It is a privilege like no other. I am in the east these days, touring villages, undertaking the GNH Survey. I admit, it is so tiring to interview people, move from one gewog to another in two days. It is not like, I am alone and move from one place to another without hassle. We are 25 in a group. Imagine the accommodation and food we have to arrange. At this time of the year, it rains; weather is unpredictable even when it is sunny. So we cannot trust to sleep in the tent. But forget all these problems. Forget even the little downs and disagreements that is part and parcel of teaming different people. It is exciting to see different villages every two days. I feel, I’m going to know every corner of my country.
I was at Galing in Shongphu Gewog yesterday. And today, I’m in Radi. Isn’t that great? It is like I’m trying to grasp every new experience in a memory chip. When I get an opportunity to see different villages and experience true Bhutan, I really wish my brain were like a hard drive. I could store things there and browse it any time I want.
At Galing Gonpa yesterday, I met a group of students. There were three girls and two boys. They are all in class PP – which means they started going to school only this year. And it also means they are six years or older. They all seem to be of same age. The two boys kept getting into a fight. They kept getting into a fight. One was a very quiet boy. He did not talk much. Others had forthcoming attitude. For no reason at all they teased this quiet boy. Even the girls punched and pinched him. He wore is gho as if it was going to fall off any time. I asked him to wear it properly but it got no better. I realized that he did not have a proper belt. He had tied the gho around his waist with only a thin strip of cloth. And only he was barefoot.
Once, he was peeing. He did not have an undergarment. Then girls teased him, shouting, ‘shame, shame.’ When he tried to wear his gho, girls teased him by forcing open his gho. He kept getting into fight with all the other four children. Two girls cried. Some of my colleagues started to mediate and they thought it was this quiet boy’s fault. But I knew it wasn’t his fault. The other children provoked anger. He didn’t even seem to get angry. With the same calm look, he defeated anyone who tried to ridicule him. When other children ridiculed him, he had no choice but to defend himself by being little aggressive.
His mother died leaving behind four children. The father married a woman who has six children from her ex-husband and he lives with her in another village. The eldest, who is a daughter studies in Udzorong. So the three sons, the eldest studying in class four taking care of his brothers stay alone at home. My heart went out to him. Yeah maybe, really like Stiglitz says, we must try to give quality education to everyone to have a fair and just society.
I asked him to be a good student and study well. He told me that he will, that he understood what I was telling him. For now, my hope is that, he will one day grow up to be a very respectable man. I can really see him an educated, responsible leader.