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From Finland, a road for Buxa Hill

Buxaduar (Alipurduar), Dec. 24: Marte Dukpa from Finland has come back to Chunabhatti on Buxa Hill after 24 years with the promise of building a road to the village where he spent his childhood.

Marte had left Chunabhatti with his mother Helen in 1983. This time he is back with his own family — wife Mayo and sons Yuma and Youmas — to celebrate Christmas with his childhood friends. They landed at Paro airport in Bhutan on Saturday morning. From there they took a car to Santrabari. The final leg of the journey was a 5km trek up the hill to Chunabhatti as there is no motorable road to the village.

“We on behalf of the Finnish Mission have applied to the field director of the Buxa Tiger Reserve, asking for permission to construct a road from Santrabari to Chunabhatti. It will help the villagers a lot,” said Marte, who has a business in medicines in Finland.

The Finnish Mission has been running a church in Chunabhatti since 1938 and Marte’s mother Helen used to work there before Independence. She later got married to Norbu Dukpa, the local priest, and Marte was their son.

Field director L.G. Lepcha said: “The Finish Mission applied to me because the entire stretch lies within the reserve. I have forwarded the application to the appropriate authority for permission.”

For Marte, this has been an emotional journey to the place of his birth.

“I can easily remember the days I spent here. I used to study in Dr Graham’s Homes in Kalimpong and I’d come down to Chunabhatti during the winter vacation. This is the first time my wife and sons will visit the village. They always wanted to come here because they heard a lot about Chunabhatti from my mother, who lives with me,” said Marte.

The family also met Marte’s father Norbu in Jaigaon, a town on the India-Bhutan border. “We could not bring him because he is very old, nearing 80, and would not have been able to trek through this hilly terrain. But he was very happy to see me and my family,” said Marte.

When Helen was in Chunabhatti, she used to bake cakes for Christmas and distribute them among the children, recalled Marte. “We, too, have brought gifts for my childhood friends and I am sure we will enjoy this year’s Christmas with them in the village of my memories,” he said.

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