March 24, 2011

In the Canvas of Time

Dear storywriter Diwakar Nepali! I was that unlucky woman, who had to be separated before saturated with your words of thanks. You might have forgotten the moment and the day, but how can I forget them? If possible, I wish that moment be a ray of sunlight, which I could get every morning. I wish that moment be a warm quilt, which I could wrap around me during the cold nights. I wish that moment be a cool fragrance, which I could breathe in the summer. I wish the moment be a canvas, where our stories could be written, but this is also not possible.

A bus heading for Jogbani from Biratnagar―that day I was going to Jogbani as usual. It was not possible to get a seat as I got into the bus in the middle of its journey. It might rather be possible to win a lottery in noodles, but to get a seat riding the bus in the middle of the journey is like winning the lottery of hundreds of millions. A man suddenly rose from his seat, beside which I was standing, and got off. I really won the lottery. Another man was still there. I had not noticed him properly. The man was wearing French-styled hat and was in his fifties. I was about to sit beside him when he said, “Please, be seated here.” I found closeness in his words. Then I looked at him head to heels. I must have seen him somewhere, heard or read him somewhere.

“Where are you going?”

I reply him analytically.


“Thank God! I am also going to Jogbani, came from Kathmandu and I do not know well about the road. It would be good if you helped me.”

This unknown stranger was urging me for a help. What do I say to him in the present situation? What kind of person he could be? The word "Yes" slipped through my mouth while I was pondering.

“Would you tell me where do you live here?”

“Tintolia.” How could a man of Kathmnandu know Tintolia?

“Where do you work then?”

“I am a librarian in a campus.”

“I am Diwakar Nepali and came from Kathmandu. I need to buy some goods. Would you mind helping me, sister?”

I am delighted as soon as I heard the name ‘Diwakar Nepali’. Oh! I am speaking with my favorite author from so close. I had never imagined it in my life. The time was morning. The sunlight was struggling with fog in its attempt to come out. The bus was running with its intermittent stops on the way. However, I was unmindful about when the bus used to stop unnecessarily in some places. Instead, my heart was flying high wearing the feathers of happiness. I am having this chance to hear my favorite author today. My heart pounds faster and in such moments, I usually remember God. I feel myself a bit inconvenient. He might have noticed a little impatience in me.

“Okay thanks, don't worry if you have inconvenience. I myself will buy the things for me and return.”

I say with restlessness, “No….No….It's not like that. I will surely help you. You are from Kathmandu, a new person is cheated here.” I cannot tell him the truth that I wanted to spend maximum time with him. I was being unable to tell him that he was my beloved storywriter. He might not have behaved with me in a normal way if only I told him that. Exposing him open, I wanted to read him, wanted to see him scattered into each word. I had been getting the image of his strange behavior by reading his stories, but now I was trying to study him at physical level. That is why I was giving him my identity as a stranger, not as an avid reader of his stories.

I start making an interim plan. After the completing to purchase things in Jogbani, I will take him in a rickshaw. He will be with me about half an hour on the way back. At that time, I will tell him everything about myself. Then I will take his mobile number and e-mail address too.

How my interest in literature increased―it does have a story. Near my house, there used to live a wholesaler of Hindi magazines. Before marriage, I would have enough time and used to read Grihashova, Manorama, Kadambini, Sarita, among others. Those days, only a few Nepali magazines were in the market. The stories published in those magazines aroused a deep interest for stories in me. I used to be an avid reader of the stories of Prem Chand, Rabindranath Tagore, Satya Jit Ray. The wholesaler also would give me books to read as much as I wanted. I was settled in Biratnagar after my marriage. After marriage, I got a job as a librarian in a campus. There used to be frequent leisure times in the library, and discussions and interactions about the books helped to grow my interest in stories or fictions. I started to read the books of stories or fiction written by national and international writers. In the course of reading, author Diwakar’s story impressed me a lot. Thereafter, I started to read his each story. His stories analyze the man-woman relationship in such a way that the readers would forget themselves whether they are males or females. In his artistically written stories, the reader would forget whether they are living in past or future. These characteristic features of stories had fascinated me. His new stories would often come on the websites. I would read them. Then the stories would be published in the magazines. But, the same stories published on magazines would be stale to me.

There would have been interactions about his stories in the library. We generally talked about books. We felt proud if we could tell the names of Nepali or foreign writers after reading something. To be frank, I would feel proud to take the names of foreign writers such as Maupassant, Kafka, Leo Tolstoy, Knut Hamsun, Ernest Hemingway, Tasalima Nasarin, Samarset Mom etc. as if I was an expert of English literature. Thus, I would spend time reading books while many other women spent their time watching serials. Sometimes, I wished I could write stories. Once, a strong interest of writing stories came upon my mind. For a number of days' brainstorming, I had given birth to a plot of a story. It was a holiday, when I sat to write the story. No sooner had I started writing, my daughter came to me saying she was hungry. As I was heating milk to feed her, son came to ask for money to buy a bunch of robber band chungi to play with. I had no change in my purse. So, I sent him with a hundred-rupee note, telling him to return the money after buying. Daughter also insisted to go with him and went. After a few minute, both returned with handful of things of that one hundred rupees note. Looking at the things, I started to scold them. The milk had already boiled over. When I sat to write after a while, a neighboring sister came to ask for cement. How should I say that I had no cement, while actually I had? I just came to know that she needed only five kilos and she further said that she did not get a the little amount of cement from a broken sack. Then, I went to the shop to weigh the five kilos of cement. Finally, after ducking and diving in these spasmodic chores, I sat to write the story. Alas, I was again disturbed by a friend's phone call – “Give me the digital camera you have for one day, okay?” I could not say “No.” “Also charge the camera if you have the charger.” Oh! How shamelessly she could ask the camera and again asked me to do her work. It is also an art. I searched the camera, and also charged its battery for her.

I hardly completed the story while giving an eye towards the children. My story was published in the campus memorial. I myself started to talk about my story thinking that at least someone would praise, however no one said it was good. Then, my interest with the story writing had faded away, but how nicely Diwakar writes stories, which touch every reader’s heart. It seems as though his stories are capable of giving a complete picture of a society. His stories are imbued with patriotism and a pain of being ‘I.’ Female sufferings related to sexuality are exposed in such a way that it seems whole society has been reflected in the stories. The sexual pains of females, which the society has been neglecting so far, or let's say the society has added fuel to flame by baseless accusations and allegations on the females, while the society has been turning its deaf eyes over them. But, Diwakar has exposed them nicely in his stories like a doctor does in his operation.

“Jogbani, Jogbani!” a boy spoke at the top of his voice. My dearest author was beside me. He was lost in thought. We had not interacted up to now.

“Brother…let’s go on rickshaw; we can reach sooner.”

“Ok,” he agreed.

We rode on a rickshaw. Oh! My beloved storywriter is sitting being stuck with me. How great he is! I came to know that he has his last name ‘Nepali.' Otherwise, his family name was Upadhdhyaya. I had read this in his interview. We all are Nepalese. All Nepalese have one caste, which is Nepali. In fact, in this time when our society is rampant with the mist of communalism, this kind of feeling and notion can give a moral to the society. Besides, he had set an example by marrying a girl from the cast, which was supposed to be lower than his cast. He might not have realized that how closely I know him. Between us was no space. We were packed so tightly that even a small gust of wind could not pass through the space between us. The sunrays had a partial victory over the hazy weather. I wished that that time would stop, because after a moment we would no more be anonymous to each other. I was hurrying to say that I was really an avid reader of his stories. He might be happy to get his readers even in such a distance. I was eager see the change in his facial expression at that moment.

“I just came to know that cold is as same as in Kathmandu, isn’t it, sister…?”

How lovely are his words, how sweet they are!

“Yes, brother…the atmosphere is cold when here is cold wave.”

I felt like kissing his hands. How enchanting the words of his stories were, sweeter than rasbari, how romantic the dialogues were, strong enough to arouse a feeling of shyness. The meanings were so amorous, far greater than the sexual satisfaction.

My hairs would touch his cheek. I wish I had been a hair. He might not have been interested to read my mental state, otherwise, he might have already understood the state mind of any ordinary woman like me. It was not difficult for a writer who could make millions of his readers follow his ideas with the magic of his pen. Probably he wanted to fix himself like an ordinary person, otherwise, he could have stripped me off or sifted through me or could see me unveiling, by now. But he was not interested to do all the things. The first major reason behind this could be that new place, where he had come all the way from Kathmandu, and the next could be the moody nature commonly found in writers.

I asked the rickshaw puller to stop a little farther because there in the corner was a wholesale shop of kurta salwar for women. He might have loved his wife dearly, but he might not have been getting the same love from his wife. I have read that the litterateurs cannot satisfy their consorts. Therefore, he is going to take the kurta salwar for his wife.

“Which color does the sister-in-law like, brother?”

“She likes pink, but I love blue color, sister? See…all the deep things are blue. How blue is the color of the sky….how blue is the color of the ocean…” He spilled himself a little and I drank it lifting on my hands. That was a storywriter dwelling inside him – Yes, how long can a man stop or obstruct the huge store within him? But, he managed to control within himself. Thus, he was able to be a great and popular storywriter. I was waiting for a time when we would be returning to Jogbani in a rickshaw after purchasing the goods. He purchased two sets of kurta salwar.

“What other good things are found here in cheap price, sister…?”

“Biscuits, clothes and utensils are found in cheap price, brother.”

“Let it be…it will be difficult to carry a heavy load; let’s buy only some biscuits…and that would be enough.”

I decided not to buy anything because I can come to Jogbani the next time also. But, I might not again meet author Diwakar.

However, I had to buy pantie and bra – how should I buy in front of him? If I take him with me to buy them, what will he think? But those clothe items were quite essential for me.

“Brother, would you mind staying here for some time? I will come back soon buying something for me and then we go together.”

“Well, all right. Go and buy the things for you as well. Sorry if I have been disturbing you?”

How fast he had understood the feeling of my heart. Why could not he understand the feelings of an ordinary woman like me while he understands the psychology of many characters?

“No. No. Your presence is not disturbing me. It’s my good luck to meet the person like you…” My God! The reality had nearly slipped away from my mouth. Yes, it's true that man is nothing in himself. How hard one tries to keep oneself in self-restraint, there is something else to guide. I was lost in the thought about how I would express my feelings to him in the rickshaw. So, I entered into the other shop to buy pantie and bra, but that took a long time when I could not find the bra with the number to match my size. I rushed back to my dear author, but to my surprise, he was not there. I was nervous. I felt like deserted. Where might have he gone? New person! New place! Might he have gone missing? Or, might the merchants are hard selling their goods to my best author? Did I say something to pinch to his heart? It is said that authors are highly emotional.

Now I regretted for not asking his mobile number. My dreams of returning to Biratnagar in a rickshaw and having a lunch together with him shattered. I was perplexed and puzzled for a long time when I could not decide what to do and how to find the writer Diwakar amidst the sea of people. Then, I bought a few more things for me and waited for a long time at Jogbani bus-stand, but could not see him again. The bus I rode was pack with passengers, but I felt vacuous and felt like losing something. I felt like leaving my own shadow somewhere behind me. The thing I had been sitting beside him in the rickshaw and purchasing goods with him constantly came into my mind. How unlucky I was. I lost the opportunity of understanding my favorite storywriter from very close. If I had not gone to buy the pantie and bra, I could have talked and talked about the moment in a speed of 90 kilometers per hour to my friends. But everything came to a standstill. I was empty and alone.

Dear Diwakar, I was that unfortunate woman whom you had abandoned in Jogbani, knowingly or unknowingly. I even had got no opportunity to introduce myself to you. I think it is now meaningless to introduce myself to you. Did sister-in-law like the kurta salwar? I guess she might not be angry knowing that I had liked you so much. I am only an example; he has thousands of fans and admirers across the country. If the mountain hid its beauty, no one might have been enchanted with it. If the flowers did not spread its beauty and fragrance, no one might have given importance to the flowers. If humans had not worshipped the God, its existence would already have been faded. No shepherd girls in the thousands of number would run after lord Krishna. Thousands of fans would not have shoved each other to take autographs from their favorite singers. Rainbow appears when rain stops, but there was no certainty that it appears in each rainfall. Life is like the seven colors a rainbow. Who knows when or where the happiness is drawn in the canvas of life?

Translated by :Ramchandra KC/Shankar Babu Acharya

Certainty Uncertainty

Before the faint light of early morning was spread, a stinking news had reached everywhere in the village – “Sabitri’s mummy has given birth to a daughter.” The news had stretched as far as water-taps, rest houses, paddy fields, teashop, among others.

“Poor Ram Prasad had a daughter again.”

“Poor Dhamalni Amai had again a granddaughter. She might die without seeing the face of a grandson.”

“Oh! Sabitri’s mummy has again given birth to a daughter.”

“I heard that they had gone to the doctor for checking and knew that the doctor had said they would have a son this time.”

The ripples of actions and reactions passed through the villagers like a rotating swing's movement. The pole of curiosity that had been buried in the village for past some days was uprooted forever now.

Two days have passed since the childbirth. The house is filled with an atmosphere of doubt and distraught. No one has entered into her room except Suntali, the housemaid. She has no hunger. Her body has been exhausted with a mental pain that emerged after the pain of childbirth. Mind has been blank. Nothing has entered into her stomach except the soup of caraway seeds (jwano). No one is there to ask her to eat. None of her neighboring sisters of the village came to her house to sympathize. Surely, they had come to console and encourage her until she gave birth to her third daughter. But this time, they might have thought that the words for sympathy and encouragement have mildewed being musty, which might only give indigestion rather as a remedy to the lactating mother. Therefore, no one had been there to give a dose of sympathy. She looked at her daughter's face at once. An innocent face of a child! The child was sleeping derelict of the worldly activities and its bonds. She saw her own image in that face; saw her own existence and the waves of ignorance surging on that innocent face, which had come in this world embracing a dark uncertain future.

Her heart has shattered with a pain of being born as a daughter. Her body has been burnt with the curse of being a daughter's mother. Her sky has darkened, the earth has sunk; everywhere is mire without a place to stand.

How happy her husband was until the last two days. Rays of happiness were surged on her husband's face and lips, for an upcoming future happiness. And he himself had taken her to the hospital though he had never taken her there until she gave birth to the third daughter.

That moment of joy, that wave of happiness had disappeared within a moment like sun rays disappear as they fall on the cold snow. In a nick of time, her whole world was transformed. She was just relieved from the pain of childbirth when the moment became like a tsunami to her. That tsunami had shattered her all faith, wishes, desires and future into pieces. She vowed to almost all the gods that she would offer sacrifices. She continued her fasting and even went to witch doctors wishing for a son.

After giving birth to the child, she summoned her energy and asked, “What is it, doctor?” She didn’t know what happened next. It is known that she became unconscious for a long time. When she came to consciousness, she became strong enough to accept the reality. She is alive still today with her willpower.

Before she had given birth to the daughter also, she had asked the doctor in her faint voice, “Doctor, what will it be – son or daughter?”

“We shouldn’t tell it to you, why do you want more when you have already three daughters?”

"They say I have to give birth to a son. Son is the member of a family but not the daughter, they say," she threw a long sigh.

“Your husband might have known that son and daughters are equal.”

It’s not that her husband did not understand it. “Without a son generation discontinues; daughters have to go to their husbands’ house. How can we live without a son? You are here, so I’m dependent on you. How can it be managed without a son?” Her traditional mother-in-law had thus brainwashed her husband. It’s not that her husband, who lives on a low salary as a government school teacher, had not tried to change his mother’s wishes and faith.

“Mother there’s not much difference between a son and a daughter nowadays. Even the members from my wife's maternal home, they begun to tell me not to die for a son.”

“I don't care what they say? Will not our generation discontinue without a son? If she can’t give birth to a son, there are others who can. If you have legs, shoes are found in myriads of numbers. Don't you know your fourth uncle brought the second wife when his first wife could not give birth to a son?”

“What are you saying this mother? How can I be a polygamist as a teacher? Is it good to lose the track being a leader?”

“Then you would surely give birth to a son this time, many others have sons after three daughters.” Her husband, who was brainwashed by his mother, had never denied her decision.

Hearing about her husband bringing the second wife, her heart had ached. She also agreed her husband and mother-in-law’s cruel decision as she had a personal freedom. When her three daughters were not properly taken care, birth of the fourth child had made her unable to see whether her daughters had got to eat or not.

A dead silence has been pervasive around the house. The family members talked and behaved with less energy and less hope, which matched with a dead peace after a big tsunami. Some of their heart has been filled with rage, while the others are imbued with hatred, negligence and frustration.

She was the cause of all these. This all would not have happened if she had not been in the house. She herself had invited that big misfortune. She thought of killing herself. Peace will surround the house in her absence. She wept, wept for a long time. She washed away her pain with her relentless tears as the earth washes its chest with an outpouring rain in the rainy month of Shrawan. She wept for being born as a daughter, she wept for her curse of giving birth to her daughter. She found meaningless to live. She thought of destroying herself along with the reason of the future predicament, her daughter. But, what will the society say? What's about the future of other daughters? With these thought in mind, she dabbled in the vast ocean. She was startled when her infant daughter woke up and cried. She was overwhelmed by an intense motherhood. Embracing tightly to her daughter, she wept again until she was purged. She felt as if her stomach was full. She looked satisfied. Then she started to breastfeed her daughter. She lost herself in the happier days of her life!

A daughter of a rich family, she had had no problems in her mother's house. She never had to think about what to eat and what to wear. She was the youngest in her two sisters and three brothers. Everyone loved her very much. When her eldest brother talked to his contractor friend about her marriage, her husband’s uncle had asked for her hand. There were some gives-and-takes in contract. In this network of exchange, her future fell on a stake like a bet in the gambling.

A caste suitable for her! A teacher by profession! The talks about his property were exaggeratedly polished like a false ornament shined with by coating. Thus, her life had been sacrificed in a huge bonefire of her brother’s contract business.

Her parents and brothers had let her marry as per a proper Hindu ritual such as by washing her feet. It was her obligation to live and struggle in the house in whatever condition. And she did it. She had tears many times. She many times drowned in the ocean of hunger, pains, hatred and frustration. She went through everything, which were bitter to her. There were no limitations of the things she suffered. She, however, did not explain her experiences with pain to her mother. She only harped on saying that she had delicious food and beautiful clothes in her husband's house. Thinking that to talk about her sufferings in her husband's house would only open the can of criticism from her sister-in-law, she hid her pain. She acted as if things were hunky-dory and she was living happily in her husband's house. She had been supported by her mother’s house and she did not refuse it.

The rope of her responsibilities had stretched as far as working inside the house, looking after the cattle and even working in the field if she was free. Neither rainy season nor the winter came for her. If something came, they were the days for planting paddy and harvesting them. Only the festivals Teej and Dashain would be the days of happiness to her. In these festivals, she could have new clothes and get some delicious food. More than the eating the good food, she would have got a chance to talk with her mother as much as she liked. Thus those were her happy days in her life, but after the birth of her fourth daughter now, it was certain that the door of her mother’s home has been closed against her.

The eldest daughter used to come into her room frequently. With the instruction that the woman in her postnatal period should not be touched, the other daughters were afraid of coming near to their mother. However, it was the eldest daughter, who would engage herself in a conversation with her mother in the room. She had understood and realized her mother’s pain, though a little. May be she was sensitive enough to look at each activity of her house. Therefore, she expressed before her mother what her child psychology had understood, “Mummy, are father and grandmother angry because we have this little sister? They do not even speak to us properly.”

Suppressing her pain of the burning fire of a funeral pyre, she said, “Yes, it's natural for anyone else to get angry if one does not give birth to a son. If there had been a son, he would be your brother. Later, you could have the reasons for coming to the mother’s home after your marriage. But what can I do when god did not spread hands for the son. I just realized that the thing called god is all false, sweetheart.”

“We also are like sons, mummy, can't we be called sons?”

“Yes, you are right honey, but this society? I had to face such a burden of children because of this society. The men from society do not treat daughters as human beings even if I am against of that. Every time, they come and start to talk about the son if we say we don't need sons. They speak sarcastically for not giving birth to a son, you know daughter…”

She did not know how much her daughter understood and how much she did not. She did not show any reactions on her mother's words. She again asked, “Where is your father, daughter…?”

“Father…he is with the priest who is seeing an almanac. He is matching the little sister's date of birth for her baptism.”

“And what else are they saying? Are they talking about the son?” She asked.

“They say that you will not give birth to any brother and grandmother is asking the father to marry again.”

She could not understand the last world properly. Her eyes were surrounded with black cloud and saw nothing. She felt like being unconscious due to dizziness, however, she managed herself. She felt that her chest hardened suddenly. She felt as if no spear would pierce through it. She wanted to cry, but tears did not well up from her eyes. She was frightened. She tortured herself with an extreme pain, but no teardrops fell. She was perplexed for what had happened this. She expected someone to come to console her but, to no avail. She stretched her eyes for a long time with the hope of somebody's arrival. Her eldest daughter had already gone out looking at her youngest sister’s face. She was absent-mindedly looked beyond the horizon.

Whether it was day or night, she did not care for it. Her past appeared before her, then present and then the future. Four daughters’ humble faces delineated with pain appeared in her eyes. She took a decision that she has to live whatever the condition is. She must struggle with the family and with the society. In a moment, she thought but realized that she could not do that. How shall a helpless woman struggle? How can she stand of her own? There are barriers, thorns, and windings and bindings everywhere. How can she cross the river where there is no support nor any means? She oscillated between the certainty and uncertainty. Is her death a solution to all the problems? After all, everyone should die one day, but she imagined that her four innocent daughters were begging for her life. They ask, “Mommy, what is our mistake, what is our crime?”

She dies for a moment but wakes up for the other moment. This dying and living continues. She hears her daughters calling her from a distance – “Mummy! Mummy!” Then she missed herself into a void.

Translated by :Ramchandra KC/Shankar Babu Acharya

मेरो बारेमा

मलाई पछ्याउनेहरु

फेसबुक शुभेच्छुक

भिजिटर म्याप

अन्तरवार्ता सुन्नुहोस्

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