When I first arrived at Lichen Chewog in Trashi Yangtse as a teacher at the community School, the ruling party had already completed their second year in the office. The mainstream politics and the names of our iconic parliamentarians had already invaded the decent homes of the East and had also stirred the innocent minds and hearts of the local community there.
The woods and the mud plastered walls were laminated with portraits [Publication of Kuensel Newspaper] of Lyenpo Sangay Nidup, Our Prime Minister Jigme Y Thinley and of the members of their respective parties; the ‘People’s Democratic Party’ and the ‘Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’.
|Location: Laya (Photo courtesy: www.sfgate.com)|
The election campaign publication of kuensel Newspaper had gained a status of its own. The papers occupied most of the walls of all the houses in all the five hamlets around the catchment area of my previous school. The modest hamlets were now standing firm with their own political affiliation and the dwellers were getting constant inspiration from the glossy pictures of their favorite politicians posted on their wrecked walls.
The colorful pictures of our parliamentarians were displayed neatly and were given the most visible and also sacred spaces in their houses; the walls at the entrances, the walls of their living rooms and on the empty spaces on the walls of their altar rooms…. Smiling and poised….. the pictures were posted next to the gods and deities worshipped by the local people. With it came in the culture of glorifying the parliamentarians when visitors like me entered their room with in-depth understanding on how government is formed and why politicians are found giving sweet talks everywhere.
|One hamlet one ideology|
During the first year of my tenure, going around the hamlets for usual chit chat with the villagers landed up in understanding their political views and came to know the ardent supporters of the respective parties by looking at the lavish display of those smiling portraits of our otherwise very serious political figures.
We didn’t discuss much about the politicians posted on the walls then. But in my second year of tenure our comfort zone for each other expanded immensely. Along with it, the discussion on politics of our small yet vibrant nation, the success and failure of the ruling political party and the sense of duty showcased by the Opposition Leader, Lyenpo Tshering Tobgay got brewed so well inside those cozy houses with the warm hospitality of the eastern Bhutan.
|Farmers at work...without political heads.|
The different hamlets nestled in far away mountain had their own political inclination. One hamlet was different from another in terms of their political affiliation yet the people would break bread together and help each other selflessly. The political vibe of the villagers turned thin and weak when they come out to work in their fields. But as they go back to their houses and to the portraits the vibes got re-charged again.
For me, visiting the hamlets soon became more of a balancing act in terms of the political views I share in their houses and in front of those glossy portraits starring at me. Being apolitical and general in opinion was the only trick. I knew people won't welcome any contradictory comments on either political or religion believes that they live with. It's too personal and its best not discussed in public. So, we discussed more on the personality of the parliamentarians hung on their walls than about their political gizmos.
|Another hamlet...another ideology|
The thick glossy portraits of our first list of aspiring parliamentarians did serve many purposes there. It helped in gathering the falling dust from the wall to the wooden floor, kept alive the believe and hope of the voters and shielded the cozy and warm rooms from the chilly wind blowing in that high mountain.
But did the elected members of our parliament served us well? Are they still exuberant about their campaign promises? Did they work enough to win your vote for the next election? Are the future parties and their members only drooling and are lured into politics by the status quo of our present MPs? All said and done, we need to be ever more responsible in casting our votes this time to make our government more vibrant and strong.
But no matter which party wins the next election, how successful a candidate turns out to be or what else the new government will do, all the candidates standing for the next election will definitely serve a great deal of purpose for the next five years in those far flung villages. Because just before the general election a brand new set of glossy portraits of our parliamentarians will be nailed to their wrecked walls and it shall smile along the gods…gathering dust, warming the rooms and welcoming guests to their houses for the next five years.