साधना मासिक सन् नब्बेको दशकको उत्कृष्ट
म्यागजिन थियो । यस मासिकका धेरै अंकहरू बाबाले संग्रह गरेर राख्नु भएको थियो,
जसमध्ये धेरैजसो डेरा र घर सर्दा हराए । अब केही मात्रै बाँकी छन् । “जङ्गबहादुर” उपन्यास
धारावाहिक रुपमा प्रकाशन हुन्थ्यो । गगनसिंहलाई मार्न फत्तेजंग, अभिमानसिंह राना र
जङ्गले लिएको सपथ अनि कोतपर्वको विवरण भएका दुई भिन्न अंकहरू अहिलेसम्म पनि
सुरक्षित छन् । उपन्यासलाई आधार मानेर सामाजिक शिक्षाको परीक्षामा जङ्गबहादुरको
उदयलाई अंग्रेजीमा लेख्ने गर्थें । यो विषयमा मैले पाठ्यपुस्तक कहिले पनि हेरिन ।
तर बजारमा उपन्यास भेटिंदैनथ्यो ।
यसपाली पुसमाघतिर विशालनगरमा यो उपन्यास अचानक
देखेँ । सपनाजस्तो लाग्यो । केही दिनमा पैसा जुटाएर लिएँ तर पढ्ने फुर्सद थिएन ।
पाँचौँ संस्करण रहेछ । मार्च महिनाको सुरुवातमा जापान भ्रमण ताका सँगै लिएर गएँ
अनि पढें पनि । तर थकान अनि किताबमा भेटिएका गल्तीका कारण पूरै पढ्न सकिनँ । फाइनल
एक्जाम सकिएपछि चाहिं फेरी थालेँ र पढी भ्याएँ ।
१. उपन्यासले जङ्गबहादुरलाई क्रुर मात्र
देखाएको छैन, उनलाई कुन परिस्थितिले त्यस्तो बनायो भन्ने पनि प्रष्ट बताएको छ ।
२. त्यस समयमा भएका षडयन्त्रहरू र हत्याकाण्डहरू
कहाली लाग्दा छन् । रानी लक्ष्मीदेवीको उन्माद र राजा राजेन्द्रको अकर्मण्यताले
घटनाक्रमलाई अगाडि बढाउन मद्दत गरेका छन् ।
३. कोतपर्व र भण्डारखाल पर्वको चित्रण उत्कृष्ट
छ । हत्याका दृश्यहरू सजीव छन् । यसले पारेको प्रभाव माथि पनि लेखिसकेका छु ।
४. जङ्गबहादूरको प्रेमिल पक्ष अनौठो र रमाइलो
लाग्छ । यो त्यत्तिकै आएको छैन । जङ्गकी प्रेमिका (पछि पत्नी) पुतलीले जासूस र
सलाहकारका रूपमा जङ्गलाई सहयोग गरेकी छिन् ।
५. जङ्ग र उनका भाइहरू बीचको सम्बन्ध राम्रोसँग
देखाइएको छ अनि डायमन शमशेरको “सेतो बाघ”को अन्त्यमा भएका घटना (जङ्गका छोरा
नातिको हत्या) को बीजारोपण पनि यहाँ गरिएको छ । तर सेतो बाघभन्दा बढी तथ्यपरक छ ।
१. सेतो बाघमा जस्तो लेखकको विचार नै त आउँदैन
तर “यसो होला भन्ने कसैले सोचेको भए” भन्ने किसिमका वाक्यहरू दोहोरिइरहन्छन् ।
यसले कथावाचनलाई अलि कम्जोर बनाएको छ ।
२. चरित्र चित्रण गर्ने केही वाक्यहरू दोहोरिइरहन्छन्
। यसले कथालाई छरितो बनाउनबाट रोकेको छ ।
३. अलौ पर्वसम्म विस्तारमा भनिएको कथा त्यसपछि
भने सारांश बन्छ । जङ्गबहादुरको बेलायत भ्रमण, मुलुकी ऐनको घोषणा, नेपाल-तिब्बत युद्ध
जस्ता विषय केही वाक्यमा समापन हुन्छन् ।
४. जङ्गले इष्ट इन्डिया कम्पनीलाई भारतको सैनिक
विद्रोहमा सहयोग गरेको प्रसङ्ग आएकै छैन ।
५. उपन्यासमा प्रिन्ट एरर धेरै छन् । सम्पादनको
कमी छ । र पुस्तकको ISBN नहुनु आश्चर्यको विषय हो ।
It’s been about a week since the Government of Nepal imposed a ban on the First Person Shooting Battle Royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (popular as PUBG). The reasons cited were:
The game is addictive.
It is violent.
It affected the grade of students.
It lowered creativity.
The number of complaints that parents and teachers registered was the trigger behind the restriction.
Some reactions that I saw are:
“Excellent! Such violent games should be banned.”
“Good! Our children will focus on studies now.”
“The government encroached our freedom!”
“I had not played once before the ban!”
“As long as VPN is available, no worries!
Now, let me analyse the cause and effect.
#1 The game
As it is an FPS survival game, PUBG is inherently violent. However, this is not the first violent game. In fact, I have seen that most popular video games are violent. And they have been around us in silence for decades.
So, what exposed PUBG? I believe it’s the interactive mode. It can be played solo, or as a squad of two or four. In most cases, you need to move together. Communication is important. The words “kill”, “help”, “fight”, “guns”, “bombs”, and so on are going to attract the people around you. If you are a teenager and if your parents hear this, they might believe you are involved in something unpleasant or that the game is promoting violence.
Another problem the game has is that it is for teens. However, the nature of the game and online interaction be difficult even for adults. There is high chance of cyber bullying and it may be disturbing for some. But teens (and even pre-teens) play mature games (which have not been banned) all the time.
#2 Parents and Children
I see problem in our parenting. At the age of two, when a child does not want to eat food, they are shown YouTube videos. Soon they get addicted. By the age of three, the child starts scrolling the “smartphones”. When they reach four, they become aggressive when they don’t get the phones. They also start playing games and get furious when the parents don’t want them to play.
Though most teenagers today have not come through the path, they are naturally curious and are also dependent on peers in making decision. If someone says, this game is nice, they decide it is nice. As these teenagers also have access to smartphones (parents buy phones for them to meet their obstinate demands), they soon get addicted. Notion is that a child should stay at home. If a child does not go out, all is well! However, parents seldom take care of what their children do at home with phones and computers at their hands.
Parents themselves are also ignorant of the effects of social media and long hours of gaming on their children. So, they don’t talk with their children. They try to impose a restriction without proper reasoning. That’s counterproductive as restriction evokes curiosity.
#3 Government and the limitation of restriction
The government did what parents wanted and imposed a ban on the game. They recognized the problem but without understanding the limitation of the restriction.
As said earlier, there are numerous interactive, survival, strategy games available on and off the internet. Internet is the modern Hydra. You cut a head, another takes its place. Today PUBG created problem, tomorrow some other game will. How many games will government shut down?
Not just games, social media could also be behind poor performances and violent inclinations. Will the government ban social media. If there is enough complaints, there is a possibility that they will be banned.
The year 2075 B.S. is coming to an end as I am writing this article. The year has been tough but felt like it fluttered away in no time. Time management has been a big deal throughout the year and it’s stressing me a bit. So, here are the things I would like to remember from 2075.
1. At the University
By the end of 2074, I had already admitted in the Masters’ Degree Programme on Engineering Geology at the Central Department of Geology, Tribhuvan University. The classes began from the 9th of Baishakh and assignments began haunting. That week I was excited and completed them long before the submission deadline. However, as time passed, assignments became more than enough and the excitement died. I still completed them but only because I had to. The trend continued in the Second Semester and I regret doing them for the sake of doing.
University has mostly been a frustrating experience. The fees are high but the way we study is not different from what I had experienced at schools and Bachelors’ programme. “It’s like school,” is what I had concluded three months ago. Teachers come and give lectures, we jot them down. But a class is 3 hours long. By the time the class ends, notebooks are filled with incoherent sentences, easily forgettable shorthand, and loads of confusion.
The confusion, as I evaluated a few days back, is because I can’t get through the lessons beforehand. The books are way too technical and the meanings, vague. A lot of terms are defined in similar manner and there is very little time to dissect them. To my own surprise, I have been completely dependent on what my teachers say and I don’t want to revise anything soon because everything felt like heavily into my mind.
Whatever the situation be, it is fun to have people sharing the experience. My 23 friends have been a revelation. You guys are the best thing I got at the university!
2. Poetry and Stories
The frustration wanted to vent out and the best way I discovered was through poems. Short, symbolic and satirical. I had begun to think in poems one time during the first semester. Then I went through the Mahabharat in Nepali and it helped me understand the rhythm in poems.
Though I was writing my frustrations through poetry, it felt insufficient. Also, the environment in the university became hostile to free, direct expression. So, I didn’t write articles, nor did I write anything on my diary. Whatever I am writing here is because I am leaving those things behind. No, I am not going to be frustrated nor sad for not expressing myself.
That’s why, during the second semester, I began writing short stories and continued on my novel. The basic idea was to complete the novel before I complete my four semesters. But I found a plot hole and had to stop. Then I wrote two short stories, one each in English and Nepali. The story in English got into the Top 25 and the latter, I sent to a nation-wise contest. The results will be announced, most probably, within this week.
3. Battle Royale
Before I was writing stories, I got involved in video games FIFA 15 and PUBG (recently banned – will conjure an article on it soon). The game gave me a brilliant idea, which had already become a controversial book and movie some 20 years back. Still, I was awed. I wrote a series of essays on the topic in October-November. Here they are:
Though the university lacks the infrastructure and teaching methodology I had expected, it still provides opportunities to learn and I was lucky to be selected in the Sakura Science Exchange Programme (Feb 28-March 7) between TU (my university) and Shimane University, Japan. I am grateful to the both the universities for making the programme informative as well as fun.
I have a lot to say on the stuffs related to the tour but I couldn’t because the exams knocked on the day we returned back. I will be sharing my experiences there in due course of time.
So, after the tragedy with the kitten towards the end of 2074, I thought cats would leave us. But one of her siblings found ways into our house, and with his sneaky ways, he has been protecting himself and his another brother. He is not as close the deceased kitten but he has a cute way of asking what he wants. We brought the dead kitten’s cardboard house and so, he has been a happy guest for about six months now.
“Wars are not going to end any soon,” my uncle claimed. “Not when there are governments that make profits from wars.”
My uncle had recently returned from a UN Peacekeeping Mission from an African country. He looked fit and he said that he earned a good amount of money but he did not seem satisfied. I noticed some other changes in him. He did not talk much. He sounded very calculative, answering only the things he was asked. His eyes did not twinkle as they did.After dinner, we remained on the dining table, talking about different matters. I had asked him if there was any way the ongoing wars would stop. His statement about wars and governments piqued my interest in what he had in his mind. I quickly asked, “How so, uncle?”
“Let’s not talk about this. It’s not something to be proud of.”
You have been climbing for three hours. Every pore of your skin is sweating. Your legs are tired. Your head is spinning. You are still conscious of not slipping down the narrow foot trail. There are small round seeds that have fallen off the tress beside the trail. They threaten your existence. The peak is just “there” but you can’t seem to reach it. The peak is just at an elevation of thousand metres, and it takes your breath away. “What if it was Mount Everest?” you ask.
One of your friends, Anish, climbed a five-thousand metre peak last year, above the Everest Base Camp. “It was cold. I felt my fingers would fall off. But once I reached the peak, I forgot all the pain.”
‘This is not even a tenth of the harshness of close to the Everest’, you think. Your spirit lifts up a little. Legs drag you up better than they had a couple of minutes back. But your lungs are not helping. Your low stamina hampers your movement.Luckily, your friends are in your support. They themselves are tired, but they do not lose the hope of reaching the peak. The hope of finding the target village-Sathimure.
Your climb began from Mugling—an old hub connecting Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan with three of your friends: Anil, Anish and Ishwor. The town is at the altitude of about 180 m from the mean sea level,well-developed, full of life. Your twenty-eight years old topographic map shows a foot-trail leading to the village in question. The policemen show you a road. It looks easy, but it’s long. ‘How long will you have to walk?’ you discuss with your friends. You and your friends decide to take a foot trail if possible.
You are not hiking. It’s a geological exploration. You measure the rock orientation, wonder at the folds you see and imagine the amount of stress the region might have undergone. You know these rocks tell the history of the evolution of the Himalayas over a million years. These mountains are not as tall as the mighty mountain peaks that are popular as the Himalayas or Great Himalayas. You call them Lesser Himalaya, but reaching its peak is tough. More so, when you realize you have to climb up another two hundred metres and climb down to Kalikhola if you are to make an accurate geological map. But you lack time, and you make a rush.
You realize your stamina has lowered because of eating and sleeping for the last couple of months. You are panting. You take long breaths. Nothing helps. You have not walked a mile and you have felt the heat. You strip off your jacket. Your body balances heat by sweating. You reach a shade. The sweat cools you. After a rest, you don’t want to move. Yet you carry your legs forward. “Return back if you can’t,” your friends suggest. It’s a good advice. One person should not slow the group. Yet your ego gets hurt. You can’t give up before it has begun.
You ask help from the locals. Most of them are girls. Some help, some don’t. It’s a cultural thing. Villagers don’t trust city men. Girls are told to shy away from men in most of the occasions. Male-female interaction is still spied in the cities. Anyway, you find help and catch a foot-trail, width decreasing with each footstep.
You don’t find villages along the trail. One house at an interval of about one-hundred metres climb. They have farms and gardens. You and your friends express desire to reach Kalikhola. The locals say it’s a dangerous path. Three people died some months back. You and your friends are scared. Safety comes before the map. Your teachers did not expect you to go all the way. You give up the thought of completing the track. Had you been allowed to stay for a day at Sathimure, you could have hit the target. But you have restrictions. You decide to reach the village, at least.
“Look out for the real trail,” Anish calls. Foot-trail has forked. Each time you saw a fork, you made a unanimous decision: “Take the route that goes up.” This time, the up-going trail looks dangerous. Ishwor says the other path goes nowhere. “Are we stuck?” you fear. Anil goes up the dangerous route, reaches the peak and calls out. You follow. The ground is slippery and covered with grass. You don’t know where you are stepping. “Goats would not climb this,” your friends behind you tell. You are attacked by ants.One last step. And you reach the top. You lose yourself for a moment. At that moment, you have become victorious over the mountain. You feel blessed.
A little farther, you see what you had been longing for. Sathimure. A small village. A place where you have found solace in it even from the distance. Bamboos, oranges, cucumbers and other fruits and vegetables. A farming village. That’s what you wanted all day.
The village has less than twenty houses—small, all of them painted in blue and red. The people are amicable. Your group wants to buy some oranges. They don’t fix a price. “Give whatever amount you want to give.” These people have hardships. There is some help from the NGOs but the nearest town, Mugling, is miles downhill. There is no good road. They have to buy everything.Yet, they are generous. They don’t take our offer for granted. They believe in emotional relationship, not commercial. They give you noodles. You longed for it but can’t help wonder that noodles have made way into even in a village that small.You eat anyway. The taste reminds you of home.
You begin to descent. There was an error in the map. You have decided to correct it. Sitting upon a ground facing north, you look at the Great Himalayas, the Lesser Himalayas, and the miniature town of Mugling. You can’t see a human from that height. You feel lost. “Humans might have built civilizations and have dreamt of exploring other planets but we are microscopic in the universe. If a portion of the Earth is this big, how big the Earth is! And it is not even the largest planet.” The extent of universe amazes you. It’s not for the first time, though. The universe has always fascinated you. Geology was one way you thought that would help you understand the universe.
Mugling viewed from Sathimure
The walk downhill takes two hours. The villagers at Sathimure had told it would take about forty-five minutes. “Time is relative,” you begin to understand. They have lived their whole lives going up and down the hill. Their legs have strengths your legs do not. They are faster because they have lived with the mountain. You see school children going up and get a stronger proof.
When the journey ends, you are satisfied. You might not have met all your goals but you made memories. You have learnt something. You have something to tell others. You have stories for your children and grandchildren.