When I died

I had been sick for some time. My parents, wife and children were sitting around me with grim faces. I had already lived more than twenty five years of my years and I felt like I was going to die. However, I did not want to die young. So I remembered my parents, my wife, my children and everyone who had been dear to me. All of a sudden, I lost consciousness. I stopped remembering anything.

When I regained consciousness, a man dressed in black was standing before me. He had a pale face with a big mustache and huge beard. His eyes were hollow. He looked at me as if he was disgusted with me. He produced a whip from the thin air and lashed hard at me. Before I could cry, the whip had tightened around my throat. I struggled but in vain. He was too strong.

He rose above in the air and I was dragged behind him. I tried to free myself again but I feared that I would fall down. He dragged me up to the clouds. He stopped and looked at me with disdain. He said, “Do you want to see your world before I take you to mine?” His voice was deep and sounded like he was speaking through a hollow bamboo. That moment I knew that he was death. I nodded slowly in affirmation to his question. He then told me to look down and that I did.

The world looked tiny from that height but Death mystically zoomed it for me. He said, “Look at your family for the last time.” And my children were in front of my eyes.

They were crying. My body lay amongst them. I called them out. But they could not listen to me. I tried to touch them but could not. I could do nothing to console them. Sometimes later, they carried my body to the crematorium and it was cremated. The existence of my body had come to an end.

Death did something and the time ran pretty quickly. My family was not sad. My children were playing. My wife looked a little weak but she was smiling. “They have learnt to live without you now,” Death said. He then showed me images from all around the world. Poor and rich, happy and sad, stupids and geniuses, religious and non-religious, rulers and the ruled, he showed me all sorts of people. “Why do you think I showed you all these?”

I noticed that the whip had gone away from my throat but still I could not speak. He said, “Everyone I have showed you and every life in this world, everything in this universe will die one day. They can’t escape death.”

“You know you must die. Yet you are scared of Death. You never lived life to their fullest because of the fear. You were also more concerned about afterlife than the life you lived. You donated to the poor to make your afterlife better, so that you can rest in heaven and avoid hell after death. That was very selfish of you. You followed religions in the hope that the door to the heaven will be opened. You looked after your parents because the scriptures said you will be in heaven after your death.

“You have not done anything that will make other people’s lives better. Give to the poor to see their smiles. Take care of your parents with all your heart. Start thinking that good things you do will make someone happy, that those acts will create heaven in your life. Stop thinking that your good deeds will land you to heaven only after your death. Stop fearing hell. Understand that your bad deeds will create hell around you. You don’t need to die to see the hell. Stop fearing death. Death will come to you for sure.”

I opened my eyes. The sun had risen up high. I was neither sick, nor dead. I recalled everything the man in black robes said in the dream. I smiled, got off from my bed and went to meet my life. It was grinning ear to ear.

​Listen, will you?

“Are you listening?” I asked myself as my sister was talking the other day.

“No,” I confessed. 

“Why weren’t you listening?”

Honestly, I didn’t have the answer. I did not feel like talking at that time. When I came back contemplating over the matter, I understood I did not want to speak because I was not listening well.

I am not good at making conversations. I wanted to know the secrets of better conversations. I sought the help of YouTube. I don’t remember most of the advices I got through speakers at TED Conferences, and some psychology related channels but the one I remember is “Listen!” And this was the only advice I could listen when I thought why I was not conversing with my sister the other day.

Why is listening important? All the videos I watched agree that by listening properly one can decide what to speak with ease. If I had been listening to my sister, I might have easily understood her talk and would have carried it on further. Because I got selfish and stopped listening, I had to make her repeat the same thing twice, which in turn bored both of us. Hence, no conversation!

One speaker on one of the videos said, “These days we listen things so that we can argue and react upon some particular words.” She said something like: “Listen so that you understand. Listen to learn and listen to talk well.”  If we listen just to react upon things, we are not good listeners. We must react, of course, but by listening properly, we can decide whether we need to react or not. People say, “We have two ears but one mouth so that we can listen well and talk less. ” It is also said that those who talk less, speak precisely when they must.

I remembered a Folk tale as I was writing this. I am going to keep it as short as possible.

Once upon a time, a king brought three human skulls to the court and asked his ministers, “Can you tell me the price of these skulls?”

‘What could be the price of human skulls?’ The ministers thought. None of them came up with a solution. The king gave them three days to come up with a solution. Three days passed. The king said, “Have you come up with the answer?”

The ministers hung their heads in shame. One minister, however stood up and said, “Your Highness, I got curious when you asked the question. I took a trip to my teacher’s house far away from the city. He gave me the knowledge in discovering the price of a human skull.”

The minister asked permission to demonstrate. He took up a skull in his hand and poked a stick into its right ear hole. The stick went in a and was out through the other ear hole. He inserted another stick into the right ear hole of the second skull. This time it bended towards the throat. He repeated the procedure with the third. This time, the stick went in through the ear hole, and snapped. A larger part went to the cranium and a small part to the throat.

The minister explained, “The first skull is worth four annas. It is the cheapest one because it does not listen to anything. Whatever it listens from one ear goes out through the other.

“The second skull is worth eight annas. It listens but reacts without speaking. The third one is worth sixteen annas or a rupee. It listens, keeps most of it in its mind and speaks only what is necessary. Such skulls are rare.”

The king was happy. The minister was granted his prize for being able to explain the price of the skull.

Here’s what the story wants you to know just like the people said in videos I watched: ‘Listen and understand before you speak, will you?’

​A Month in Palpa: Some of the Things I Learnt

I spent about a month (26 days to be precise) at Palpa with my friends and teachers for field-work on Geology. It’s a matter of 100 marks after all. But life is not only about university lessons and exams. There are a lot more things to learn.

A view from Tundikhel, Tansen

1. Life’s uncertain

The day we left for Palpa, we were happy. Though we were in the cabin, 7-8 of us could gossip freely and we did not complain. The uncertainty of life showed up after we reached Siddhababa as it got dark on the way. To our dismay, the bus had a damaged dynamo. To state it straight, the bus lacked headlight. We searched for torch lights to help the driver, which was in vain. When the bus took sharp turns, my heart leaped out to my mouth. We prayed, we sought ideas. Another vehicle from behind helped the driver see the road. When the bus stopped at Dumre, Palpa, we shook hands with the driver, cheered and thanked God. The next day, when I saw the road and the gorge of Tinau River, I felt that it is a miracle that I’m alive.

Gorge formed by Tinau River

2. Schedule cannot always be followed

We began with a schedule. We had to follow it but we did not. What should have been done on the seventh day was completed on the first day. It created a lot of confusion. It was difficult to understand what we did but as time passed, we understood what we had done. Learning under a schedule is easier but there is no need to panic if the schedule is disturbed.
3. We can’t observe nature well from inside a bus

Three buses were reserved for daily travel (traverse is the word geologists use) along the Siddhartha Highway. While we were in the bus, we had difficulty in observing geological features. There is problem in connecting things with places when we try to recall. When we walked along towards the end of the exursion because of protests against Federal Model, we understood things really well.
4. There’s always a way to discover fun

When there are so many people around you, you never have to feel low. Even when there is a lot of work to do, you get support from them. Your mind is more inclined to fun in those times. I also found that we look for fun when we are under restrictions. Sometimes, noticing small movements and chats can also give immense pleasures. Enjoying things in the present can help a lot in overcoming troubles.

Boys find fun on the last day of field

5. Togetherness

Most of us have lived in closely-knit families. A lot of problems arise while we are away from family. Homesickness is a problem to many. With the support of friends, this is no big deal. Together we celebrated successes and soothed failures. Together we solved the financial problems we could get into. Together we worked and together we succeeded. Together we bacame family of a sort.
6. Thankfulness

Spending a month at an entirely new place is difficult. Without the help of local people, the school we stayed and all the stakeholders, it would have been impossible. We thank them for their support. We thank our chefs without whom we would not have got food in time. We thank our teachers for the knowledge they imparted. We thank each other for tolerating and cooperating. We also thank our families who have undergone several challenges before and during our excursion.
7. That feeling when you’re leaving

I don’t get a perfect word for this. I was happy that I was returning home but I was also sad that I was leaving the place that had sheltered us for about a month. I still remember the faces of people who bade us farewell. Was it a kind of attachment, a kind of bond I had made with the place and it’s people? Maybe I left a part of my soul there so that I can remember them everyday.
I heard someone say, “You may get a lot of chances to earn money. To earn memories though, you have a very few chances.” Memories of the camp, friends, people and places have formed this article. I proudly share my priceless article for all forever.

Dashain, October 10 and Some thoughts

Dashain, Nepal’s biggest festival, began on the first day of October. Almost all Nepalese festivals are based on Lunar Calendar. So, this was an unusual coincidence. But we don’t commonly use the English calendar. (We call it English. Is it Roman? I’m confused!) You know, it went unnoticed, at least to me, until now.

The second day of Dashain marks the beginning of  Navaratri- the nine days (or nights?). Navaratri literally means nine nights but we worship nine Goddesses these nine days. I’m really confused by the definition.


The Goddesses we worship are the representatives of Nature and Mothers, we say. However, some people kill female foetuses because they want sons. Men believe sons carry on their races. Do they really? 

Genetically  speaking, a son gets a Y-chromosome from their father and an X-chromosome from their (This singular “their” is confusing me now!) mother. Geneticists say, “Y-chromosome is almost empty. Most of the characters in a son are related to their (singular, again!) mother.” While daughters have two X-chromosomes, one from father and one from mother, they seem to carry father’s legacy more than their male siblings.

Practically, legacy and races are carried on by both the sexes. A male and a female give birth to or adopt children, groom them up and those children represent whatever they learn from parents. That’s what legacy is. We are confusing legacy with birth, while it’s actually is karma. (Wow, I can use this word in English without an explanation!) While talking about race, we narrow ourselves into some surname or a community. Why not think about the human race as a whole?

I have been deviated from what I wanted to say. I was talking about Dashain and with it, ‘To eat or not to eat (meat) is the question.’ Bali (sacrifice) is defined by experts differently based on their preferences. Some say, “Sacrifice your animalistic characters.” And some, “Sacrifice your animals.” To me both seem right but I have to follow one. I follow the latter. I eat meat and I can not support the previous. I’m already a devil to them. But being a vegetarian (Is this a polite word? Somewhere I read, it is!) does not particularly mean one is an epitome of goodness. I can point out some people but don’t want to do it here. Find them out yourselves, will you?

I don’t think it would be right to say, “Don’t eat meat because it is bad.” If it were that bad, we would never be introduced to it in the first place. If you want to eat, eat it. If you don’t want, don’t. But don’t show hatred towards those who eat meat. With increasing droughts, desertification, and probable nuclear apocalypse, meat-eating people might find it easy to survive than the rest. Who knows if a lifetime vegetarian will have to eat meat in such a situation? (I remember watching a scene like this in some movie. I don’t remember the name though.) Because at times of wars and apocalypse, moral values don’t matter. Only thing that counts is survival.

I don’t want to debate though. I just want to say that Navaratri has come to an end. The debate thus ends until the next year.

And I want you to celebrate this wonderful day, which has already passed in some Asian countries, and is about to end in less than an hour in Nepal. It 10th of October. 10th day of the 10th month. Calendars tell me it’s World Mental Health Day. (I nearly wrote World Health Day. But Mental Health Day would also be on Health Day according to WHO’s definition.)

If you have been really confused reading this article, all I wanted to say is that I am totally confused over these days. Confused mind might not be a good health indicator but we live confused lives in this confused world. Why should I only feel guilty about it. Let’s share the guilt together. To sum up, I would like to end this article with a comment (I have not copied it except the first sentence- that was the easiest!) on Science Alert’s Facebook page:

Humans are strange. They create moral principles, discuss over what they should do to make their lives peaceful and religious. But they also create weapons for total destruction.

Congratulations Girl, You Have Broken The Iron Gate!

Dear Ankita,

Congratulations! You have broken the “Iron Gate” has been weakened over the recent years. This year, they almost melted it and by next year, the gate will be on a new location. Well, that means you might have to break it again. But don’t let that worry you. Because that gate won’t be of iron, it will be of gold. Harder to break, of course.

image

There are only who friends who can always help you- hard work and sincerity. You need to keep them with you. Never let them fly away. Never leave them. When they are together, the world will be with you. All your weaknesses will turn into strengths. You’ll be a good human being.

Numbers are important to get you up to the greater levels. But they are not what you will be known for. You’ll be known for what you really are. Three hours of examinations worth hundred points are not the measures of your real capabilities. Your capacities are determined by the examinations of your behaviours as a human being, your moralities and the way you can inspire others.

Life’s nothing but struggle. You can never turn away from it. Face it with smiles. You will get what you want. You’ll be able to break all the gates you face, whether it be of gold, platinum or diamond.

Your brother,
Ankit

[Note to the readers who may not understand the “Iron Gate” metaphor:
The School Leaving Certificate Exams (aka SLC) at the end of Grade 10 was termed the Iron Gate. Maybe for the hype it gained, maybe for the opportunities it opened. The introduction of GPA (Grade Point Average) lowered the pressure of SLC. And from the next year, Grade 10 students will not give the SLC exams, ending 82 years old examination system.]