Resham firiri, resham firiri
Udera jaunkee dandaa ma bhanjyang
Resham firiri . . .
[My heart is fluttering like silk in the wind
I cannot decide whether to fly or sit on the hilltop]
10 years back I read my poems in a leafy bower at Pilgrim’s Book shop, in Thamel, Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. The Sahitya Akademi had just published my poems. As I read to an enthusiastic audience my poem ‘I am not alone’ was translated promptly into Nepali. The listeners included faculty from Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, 5 km. from Kathmandu.
Hotel Yak and Yeti was just across the road at Durbar Marg, Kathmandu while I stayed at the more modest Hotel Sherpa. Planet Bar and Restaurant beckoned and the adult entertainment had young Nepali men (and women) flocking in droves – most on their motorbikes and leather jackets.
Beside me in my room was The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche which I had bought at Indira Gandhi International airport, New Delhi before boarding. It was not even 2 months since mum had passed away in Goa. The book with its precepts of Tibetan Buddhism helped me come to terms with my loss. However as some of my boisterous colleagues – this was an official trip after all – swept into my room for drinks that night, one kept his glass of beer at my bedside table. The icy frost seeped down the glass on the side table and wet the pages of my priceless book.
But there was trouble in the city. Emergency had been clamped down by King Gyanendra who sacked the government on February 1, 2005 and dismissed the Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. We were advised to return to India immediately.
The most fun-loving person in our New Delhi office was Chandra Chhetri. She was always smiling and refused to get into office bickering. When I made the decision to quit she was the only one who crossed the floor of the office and wished me well, saying I made the right decision. My other so-called friends refused to be caught seen with me, lest they become unpopular with the management.
On my return from Kathmandu, sometimes I used to greet Chandra in the standard Nepali greeting ‘Koso hunun cha?’/ How are you? When I spoke to her last week to inquire about her family in Nepal after the earthquake, she was still in office at 9 p.m. putting away some urgent work. Others would have been wont to admit they were still slogging away. It was that honesty which set her apart.
As I write this article I realize the day is Buddha Purnima – the day when the birth and the death of the Buddha are commemorated. I am reminded that Siddhartha (a.k.a. the Buddha) was born in Lumbini in Nepal. Gazing at the full moon, so distant, yet so full of compassion, I am assured that Nepal will rise to sing once more, the Nepali folk song ‘Resham firiri.'
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 10 May 2015; pix courtesy: Music from Nepal - Peace and Harmony in Bamboo Flute by Sushil Bishwakarma, and Chandra Chhetri.