Invisible

Until recently, I had not realized that I have become invisible on social media. I am there but I am not. As someone who finds it difficult to chat or call on regular basis, it has always been difficult to maintain friendship on social media. I have also been tired of thankless favours they ask me. Still, I’m scared of losing them.

Since the Covid-19 lockdown in Chait 2076 (April 2020), a lot of things have happened. These one-and-a-half years have been mostly unproductive. I have not written much. Neither did I make any progress in academics. I invested my last six months to qualify for government services but the exams have been stalled and now I feel like am in a limbo. I learnt a few stuffs related to art and animation but I haven’t turned them into anything productive.

But maybe I am thinking productivity in terms of monetary gains only. My parents say knowledge never goes to waste no matter how difficult gaining it might be. My lack of knowledge on simplest of the things related to my thesis work was one of the reasons I decided not to complete it within Bhadau this year. On top of that the errors I had made were fatal. They should have never made way into my research. I’ll be improving on it for sure so that my step back can help me leap forward.

Despite my fears, I am hoping for the best. I have more time for preparation of exams. I have more time for my research. I have more time for family. I have more time to make connections. All I want to do is not become invisible.

Oof Holi!

I don’t remember playing Holi because I never really played. This is the time when Spring arrives and I often used to get sick. Two years ago, my maternal grandmother passed away on the day of Holi. I used to be attracted by “Pichkari” (water gun) and I still do but I don’t participate.

The popular myth on Holi says:
This festival is celebrated after the death of Holika, the sister of Danava King Hiranya Kasyap (aka Hiranyakasipu). She wanted to kill her nephew Prahlad, who was a devotee of Vishnu. The Danavas refused to worship him. Holika had been granted a boon by Brahma that she would be untouched by fire. She carried Prahlad on her lap and sat on a pyre. Nothing happened to Prahlad because of his devotion.

In Nepal, this festival is celebrated in two days. (Actually seven days in Kathmandu Valley. Everyone seems to ignore this fact. Fagu Poornima (yesterday) in the Mountains and today in the Terai. No one knows why. Maybe because of different cultures that got the same/similar name.

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Whatever the reason behind the origin of the festival, I have seen that it has always been a concern for people (women, mostly)and the government. Not long ago, boys used to hit girls with rubber balloons (or later with plastic bags) filled with water (mostly filthy) weeks ago before Holi. Girls felt insecured. On the day of Holi, the situation would get worse. No one would be spared of cold water and colours (even if they did not want to participate).

It might not have been that horrifying for some years (I might have failed to observe!) but some youths still get themselves drunk or drugged (“Jhyap” in Nepali). Some boys also take it as an opportunity for sexual harassment. A British journalist took this issue to Twitter and I came to know it through Lex Limbu’s Facebook post and Neostuff’s page. Sexual harassment must not happen anywhere. No woman should suffer from such kind of behavior. Holi is not an opportunity to grope women and inflict fear into their minds. This is absolutely shameful!

Festivals are for fun not for fear. Any festival that inflicts fear is not a festival at all. Celebrate it if you want but don’t force others. And never take it as opportunity for sexual harassment.

Leave Me Alone-3

Previously on Leave Me Alone:

Ajay and Sasha go to Sasha’s home to celebrate Sasha’s birthday. Ajay sees portrait of a woman on red sari who looks like Sasha. Ajay is attacked by a woman on red sari and he flees. He goes to a police station and tells what had happened. Let’s look at Sasha in this chapter.

Sasha felt cold. She had been lying face down on the frozen floor for she did not know how long. The cold hit her heart. She opened her eyes and sat up immediately. She was surrounded by darkness. She was stunned because she was not on the kitchen floor where she had fallen unconscious. She was on a street- cold, pitch-black street.

‘How did I reach here?’ she tried hard to recall but in vain. She had been attacked by her mother in the kitchen and had no idea what had happened to her after she fell down. She wanted to cry. She covered her face with her palms. They were sticky and smelt of rust. She peeked hard at her hand in the darkness. ‘Blood,’ she thought looking around. ‘But how did blood come up in my hands?’

Her hands went through her face. ‘There are some bruises on the corner of right eyebrow,’ she came to know and she formulated a hypothesis. ‘That wound wouldn’t have flowed much. My hands must have touched something bloody or smeared with someone’s blood.’ She feared, ‘Whose blood could it be upon my palms? Is it my mother’s or Ajay’s?’

She jumped up abruptly. What could have happened to Ajay? Her mother had wanted him dead. She hoped she had not been able to do anything to him but she was scared. ‘My mother can do anything,’ she said to herself. Her mother could have made a plan to murder Ajay and put the blame upon her. Sasha gasped, looked around through the darkness and realized that she was not too far from her house. She had to get back to her house immediately to protect Ajay from her crazy mother.

As she began running to her house, she noticed that she was wearing a sari. She clearly remembered that she had worn a different dress before her mother had hit her with a steel rod. She knew she had not chosen to wear a sari. She did not even know how to wear it properly. Her mother must have put it on her while she had been unconscious. ‘How did she manage to do that?’ Sasha could not understand. Nevertheless, she understood that her mother wanted to kill Sasha as well. A flimsy cotton sari would not have protected her from cold on a frosty night. ‘She really planned it well,’ Sasha thought. She also had several questions in her mind. ‘Why did she want Ajay dead? Was it really because of the revenge she wanted to have?’ However, she should have understood that he could not have harmed her at all. He had not even met her once. Sasha felt her mother had really gone crazy. Her mother had to answer Sasha’s questions honestly.

With an impeccable sense of direction, Sasha reached her house quickly. She was shocked by the fact that the gate and the main door were open. ‘My Mom must have fled already. She would have acted behind shut doors and windows. The lights are not yet turned off.’ A cold chill ran up her spines. Had she already taken Ajay’s life? ‘I should not think of such things,’ Sasha controlled her thoughts and ran in. Her hope that nothing had happened to Ajay increased when she saw a police van in front of the porch. There was a sound of people speaking and creaking of boots everywhere in the house. Sasha rushed into the kitchen, where the sound was bigger. The room was in a mess. Broken glasses lay here and there. The police officers were taking notes of what they saw in the crime scene. Sasha also saw a clean-shaven police officer giving instructions to his juniors. He noticed Sasha and stopped giving directions. Everyone started looking at her. The officer walked forward and asked her, “You’re Sasha, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am,” Sasha answered abruptly.

“Thank God,” the officer exclaimed. “Your boyfriend had told that you might be in danger. Do you know what he meant by danger?”

“My mother,” Sasha said, relieved that Ajay was safe,” she wanted him dead.”

“What? Why did he want to kill him? When did you know of that?”

“She did not tell me until this evening,” Sasha replied. She said that I did not understand; that I had been blinded by my love to Ajay. “She had even attacked me with a steel rod. I had fallen unconscious over there.”

She pointed to the floor before the sink. The officer looked at the rod with grimace. He did not seem to understand something. He asked her promptly, “If you had been attacked here, why weren’t you here when we had come here? Where were you?”

“I don’t know,” Sasha said plainly. “Even I don’t understand. I think she dragged me to the street and left me to die in the cold.”

The officer looked at her with distrust. He thought over for a while and said, “That’s very unlikely for a woman. But if she had someone to work for her or if she is strong, nothing is impossible.”

The officer’s phone buzzed. He seemed to receive some orders from the other side. When he cut the call off, he turned to Sasha and said, “I’ve been ordered to take you to the police station.”

Sasha trembled. “B . . . But I’ve not done anything. I swear it was my Mom. I can’t even think of harming Ajay.”

“You don’t understand, Sasha,” the officer said. “You’re not being arrested. This place is not safe for you right now. What if your mother attacks you the moment we leave? You’ll go with us for your own safety.”

Sasha nodded slowly. The officer was right. Besides, she could also meet Ajay and ask him what her mother had done to him. When the record taking was completed, the officer told everyone, including Sasha to move out. Within minutes, they were at the police station.

The officer led Sasha into the office of the Inspector. She saw three men talking with each other in one corner of the room. They were speaking in low voices. Sasha could not listen to anything but she thought they were talking about her. The officer who had brought Sasha with him said something to the trio. As Sasha went towards them, Ajay looked towards her. His eyes widened with fear. “You’ve been tricked, officer,” Ajay shouted out. “This is not Sasha, officer. This is the woman who attacked me.”

Sasha covered her ears with her hands. She could bear no more. Ajay did not believe him. Who would help her? Sasha had always loved her mother but she had got pain instead. Her pulse increased. She felt her temples were being seared. She clutched her head with her hands; howled out in pain and collapsed.

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