Monday, February 19, 2007

BACK TO MY VILLAGE!

Finally after 9 years, my “not being able to go back to my own birthplace” record was broken. Can you express how you feel inside your heart when suddenly what you have been dreaming for years comes to your lap and smiles at you???? No…no…no… words can never be able to explain those heartbeats which beat faster and slower at the same time and also those butterflies you feel inside your stomach… That morning (28th October,05) I was feeling just like that. Racing of my heart could have been due to the excitement of visiting my village again; my birthplace where I spent some of my childhood days. But butterflies in my stomach were not certainly from excitements of seeing my village and relatives again. I am pretty sure of that b’coz it hadn’t started until I had seen the plane that was carrying me. Okey, it may not be a big problem for some people but for me it was like “Catch 22”. First of all, it was my first flight in a twin-otter plane, in fact it was my first flight in any plane! Secondly when I saw the plane it looked like it was going to collapse just infront of my eyes if I happen to touch it with my forefinger; its wings had been black like burned from something I have no idea of and it looked too old to carry any people inside it. Looking at it made me remember all the worst crashes that happened recently in all over the world and I could bet all of those planes must have been 100 times better than this! If I could have any other options I would have run after those options leaving everything behind but what to do I had to be a lamb and take my seat inside it. I guess you remember God very much when you feel you are in a real trouble. That was what I was doing when plane started its job. I was there sitting with my eyes shut and praying “PLZZZZZZZZ God don’t let this plane crash Else I’ll never worship you!” Thanks to my guts for warning God that I was safely landed in my district’s airport; God must have been afraid of me! Now seriously, I had never thought that I would be able to fly with clouds in my life but I did and it was a great experience. Along with this experience I realized how beautiful my country is and how it is formed; its topography. Everywhere there was greenery, smiling hills, laughing mountains, beautiful gorges and not even a single noticeable plain! Amazing!!

Hey..Hey you must be thinking that I have reached the home already. I am sorry but it’s a wrong guess. I have to walk on foot for 2 days from my district’s airport to reach my home. So, you can imagine how hard it could have been for me to walk on those beautiful hills after so long time. And we hardly get chance to walk on plain/straight road; its mostly either up-hill or down hill and believe or not there were so many landslides on the way and road was no where to be seen so we had to crawl like a baby with both legs and both hands. I even thought I was a goat; a very brave goat who is good enough to graze in landslides! Hehehe road is not the only problem, motels are hard to find too. By luck we found one and when I had the food of that motel I didn’t even take two spoons of it. That was not the end of the problem; real problem started when I couldn’t sleep due to insects bite…ohh what a horrible night! In morning I knew from my father that it was the best motel of that area. Yeah…I know it’s shocking! You know I never thought that My God had raised much more big leg to hit on my stomach than those things; I knew it next day. What happened is the most embarrassing thing in my life but I can make fun of it too. I was walking so well in the morning that I thought I was much more tough than I had thought to be. I was talking to my ‘on the way friends’, enjoying the beauty of nature and sunrise. But in noon, my 9 years of city life, hard walk of previous day, two spoons of dinner and sleepless night paid me with full price and even with some tips. There, I was sweating a cold sweat; even my knees were sweating! I had taken a rest after climbing up-hill then when I was about to stand on my foot I knew that I was not going to take 10 paces before I collapse. And BOOM I was right! I even didn’t make to 5 steps. I told I’ll take some more rest so I was there standing with a support of small rock then guess what? I slept there nearly for 15 minutes and when I opened my eyes it was a torture. Then came the most embarrassing thing…my father knew I’ll never be able to walk on my own to home so he hired a man to carry me home I never felt more embarrassed in my whole life. But my trouble of walking with swollen leg was finished and the trouble passed to a man who was carrying me (I am a real plump!). Hey…hey but I didn’t loose all of my dignity due to this b’coz I walked whenever plain and downhill road came!

When I reached home so many people had gathered in my house that it was like celebrating some kind of festival. And very awkward thing is that everyone was staring at me. I felt totally out of place for some time. They were staring at me like as if I was an alien. And I felt the same. Anyway everything was special there. I can never be able to write all the interesting things I did in one whole month. If I give in detail then next day you will be visiting eye hospital and your computer will have to visit or invite a mechanic. But I’ll not fail to say some of the interesting things that may make you think and laugh or even wonder! So what we are waiting for lets start…PLZ WAIT FOR SOMETIME…I AM DOWNLOADING …

Before going to my village I had thought that my village must have changed a lot but it really took me by surprise when I saw actually nothing much has changed in these years. The houses, Jungles, Ghatta (water mills used to grain flour), even trees look as they were before; not grown much! One thing that has changed is people have changed a lot when talking about physical appearances b’coz I didn’t recognize at least 90% of them. Other things are as before. There are no toilets; forget about bathrooms! I was really disappointed when I found “Back to Nature” sign still pasted in peoples head. Luckily, there is only one house which has toilet facility and that’s ours. Ohhh…what a relief! And that was the reason behind me for not staying in my relatives’ houses for long or for night. It’s a real problem!

Next thing is about my village school. It is called “Shree Prathamik Vidhyalaya” (Primary School) and when I looked at it my heart ached. Its condition was horrible. There were no tables and chairs in some of the classrooms and blackboards were in a horrible condition. There were no doors; lets forget about windows. Its roof was covered by steel tin and I was told that in every winter season it’s blown away by wind. And believe or not there are more than 200 students and only 4 teachers are assigned there and on the day of my visit there was only one teacher present. One of them had gone to neighbor village “Kingsi” as Maoists had called him to help them in making some of their documents. Other two had gone to their home some time before and had not returned since. So from this you know how terrible is the situation of our schools in rural areas of Nepal. I was told by the students of another school that in their school they get only about 2 months to study in whole year. I was shocked!

The Maoist Movement has disturbed the daily life of people. They don’t walk freely as they used to; there is fear in their eyes and heart. They are not drop-dead frighten of the Maoists as they used to when the movement had started but there is still fear. However, most of them (except Maoists) don’t believe that movement is going to bring any good in their life. They say that those people who are thieves, murderers, using force upon innocent people to fulfill their needs etc..etc can never be able to get own government or changes. To bring some changes they need support from people but they do the acts which makes people to hate them.’ I heard complains about them all the time. Due to this movement many civil people have lost their life—no crime but have paid with their life, innocence people are being killed by both side (government side too) and there is no one to talk on their behalf. Human Right activists are confined only in urban areas while real incidents take place in rural areas. Many of them don’t know about human rights and they don’t expect anything from them because they know nothing is going to happen. Moreover which one of so called human right activists is ready to go in those rural areas and spent their days instead of being focus of the camera in urban areas for speaking in what they call human right. Not only their life is in danger in a sense of loosing it but it is hard to live there because all the development activities are in dormant state. Schools are most of the time-closed b’coz sometimes teachers and some times students are abducted. All the government offices are closed as respective officers don’t go to rural areas because of the fear of Maoist abduction and have to pay certain amount of money from their salary they have demanded else their life can be in danger. People have to give food or anything they want, have to go wherever they want them to go to join in the programs they’ve organized (sometimes it can take days) else they are fined. When I was in village they had asked our village people to collect some snacks and garlands from each house as they had organized the Farewell Program for their militia. So, I went along with many people to our neighbor village by taking snacks and garlands. Found out that the program was the next day so I just went to see the school where Maoists were staying for some weeks (school was being used by Maoists army for their shelter!), some of them were playing volleyball, and I was told that others were taking classes on the topic “Why Maoists Revolution” I got the suggestion I should join them . I got chance to talk with one of the head of the Maoist army and with a Maoist Journalist. Because they suspect new peoples to be CID or government spy so they don’t talk openly however when talking he (Army) accused me of being selfish. He told how indifferent we (urban areas people mainly students) are of the situation of the country and we are so selfish that we just think about how to get a degree and earn the living , care nothing about what is happening in the country and how other people are living in other areas. He told that others pain don’t touch us and we just think about how to live our life in luxury. It was too much for me so I also accused him of being selfish ! Just kidding!!! I told him that we are trying to be in a stable position before doing something for others; “first of all you need to be standing yourself before you give your hand to help others stand” and that’s not all, not raising weapons against government doesn’t mean that we are indifferent to our social problems. Living in urban areas doesn’t mean that we are not aware about what’s going on in our surrounding. Then to settle my anger I said that he was selfish enough to carry gun while I am selfish enough to carry pen. Then we talked for 2 hours on their ways of life, why joined the Maoist army; later knew that police forced them to join b’coz police tortured them, burned their houses, raped their sisters and mothers, killed some of their relatives. Then came journalist with whom I had good talk. He told about the formation of “Prachanda-Path”, told it was the synthesis of Marx to Che-Guavara’s theory. When asked while mixing all the theories of Marx, Lenin, Mao and so on isn’t there any chances of formation of stinging eschew which doesn’t have any taste of any vegetables he told that there won’t be coz they have got only positive aspects of those theories and they have looked at it that they fit and co-ordinate/help each-other to survive. While talking about why abduction of students and teachers he told that it was very necessary to make them understand why and for what reasons they are doing all this. He even complained that while telling them in their houses they don’t take those things in their mind. Whatever they have told in ten years and not understood by them is understood by them in ten days when they abduct them. Surprising! He told they believe in Materialistic dialectism and so they are running a cultural revolution. He told it was very important as most of the superstitious thinking are due to religious and cultural believes. We discussed on this for hours but I wasn’t convinced neither he was on my opinions about cultural values for identity. Next time in another village (where many Maoist army’s were staying for some weeks before they go to another village) I got chance to meet the commissar (I think! Can be assistant of commissar!) of the Maoist army who was a woman. I had told them I wanted to meet their head they told she was studying. So I went to shop to bye some bangles for my nephews. While I was buying one of the M.army came with gun on her hand ready to be fired. She came to me asked me to come outside when I went outside with her she was furious and asked why I wanted to meet their head and why I came without meeting her. I told her my reasons and she said they had thought I was some kind of CID so they had come after me to search…I gave her my brilliant smile and a nod of understanding but I heard my heart throbbing against my ribs doing bip…bip…boom…boom… Anyway after that I went to meet her and talked about the condition of women in their army and other stuffs. Interesting thing is that when I asked her why she made that village people to go and make toilets in another village (which takes days on foot, waste of time; and so much to walk- hard for people) instead of making them to do in their own village. She laughed and told that they were telling people to clean their surrounding, put surrounding healthy, make toilets but they never listened to them so as punishment they took villagers to another village for 15 days to make toilets in those villages. “If they don’t make their village and houses clean why not to make them clean others then may be they will realize they need to put their houses and surroundings clean.” It was not too bad idea but people hate them for making them do that. There are not only bad impact on people due to this movement. There is tremendous change in the behaviors of the people in aspect of caste. Before there was a big problem due to differences in so called high caste and low caste. Now I saw changes, people are not so narrow minded about caste as before, it’s not totally demolished but changes are taking place. So called high caste people didn’t used to eat by sitting together with low caste but now they really don’t care much. They are somehow okey with it. They have started drinking “Raksi” (local alcohol) from low caste people, however they haven’t started eating dinner or lunch yet but I think that day is not so far when they will start and nothing will come between them to even share one kitchen. Another thing is that they have somehow controlled in too much consumption of alcohol. They allow to drink a little but don’t allow to drink much to get drunk. They have appointed representatives in different sectors (health, cleaning, looking at social problems etc.) in a village and they organize meetings time to time. There if anyone does something naughty or wrong things then they take the person with them for months as a punishment. That’s not too bad for a change I think! But many innocent people are killed when they attack on army as they make villagers to carry dead bodies and wounded army’s from the war place to safer place. Another thing that I didn’t like is that they don’t allow villagers to celebrate Dashain and Tihar and some of other festivals because of that Dashain and Tihar were not like it used to be. There were no traditional dances and singing so it was not as much fun but we did celebrate it. From this I don’t know if I should judge them and their work but when I met them I realized they are after something they believe in else why to spend days of precious life in jungles, wars instead of living with family and sleeping in own house instead of caves.


Do you believe in supernatural things? Well before visiting my village I didn’t really used to believe but now I am confused… my cousin brother was sick with his swollen right hand and lots of body pain when I had met him. I told him to visit hospital and go for through chek-up in district hospital (takes about one day walk! Yep there are no hospital facility near by) but he said it was due to family deity. He told me about his weird dream, not actually a dream. He was just taking a nap (half asleep) when suddenly an old man with white hair appears from nowhere and hardly slaps him on cheek and tells that “Why did you had buff?” and twist his right hand. Suddenly he wakes up with a pain in his hand and within a second the hand is swollen and he gets terrible pain in his body. Over here I need to tell you something weirder. In my family (I mean including my cousins, blood related family) we have family deity who looks after us; it is believed! And you know they show in certain area that they exist. Its hard to believe who live in materialistic world I know but men of my family can not have buff meat after they are married. I am not kidding! They get sick if they eat buff. They can eat buff while they are bachelors but after marriage they are not allowed. If they happen to eat by chance they loose hearing power, loose sound; are not able to talk, get blind etc… and the only way to get out of those punishment is to call upon shamans (we call Jhakri) and let them do their work. Sometimes you have to sacrifice chickens, even sheep/goats in deity’s name as he demands through shamans. Then BOOM!!! two to three days later the person is fit and fine. Same thing happened with my cousin brother. He called shamans, they did their process of healing by mantras for whole night and a day and after two days when I met him he was fit and fine and working in the field. Can you believe it? This is not the only example I got about this, I got many other things I’ll share them if you promise not to be bored by these stuffs. Another funny thing about my family deity’s rule is that married daughters of the family are not allowed to go near the place where we worship him. If the married daughter goes there then she is punished just like men who eat buff, sometimes he can twist your head to only one direction, make you whole body swollen. Then again you have to call shamans. What to do b’coz doctors are no help in these matters!

Let me tell you about my favorite picture I tried to take but somehow was not able to. I saw my favorite fruits “Gofla” hanging in the clump with thorns. So one day I went there, checked the spot, chose the best fruit to be captured by my camera, made myself a small place to hang myself on a branch that clump while clicking pictures. Got my cloths tore by thorns, nearly broke my spectacles when I slipped down from my hanging place, got thorns under my skin, couldn’t click the picture b’coz camera didn’t work due to darkness in the clump but I didn’t give up. I put my mission for next day to get my task done while sun gives light to it. Nest day I went but still my camera didn’t work as it was dark in the clump though sun was smiling bright and beautiful. Had to do some work so put my task again for next day for noon. Next day I went to the place and tried to click, still camera didn’t work b’coz of dim light there. So, I went to home to get some chopping materials to chop down some branches to let sunlight enter upon the fruit I wanted to have picture of. My dog was hungry so I was feeding her while my little cousin brother (I have about more than 100 cousin brothers!) came with the most sweet innocent smile on his face and told me “Smita didi! I have got you your fev. Fruits. Here you go!” He handed me fruits and I thanked him. After he was gone I looked at those fruits he had brought for me and smiled. But my smile faded away as one of them looked too much familiar for me. I checked it again and again. To be sure I went to the clump. Climbed on it and saw model of my most-wanted-to-be-picture was gone. I burst in laughter right there, ran home to tell my grandma who said, “your brother is good at solving problems!” we shared the laugh till tears fell from our eyes. Then I took that fruit to grandma and we satisfied our stomach together! I had not let her pick that fruit when she had tried to by telling her my plans and she was most of the time around me seeing every silly activities of me!

Over all I enjoyed my holiday to the fullest no matter what happened on the way to home. It was much more like reviving my childhood memories, learning about my culture, tradition and daily life of people living there. I worked in field, did cattle rearing, went to jungle to collect timbers, dry leaves and grasses and experienced the daily life in that place. Most important thing is that I got time to be with my parents in the place where I belong. I tried to understand everything and everyone and the way world moves around there. I saw happiness in pain; though their daily life has turned upside down due to civil war, they have not forgotten to laugh. Their innocence eyes still sparkle when they smile. They have not forgotten the humanity. But their tolerance capability seems to be reaching at its highest point, which is about to burst. I felt silence talking. And felt my body shiver!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

General secretary of NEFIN been attacked

General secretary of NEFIN been attacked
Kathmandu, Feb 15.

Ram Bahadur Thapa Magar, General Secretary of Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) was attacked by some youths and has been seriously wounded in Kalanki.

Indigenous and marginalized people had called for Kathmandu valley bandh on Thursday to give government pressure to address indigenous and marginalized people's demand of their representation in New Nepal's constitution. To make it a successful bandh Magar had gone to Kalanki when the incident happened. He was taken to Kathmandu Model Hospital where he regained his consciousness. He had to have about 12 stitches on the back and side of his head.

Talking to journalists he said, "After we asked local shopkeepers and vehicle-users to support our bandh I was standing alone on the road side when about 16 youths came and attacked me. The attack looked planned. They definitely knew who I was and whom they should attack.

Though it was said to be peaceful protest about two dozens of vehicles were vandalized and one motorbike was burned by aggressive protesters after Magar was attacked.