Print Edition - 2017-10-18  |  The Collegian

Worlds apart

- Upama Pant

Oct 18, 2017-

Our already rough ride was worsened by the landslide at Dahikhola, the river that divides Dailekh and Kalikot. We had to stall our journey and take a refuge at Khirkijiula. This was definitely not in the plan, but all we cared for was a roof that would provide shelter from the harsh rain outside. 

We were staying at a local’s house for the night. Buwa, an old man, had been kind enough to welcome us to his place. As the night fell, Buwa lit his kerosene lamp, under which gleamed a beautiful pair of eyes. It was his five-year-old grandson—Dilip.  Dilip was a curious kid who was particularly fascinated with my snapchat filters. Every time I took out my phone, he’d come running to me and climb on my lap to try out the app’s filters. 

The evening was turning out to be fairly more interesting than we had expected. The small space was quickly filling up with giggles and conversations. My sister, being a journalist, was using her people skills to get to know Buwa better. We were learning so much about our host in so little time.

One of the most interesting conversations was led by the question, “Have you ever been to Kathmandu?” Buwa revealed that he had been to Kathmandu once. “My son was part of the 2056 BS Maoist insurgency and he died in a battle even though he didn’t want to be a part of,” Buwa’s eyes seemed sad as he confided. “He had been trying to flee from the war but got dragged right back into it. Kathmandu is where I lost my son. I went there because I was summoned to take care of this body.” 

We were not prepared for such an intimate revelation. Thankfully, the awkward silence that filled the room got interrupted by the honking of the trucks whose drivers probably assumed their effort would magically clear the landslide. 

Buwa was a good cook. With rato chaamal covered in heavy kaalo daal, the dinner was simple that day, but it was good and definitely more filling than the Wai Wai we had for lunch. Over dinner, Dilip asked me where I was from. Upon hearing Kathmandu, he asked about a school in the Capital that he possibly dreamt of going to. 

Dilip’s idea of a bigger world was Kathmandu. Just like my bigger world is somewhere abroad for which I am filling out college applications. I noticed how this little one’s dreams and aspirations revolved around the Capital. 

Under the kerosene lamp, at 22:45 just to be precise, was when I realised how we all belong to the same earthen land but carry a wholly different world and aspirations. We all keep working towards a life that is bigger and better, but the definition of big and good keeps altering with every other person. And we barely ever stop to ask what life means to the other person. 

We were done with the dinner, but I wanted more daal which I almost spilled when the chicken flew to my lap. My attention quickly deviated to the fireflies outside. They were swarming up slow and steadily from bushes and vines. What is it about fireflies that gets us captivated ever so often? 

But Buwa’s story about Kathmandu and his son still kept bothering me. I just couldn’t get over it. “Would you ever like to move to Kathmandu?” I asked. “I have been there already. Sure I would like my grandson to explore the city as he has his whole life ahead of him,” he said pointing at Dilip, “But as of me Nani, I am tied to this place.”

This reminded me of my grandma who refused to move to Kathmandu. She liked it better among the paddy fields and under the hills. It is odd how we live in the same world and yet we live lives that are worlds apart. On that thought I went back to my daal again.

Pant is an IBDP graduate from Ullens

Published: 18-10-2017 09:35

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