A picture speaks a thousand words. And Min Bajracharya's picture of Durga Thapa became an icon of the People's Movement 1990. Durga was 22 then, a student at Padma Kanya Campus. Min was 19 (pic, bottom right). She had joined one of the rallies that were the precursors of the restoration of democracy when the photographer's eye caught the dramatic image.
"I was shouting so much that I damaged my vocal chords, and it never fully recovered," Durga says in her hoarse voice. Initially, Durga was thrilled to see herself splashed on posters, but after 14 years she sometimes feels it has been misused. The picture was first published in the book, Dawn of Democracy published by the Human Rights Protection Forum in 1991. Durga finally met Min Bajracharya two years later.
"I was looking through the viewfinder, when I saw this extraordinary image and I just responded instinctively to the spontaneity and zeal," recalls Min, now the staff photographer for Himal Khabarpatrika and Nepali Times. Both are thrilled their photo earned so much recognition, but both feel they have been exploited. Now an official at the Chief Comptroller's Office, Durga says she has been bypassed for promotions. As a government official, she now limits her political interest to union activity. The impact on her personal life was bigger. Her family was dazzled by the sudden exposure the photograph brought-as a result she was married off even before she finished college! Recently, Min's photo of Durga enjoyed another comeback when the political parties relaunched their agitation on 4 May (see picture). Durga's children don't understand why their mother's picture is plastered on every wall in Kathmandu. "Luckily my father-in-law and I believe in the same ideology, and my husband doesn't mind it toomuch," Durga laughs.