Tuesday, December 28, 2010

White Washed

Snow came to New York with all its swirl,  swish and swash. Persisted the whole night. Left the city, snow-cladded like a maiden making her way to the altar to be wed-locked 'till death do us apart'.
Left the city at an utter standstill until, like some rodents peeping their head out from their hideouts, when silence prevails, neighbors ventured out with shovels to commence their Winter Ritual. I followed suit. 

Cladded in my warmest, I ventured out with shovel in my hand to tame the White World sprawled outside as far as my eyes could see. With polite Good Morning to the neighbor I put myself to task. But soon realized the dilemma; there was so much snow it was hard to decide where to put the snow that I shoveled out from my drive way. Peeked at my neighbor, like a schoolboy would do in his exam time and saw him making a trench out of the snow in his door way. I did the same.

My car was a big mould of snow...the windshield wipers protruding out like grasshopper's antenna. If shoveling my doorway was physical labor, I thought, rescuing my car from under the snow, unscathed, would need an artistic talent.

Ventured out couple of streets down and realized, I was not even scratching the surface. Streets were strewn with abandoned cars, buses and taxis. Walking was an Everest Expedition.

Monday, December 27, 2010

In Memory of Suku Maya Tamang

All lives end. We grow up knowing this. We all know that we all die one day. But still the dying itself....even a thought of it, makes chill run down your spine, or makes your heart turn cold. The dull ache you feel, the creeping uneasiness that surge in your heart with the mention of death...what is it? The fear of unknown - as many tell you it is? Or the fear of losing what you have? Until death, love makes life enjoyable. Love is the only hope that drives us. Love makes even death palatable at times.

The power that we have, that we call memory, is a strange thing. We live with it....we might die if our memory is taken away from us...on purpose or inadvertently sometimes.  Suku Maya aunty passed away last week. I have ten years of memories about her. I have known her in her good days, I have known her in her bad days. I am meaning to cherish her memories. I am wanting to keep her memories and make it outlast my life.

Love, memories, happiness; and then there comes death to take everything away from us; leaving a big void in our heart, that takes another century to fill with love. Another process of living, another process of building,  and then again...a cruel blow of fate one day, might shatter it into pieces, which you don't even know, at times, where is it coming from, until it hits you hard and throws you reeling on the floor...this probably is what we call life...the endless process of love, death, and amending...

Suku Maya aunty died last week, leaving behind her fond memories in our heart. The thousand things that we did together, the thousand things we said to each other, the thousand things we expected from each other, that make up memories, that she left behind for us to cherish....life is just memories, I guess. Memories bundled up together, memories put together to make up history.

Suku Maya aunty was a prominent figure in our Tamang Society in New York. A soft spoken person, always smiling, always willing to help others, always willing to bless you. My last memory with her, which I am not going to let go ever, is her blessing she bestowed upon me, just the day before she left for India, where she passed away in a hospital. Suku Maya aunty was terminally ill.

I heard, after she died and when her body was being taken to her home from the hospital, as luck would have it, she came across a procession of Holy Lamas...who blessed her soul in the process. Is it a mere coincidence or the fate's hand that was at work I don't know, but Suku Maya aunty who always wanted to bless others got her much needed Holy blessings from the hands of Holy Lama's while she was in the procession of death...on her journey to the unknown. May her soul rest in peace. May love prevail her soul.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Building of My House

When it comes to digging into my 'hoardings' I am so dexterous. I am so  meticulous, I do not miss anything. On one of such excursions, I found what I was looking for, which of course, was bound to happen as I am, as I said above, is so good at it. 

I found the picture of my old house that I built in my village, Phakhel after coming to USA in 1974. As one never forgets first love, I never forget this house. Oh, the building of this house! The imagery comes back to my mind, so fresh and so vivid as if it happened just yesterday even though it happened more than 30 years ago. 

The best thing about building this house was, it was built by my family and the neighbors alone. We did not hire any architect....architect in the true sense of the word. The village bricklayers were the architect and we were labors. We carried bricks in 'dokos', knead our own mud, cut our own timbers, we did everything by ourselves to build this house:) I remember bringing the slate tiles for the roof from Gajuri (Dhading district) in a truck. But it took the laborers I hired more than a week to carry them on their back using 'doko' and 'namlo' uphill to the construction site, which was about three or four miles on foot from where the tiles were unloaded. And the roof of the adjacent house, in which my sister lives now, was brought from Kathmandu. The tiles were from a Rana's house and very different from those regular tiles that were in use then.

I remember the daily lunch preparation for the workers. Oh, they used be like fiesta. My mother along with the help from female members of the neighborhood used to prepare it. 

Now I think of it, the harmony in the collectiveness of the whole village for the one cause - the building of that house...the 'phenomenon', ... the solidarity...is it how 'uprising' feel like? Whatever it was, I can still feel it every time I look at that picture of my house, maybe it was the feeling of creation. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010


           That petit woman hoisting the CNN award in front of the cheering crowd of supporters and well-wishers, at the fourth annual "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" is not any ordinary housewife from Nepal. She is the crusader, Anuradha Koirala, who has been fighting against sex-slavery and human trafficking in Nepal through her organization Maiti Nepal for almost 2 decades now. She established Maiti Nepal (maiti means Mother's House in Nepali) in 1993 and ever since she has rescued more than 12,000 women and girls who had been sold to various brothels in India. Through Maiti Nepal, she has provided the women and girls rescued thus. She has created a home for them. Maiti Nepal is a place for those girls to heal, learn skills, get educated and for those who are infected by HIV/AIDS, it is an abode of compassion and support to live their rest of the lives. 

"Human trafficking is a crime, a heinous crime, a shame to humanity," Anuradha Koirala said after being introduced as one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010. " I ask everyone to join me to create a society free of trafficking. We need to do this for all our daughters." 

In a country where fathers' sale their own daughters at times, due to poverty, being a fighter against human trafficking must be like swimming against the tide, let alone the fight she has to put up with the buyers and miscreants in India, the Mafia responsible for the whole chain of misdeed.  One top of that , the fight she has to put up with the victims themselves is colossal in itself. Once sold to the brothels, girls and young women, at times, prefer not to go back to Nepal due to the fear of being outcasted for good from the society they grew up, even from their own house, which is nothing new in a very constrained and conservative Nepali society.  

Durning the CNN ceremony Demi Moore praised Anuradha thus: "Everyday this woman confronts the worst of what humanity has to offer." "She says, 'Stop. Stop selling our girls'. By raiding brothels and patrolling the India-Nepal border, she saves girls from being sold into the sex trade, where they are being repeatedly raped for profit, tortured and enslaved."

Anuradha, indeed, is a gem among us. And she deserves all the awards and support that we can give her. I wish more Anuradha like her would be born so that if she was to falter, if she was to stagger, if she was to stop with her hands on her hip and look up at the appalling hill of yet another 'heinous act of human grotesqueness' and waiver at her own strength doubtfully, another Anuradha would put her hand on her shoulder and say, " Sister, you slow down, I will carry forward."