothers are not teenagers; they are aged 61 and 52 years and they live with their mother.
Robed in old soiled ghos the brothers are a familiar sight in the valley, the elder leading the younger, the right hand tucked into their hemchu (gho pocket). They are always present for any social gathering in the valley be it tshechus or celebrations. Sometimes they also show up for important official meetings.

On auspicious days (Duezangs), they can be seen at lhakhangs and chortens circumambulating and turning the prayer wheels (Mani Lakhor).

The brothers have always been together, like peas in a pod, since they were little boys. People see them as entertainers. When given money Chengala breaks into a song and a dance and Chudrukla tries to ape his brother.

Bumthang
But the brothers are mentally retarded. Chudrukla cannot speak and Chengala manages to mumble a few Bumthap words. They, however, understand each other very well.

"They have been like that from birth," said their mother, Choenzom, who is 95-years-old. "When they were young, they used to sing into the night and they had good voices."

The brothers go to the forest every now and then to fetch firewood for their mother. Their neighbours say that Chudrukla is seen sometimes in the forest alone mumbling prayers to the beating of a plate. Some neighbours say that they have seen him sitting under a tree with a bear.

The brothers are known to stay indoors at night. But recently Chudrukla was seen walking down to Chamkhar town alone shouting as if he was singing a sad song. Most people suspected that he might have had a misunderstanding with his brother or mother.

The brothers and their mother live in a barkle house built for them by the Queen Mother. They have also been provided with rations and other necessities.

Chengala and Chudrukla have a middle brother, a farmer, who lives with his family nearby their home. Although the brothers are always seen at social gatherings they don't drink, smoke or chew doma. They just eat the food if served to them and dance and sing if people ask them to.

"It is always good to see them," said a neighbour. "They never seem to be unhappy or fall sick."

Contributed by Rinzin Wangchuk, Kuensel, Bhutan's National Newspaper

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