A Portrait of Rinpoche’s Mother

15 May

Just on the eve of Mother’s Day, I was up at Rinpoche’s residence, helping to move some fake trees into Rinpoche’s apartment. Yes, I know it is all sort of weird to do that but Rinpoche loves trees and being in the forest. So he has gotten quite a few fake trees arranged and ‘planted’ in his apartment to lend a rustic foresty look to the place. Well, after the artistic arrangements were done to the trees, Bryan, myself and Andrew sat down to talk. I guess, its no surprise that our little chit-chat lasted the whole night through.

Conversations ran the whole gamut of topics and somewhere along the line, Rinpoche came to rest on the topic of his mother, his foster mother that is. I don’t know if Rinpoche realized that it was Mother’s Day but he poignantly recalls, in the best way he remembers this lady, Dana Bugayeff. In his younger days, when he first arrived in the United States, she would take him to a big toy store and filled 2 shopping carts worth of toys for Rinpoche. For the rest of his time that he was under her care, she had been the most generous person he knew. She would dress up in a trench coat with a furry collar (Rinpoche said it looked like it was Burberry before there was Burberry) , slap on some thick lipstick, draw on a theatrical eye-line (Rinpoche said her makeup made her look Joan Crawford, an Asian version that is), grab her handbag and take Rinpoche on an exciting shopping trip.

Rinpoche recalls that he had a few toys and one of his most favourite were mechanical toy cars that raced round a race track that weaved into a double loop like the number 8. He remembers that his favourite car was a bulbous Volkswagen and the strangest thing was that, the Volkswagen would eventually be his first car many years down the road. When a toy car became faulty, she would excitedly announce that they should go shopping. She was always spontaneous like that and she was the type of person who would buy a few toy cars just to replace a faulty one. She would buy him clothes, toys, books and even a gold Buddha pendant – a Mongolian tradition that he cherished.

On the other hand, his father was a distant figure and would provide with the perfunctory treat at the diner’s and often dressed Rinpoche in all manner of uniforms so picture-perfect photos of father and son could be taken. It almost seemed that the father just wanted a trophy son but happy times didn’t last very long for young Rinpoche. At that time, the father had clandestine affairs with women and this took a toll on the mother’s sanity. She eventually developed Schizophrenia that resulted in violent and random outbursts of rage on the young boy. Amazingly, Rinpoche never blamed her for the abuse and always remembered her as this eternally generous maternal figure.

For more pictures and stories of Rinpoche’s childhood and formative years, check out :- http://blog.tsemtulku.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/me/my-short-bio-in-pictures1.html

2 Responses to “A Portrait of Rinpoche’s Mother”

  1. There's No Way But Up! May 15, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    From Doris Tan – David, Rinpoche’s unconditional love towards his mother is beyond words despite he was abused whenever Rinpoche’s mother’s “mood” came. It is really something we all should learn not to take our mothers for granted. I love my mother very much and I am glad she listens to me now instead of being so naggy all the time. She starts to observe my changes and speaks to me in a gentle tone. I love my mum. Before I came to KL, I bought her flowers and gave her a kiss. Something that I would never do in a million years but I did because it made the two of us happy and felt loved.

  2. Yoke Fui May 23, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    It always breaks my heart to read on the sad and traumatic childhood that Rinpoche had.The most heartbreaking thing for any body would be rejection from one’s mother. Only very strong minded persons such as Rinpoche could turn out “normal” after going through what Rinpoche had experienced in his growing-up years.

    Yes, always show your Mom how much you love and appreciate her while you still can.

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