The Walk

One evening in the November of 2014, I walked home from Basantapur with a friend. The moment we passed Jana Bahal, his eyes twinkled with memories. These were the very streets, he played in as a child, he’d said. The roads he first stepped on, the area where he first went to buy pau with ek suka. He was full of stories till we reached Balkumari, where his childhood home was located. I remember walking inside a dark tiny galli right behind the Balkumari temple to see his old home.

Upon reaching there, I noticed that the eyes that were twinkling with memories a while ago was now staring silently at a big white washed building which had its doors and windows closed. The house that was home to 32 members once was now standing aloof to all the houses aligned; the place where his family shared joys and laughter was now the quietest and darkest one in the chowk. Both of us were teary eyed as we walked down towards Thamel crossing Asan and Jyatha. For someone who hadn’t moved out of the place from where she had grown up, I was finding it difficult to imagine how he must have been feeling. His memories no longer matching with the reality or worse, were in total contrast.

But five months after our walk, a big earthquake took place. He told me that although his house looked alright from the outside, it wasn’t the same from the inside. Of course, nobody had lived in it for years. But the walls had cracked so badly that all the members from his large extended family decided to tear it down. And there was nothing he could do about it.

Almost eleven months after the earthquake, a few evenings ago, we walked home again from Basantapur. And this time, instead of talking about our memories of the long stretch to Asan, we speculated each building that we passed by, wondering how many years they will have before they would face the same fate as his house. Those houses behind the kurta pasal, bhada pasal bag pasal, some with French windows and others with traditional Newari ones, what would become of them when more concrete buildings will appear in the neighborhood. With tekas placed in front of each houses, we wondered what will happen to them after a few years.

As we reached Balkumari, we decided to visit his house again. Right after the galli finished, we came across a pit that was dug up for a foundation. I remembered that there were small shops at that spot when we’d last visited. “Another concrete building will come up here” he said with a bitter tone.  This time this once a large house was not only the quietest and the darkest but also the shortest one in the chowk. I looked at this house that once awed me (I went back home to tell mother about it) and wondered what had been lost and what had been gone. It now was reduced to two floored building and seemed lost among other houses in that chowk.

As we moved out of the chowk, into the stretch that would take me home, my friend looked sullen. “I couldn’t save my house,” he told me as we walked away from his memories. Unlike last time, I knew what he was talking about. In my own case, I haven’t really succeeded in convincing my mama not to tear our house. Although he has been postponing the process despite the protest from my maiju, I still wonder if I can save what’s left of it.

Soon we reached Asan and my friend pointed out a half destroyed building that used to be home to Annapurna Seed Store. “Look that house is gone.” I then looked at a home by our side and said “That might go too. I love the window of that house.” We both looked up to see a darkness, of what we could make out of the window that was there. “And that will definitely go,” he pointed out to a long sattal near Annapurna Temple. “But that’s a sattal. At least they might retain the windows”, I told him.

While our last walk after Asan was full of silence with him gulping down his memories; this time it was full of pointing out random chowks, gallis and homes and giving it a timeline of when it will disappear. I told him how all the houses hidden inside the dark gallis have already gone down, leaving a large open space behind the outer layers of houses now. When we reached Tyauda, we looked at what once used to be a long wooden window, now a part of its gone after the house was divided into three.

Along the way, until we reached my home at Thamel, we talked about how we don’t know what to do, how to do or just where to start from regarding the current context of tearing the old houses in the name of modernization and now, security. We lamented over the fact that we are hopeless and we felt helplessness.  And that we haven’t been able to do anything about it, even on a personal level. Because how can you save a city if you cannot save your own home.


Birthday wishes – II

Because I owe a friend his birthday wish. Because his next birthday is coming near. So here are my wishes. I pray may this year you’d been able to do following things. If not then we still have six more months to go. Be strong. No matter how hard the wind is blowing. No matter how big the hole is. Be strong. Have faith in yourself. You will survive anything. Be kind. To strangers. To your friends who sometimes fail to understand what you are talking about. To her, even if she is an asshole. But mainly to yourself. Don’t underestimate yourself. Be funny. Not just to make others laugh. Make yourself laugh. Crack jokes. Find funny moments so that you can laugh even later. Just by yourself. Create memories. With everyone. Strangers, friends, family, yourself. Create things. Either through music, words or just random papers but create things. Not because you should but because you can. And creations are always more beautiful than destructions. Make new friends. Smile to strangers. Amend your old friendship. Be confident. Because if I was you, I would probably have a YouTube channel, a soundcloud profile and tons of shares in my timeline. You are amazing. Just embrace that and go! Embrace yourself. Don’t think you are not good enough. You will never be good enough for yourself. You don’t even have to be. Just being good is enough. Love yourself. Because only then you will learn to love others. Take care of your health, your passion, your dreams. Listen to your heart and follow it. Fight for what you want. And fight to keep it with you. And finally, let go of things that are hurting you. That might seem important but don’t really matter much.

Too many sometimes posts. I have.

Sometimes I wonder if you understand me at all. Sometimes I wonder if you even want to. For I am shattered into pieces that doesn’t fit anymore. Some of the dusts have been lost with time. Some have dissolved.

Sometimes I wonder if I could ever understand you at all. I would love to but you are one hard page to read. Just like the words you write on my favorite diary.

And then I remember you telling me, “You over think a lot. Stop doing it. No need to ruin things.” I laugh at myself. Maybe this is all over thinking that I am doing.

And then I wonder whether I am over thinking or not.

A journey.

He walked me home tonight. Not exactly home, but then the entrance to Thamel has always been home to me. And on the way, the moment we passed Indra Chowk and its going-to-be-closed shops, he excitedly told me this was the place where he grew up.

These were the roads he first stepped on, the area where he first went to buy pau with ek suka. There was a twinkle in his eyes that I couldn’t miss. Although, I too had been walking these very road since I was a kid, although, this too was in some way a home to me; I knew what he felt about the road from Indra Chowk to Ason, with Janbahal and Balkumari inbetween was totally different from what I felt. I just passed those areas, he grew up playing in them.

“Do you wanna go and see my house?” he asked suddenly.
“Sure,” I was excited.
“Do you know which is my favorite home?” I asked him.
“Of course. Right there, that.” he said.

We took the small
galli behind the temple in front of my favorite home. Right on the small door, he was stopped by an elderly woman. “Babu, you are home?” she asked. “Well, technically.” “Are you sleeping here?” “No, have to go back. I just wanted to check the house.”

We entered the galli and turned around the corner. “Kaka, are you alright?” he asked a shopkeeper. “Oho, babu. Yes I am. How have you been? Are you going to spend your night here tonight?” “No kaka, I have to go back.”

I could see his smile getting wider each time we encountered someone he knew on the way. They would exchange greetings and he would be asked the same thing. Someone would ask him about his family, someother wondered when they were coming back. After few steps, he showed me a big white washed house with tiled roof and perfectly crafted windows. But the house was dead. With windows shut and no one living in, it felt as if the soul of the house has been lost.

“That’s my house man.” he broke the silence. “That’s where I grew up as a kid with 32 members.” The smile that had been there the moment we stepped on the streets of Janabahal was long gone. A sadness had replaced it. “This was the house that used to be the brightest in this chowk. This was the noisiest house in the tole. Now, it’s dead. It’s the darkest one and it’s the quietest one.”

Dear you,

As I passed the almost alive almost dead Bagmati today, the tipsyness slowly leaving me, I kept on thinking about you. What would you say if you found out that I was just wandering around, drinking and going to places instead of home? Because I remember, last time I was with a friend, you told us not to wander around the strange road. The road isn’t strange today and we are on bike. Plus it’s not just girls. Of course it’s dark and we should have been heading home at this time.

I also felt free. The sort of freedom you get when you are out with your friends, not caring about the world or the consequences. When I am with you, I feel protected because you have always been a big brother to me. You have always been someone I look up to, someone who inspires me.

So when I passed the lesser used road on pitch dark time, feeling that freedom of not having to care about the world, I thought of you. I wondered if you would ever accept this kind of trip. “You’re a big girl” you might say, but wouldn’t you get worried in your heart, even a bit?