This is in connection with the story of the RAPA dancers being misused by the Home and Agriculture Ministries which appeared on Kuensel online forum. I have a similar story to share, of a distant relative who was lured by the dreams of singing and dancing to fame. A village beauty blessed with a unique voice, RAPA was a dream come true for Pema (name changed).
Pema quickly became the best performer in her group. Besides performing for national events such as the National Day, she also visited places like Japan, France, UK and the US. If I am not mistaken, from her pictures, I think she also performed at the Smithsonian Institute.
All these fame also brought unnecessary attention. And before she knew what was happening, she was seeing Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk (LKW). She was “seeing” him because his sweet words and presents made the innocent village girl fall madly in love with the distinguished gentleman.
For 3 years they had a torrid affair. She looked forward for LKW’s tours, both within the country and foreign. She was most happy about the foreign trips where RAPA was also a part of the delegation as LKW. It was these foreign trips that LKW appeared relaxed. He let her sleep in his room for the whole night. Back home it was usually a late night visit at her flat, or a quick call-on in a dzongkhag guesthouse.
After the third year Pema realized that the gentleman was not distinguished as he appeared to be. He wouldn’t even help her find admission to schools for her siblings. And he made his Nu.700 a month “stipend” seem like a million.
His jealousy was what really scared Pema. He couldn’t bear the thought of other distinguished gentlemen leaching at her, that at one point, he even asked her to quit RAPA. He promised her a job in BDFC. But just like his previous empty promises, she was embarrassingly turned away after the MD tried to sleep with her. He never really hit her, but his sharp tongue bit her like a snake, and the biting became a daily affair by the end of third year. That was the time that Pema realized her time was up. LKW had discovered another RAPA girl just like her. Only a few years younger, and educated till class 10.
Pema is now 33and back in the village. She was lucky enough to find an older man who took her as his wife. They are expecting their second child.
It seems that nothing has changed. People in power are still exploiting RAPA girls.