Yangchen C Rinzin | Bumthang

The silent hamlet of Khangrab in Bumthang Tang erupted in joy when Pem Choki gave birth to twin boys in spring 42 years ago.

The local belief was that it would bring good fortune to the family and the community. But Pem Choki never dreamed that her sons would one day be chosen to serve in one of the most institutions.

The younger son, Dawa is the new Member of Parliament (MP) for Chhokhor-Tang constituency elected on November 19 in a bye-election and assumed office yesterday. His elder brother, Nima is an incumbent National Council MP of Bumthang serving his second term.

“Like any mother, I was happy that I had twins,” Pema Choki said. “I was happier that they grew up to be independent, but never imagined they would represent in the Parliament.”

She said that perhaps it was what people meant when they said the boys were a good omen. “It is a proud moment for us.”

Their father Sonam, 72, is relieved now that Dawa has a job.

“I’m just worried that through this journey, they’ll have both enemies and friends in the political world,” he said. “I hope that they will serve our King and the country and be known as the twin who served the nation well together.”

Pema Choki appears old from the years of toiling in the harsh weather of highlands of Tang but her memory of their birth is fresh as ever like it was yesterday. Dawa was born 30 minutes after Nima.

However, they don’t have the same birthday officially. Dawa celebrates his birthday on February 22 and Nima on April 15.

Nima and Dawa studied together up to Class VIII in Tang Primary School and then Jakar High School in Bumthang. When they were sent to different schools after Class VIII, teachers had erred and reflected their date of birth differently. They decided not to correct them.

Often in school, teachers would mistake them for one another. A teacher would call Nima and give a question and then point on Dawa asking the answer.

If one bunked the school, the other got punished. If Nima missed school, Dawa was marked absent. Such treatment didn’t end with their schooling.

Dawa, while even jobless, was often greeted as “Dasho”. Policemen at the gates would salute to him.

The incidents were probably good “tendrel” (good omen) and Dawa is happy now he can happily reciprocate.

“Otherwise, it was so embarrassing when I was just an unemployed man,” Dawa said.

The secret in separating the junior is by the mole on his face.

Pema Choki still remembers how she wanted to call her twins by different names, but villagers started calling them Nima and Dawa, a usual name Bhutanese give for twins in olden days and the names never got changed.

“I am more worried about Dawa since he has gone through a lot and now he needs to serve people and fulfil his pledges.”

Villagers in Tang said that it would be interesting to watch how the Speaker could tell the two apart.

Villagers were happy for Dawa that he is employed and that he would blacktop the dusty, narrow, and bumpy road.

A village elder, Nazom said that it was believed that male twins would not survive together, but if they live, it is a sign of good luck. “This is proven today,” she said.

Another villager, Chimong said Nima and Dawa were inseparable and have always worked together, which is why they are confident they would not disappoint people of Bumthang.

For the twin, they are focussed on serving the people and ensuring their families don’t suffer blame for their mistakes.

Dawa said that it was an added pressure apart from fulfilling pledges. “We hope people wouldn’t politicise our roles, as Nima’s responsibility is different from mine.”

Nima said that being someone who has already been in the system for long, he was happy that his twin brother was now in the government who can bring differences that he cannot. “More than Dawa, I am proud of Bumthang people for choosing the right person.”

With two different roles and mandates, Nima said that as an NC member it would be his responsibility to ensure the decision taken by his brother or government do not affect people at large. “However, we’ll always have a space to discuss and share ideas, consult. With my experience, I can guide my brother too.”

For the residents of Bumthang, Dawa completes the set of three auspicious celestial elements, Nima (sun), Dawa (moon), and Karma (star) representing them. Karma Wanchuk is the MP from Chumig-Ura constituency, Bumthang.