Chhimi Dema 

For the past three years, Nakho, 81, had been filling potholes of Dechhog Lam and Dechhen Lam in Langjophaka, Thimphu.

He also fills potholes on roads towards Taba, Jungshina and Hejo.

Nakho, who is originally from Langjophaka and stays there with his niece, said he has been fixing potholes because he believes merit could be earned by doing any good deeds.

Commuters along the roads might see the old man with a green trolley in the early hours of the morning and late afternoon.

Nakho said poor quality roads and drainage systems cause potholes in the city.

He said many people asked him if he gets paid for doing the job. “This work, to me, is a good deed that benefits commuters, which will help me gain merit for next life.”

He said he has been told that clearing paths and water canals bring good fortune and less sickness to one.

Nakho served in the army for 10 years but returned home to help his mother after his elder brother died.

He was married but does not have children.

Nakho’s niece, Nim Dem, said they told him it was not necessary to work at this age at the beginning.

“We told Azha (uncle) to stay at home chanting prayers,” she said. “But Azha said that what he does was also equivalent to chanting prayers. Since then we never stopped him.”

Nim Dem said Nakho raised her after her mother died.

Meanwhile, Nakho fills the green trolley with soil and gravels he gets beside the road. He waits for the vehicles to pass and fills the potholes. He continues the work until dark.

“Some people stop and ask me questions,” he said. “And some people glare at me.”

Nakho said that he starts at 5am to fill the potholes so that he does not cause inconvenience to the commuters. “Before I started filling the potholes, I had observed that a pothole creates traffic congestion, and there are risks of accidents.”

He said he hopes his work will ensure the safety of the commuters.

Sometimes he does not return home for lunch but munches on sip (flattened maize) and daw (buttermilk) he takes from home. When the weather is not favourable, he stays at home watching TV and chanting prayers.

Nakho said he would continue filling the potholes as long as he can. “I am doing this from my heart for the benefit of others.”

He hopes that his story will inspire others to take the same initiative. “Who knows people might even do it better than me.”

Gangchu, 60, a resident of Langjophakha, said that he has seen Nakho do the work for more than three years. “I see him enjoying what he is doing.”