Who teaches her?

I am astounded every time I look at her. She moves with grace and agility, plays with the table tennis ball as she should play with a mouse (and like a pro footballer), and jumps like an athlete. She grabs a piece of rag and drags it around. She smells the ground and discovers every corner of the house. She covers up her liquid and solid excreta. When she is hungry, she looks up, her eyebrows narrow, and cries, “Myau Myau”. Except during such hunger and times she’s irritated, this little tabby kitten understands the instructions we give her. Who teaches her to do all these things she does?

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Billy on the stack of chairs

I met her first the first time in November with her twin. Their mother had left them after keeping them in a drum under the stairs. They were crying. We waited for their mother’s return but that cat did not return. We kept them in a box and started feeding them with milk in a bottle. The nutrition in the dairy milk we get is non-existent. The twins survived but were malnourished. We named them Lily and Billy.

Even when they were malnourished, Billy was the smarter among the two. She had figured out how to jump out of the box, how to play with her sibling and how to irritate her. Life was going on pretty good for them until two weeks later when their mother came back with two other kittens. Would she recognize and accept Lily and Billy and take them away? We thought it would be good if she did and at that, we made the mistake we should never have.

We showed the cat Lily and Billy on our roof. They were smaller than the other kittens she had brought but she seemed to recognize them from their scent. She wanted to take Billy first but the kitten was too stubborn and reluctant. She did not let the cat carry her. Lily too resisted but she was not as smart as her twin. The cat caught her scruff and took her away.

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Lily and Billy the day before they were separated

The mother cat came back again. We decided to give up Billy as well. We did not know whether Lily-Billy could survive. Even if they died, it would be nice if they died together, we thought. After an effort of more than half an hour, the cat took Billy away. A little farther, she could not carry Billy. She was still struggling to get away. The cat tried her best to take her away but when she could not, left her. Billy cried alone on that balcony for more than an hour in front of our sight before we decided we would now adopt her as long as she wants to stay with us.

Meanwhile, the cat took away the fourth kitten and never returned for the kitten. She came back a few times to steal milk and we haven’t seen her for more than a fortnight now.

Now Billy is with us on her own. And she has learnt everything her instinct allows her. When she was with her twin, we thought they learnt together but even when this tabby is alone, she has learnt everything on her own. Who teaches her? I tried to know the answer. I discussed with my parents and my sister.

Does Nature teach her? How, though? Could Billy’s genes have carried her natural instincts and behaviours? Does the DNA carry all the things she needs for survival?

It’s strange to note that humans have very few individual survival instincts. We are not as agile as the cat, we don’t have the physical strength they have. We don’t even cover up our excreta as a natural instinct. It’s a learned social behaviour. Why does a cat have more survival instincts and more unique natural behaviours than a human? Aren’t we vain in saying that we are the smartest or the most intelligent creature on the planet? I have seen the kitten picking up our language before we picked up hers. How are we the only sapient beings? And finally, I came to the question that has intrigued people for ages: why are we here thriving (not just surviving) against all odds?

Humans are physically weak. We don’t have strong legs like that of the felines and canines. We don’t have strong teeth and claws to hunt. We don’t have a thick hide to protect us from cold. We don’t even have furs. The only strength we have is our large head (more than 2 kgs), which is also an evolutionary liability.

Yet, it is in our head the brain lies and it has the ability to analyze the world like no other creature in the world. We are the only creatures that can understand the secret of this world and that of the universe. Only we can alter our natural instinct of fear to compassion.

Are we really thriving to understand the real secrets of our lives, how we originated and to care for the lives around us, to coexist with every living being in harmony? Eastern philosophers and poets of my own country have answered “Yes” to the question.

But is there any force or energy that compels us to survive, to contemplate and to understand? Why is the Nature the way it is? Why is the cat the way she is? What is the source of the chaotic order that rules the Earth? I have come to believe in the existence of that energy that has created this chaotic order. I have now come to believe this energy is the God–the Creator, the Caretaker and the Destroyer.

In these two months, the cats have taught me a lot of things about life and the way we behave and feel. And we can’t always control everything that happens. We make mistakes we can’t amend. We don’t know what happened to Lily but Billy continues to grow and to impress. She is here in my house with a purpose–to teach me about other living beings, including humans.

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Parents and their Daughters

In towns and cities connected by roads

Never distant are the daughters

With no compromises and loads

Close to parents are the daughters.

***

Never distant were the daughters

We hope all our lives

Close to us were the daughters

We dream all our lives.

******

We hope all our lives

To return again to our parents

We dream all our lives

To see once again our parents.

***

To return again to our parents

We lament in this far off land

To see once again our parents

We pray in this desolate land.

******

[Note: I had written this poem in Nepali (माइती जान नपाउने चेली). After I received a comment from Mick Canning and read the translation, I felt so bad. So I tried translating the poem myself. This is also my effort on the Pantoum form of poetry.]

The Mathematics of Love and Depression

Love: exciting, interesting. Synonymous to happiness. A feeling everyone wants to embrace.

Depression: dull, gloomy. Antonymous to happiness. A feeling everyone wants to aver.
How are they related? I’ll try doing so using three expressions.

1. Love = Depression

Presenting love and lost love as a cause of depression is popular in literature, movies and music. Is love really a cause of depression?
About three months ago, I read ‘Monsoon’ by Subin Bhattarai. In the novel, Subhan falls in love with Monsoon and falls into depression (twice) when she goes away from her. Lost love is a cause of depression in the novel.
I remember reading Chetan Bhagat’s “2 States” about two years ago. The male character, Krish falls into depression when his lover Ananya leaves him. A depressed character, whose girlfriend has left him, also appears in Bhagat’s another novel “Revolution 2020”.
“Ghumti ma na aau hai” is a popular Nepali song from the movie “Kumari”. It is a song sung by a boy who is in love with a girl who had been made Kumari (living goddess) but can not express his feelings because of the society. He asks her not to come to meet him as they might be bound by ties of love and they may have to cry alone when separated.
A lot of people write poems (Ghazals, Muktaks, etc.) mostly saying that love is something that gives tears. They say, “If you can, avoid loving anyone.”

With this we come to our second expression:

2. Love < Depression

When depression takes over someone, love dies slowly. The feeling of “one-sided love” may not die. People may not be able to forget their lovers who left them. But should love be restricted between two people?

Movies and literature have popularized the concept of love between two people, mostly a young man and a young woman. And that’s where the problem arises. Two people think they are the only people who love each other. That’s why when one leaves, the other feels that love has ended.
Whenever love ends, depression overcomes.

Subhan in ‘Monsoon’ has a family and decent friends. When Monsoon leaves, he is depressed. He detaches himself from his family and friends. He does not talk to his parents, and not even to his grandfather with him he is closer. He is not happy with his friends.
In his depression, he kills his love towards his friends and family.

Now, it’s time I discuss the third expression.

3. Love > Depression

Can love overcome depression?
I believe that only love can overcome depression. If you understand that there are a lot of people who love you, depression can be overcome. Sometimes the love of a single person can make a difference. (Euta manchhe ko mayale kati farak pardachha jindagima.)

When Subhan’s grandfather and friends realize that he is depressed the first time, they pull him out of his dark shell. It takes long, but he is able to overcome depression. And this is the only portion I liked about the novel.

“Love all, serve all,” is one thing preached by Eastern philosophers. I believe it is the key to happiness.

The Loud Midnight Birthday Party

1.

Poush 8, 2073 (December 23, 2016). About 2 p.m.

Along the Siddhartha Highway section between Dumre Khola Bridge and Dumre Bazaar.

Samir and I walked down about five hundred metres and stopped at a temporary hotel (ghumti hotel?) close to the Dumre Khola Bridge. We decided to fetch some fruit drinks and some snacks. Anish came along. “Take the drink,” he said. “It’s great!”

Samir asked five packs of the fruit drink. “Let’s take some pakodas,”he added.

“Some potato chops as well,” I said.

“They too are delicious,” Anish said. “We’re around here all day. Have bought them several times already.”

“Shall I warm them up?” The lady at the hotel said.

We said, “Sure.”

The pakodas and  chops were drowned into hot oil. They came out oilier than before. Samir paid for the items we bought.

A few paces back to our designated area of study, we met Padam dai. We had met him on Mangsir 15, the day we had come Palpa. He was the son of the owner of the buses the Department of Geology had reserved. We had first mistaken him for a teacher. Then we knew that he was almost the same age as us but had already graduated in Engineering. We had called him dai (brother) in the beginning. We continued to do so.

So, we met him. “Can you do us a favour?” Anish asked. “Can you get the best cake for us?”

“Are you celebrating someone’s birthday?” Padam dai asked.

“Yep.”

“Whose birthday?”

“Prasmita. I guess you know her. She is fair.., tall… has a mark on her forehead.

“The girl with curly hair, isn’t she?”

“See? I told you know her.”

Padam dai agreed. We all went away.

2.

Poush 10, 2011 (December 10, 2016). About 8 a.m.

In our room at Shree Masyam School.

No more field work. The rush had ended that day. Everyone was lazing about. We did not even want to get out of our sleeping bags. “Tomorrow is Prasmita’s birthday,” Anish told Bimal in course of talk. “We are celebrating at midnight.”

“How?”

“I’ve ordered cake.”

“Through Padam dai?”

“Yo!”

About thirty minutes later, we were still idling. Having lunch help not helped in removing our laziness. We basked ourselves in the sun looking down at the Bhaisekati Khola, the surroundings and all, gossiping trivial matters. Prasmita and Sarita came down. They were just going for lunch. Bimal said, “Prasmita, Happy Birthday!”

“Today is not my birthday,” Prasmita said.

When the girls were out of sight, I said, “Didn’t you listen earlier that tomorrow is her birthday?”

Puzzled, Bimal said, “I thought it was today.”

Anish was a little angry. “Wouldn’t we have already celebrated had it been today?” He chuckled, “I think she knows we are planning something. You have ruined the surprise, idiot.”

3.

About 6:30 p.m. the same day.

I came back to the room after the dinner. We had been busy writing reports. Nothing but reports. Some teachers had been to Palpa and some of us had been very much disapointed at that. All I needed was rest. I went into the room and placed my plate leaning against the wall.

Anish was lying down on the floor. He seemed tired, looked like he needed some air. I did not think of anything, though. All I wanted was to lean on to the wall on his right. I sat down. “Don’t press on to that sleeping bag,” Anish expressed his caution. I understood. Under the sleeping bag was a box of cake.

“Got it in ten minutes,” he said. The next day, in presence of Deepak sir, he told the complete story, “I was having dinner while I got a call (from Padam dai). Then I rushed down. (What about the plate?- I didn’t ask.) In ten minutes, I got down, took the cake and climbed back. Up here, I nearly got caught. I had to go the other way around.”

He showed us the box. Nanglo was printed on the box. The brand name did not surprise me. I had seen the Bakery Cafe of Nanglo at Tansen.

4.

About 11 p.m. the same day.

The evening turned into night before the presentations were over. Our room was the first to go out. Those who had been told to be in our room never came out. We waited, saw other groups coming out, made some laughter, danced, sang and all did all we could do without getting into our room. Work had ended. Only fun remained.

As we went to the other room and as others came into ours, Anish had asked not to stay in the corner of the room. Sandeep came and covered the cake with a mound of bags. When we came back, nothing had happened to the cake thankfully.

5.

5 minutes before midnight.

Boys had poured into our room to sing and dance. Some of us had packed up clothes into our bags as we were returning Kathmandu the next evening. The dance had continued for almost an hour. Anish had slipped out five minutes before us. Bimal and I asked Sandeep, Prafulla and Samir to go up. Only Samir assented but he did not come up with us. We slipped out quietly.

The birthday party was in the girls’ room. Last year was different. I had frequently visited the girls’ room but this year, I had not been in their room once. Now I was getting in their room in the midnight. I felt a little awkward. “Whoever comes has to dance,” Nirusha and Laxmi said. Bimal and I just nodded. Samir came in. Pooja called Badda (Sandeep Poudel). He was reluctant in the beginning but he agreed to come. He came up with Hem Sagar. I had never believed he would come. He surprised me.

The box of cake was opened. Six (?) pieces of cake showed up. Candles were inserted. The birthday girl had been sent out. We waited for her.

At exactly 12 o’clock, Prasmita entered the room As soon as she entered, the room chimed, “Happy Birthday to you.” The birthday girl herself sang the birthday song. She laughed heartily. She was overwhelmed with joy.

The candles were lit and put out. The cakes were cut with spoon and distributed. It was delocious. Girls cake-painted Prasmita. Manisha and Yuvraj took photos. The cake was still being distributed. Bimal whispered to me, “We might have to dance. Let’s go.”

We slipped away. The party began. We could listen to them jump two floors below. The dance continued for an hour. We knew it had ended when Badda and Hem Sagar came back. The other day heard that other boys too had joined the party and had woken up teachers as well. No wonder they were scared by the loud noises of the midnight birthday party.

All that mattered was happiness. The happiness of the birthday girl the most. Prasmita, May happiness always enrich your soul!

​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.

Speechless

[A poem I started out of a random thought some months ago. I hadn’t completed it then. When I saw it today, I completed it. The last part differs from what I had planned the day I created it.]

ME:

Saw her again, passing by the street;

Had opportunity to meet

Graceful she; radiance on her face

All of a sudden, fear made me retreat.

If you had helped me a little more,

O God!

I would have felt blessed!

But you helped me less;

If not, I would not have been speechless!

GOD:

Don’t blame me, kid

For the mistake you did.

The rain had passed, the sun was bright

I did everything to help you with my might.

ME:

If you had helped me no less

Tell me, my Lord! Why was I speechless?

GOD:

I can’t answer that

When in doubt,

Ask your heart.

ME:

Tell me, O Heart!

Why do I crave

To be with her

But fear

Whenever she is near?

HEART:

Lub-dub-lub-dub-lub-lub-dub-dub-lub-dub

ME:

And the heart goes on

Beating.

I can’t understand

What it’s saying!

O God! Teach me

The language of the heart.

Where are you, O God?

Where have you gone

Leaving your child alone?

I know you left.

I know I should do it myself.

I’ve the problem;

I’ve the solution.

However, I’m distressed,

Stressed

But well dressed!

So that I can hide

My inabilities

And my problems

That are not getting less.

I stare at a wall alone

And speechless!

4 Exemplary Stories of Friendship from the Mahabharata

In most countries, Friendship Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of August. There is variation in dates, however. Learn more on Wikipedia. Today, on the occasion of Friendship Day, I have brought to you exemplary stories of friendship from the epic Mahabharata.

1. Krishna and Arjun

Well, they were cousins. Arjun’s mother Kunti was Krishna’s aunt. But they were not just tied by the bloodline. They were intimate friends. One could understand the other through his gestures. Krishna and Arjun, according to the Mahabharata are the incarnations of Narayana (God) and Nara (Human), who together can destroy evil.

The most remarkable point in the story of their friendship is Krishna’s recitation of the Bhagavad Geeta (The Song of the God) to Arjun. Though a fierce warrior he was, Arjun was filled with compassion seeing his relatives. He did not want the victory obtained by killing millions of people. Arjun wanted to leave the battlefield. Krishna motivated Arjun by saying that it would have been a possible if the war had not started. At the battlefield, one has to fight. Else, he would be called a coward. “Do you want to be called a coward by the future generations?” Krishna asked Arjun. He also told that Arjun could establish righteousness in the Dwapar Yug.

This story, if considered from the point of religion, tells us that God is a friend of righteous humans. It is through the guidance of God that we can bring an end to the evil. The main moral in this story is, however that a true friend should never let a friend depressed. Neither does he should let him be ashamed.

Krishna and Sudama. Source: http://appmithistories.blogspot.nl

2. Krishna and Sudama

A long time after Krishna set himself as the king of Dwarka, a poor man came to his door asking for alms. He wanted to meet Krishna but when he saw the grandeur of the fort-city, he repressed his desire. The poor man was about to go away, when Krishna recognized him. He was Krishna’s childhood friend, Sudama.

Once, when they were young, Sudama had stolen Makkhan and had eaten it alone without sharing with his friends. Sudama was tall and his friends made him steal the pots kept on the higher places. He had done so because when they used to steal together in that manner, he often used to get the least share. Unfortunately, since that day, his family became poorer and poorer. By the time Sudama had reached Dwarka, he had nothing but thin clothes and not a morsel of food.

Seeing his friend and knowing his story, Krishna embraces Sudama and serves him well. Within a few days, Sudama looks better. Krishna then helps Sudama build a house within Dwarka so that he can meet his amigo frequently. Such a generous friend Krishna was! (I heard this story from my grandmother some days ago.)

3. Karna and Duryodhan

Karna, though a Kshyatria by birth (Surya and Kunti were his parents), was called Sut-putra (child of a Shudra) because he was raised by a charioteer and his wife. When this warrior wished to compete in a ceremony with Arjun, the Pandavas humiliated him. Duryodhan, who has been portrayed as evil for most part, stands up to his brothers. He can not make Karna compete but later on, as a mark of friendship, grants Karna the kingship of Anga Province within his empire. Though one may say Duryodhan wanted to exploit Karna to fulfil his evil design against the Pandavas,  Karna always took the friendship truly. He supported Duryodhan in whatever he did and went on to the extent of saving his only friend’s life several times. The Mahabharata says that the only mistake of Karna was to support the Chir haran of Draupadi. When Kunti later told to change sides, Karna said that because Duryodhan had only one true friend, Karna could never leave him.

4. Krishna and Radha

These are the subjects of numerous songs often describing romantic relationship between them. But there was more than the romantic feeling between them. While Krishna was a smart boy, Radha was wise. She believed in following the traditions as they were. Whenever Krishna made mistakes she was the one to correct him. For example, when Krishna killed a bull, Radha was enraged. She told him to bathe in the major rivers of the world to eliminate his sins. Krishna is believed to have brought water from Yamuna, Ganga, Sindhu, and Saraswati into two ponds now known as Radha Kunda and Shyam Kunda. In that sense, though Radha and  Krishna’s friendship is not much told in stories, they had deep regards for each other.

I’m done with stories of amity from the Mahabharata. Happy Friendship Day to all!