It was the last day of Paro Tshechu and my team was celebrating our four days of success, having delivered our mission of providing clean toilets to thousands of people and literally putting an end to open defecation in the place of worship.
We were paid a surprise visit by His Excellency the Prime Minister and the honourable chairperson of National Council among others. They didn’t go to the VIP toilet but to our public toilets which were kept so well that we could impress our esteemed guests and our Prime Minster.
Thank god His Excellency visited before we faced the water problem. There was about an hour of water shortage and within that short time our toilets were overwhelmed by problems. When I heard the arrival of His Majesty to the Tshechu ground I was anxiously running after people to get the problem fixed. I was sweating and panting. I bothered every official I knew in the area and finally we caught hold of the plumber, Ap Jochu, the only person who knew how to fix it. I nearly kissed him.
By the time I caught my breath back I was told His Majesty was leaving. I didn’t even get a decent chance to look at my king. From the extreme corner we were located at I saw waves of people struggling to get closer view of His Majesty as he left. I could have joined the crowd and pushed myself forward to get a glimpse too but we were running low of Toilet Paper supply. So I had to run to a shop nearby to purchase toilet paper rolls. On the way, from above the wall I saw His Majesty briefly on the last turn on the road down to the valley.
I reached the other toilet to check if they needed toilet paper. Just then I got a call. It was Dasho Zimpon. He told me that I was summoned by His Majesty. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I ran to the location Dasho called me to, and then we followed the entourage down the valley. I was flying in the air. We got ahead of the royal entourage and Dasho made me wait on the bridge. I was the only person kept on the bridge and the next person I would see was His Majesty. I could see thousands of people on both ends of the bridge waiting to get a glimpse of His Majesty. I was frozen, I didn’t move an inch even though no one was watching.
Then came the moment, I couldn’t look up directly but I could make out from the radiance that His Majesty had come. I bowed down to pay my respect and froze back to stillness. His Majesty congratulated me on my teams’ work during the Tshechu and told me to walk alongside him across the bridge.
I had crossed that bridge thousand times in my life but even in my most beautiful dream I hadn’t seen myself walking with His Majesty the King and talking about the work I am so passionate about. I could share Bhutan Toilet Org’s Roadmap and the challenges faced in maintaining public toilets.
His Majesty talked about the importance of behavioral change in making our efforts sustainable. And at the other end of the bridge His Majesty spent some more time blessing my dream with his guidance and assurance of Royal support henceforth. Everything seemed so possible suddenly and I couldn’t wait to tell my team.
To make this priceless moment live with me forever His Majesty granted a Kupar (on page 1) with me. I shall look at this photograph and stay motivated for the rest of my life. And this picture shall remind me each day that I can’t take a rest on my dream anymore.
For making this priceless moment possible I would like to thank His Excellency the Prime Minister, my toilet team, my volunteers across the country and all those people who believed in me and supported Bhutan Toilet Org.
by Passang Tshering
The writer is a teacher with the Royal Academy in Paro