“You’ve stepped into another life now. You always were after more than you needed.”
Her eyes were swimming with tears that didn’t fall. When she spoke, her voice was sadness itself. “Not anymore, Granddaddy. The only thing I want now is something I’ll never have.”
I was half reading the book, half listening to Himesh’s “Jhalak Dikhlaja” and consoling myself by remembering Mr. Suman’s words “every individual is different with different capabilities. So, everyone should not rush down the streets hurling stones at each other, let somebody else do it, who does it best, but do your part diligently and honestly when you are called upon to do yours.” What role was I doing diligently??
Maybe I should follow TKP horoscope I thought: Have some downtime time between work and home life? Take advantage of it quickly and do something to decompress in a big way. You need to put up your feet and relax before the next round of activity starts.
I finished cleaning every nook and corner of my room. Cleaning helps me calm down. It shone. I shut down the computer. I was feeling utterly restless with my half-ass involvement in all the activities (reading, listening). I was sick of being sick of everything!
Mom called “Hey look at the huge rally”. I dragged myself to observe the scene. The Manohara Bridge was crammed with people, red flags in the air. So many people out there, what the hell am I doing back home I thought.
Must go. I made up my mind. She was watching the “Semi Garewal Show”, the Imran Khan interview. He was saying “ If I did that it would look as though I married her for her money.” Who cares what he married her for I said. I turned off the TV.
We need to be out there I told her.
She ran. I ran after her, caught her and dragged her to my room. She lay flat immobile on the bed “ No way! I’m not going.” But I could detect the uncertainty in her voice. Here get in the jeans. She finally did. We sped off to the bridge. The crowd had already moved on. Still people were walking towards Jadibuti in small groups. We walked silently.
Do you know where you are heading? She asked.
Nope. All I know is we need to meet the large group.
Why do you want to be here?
Because I want a Constituent Assembly. I guess. The King can’t keep fooling us.
I want to defy the curfew. I want to support the cause of democracy. It is the simple matter of choice to be in my room or to be here.
There was little conversation between us.
We reached Tinkune. A group of protestors arrived from the TNT side. The crowd was huge. “Did you see the girl who acted in “Tara Baji lai lai”? She asked.
I scanned the new faces but couldn’t see her.
The street was crammed with thousands of protestors. It was a sight. People, people everywhere. There were many others like us (we two) silently marching forward, a group of girls walked nearby. I remembered my friends. It felt great.
We reached Baneshwor. A familiar face caught my sight. KB sir, my Chemistry teacher, in +2. He waved a hi, I returned back a Namaste. I was confused, smiled back and moved on. The crowd was growing.
There were people on the sidewalk distributing water and throwing it on the rally participants. It felt hot and the cool water that wet my T-shirt was all-welcome. I asked for some water to drink. “ Dhanga nabhako Manche” ta hun less water passed through my food pipe and more spilled on my T-shirt again. Rain dance scene I thought and enjoyed a mental laugh.
A man asked me “ You are a journalist”.
“Why?” I asked. “No I am not,” I added.
He glanced at my camera.
“Take photos then” he said without listening to my “No I am not”.
“I am. Why you want me to take your picture?” I asked.
“No” he made a nagging sound.
“You could have told you were one,” she told me later.
“Why should I? When I am not”. I replied.
There was a huge log burning on the road in Bijulibazar.We were nearing Babarmahal when I noticed Sudeep Sir on the sidewalk. Hey Jaz and Hysh he’s dyed his hair and put on some flesh as well. I was surprised when he extended his hand, Andolan handshake I thought.
Just out or you have something he asked.
I have a HR jacket in my bag I told him.
Tyo laye huncha ni (You should wear it) he suggested.
I left mine back, no bag he said.
No, …I made some nagging sounds..Its fine I babbled something.
How could he convince me to wear it when he was out with one? I thought.
We moved on.
There was a group of people who were singing
“Gaon gaon bata utha , basti basti bata utha
Yo Desh ko Muhar , pherna lai utha….” (I love this song. it makes my hair rise every time I listen to it. A true Revolutionary Song. )
A man in pink t-shirt, black goggles was leading the musical crowd. Another man was playing “Madal”. True spirit of protest I thought. I walked beside them. We were in front of St. Xavier’s College; there was singing and dancing going on.
I then realized that there were very few people in front of us. The music stopped. The people in front of us were returning back. “Tear Gas Hanirachan” someone remarked.
Hoina kina bhagne someone said.
But before I knew what was happening. People started running like crazy.. I had never expected that to happen! If I join in the running mass I might be trampled myself I thought so stood where I was for sometime. But the crowd pushed me. I couldn’t believe that I was amidst all the commotion. I was laughing as the crowd pushed me. I could hear a shot in the air. War scene I thought. My nose detected the pungent smell of Tear Gas. Then I took to my heels laughing once again (And I can’t tell why I laugh in the weirdest of circumstances.I always have a feeling that nothing is going to happen to me in the end). I had lost my sister in the crowd. The people in front of me started climbing the “Maitighar Ukalo” the Praja Parishad side. Had never seen so many people up a “hill” if I can tell that. A fat man pushed me with his elbow. I couldn’t believe that the situation was so tense. I was still in a state of awe. I had to get a picture I thought and took out my camera. Someone pushed me, and I don’t know how the batteries fell down. It felt like a dream. I stood there for a while searching for them, I so badly wanted a picture. When I came back to my senses J I couldn’t believe that I was searching for a Battery! When others were running for their lives. Am I mad? I asked myself. I found one nevertheless. I laughed and took to my heels. I needed to find my sister.
A boy (11-13 yrs) caught my arm. “Samatnuna” he said. We caught each other’s hands and ran.
“Timi yehi ko ho?” I asked. . (What timing for a question like that!) I noticed a blue slipper on the road.
“Ho” he replied.
There was no running then. I saw my sister in the Babarmahal Tempo stop.
We were at the end of the line of protestors. The police just behind us. No one ran then, though we were all walking fast. The police moved closer. We reached the Autopool area. K.R was clad in a “Photo-journalist” Green jacket just in front of the ‘Ambience’ showroom. I stopped to talk to him. We shared a few lines. Need to go now I said.
Hey wait he suggested.
We were together for sometime. By then we two were the only ones left behind from the protestors group.
A BBC van was parked in Baneshwor.
Here take a video he offered me his camera.
No, I am not good at it I told him.
We moved on. The only ones there were photojournalists, and some COCAP (if I am not mistaken) in blue jackets taking pictures and shooting a video.
My HR jacket was safe in my bag along with the ID.
“Wear it,” my sister suggested.
“No. I want to be a normal person,” I told her.
I could tell that from the expression on her face that all she wanted to do that instant was give me one tight slap.
By then K.R was far behind. The streets were empty. The police walked in the middle of the road while we on the pavement. The COCAP volunteers were nearby. No one asked us any questions. But I did take out my HR ID and put it around my sister’s neck. I couldn’t risk her life!
Wear the jacket, she kept urging or just carry the camera.
I saw no need to do either.
And no it is not a bold thing to do. Just a matter of choice. It is so easy to be clad in green “press” or blue “human rights” jackets and be out. You make news out of some bold people out there, you have a job because of them but it is wrong to use it when you aren’t monitoring. The irony was not a single HR monitor in sight, in the rally right from Lokanthali to Maitighar. I noticed no Green Jacket ones as well when the protest was going on in full swing. They seemed to arrive only when they knew of the “commotion” later. K.R told me he had just arrived on the scene when I met him. Maybe I am a hypocrite too, no matter what I still had the jacket in my bag.
The police fired a tear gas bomb? (What do they call it?) on the way to Minbhawan campus. I couldn’t believe what was going around me. Everything right in front of my eyes. But the police did warn the protestors saying “Bhag, Bhag” (Run, run)
Bijay Poudel, a KTV news anchor was out when we reached Tinkune. There was a French bearded Photojournalist and a Nepal 1 cameraman. I have seen him in lot of places so I can recognize him anywhere. I wonder why we remember people who will never know us. Just an unwanted function of the brain I guess. Some people were still shouting “ Prajatantra Jindabad” from the open area near Premier College.
“Na hanaun” (Don’t hit, referring to the stones they were throwing) a police told the crowd of protestors in the TNT side.
A man joined us from Tinkune.
“Kina Hideko, tapailai curfew lagdaina?” (Why are you walking out? Isn’t there a curfew for you?) A policeman asked.
“Ghar hideko.”(I am walking home) he replied.
“Tin din bhayo ghar nagako” (I haven’t gone home since the last three days) He added.
“Aghi samma narabaji garnuhuncha” (you were chanting slogans some time ago) the police said.
The conversation ended. The man continued walking.
The police stopped in front of the Uffffuma Hoarding board in Tinkune.
“Janos, janos” (Go back), bhai haru cufew natodnos natra karbahi huncha (don’t defy the curfew or else we will have to act against you) a policeman warned the protestors throwing stones from the Koteshwor side.
The protestors defied the warning, kept throwing stones.
“Oye, toli le.” (Hey bring the batallion) the policeman said.
“Janos, dhunga nahannos”(Go don’t throw stones) he kept warning.
The protestors didn’t obey.
Then the police ordered his junior to fire. The tear gas bomb landed near the Bhaktapur bus park area in Koteshwor. I saw it fly to the army barrage behind it. Later when we reached the place the protestors (there were only5 to 7 of them) were talking of the bomb “na phute samma kehi hunna”(it doesn’t matter until it blasts). The bomb? Must have landed in the grassy area because I saw no evidence of it there.
We walked past the Koteshwor gate and passed by a bunch of girls eating chana..
“Hey, let’s have some chana in the curfew as well. It will be an experience to treasure. Chana during a curfew” I suggested. “I see a woman vendor.”
She pinched me. I yelled “aiyaa” (ouch).
“The pinch of reality” she told me. “You really need this.”
As we reached the Banepa buspark side there was dust flying all over the place. We had to shut our eyes and close our mouth with handkerchiefs. We passed by an ice-cream seller.
Ice cream? I asked.
Yes. She replied.
We really needed that.
I was loaded this time. Even had a “hatti” in my purse.
I bought “Choco fun” again. We went home munching.
It started to rain soon after.
She slumped on the chair. Both her toes were bleeding.
My sincere apologies for all that you had to go through I told her.
She kept mum. Didn’t talk to me for a really long time.
P.S I have caught cold. Most probably due to the “rain dance” hahaha. A scotch would sure be of some help! (Hope you are fine Mr Twaaks)
N Dearest Dhungana Babes, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU HONEY!!
Wish you the very best of life! May all your dreams come true…the glassy house with a ‘khar’ ko chana (what a mind-blowing combination!), the pending bike trips to Dolalghat (hey get a license first) ….aba tero andra bhudi yahan bhannu ta bhayena!
N So sorry you had to give up the dream of finding the “darkest guy” ever. Hahahah.
Rock on dude!
Stay happy. Keep smiling.:)
I’ll be there for you forever and for always. Though you seem to have a secure future already!! Hahaha
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUDIYA!!!
(Dying to meet you..bohoho the banda missing your nakhras hehe)
Love you loads
Smooches and Hugs