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A State of Importance – Jurmi Chhowing


The bad leaders of the world keep disappointing me with their threats of inaction. Put your money where your mouth is and swallow a grenade. Or sit on a stick of dynamite. Whichever way you’d like to get blown. And we’ll pay homage to your explosiveness.

In the pantheon of capitals, Thimphu may not even scratch the list as an important capital but in its motherland of Bhutan, it is the most important. And it is filled with many important people. The important people of Thimphu live in Thimphu all the time. It is a relationship made up of mutual importance. During the day they go to perform the duties of their important work at the workplace of importance. All the important workplaces are in Thimphu, by the way. As well as all the important ministries, organizations, NGOs, business houses and residences. Even the downtrodden of Thimphu are more important than the poorer lot in the country. During the nights they go home to connive, party, make merry or pass out. They do this every day and every night. Every day is an important day and every night is an important night because the important people of Thimphu are important day and night.

Now pay attention. This is important. I’m not repeating the information. The important people of Thimphu are important.

I do not hear much from the unimportant people who do not live and work and eat and pass out in Thimphu. I only hear of them in passing when there is a death, a disaster or a ceremonial tree plantation. Or one of those cosmetic inaugurations where the important people of Thimphu arrive and gather amidst a fanfare and then go on to act even more important. And when such important shenanigans conspire to take place in such unimportant places I see it and I hear it on the national television, which is another very important television station based in Thimphu. Again, the reportage is unimportant unless it is first reported to the important people of Thimphu. And these other places even have names that do not sound like Thimphu:like Dagana,Sarpang,Zhemgang,Lhuentseand Sipsu. Or semi-important: like Bumthang,Haa,Mongar, Trongsaand Trashigang. And every other place of unimportance unless it has some importance for the very important people of Thimphu. And again, places only become important when there are important dignitaries from Thimphu visiting these unimportant places. Notice how they become dignitaries once they leave the capital? It is called rubbing in the importance.

I’m almost half as important as I almost live half the time in Thimphu. And just like the infamous phrase – ‘What’s So Important?”– The answer is that such unimportance is really important. So I’ve managed to solve the problem by declaring that I’m indeed from Thimphu–fulltime. I think every place in Bhutan should henceforth change its name to Thimphu. Imagine the importance they would gain in a flash. Everybody would be from Thimphu, even if they hailed from and lived in Laya, Merak, or Manas. They would all be working and living and eating and passing out in Thimphu. Day and night, they would all be equally important. And they could all refer to themselves as the important inhabitants of Thimphu – the happening capital of Bhutan -without batting an eyelid.

And that would be just as important.

Now this is only information. There is nothing ‘kind’ or ‘greedy’ about it. Just as there is only ‘action’. There is nothing ‘necessary’ or ‘unnecessary’ about it. You are either informed about an incident or you aren’t. You do something about it or you don’t. We do not have to play the decorative voiceover. There is no call for rosy oratory, or insincere bombastic language. The inconvenience caused is clear enough. There is no need to go over the top and regret the bit ever so deeply or ever so greatly. The emotional blackmail is unhealthy. The drama is redundant and dishonest. A landslide is still a landslide. It is nobody’s fault. A falling rock is still a falling rock. And when it is done falling it is still a rock. Ditto for the flashfloods.And it is bad for poetry too, in case you happen to be the soulful kind, because the language is plain stifling. If this does not sound convincing then try treating your position with the importance it deserves and ignore your persona. But that would be far too unimportant. So we are back feeling the importance.

It is as important or as unimportant as that. Let us just state the facts as they are. And stay alert – that is important.

Now it is raining cats and dogs. It is nobody’s fault, clearly. It is the monsoon. So should we blame the rains? The clouds? The meteorologists? Or should we cut off the weather gods’ noses in spite? Cats and dogs are more than just pets or strays. Or unintelligent animals.

In this instance, cats and dogs are expressions made up of water molecules. And water molecules are wet with water. So it thunders, lights up and falls and pours and runs along the streets where it flushes out the garbage in the drains and the filth in the sewers, revealing the lack of sanitation, or plumbing, or storm-drains, or anything that wasn’t considered important.

But on a summer’s day, the rains are still cool, and welcome.That is because cats and dogs are really good rains. Cats and dogs are creatures of clarity, and harvest. Cats and dogs are not vain or regretful. Cats and dogs are the personification of action, kind or otherwise. And cats and dogs are as important as the very important people of Thimphu. And although it rains cats and dogs in Thimphu, all the raining cats and dogs of Bhutan are as important as the cats and dogs that rain only in Thimphu.

So you see, everyone is as important as the very important people of Thimphu.

(The writer is an editor, writer and founder of yallamma_the_writing_company)