Letters and Letters · Places · The Paths Travelled

Learn. Unlearn. Repeat.

Dear Lieblingsmenschen,

It has just been a week that I got back home. And as soon as I put down my bags and looked around the room, I understood that home held an entirely new meaning. Do not get me wrong. I still love my bed and my room. My study table and yellow daisies above it are still the places where my soul wanders. Nothing has changed but the feeling of home. I am home and I am home-sick.

I remember writing about this in my journal (which has been confiscated by a Pride and Prejudice loving freak) few weeks ago when I was still in the village. I wrote how “I” was home. I felt like I could be my own home and that way I could never ever be home-sick. It turns out that it is kind of hard to knock on my doors to let me in sometimes. I keep losing my key! And it is not a bad thing. At least, I know I have lost my key. Anyway, this letter is not about that. I will find home again. This time at a new place with new people. I will survive.

Survival is the key word here. In past two months, I’ve learned that you can learn anything if you have to learn it. I’ve learned to survive. I’ve learned to push myself so hard because there was nobody else to do that for me. I’ve learned to be brave enough to smile even when I wanted to cry. I’ve learned that love flies like soul and touches the clouds around you. And even when those clouds burst out storming water and thunder, it is okay to be outside smelling the earth. And rocks crumble like sugar but they also rip your trousers if you slide in them for too long. I’ve learned that under the river there’s something more than sand and rocks because why would I still feel them underneath my feet after all these days that I’ve been away from it? I’ve learned to stay in the ground even when my pride flees in the jungle of praises. I’ve learned life in ways that I never could learn before.

In contrast, I’ve unlearned things too. I think I forgot how to stay. And I’ve found new ways to escape. Remember how I used to run off into fantasies and have my mind in the clouds all the time? I still do that. However, the clouds are new and real. They are so approachable that I can taste them and hug them. I can be among them. I am on the edge of something and I can either fall or fly. I do not know which will be true. If I fall I get to be on a rock bottom where I can build a new foundation. But I am scared what life will mean when I am there. Will I still be this positive? Will I still have the strength to stand up? Or will I wither away like leaves in autumn?

All these questions lead me to the fact that I am still unknown to far too many things. For instance, I do not know how strong I am. I do not know how to say no; how not to be too generous. I still cannot control my tears. I wonder if I will ever learn to do that. But then I know that I don’t know all these things. Yusra used to demonstrate how we don’t even know what we don’t know. She tells it in a better way. Someday I’ll ask her to make an inspirational video out of it.

And then there are things that haven’t changed. I am still a worrier gently trying to fold into worrying warrior. Trying without succeeding. I aim to change in this cycle by trying to let the air into my lungs until it displaces the worry which, leads me to the information that I will be leaving again. Very soon. In another village. And I do not know how it will be like. It will be much different and more challenging because this time I am going as a Team Leader. That would mean a lot of responsibility, patience and resilience. I am still to conquer all those things. However, I know that nobody is born a leader, they become one. So I am going to try to be a good one.  Wish me luck!

Until then!

P.S. I promise I will try to sneak in more blog posts. Please don’t give up on me!!

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Places · The Paths Travelled

Glance of our home away from home: Meet our family!

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Our Family!!

Home was a family.  We were a family of ten. A mom and a dad. Six sisters. And two of us. Yusra and I. Our family woke up early. As soon as the sun touched the sky, we heard Aama and buwa’s phone conversation. Buwa works in Gorkha and Aama calls him every morning. Most mornings, I sat down in a muda overlooking floating clouds and green leafy hills with my silver diary in which, I wrote pages and pages of memories. Kalpana is same as my age and is the eldest daughter who sings in the voice of an angel. Samjhana is married and has a son. She visits regularly. Sabina is Yusra’s Taekwondo guru as Yusra is her Yoga guru. In evenings, they practiced their yoga and Taekwondo. Sajina is a genius and she is an amazing dancer too.  Kareena is a star and does amazing splits. She also never stops talking. In the last few days, she would not leave me alone in the room. She insisted on watching me sleep and I let her.  Kabina is the youngest. She is our tinker bell. She danced and she sang with her little lips curled up in a smile so endearing that we fell in love with her every day.

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Kareena the star!
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Sajina the Genius
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Kabina the Tinkerbell

Ours was a pastel pink house on top of the hill. The window of our room faced the maize field and the dried leaves rustled every time breeze touched them. It felt like music. The attic was house to magic: Dry garlic and dry corn lined up in rows and columns. I never found spaces to walk across it, so I walked barefoot on piles of stalks that felt like uncomfortable roller-skates. At night, stars appeared and we hugged them from afar noticing how close they were and how beautiful than the stars back in the city. Sometimes, there would be fireflies in our room and it looked like moving stars. It was delightful to see stars fly in the room like that. I felt blessed every day.

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Our Pastel Pink Paradise.
Places · Poems · Stories · The Paths Travelled

Cravings

I crave the river bank

where lying upside down

I forgot my doubts and fears

grasses smelled of rain

and so did the mud

but they were always quite about it,

like

sophisticated angel eyed butterflies

that flew, flew, flew

befriending dragonflies that had rainbow hues

in their wings

as they went up, up, up

around a farm with pearl teethed buffalo

who lost her pearls

but still gave milk,

still chewed the dried maize plants,

still breathed out aggressive carbon dioxide

as she saw us climbing down a small narrow path

where the pink pastel house waited

like

a tree that waits for her birds to show up at night

I crave the river

under the bridge

that brought clouds right next to my nose

making me sneeze but smile

I was one among the clouds

and I had no full stops

only semi colons

of days that went

by bye bye

in blink of an eye

there was a hill with two rainbows,

one moon and one woman

who had lived a drought in a forest with no water

she was washed into a village

with no blue water bins and

 she talked, talked, talked

but did nothing to change the dresses

that marked the up and down

of that village and town

I crave the banana groves

gated greens of mulberry trees,

a mustache man with strong hands

whistling tunes into basuri

and his family in the rice fields

digging beneath the earthy soil

growing soul in rocky hills

DMCs in a room with fireflies

tinkerbell’s knock, knock, knock

and smile that opened all the locks

windows facing happiness

night prowl of brown-white cat

gazing stars and planets

that blinked, blinked, blinked

stretching in a yoga mat

I crave all those things

that made me breathe the misty mists

I believed in the mysteries

the calling of never-ending melody

and I crave all those things

Places · Prose · Stories · Weekend Coffee Share

TIHOOOO!!!!

Grandma told me a story when I was young.  She said that there was a girl taken away by wolves. The king wolf then turned out to be a young prince and they lived happily ever after…. I imagined myself being that girl and waited for the “Tiiihoooo” sound which grandma said, was made by wolves. The sound never came. The wolf didn’t show up but my obsession with the wolf story didn’t falter. The story is large enough to fill a page and I feel lazy to write it down. I have listened to this story, so many times, with so many variations, from so many grandmas. And I still wonder about it. The wolf and the girl. The night and Tihooo sound. That’s what stories do to me from childhood. I get obsessed. I get chained.

More than the story, I associate myself with my grandmas telling me this story. When my great-grandma told me this story for the first time, I had spilled hot water on my knees. This was the story that shut me up for a night. Tihoooooo… I remember imagining the sound right next to the front door of my old house….. Tihoooo and wolf and the prince. This was the first story I ever heard. And I remember each and every grandma’s version of the story. They were so happy when they told it and so full of joy as if it really happened.

Stories…. they still have the same effect on me. I believe them so blindly and I live them so faithfully. People say that I live in fictions more than I live in reality. But what if I say that fictions seem real than reality ever is? In reality I’d be learning complex cycles of amino acids and in fictions, I’d be turning them into witty magic charms and laughing at its silliness. I get all possessed by the stories. I irritate people with stories. I get into fights for stories. I have been to cities that never existed and as weird as it sounds, I love the characters, more than I’ll ever love real people. Yes I sound absurd, mad and to some people even lifeless. But to me it’s like a single world is not enough. I live in multiple universes and I rejoice every moment. And it all started with TIHOOOOOOO!

Places · Prose · The Paths Travelled

Traces of My City

When I was 5, I greeted her every Saturday morning. I played with her in the old  palaces of ancient Kings and Queens, where she was named. She greeted me back with smiles and lots of pigeons. She made me run with joy, chasing the pigeons and feeding them. She gave me wings on otherwise boring Saturdays where all I could hear were songs that weren’t in her mother tongue. When I was 5, she was my best friend. I learned her smell in spice shops of Ason and Kilagal. I learned her voice from my Grandmother’s stories. The ways she sang while making rice wines in a small terrace from which I could see the towers of Dharahara and Ghantaghar. Standing in their grandeur, rejoicing the beauty she was. She was my city.

When I was 10, I greeted her from the silent micro-buses where the polite conductors refused to take the 5 rupees I offered them. I sat on the last seat with the windows open. Taking in the air around the Keshar Mahal. She was the place where my school and my house were equidistant from each other. She was the place where bats hung upside down the witchy looking trees. She was the place where my friend and I conspired against all the odds to run to the pani-puri stall and grab a few pieces of extras. She was the place I used to sneak off to without telling my grandmother. She was the place that lead to my favorite library. She was my city.

When I was 15, she moved with me under the Swayambhunath Temple. I greeted her with anger and fear of losing my faith and my voice. I refused to look at her as I closed my doors and wrote letters to people who did not exist. I refused to notice her broken limbs. I walked on her, carrying with me, her parts. She stopped smiling and so did I. It was a difficult year for both of us. We lost our parts in dramas of daily lives. We lost our friends in all those complicated story lines.

When I was 18, I hated her. I cursed her from the crowded 5 AM micro bus rides. I hated her for sheltering the old dirty men who stared and probed. I hated her for her bumps and bruises. The ways she was so difficult to understand. The ways she was just like me. Confused and crowded with thoughts  like people and people like thoughts. But she was still my city.

When I was 21, she shook me with all her strength. She cried for help as the rocks beneath her broke and slipped into hell. She screamed in pain as her children broke their bones and took off with their souls. And I cried with her.  She looked like an old broken woman begging for a quiet life. Her skin patched up in pieces of old tents, she looked sad and frail. Almost suffocated with the dust that blew over her, the rain that violated her and the ground that cheated on her. I hugged myself and pieces of her that were attached to me. I tried to calm us down as I waited for a familiar face. She shook all night in terrible silences. I could not understand her still but she was still my city.

Today, I greet her with smiles and hugs. My legs love running along her difficult roads. She is still broken but broken still she stands. She still sends me pigeons from her wounded palaces. She has purple clothes draped over her and she  has asthma attacks. But she still lives. She still loves me like she loved me when I was 5 years old. And I cannot hate her even when I try. She is my city. She will always be my city.