What’s the Point? (Part Two)

Bishwas and I

I was in a long queue for college admission. It had been two hours and nobody moved an inch. The small window from which “service was being delivered” was nowhere in sight. The student leaders were coming now and then and saying they were sorting the issue. But we were still at the same spot, irritated by the sun up on our heads and the state of administration. Then somebody behind me thought they had to take action and went ahead making sure their spot won’t be taken.

They returned and started arguing with a student leader. A huge boy was growling, “What’s the point in lining us up when the actual work is being done from the backdoor?”

*

“That’s Bishwas, isn’t he?” the lady exclaimed.

“Yeah, but don’t interrupt me. What’s up with people these days? No patience at all!”

“Sorry, my bad. Please continue.”

*

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Bishwas and others argued with the student leaders for a while. Every one surrounded the student leaders. “Admit us from the backdoor,” we demanded. To save themselves from the wrath of the young guns, the student leaders finally helped in getting the work done in the right way. Before leaving, I talked with Bishwas, took his number and thanked him for what he did. “Oh, it’s nothing,” he said. “I was helping myself. You were lucky to be in the queue.”

We were sitting under a tree in the college premises one day when Bishwas said, “These leaders… These are the ones who create problems out of the blue and now everyone thinks they will solve existing ones.”

Within a month since we got admission in the college, Bishwas and I turned into best friends. We used to in sit the same desk in the classroom, we used to have lunch together, and we used to talk on various things that interested us both. Elections for Students’ Union was coming up, and Bishwas was infuriated that the leaders who had not helped us were now presenting themselves as the saviours.

“Why don’t you run for the election?” I said.

“What’s the point?”

“Remove them from their position of power.”

“Who knows me? Nobody!”

“You should’ve taken the credit that day, you know. Every new student would have loved you.”

“Maybe, but you flatter me. Don’t do it.”

“You should have let everyone know what you did.”

“Should I have held a mic and shouted from the top of the roof?”

“Yep. That’s exactly what you had to do.”

“Nonsense,” Bishwas laughs out loud.

“But a loud nonsense is the common sense.”

“Does not mean those with common sense give in to the nonsense.”

“Yes,” I jumped. “This is exactly why you should run in the election.”

“I won’t. Politics, elections… I’m not made for such things.”

I failed to convince him. And, despite having common sense, and despite the big talks, we gave in to the nonsense and never thought about it again.

***

After the first year exams, Bishwas stopped coming to the college. He stopped answering my calls. I had no idea where he lived. I still don’t know where he lives. What an awful “friend” I was! If I had been even a good friend, I would have known about his family, I would have gone to his house, I would have shared my secrets with him, like he did. But I did nothing that should call me a good friend. Yet, when he came to my house to hand over the invitation to this party, he said, “You’re my best friend from college. I don’t want you to miss it.”

Surprised, I asked, “But I never tried to contact you after you left college. I don’t know why you left. And I didn’t bother to find it out.”

“You only knew my number and you called me. But I didn’t want to connect with anyone. I had distanced myself from everyone, even my family and old friends. What’s the point in being sad for things you were not responsible? Cheer up, buddy!”

“But why did you go away from everyone? What problems did you have?”

“Let it be a secret, buddy. I don’t want to talk about it.”

“So, something bitter happened. Tell me what happened.”

“What’s the point?”

“Perhaps, to unload the burden off your heart.”

“There is no load to unload, but because you insist, I will tell you what happened.”

He then told that he had joined the college only because of the pressure from his parents. He was a bright kid and his parents had huge expectations. But he could not find joy in the college activities. “Everything felt forced,” he said. He was doing things without any passion. That’s why he devised a plan to run away to the Himalayas. That’s where the rishis and santas have gone to find knowledge and peace. He stole a few thousand rupees, and threw his phone in the Kali Gandaki a few days later. Then he heard about a monk in the wilds beyond the Himalayas and went to meet him. There he found some peace but he could not forget his parents and friends so he came back to invite me to this party.

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.

Isolation

I have included some strips of the manga Koe no Katachi by Yoshitoki Ooima in this blog. Please read the strips from right to left.

When I watched Koe no Katachi aka A Silent Voice/The Shape of Voice, watched several video essays on it on YouTube, and later read the manga, I could relate the most to Shouya Ishida’s character. I was not a bully but I used to be nasty at times. However, the similarity lies in the ways he isolates himself. That took me back to my own school days.

I grew up pretty fast during my childhood, psychologically as well as physically. The problems of my home changed me from a carefree, outgoing boy into a worrying introvert. I spent my childhood trying to maintain good grades under the expectations of my parents and teachers. I hit puberty faster than most of my classmates, and that made me feel distant from the rest. Until I was 12, I had a few best friends, but none of them stayed long. I believed that I could have only one best friend, but that best friend was never permanent. After 6th Grade, I could not even tell who my best friend was. I had imaginary friends since I was 8. I spent most of my adolescence with them.

Koe no Katachi took me to those days and made me think: Why didn’t I have no friends then? My house was in the end of a small goreto beside a stream now turned into sewer. I never brought anyone home. I never went to anyone’s. I was scared I might get lost if I went anywhere other than my home and school. At the age of 3 or 4, I had actually lost at Ason. Had the Lamini Aama, who lives in our neighbourhood not found me, I don’t know what would happen to the proud Ankit/Sandeept that is today. But these were all secondary. The primary reason was my pride.

As long as I remember, I have always been proud. I was proud of my good-looks. I was proud of my high-pitched voice. I was proud of my memory. I was proud of my hard-work. I was proud of my timeliness. I was proud of my ability to speak well in public.

The first blow to my pride came in the form of the crooked tooth that somehow changed my good-looks. The second blow was the change in my voice-pitch. The pride of my memory ‘poofed’ when I realized that my brain could not remember everything and that the memories were ever changing. My pride of timeliness, hard-work and my ability to speak up facts from memory got kicked away once again in March when I did my worst presentation ever. But I still did not let go of my pride.

With pride, I had cultivated ego, and I enclosed myself within its walls. This wall has stayed ever since I realized I was different from my classmates, and that I could not easily mix with them. I had several problems. I could not stand them shouting out obscenities, I could not stand them fighting for petty things, I could not stand them taking my note-books, I could not stand them talking about ‘Street Fighter’, I could not stand them joining social media, I could not stand their aggression. In short, I could not stand the adolescents being adolescents. My “matured outlook” was actually my ego. I grew it in such a way that I did not frankly talk to anyone. I pushed them and have always tried pushing other friends and people away from me. I shoved some of them so hard that I have never had life-long friends.

In Koe no Katachi, the anime, Shouya Ishida shuts his ears, and crosses out everyone. That’s who I was, and still am. While my classmates had fun in the class, enjoying the never-returning times of their lives, I ignored their voices, canceled them out and concentrated on books. I used to be in the classroom, but I used to be aloof from whatever they did. Whatever they did, I thought, was nonsense. What I did, always right.

Looking back, I was never sad that I did not have much good memories with my childhood friends. I had my biggest lesson on large-group friendship when I was in my Bachelor’s. That was the time I enjoyed with my friends the most. But back in my head, I still had a doubt like Ishida has at the midway in his character arc, “Is this what friends are like? Am I allowed to be in their friendship, and to be happy?”

By now, I have again been hit by a realization. Even the largest groups of friends dissemble at some point of time. People who used to spill out all secrets, get along with awkward smiles when they meet after a long time. The dimensions of friendship changes with time and it’s natural. Nobody remains the same. I am, however jealous of some of my friends who can keep more than one best-friend in their life and respect each one of them. I am jealous that they can maintain the same dynamics that they created in their childhood. They are the polar opposites of someone like me, one who believes that there can only be one best-friend, and loses even that best-friend eventually.

Koe no Katachi, the anime, shook the walls of my ego; the manga cracked it further. As I dug deeper into my psyche, I realized that I could have been more accepting. I could have enjoyed a bit of “the trifles” of my friends. I could have a bigger heart and accepted many best-friends in my life. I could have been proud of the fact that I valued friendship over my own pride-generated ego. I apologize to you all, my friends, that I could never see anything beyond my ego. That I never tried to understand you; that I did not try to accept you, not even once.

Will I be able to break the walls of ego? I don’t know. Even after the blow it got, it still stands. I have come to a realization that only I can break it. The wall, however, is many-layered and has made my personality. Breaking that wall means that I will have to change my personality to some extent. But am I ready for that alteration? Am I ready to face my demons? Am I ready to move out of my comfort zone? I don’t know. But I am inspired by Ishida when he says in the manga: “There is some things you just can’t change. …I think it’s the time you spend trying to change. …That’s more important.”

I want, my friends, not to push you away; I want to understand you, your perspectives; I want to be more accepting of you; I want to be no more jealous of you; and I want infinite joy whenever I interact with you.

पाल्पा-२

​ यसअघि “पाल्पा” शिर्षकमा तीन कविता पाल्पाबाट पोस्ट गरेको थिएँँ । काठमाडौंं फर्किएपछि लेखेका तीन कविता यहाँ प्रस्तुत गर्दछु ।

 १.

लेक र बेँसी, गोरेटा-बाटाहरूमा

जिन्दगीका हरेक पाटाहरूमा

जीजीबीसा राख्दछन् नरनारी

मुहारमा हरपल गुलाबी रङ्ग छरी 

मस्याम, टारीडाँडाबाट पूर्वतिर हेर्दा

 २. (हाइकु)

मस्याम, डुम्रे घर

        महिना दिनलाई

                   यादका अत्तर
 ३. (मित्रताका ती पल)

राईझुमाको लय, रोदीघरका गीत

मित्रताको स्वर हासोको सङ्गीत

कम्मर मर्काई, ताली पड्काई

साथ पाई मित्रजनको, साह्रै रमाई

बित्यो समय कति छिटो पीर सबै भुलाई

​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.

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!

The Craziest Birthday Party Ever!

I am not someone who would take the first step in breaking rules. I am not the one who would like to be in a crazy situation. But one day, I was pulled- by fate or friendship, whatever you may call- to this weirdest, craziest birthday party ever.

We were on the geological excursion- a once in a lifetime experience. The tour was becoming too mundane. Wake up at about five in the morning, have morning meal at eight run to the field at nine. Return back within five-thirty in the evening, dine at six and work until midnight before going to sleep. Most of us were following the same routine. There was a need for change.

Some boys had tried spicing up life already. In the room where I had stayed, a friend of mine had been awakened in the night by some of the boys on his birthday. It was fun then but the teachers scolded them, albeit indirectly. Two nights later, we had to celebrate a birthday. We had to make it special.

Girls took the initiation. They prepared everything- unknown to most of us. They decided to take permission from the Field-in-charge Deepak sir. Laxmi did the talking. I was there when sir said to celebrate the birthday in silence.

The wait was long. I had some work to do, however. Time passed on easy. Rabi dai and Pawan dai made faces and took selfies and clicked photos. Sanjeev was probably waiting for the midnight but he did not know what was in store. Anish was busy in his work and we had to remind him at the last moment.

We waited in the dark. The birthday-girl had been sent away by the other girls. They came out as well carrying slices of cakes with them. It was almost January 14. What were we doing at the time when ghosts move around for food? We were talking in excited whispers, eager to wish the birthday-girl.

She stepped up. We all hid ourselves behind the walls of the dark corridor. Within thirty seconds, as soon as she stepped up the last stair, we all jumped and wished, “Happy Birthday to You! Happy Birthday, Romi!” We wished the birthday-girl in whispers. We had done it. We had wished her in the midnight, with permission, in whispers! (Bajrangi Bhaijaan’s ‘permission leke, taar ke niche se’ was running on my mind!)

Romi was awed. She could not believe it. She wanted to jump and shout. “Ssh! Keep your voice low!” We demanded. The same warning used to come up whenever someone tried to speak up loudly. The party continued with cakes. Everyone wished in whispers again. Apart from the aforementioned people, excluding Deepak sir, Prasmita, Bhawana, Pratigya, Ravi (not to confuse with Rabi dai), Nirusha and Sarita had joined the party. We even took selfies to commemorate the moment. Within half an hour, Anish posted one of the photos on Facebook.

What else happened? The boys slept. The girls said they had had a silent dance party. Rules and ethics ruled us out from the silent dance party. Yet we had participated in the craziest midnight silent birthday party!

image

[From left to right]1st row: Pratigya, Romi, Bhawana; 2nd row: Prasmita, Sarita, Nirusha,  Laxmi; 3rd row: Ravi, Rabi dai, Last row: Anish, Pawan dai, Ankit (aka Sandeept); Selfie click: Sanjeev

[Before the end of this article, Romi, I would like to wish you Happy Birthday again. I know it’s been more than a week already but I also can’t wait another year to wish you.

Along the road of life – miles,
Never let go off your smiles!
May happiness devour all your fears,
Never you be soaked with tears!
With Pure Heart, may you win the World,
Blessed with Friends as precious as Gold!
                    Happy Birthday!!]

200 Years Of Friendship!

It began with a war.

A conflict of more than fifty years ensured that the war was inevitable.

One of them had dominated more than half of the world. Their Empire was the one on which the sun never set. They wanted to annex all states within the Indian sub-continent. There was one nation left to defeat.

That Nation had just arisen from bits and pieces in the Himalayas. Some Kings and Lords of the petty states had not been satisfied with the unification. They wanted their shares. They sought help of the Empire to get back their states.

That was a golden opportunity for the Empire. They had discovered weak spots of the Himalayan Nation. They sought out ways to defeat them.

It was not easy, however. The new Mukhtiyar (equivalent to modern day Prime Minister) was a patriot. He would not let the Empire seize his nation. He brought about changes in the military. It enraged the Empire.

The Empire had to make a move soon. They gathered their own army and sent a letter to the Himalayan Nation with some terms. They had to respond it in time, else they had to fight with them.

The Monarch of the Himalayan Nation decided not to respond to that letter. The war began. From east, south and west, the army of the Empire marched. They had dreamed of victory over the majestic Himalayas.

The army of the Himalayan Nation, blessed by the ever tall and proud Himalayas fought bravely with the Empire’s army. Of the five major wars, the Empire won three. The two defeats were heavy. Even the ones they won were not as convincing to them. The soldiers of the Himalayan Nation had fought with all their potential.

Sugauli Treaty (Source: Wikipedia
Sugauli Treaty (Source: Wikipedia)

The Empire had to change their strategy of dominating the Himalayan Nation. They did an agreement – the Sugauli Treaty in the year 1816. The Himalayan Nation lost almost half of their territory but they stood up as the biggest independent nation in the Indian sub-continent.

The treaty brought about a diplomatic between the Empire and the Himalayan Nation. It was based on the dominance of the Empire, with the then Rana Prime Ministers improving the status of the relation. The friendship agreement of 1923 declared the Himalayan Nation as an independent nation.

The Empire was helped by the Himalayan Nation during the World War II. They had sent their best soldiers into the war. These soldiers were feared wherever they fought. They were the mighty Gurkhas.

The Empire fell. Revolutions around the world after the Great War brought about its downfall. The Empire lost a huge territory. Ranas of the Himalayan Nation fell. The friendship remained. It continues to exist, almost 200 years now. Long live the friendship!

Notes:

  • Inspired by presentation of Hamlet in Nepali on the occasion of the 200 years of co-operation between Nepal and Britain.
  • In the year 1768 (1825 B.S.), Prithvi Narayan Shah had declared the annexation of Kantipur into Gorkha. That was the formal beginning of Mordern Nepal.
  • The then East Company of the British Empire had waged a war against Nepal. During the treaty of 1816, Rana Bahadur Shah was the King and Bhimsen Thapa was the Prime Minister of Nepal.  
  • During 1923, Chandra Shamsher was the Prime Minister of Nepal. Since then, Gurkhas have been a part of the British Army.
  • The relation between Nepal and Britain has been well described by Mr Andy Sparkes in this speech: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/two-hundred-years-of-nepal-britain-relations-a-way-forward