निरासाका सबै उजाड धुजाहरुलाई रङ्गको निम्तो देउ भन्दै छ मलाई मेरो सुदूरपश्चिम प्रदेश

dailekh kp picture

कामको सिलसिलामा खड्यौलि गाउँ पालिका पुग्नु थियो त्यो दिन हामीलाई।  किसानहरुसंग बैठक राखेकाले तोकिएको समयमै पुग्नु थियो। बिहान सबेरै बुढारको पिपल चौतारी होटेलबाट हामीहरु आफ्नो गन्तब्य तर्फ प्रस्थान गर्यौ।  त्यो दिन सबेरै उठेर होला मेरो दिन अझै सुरुवात नभएको झैँ अनुभूति भइरहेको थियो। बुढारबाट  केहि पर पुगेपछि एउटा दृश्यले हाम्रो गाडी रोकियो। यदि त्यो  दृश्यको तस्बिर मैले यो ब्लगसंगै राख्ने अनुमति पाएको भए हाम्रो गाडी किन रोकियो भनि  मैले यहाँ ब्याख्या गरिरहनु पर्ने थिएन। तस्बिर आफै  बोल्छ भनेझैँ मेरा यी लेखिएका शब्दहरुको कुनै मुल्य नै हुने थिएनन् किनकि उनको तस्बिरले बोलेझैं मेरो यो लेखले प्रकट गर्न सक्दैन उनको त्यो मनै नथामिने दृश्य।

गाडी ओहोर दोहोर गर्ने बाटोको छेउमै  स्याउलाको भारीमा उनले आफ्नो पुरै शरीर अडाएर  सम्मो  परेको भुँईमा बसेकी थिइन्। मेरो दिन सुरुवात हुन नपाउदै उनी त कहाँ कहाँको बनमा पुगेर स्याउलाको भारि लिएर आइसकेकी रहिछिन। उनी  बसिरहेको धुलो भुइँलाई एकछिन बिर्सिएर उनी कुर्सीमा आडेस लगाई बसेको कल्पना गर्ने हो भने, हाम्रा आँखामा उनी कुनै राजकुमारी भन्दा कम देखिन्थिनन्। रातो रङ्गको महिलो लुगा लगाएकी उनि पातली थिईन्। बाटुलो अनुहार परेको उनको चिटिक्क मिलेको जिउ थियो। त्यो सुन्दर परेली हेर्दा यस्तो लाग्थ्यो की उनको त्यो  परेलीमा  बास  बस्न  कतिले अनुरोध पत्र कोरे होलान। टाढाबाट हेर्दा उनी आराम गरे झैँ लागे पनि नजिक गएर बोलाउंदा उनले बोलि फर्काइनन।

मेरो निदाएको निन्द्रालाई उनले मौन भएर नै बिउझाईदिन तर उनको ननिदाएको त्यो निन्द्रालाई मेरो आवाजले उठाउन सकेन। गण्डकी प्रदेशमा जन्मिएर आजसम्म जति वर्षहरु काटे, सबै वर्षहरु मिठो निन्द्रा निदाएर नै काटेको रहेछु। भाग्यको  लेख होला,  सुदूरपश्चिम प्रदेशको डोटी जिल्लाले मेरो मिठो निन्द्रालाई बिउझाईदियो।  म धेरै दु:खी भए। उनीलाई हेर्दा यस्तो लाग्यो, शरीरले समाजको रुढिबादी मान्न छोडेपछि, कामको थकानले शरीरलाई भुइँमा  लतारे पछि, देशले दिएको सुबिधाको भोक नौ डाँडा पारि गएर लिन नसके पछि अनि बल्ल उन्को निदाउने पालो आउदो रहेछ। मेरो मन झसङ्ग भयो, मिठो निन्द्रा पाउन मैले त कहिल्लै कुनै पालो कुर्नु परेन, तर उनले त काँडाले झैँ बिझाउने बिछ्याउनाको  तितो निन्द्रा पाउन पनि जीबनभरि बाटो पर्खि बस्नु पर्ने रहेछ। थकान मेट्ने निन्द्रा पाउन त होस् नै गुमाउनु पर्ने रहेछ।

उनि कमली थिइन् तर धेरै थाकिसकेकी जस्ती देखिन्थिन। उनको ओठ सुकेको थियो। उनि सार्है कम्जोर भईसकेकी  थिइन्। पहाडमा नाच्दै, खोलाको सुसेली संगै आफ्नो भाका मिलाउदै, चराचुरुङ्गिको चिरबिर आवाजमा रमाउदै, शिखर चुम्ने सपना देख्नु पर्ने उनी, त्यो कलिलो उमेरमै, समाज अनि राष्ट्रले भोग्न दिएको एउटै दु:ख  बाँकि नराखी उनी अल्लो घाट न पल्लो घाटकी भइसकेकी थिइन्। जीबन अमुल्य लाग्ने म, त्यो दिन सस्तो जीवनको बारेपनि अबलोकन गरें। हामी संगै अरु धेरै गाडीहरु रोकिए, उनलाई, हेरे अनि आफ्नो गन्तब्य तर्फ लागे। त्यतै हिडिरहेका स्थानीय मानिसको मुहारले पनि उनलाई हेरेर कुनै अभिब्यक्ति ब्यक्त गरेन। उनको घरमा खबर पुगेपछि उनका जेठाजु आइपुगे। उन्को मुहारले पनि कुनै भावना ब्यक्त गरेन तर तर्किदै थिए त्यो भिडबाट उनी, बुहारीलाई छुन हुदैन रे भनेर। मरिसकेको लासलाई घाटमा लैजान हुने तर बाँचीरहेको लासलाई छुन नहुने चलन अझै पनि चल्दै रहेछ यहाँ।  करकापले बाध्य भय  ती जेठाजु आफ्नी बुहारीलाई काँधमा बोक्न। अस्पताल लग्ने चलन रहेनछ भनौ भने अस्पताल नै छैन रे त्यहाँ। घर परिवारलाई धेरै थोरै माया ममता भए र धामी झाँक्रीकोमा फुक्न लगे म के जानु। मन नलागी नलागी उनको जेठाजुले बोकी उकालो लागेको दृश्य गाडीको झ्यालबाट हेर्दै मा अगाडी बढे। बेलै नभई त्यो अस्थाउन लागेकी घामलाई फेरी उदाओस  भनि मैले प्रार्थना गर्न सकिन। मेरो आँखाले उनि मरेको भन्दा बाचेकोमा धेरै पिडा महसुस गरिरहेको थियो। जब मेरो नजरबाट उनको दृश्य टाढा भयो, मेरो मनले यति मात्र स्तुति गर्यो की, यदी बाचीछन् भने, घर परिवार र समाजको थप घृणित उनी  बन्न नपरोस किनकी आजको दिन सम्म आफ्नो सिर उठाएर जेठाजुलाई नहेरे  पनि त्यो दिन जेठाजुको काँधमा शिर झुकाउनु उनको बाध्यता थियो।

उनको त्यो दिनको तितो निन्द्राले मेरो रातको निन्द्रालाई निदाउन दिएको छैन। आफु उपकारी  छु भन्ने भान बाट त्यो दिन म मुक्त भए। स्वार्थीको परिभाषा हेर्न र बुझ्न कुनै सब्दकोष पल्टाई राख्न परेन मलाई।  सहज जीवनले नपुगेर अझै धेरै खुसि र सफल्ता आँफै माथि मात्र थुप्राउ भन्ने लोभले विदेशको रमझममा रमाउन उतैको गोरेटो तिर पाइला मोड्दै रहेछु म। देश बनाउछु भन्नेहरुले मेरो देशमा कुनै अबसर दिएनन् भन्दै बाँकिरहेको जिबन उतै बिताउने टिकटको चांजोपांजो मिलाउदै रहेछु म। म सुखको जीबन बाच्न परदेश त जाउला, देशले दिन नसकेको भौतिक सुबिधा, आराम अनि अबसरको पनि चयेन गरौला तर आँशुको खोलामा हाँसो बगाउदै बाच्नका निम्ति स्वोर्ग जान हतारिरहेका ती आफ्नै सासहरुलाई  म पराईको रमझम शहरमा बसेर कसरि हेरुँ?

यिनै सासहरुले  देश कुरिबसेका छन् र त सात समुन्द्र पारि गएकाहरु आफ्नै रङ्ग को पहिचान पहिरिन पाएका छन्। अब मैले फेर्ने अन्तिम सासमा  म आनन्दी मनले रङ्ग भरु या फिक्का नै छाडीदिउ,  निर्णय मेरै हातमा छ।

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Why do not we celebrate our children’s failure with the light of love and happiness?

blog photoPicture Credit: Binod Bajgain (The Rising Photographer)

I was more familiar with my teacher’s thin bamboo cane than their affection. I would say there were times when I was drowning under the pressure of classes and tests. I was not allowed to answer what I know or what I think of the test questions, because copying the same idea and opinion of writers from the book was more meaningful to my ‘caring world’. When I did not do well in tests, I would desire to run away from home, yet I would never act on that desire, because the only resolutions I had is to work hard and get ideal grades to be the perfect. I did not find the way of self-improvement or self-perfection through my imperfection, because I was always controlled with the idea that I need strict shaping and trimming, so that there is zero percentage of mistakes. Scolding is love. Showing the fear of future career is affection. I was brought up and came this far today through this ‘tough love’.

It was such a great sadness of having a trait of placidness to the outside world, but I was burning with the ray of flames inside. The punishment of teachers every day, the argument of parents in the early morning or late night did not let me find the peace of mind. Their dissatisfaction had scared me much than by my failures. My face under the blanket cover with tears rolling down through cheeks to pillow case, I prayed every single night to stop all these noises coming from the teachers and parents. Promising myself that new day would be a different day filled with love and fun– parents did not stop fighting, teachers did not stop punishing, and I did not stop competing in unwanted academic environment. As the new day aspiration was fading away, I started waking up every morning only with the wish to shout out loud to stop all these noises. But, how could I? I was made very calm and soft that did not let me pull out the inner chain of my dissatisfaction towards their unsolicited behavior. As I started growing, I became closer with male friends than female friends. I found peace, carefree attitude, less judgment, selfless love, and comfort zone in their company. As I was starting to have wings to fly together, sharing joy and sorrow, the snoopy- gender-biased teacher snatched that company filing complaints against my friendship, and that day, I lost my right to choose friends of my interest. I was shaped to be a good human through the perception designed by the people of this society and I was brought up in a way that pressed all my outstanding desires and characteristics within myself. Neither teachers nor parents ever tried to dig in what uniqueness I had within me. But, they got so busy in copying and pasting some writer’s academic knowledge into my mind and judging me through the capacity of my memory power.

The ‘tough love’ has taken me this far today. Still, nobody cares how happy or sad I am with the things I am doing, but the outcome I have earned today might not be so much questionable to the society, so the people around me are keeping silent. I have earned precious knowledge through every single situations I went through. All those bitter feelings, emotions and memories I have accumulated while winning prestige in this society have become so priceless now that I can look back at them and deal with my children at appropriate and safe times, before I hurt them by my imposed ideas. I will teach my kids that their parents too don’t know everything either, even though they are seniors and I am strong enough to admit when I am wrong or make a mistake—it enforces the idea that we’re all human and simply doing our best. My children won’t sacrifice their mental health for their parents pride and dignity just so that their parents can show face to the society. Furthermore, I am nobody to choose friends for my children. This is their choice and interest. If they are hanging out with bad friends, I will not inspire to break their relationship, instead I will encourage to show those friends the light of love to pull them out from darkness. My sons and daughters will not do things if they don’t enjoy doing it. For example, if my son doesn’t like to read or write about cow, I will inspire him to play with it and learn by himself. If my daughter doesn’t like to read or write about snow and mountains, she will play with it to know the characteristics. Their existence and their failure will never be the reasons of dissatisfaction in my relationship. I will guide them and show the light instead of letting them be a lone wanderer to find their true self. Their every failures will be celebrated with the light of love and happiness. Their tomorrow will always begin as a New Year with a positive approach learning lessons from all the bad that has happened yesterday. I know, the society might not stop naming my future home the ward of lunatics, but I will do my best for the family to live meaningful and purposeful life.

This blog is not to blame any parents or teachers. They did what they have learned and understood and for that, I would like to take some time to give a big thanks to all those parents and teachers who have also gone through a lot of suffering themselves for their children’s better lives. Through this blog, I am just trying to prove that things that we have learned and memorized from that blacken white paper is something else that do not prepare us to face the real world. Those memorized sentences from each line of academic books do not match the circumstances we have to go through in real life. The traditional path of transferring skills by means of education is not worthy in all situations. The parenting practices giving lots of social pressure and career stress is not bringing positive change towards the attitude of children. And, last but not the least, we should learn to embrace failures too.

The Muddy Road Battle

I wonder, if Bhabana’s shoes were to introduce her, what would they say about her?

And, if anyone were to spend a day in my mud-covered shoes, how would they feel?BhabanaImage: Milipa Thapa

I was waiting for my friends. We would meet daily on the same spot and would go to school together. That day again, it was raining heavily. But, how lucky were my friends? They would always get rides on their mother’s back on a rainy day. That’s how, they would always have clean-polished shoes. And there was my mother who would not even have energy to look for my umbrella. Was there even a day I got a piggyback ride on my mother’s back? I could hardly remember. My shoes were polished just a few minutes earlier. And I would hate to find different ways to beat the mud on a rainy day. Sometimes, my muddy shoes would give me an excuse to yell at mother’s illness thinking how cozy and clean would it feel if she was healthy enough to carry me on her back. But, due to her sickness, she would not even have the strength to bend down and tie my shoe laces. I would feel that those clean and well-polished shoes of my friends were making them ‘look rich’ and I was there walking heavily with my mud-covered shoes, scrubbing them every now and then under the thick bushes. I can’t tell you fully what went on in my head in that moment, but as I walked past each second, I felt low, alone, and ashamed of my dirty shoes. Moreover, I was angry with god for keeping my mother into the circumstance that made her unhealthy and sad.

Today, this pair of shoes caught my attention while stopping by Bhabana dairy for milk tea with my colleagues. This is Bhabana’s shoes (Shoes from the above picture), and I would say them, ‘not so clean’ shoes. Bhabana—a little, obedient and lovely kid from Dullu, Dailekh is popular among villagers for her innocent behavior. I found this little kid very attractive, smart, and happy despite her ‘not so clean shoes’. My shoes were dirty because of mud on a rainy day and Bhabana’s shoes were not clean because of dirt and debris on a sunny day. We both of us had different circumstances for our dirty shoes, but I failed to understand that everyone’s shoes are a part of them and those shoes were the one that have taken us this far. Why could not I be carefree of my dirty shoes as like Bhabana? Those shoes of mine—that was a stupid comparison with those friends, but many comparisons are stupid anyway and that muddy shoes was one for certain. Maybe, on a rainy day, I would step in a puddle on the way to office again, and get a speck of mud on my shoes. I know, that mud-covered shoes won’t give me the same feeling of disappointment, but will remind me of bitter reminiscence of mother’s deteriorating health where the world once had almost lost faith in her survival. And my delicate feet were there walking up through pines and down through oaks for the one I wanted to grace all of the pages I had yet to write. That day, even in her weakest hour, she did not give up and I did not stop fighting all life’s muddy road battles, knowing it we both would win triumphantly. And we did.

These days my mother’s health is kind of okay comparing to those devastating years. These days, my eyes get teary every time when she holds my shoes affectionately and clean them while I am getting late to work.

 

 

Another Lonely Night in Dailekh

 

night in dailekh

The busy work day turns to night and I have nothing to do,

 I stare off into the emptiness of my room all alone,

And nothing can be heard other than the tickling sound of this hotel’s clock,

Sleep, please come to me, too many thoughts overpower me this late night,

Something needs to be done to take over this sleeplessness mood,

I turn the music on- but the soothing melody can’t even pacify my nomadic mind,

Maybe a book will change my thoughts, but the exhaustion makes words just blur,

I get out of the bed only to face the wide open window,

I concentrate on the whispers of the wind and wish to have you by my side,

Sitting by the window all alone, I smell your cologne and soothing memories flood in,

Voices in my head already telling me, I have field work to do in the early morning,

So set forth towards the light, tonight will be the loneliest night.

                                   The Dailekh Night.

  5/22/2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Childhood in a Bamboo Basket

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Isn’t it amazing to see a woman carrying a stack of grass, bunch of firewood, and little child at the same time on the steep sloped path? It used to be several hours uphill climb to reach home. She would be tired before she reached home, but couldn’t stop for taking rest on her way. Forgetting the acute heat of sun, the torrents of monsoon rain, the grave hunger, the intolerable thirst, and the devastating tiredness, she used to scamper towards her home to see another infant, whom she had left in the crib before the dawn. This was the lifestyle of my mother packed with struggle, the everyday schedule crammed with piles of work, the small world bounded with only household chores, and the daily thoughts filled with dream and imagination. With a grass-stuffed bamboo basket hovering on her head, climbing up and down the long sheer slopes once a day, refraining from fulfilling her strong desires and wishes, she would spend her days waiting for the time to get rid of bamboo basket.

 A strong feeling of wretchedness and cheerfulness comes into sight once I see any woman with a child on her grass basket. It takes me back to my childhood, where I spent most part of the time in woods and grass. My mother would not get enough time to baby-sit and she would carry me on her bamboo basket wherever she roamed and left my infant brother with someone else. She walked off to the forest to collect firewood and grass for cattle which was far-flung from my home. She used to be weary of lugging me almost until the end of day, fed up with caring for me every moment, and furious with Almighty for creating tough circumstances for her the whole time; but in fact, she could not resist and exit away from all these things because she was already a slave of her own circumstances. Once she reached the forest, she would set me in a safe and dirt-free place under the shade of trees and left for her work. Lingering under the shade of  trees, chewing grasses or leaves fallen on the ground, snooping around the activities of birds and butterflies, listening to songs and resonance made by crystal clear stream, and daydreaming to lie down on the warm caring arms of her, I would spend my half of the days alone in a serene forest. Sometimes, she took longer to return back, and it used to be awfully hard to wait for her. Sometimes, the frightening sound of animals resonated in my ear and it used to be terribly frightful to wait for her. Sometimes, it thundered and the raindrops landing on my body used to be dreadfully cold to wait for her. Once I saw her in the far distance coming towards me with her basket full, my happiness would know no bounds and my tears would stop streaming down my face. She used to fall asleep for a while resting her head on the wood and I would climb up on the bamboo basket before she woke up. Heaving with a big sigh of drowsiness, she carried me again and moved towards the steep sloped path. Before we could reach home, I used to sleep on our way on the top of wood and grass. Huge memories of mine are associated with her beautiful bamboo basket, where I spent plenty of time with fear and pleasure. However, the same bamboo basket reminds her of the saddest reminiscence she had to go through and the shabby basket she had to throw away for lifetime once her weary body could not resist it anymore.

 

 

But what in return is that I get?

I am a burning Candle:

helping others with the bright rays of light,

melting myself I gave my life,

burning throughout not a trace of me remains,

but what in return is that I get?

 

 I am a cheap doll:

dancing on your hands when you like,

crying at the corner when you are hostile,

bringing smile on your face,

breaking legs for your sake,

but what in return is that I get?

 

 I am a machine:

working whole life without resting,

abandoned to isolation when once I began rusting,

sacrificing my whole life for your welfare,

but what in return is that I get?

I am a doormat:

lying at your door always,

carrying heaps of feet dust on top of my head,

stretching and squeezing I remain silent,

am torn to pieces, a scene so violent,

but what in return is that I get?

 

 I am a pair of shoes:

protecting your feet from the thorns on your way,

bringing smile on your face when I am new and gay,

serving you till I am torn with my strength and fate,

but what in return is that I get?

 

 I am petty little things in your life:

carrying little or no importance at all,

serving you all the time sometimes I rise and mostly I fall,

making life easy for you is all my concern,

and what I ask for is just a little love in return.

 

Out on the path: I am still waiting to see my secret friend

 

a-little-child

OK, so let me start off by saying that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being nice. I spent my childhood getting lots of comments about me being “nice”, “friendly”, “selfless”, “caring” and many more. My childhood friends would comment, “Why do your feelings only ever remain friendly towards everyone you meet?” My mother would always remind me, “there’s absolutely nothing wrong with offering your generosity and kindness to those in need, but if you are friend with everyone than you even need, this way you will never get success.” My father would suggest me to choose few friends to bring home rather than bringing every one of them. I was literally tired of listening to these dialogues almost every day. I knew how worried my parents were about my studies. They had this perception that I would not do well in studies because of me spending more time with my friends. Whenever I did bad on exams, they wouldn’t refrain themselves from bringing that “friendship” topic on the board, but I could not help myself from cutting down list of friends I had. Not to butter up myself, but every single kid would love to be my friend. They would enjoy my company and I could sense that but still had doubts about myself, whether I really enjoyed their company too or I lacked that art of communication to say “NO”– gently and firmly.

I still wonder how my people would have reacted that time if I had disclosed another additional secret group of friends I had. Maybe, my grandparents would have boycotted me from home. It was around thirteen years back, during civil war, many private schools were demolished and closed down and this led many private students to join government school. I spent one year in that government school and to be honest, I learned nothing at all during the entire year. The excessive population of students was hard to control for authorities. Unlike the previous school, there was no trend of rotation, but the trend of first come first reserved seats was what I enjoyed throughout the year. Every day, I got to share seats with new faces and sometimes, I would even get to and loved to stand up with numerous new faces in one corner of the classroom when seats were not available. That was how I was spending my days.

It was one fine morning, I got to share my seat with another stranger. The way she put tika on her forehead and colorful bangles around her wrist caught my attraction. Bangles on her beautiful hand making tickling sound every now and then reminded me of mother and I wondered if this little girl was already married. She was very shy and silent. She would not look up at any faces.  Had she had looked up, many would have been hypnotized by those eyes—she had such beautiful eyes. I could sense how hard she was trying to maintain space between us on that narrow bench and it was making me awkward. By the time we had lunch break, I went to roam around with my friends, and she didn’t show up after the break.

I was hoping to meet her again with the only concern to know about her marital status. The next day, I saw her again– very happy and comfortable with her own group of girls and all of them were wearing same kind of tika and bangles. I smiled at her and she smiled back and unlike last day, I was quite comfortable to speak up– maybe because of her smile.  I asked her name. She had just the common name as people used to have in village and she was quite shocked by my name, maybe it was kind of fancy or an abnormal name for her. Last day, they went swimming in the nearby the river. I was excited, and once I saw them running out of class, I followed them. Though, it was very awkward to jump into river without their invitation, I could not refrain myself to feel that crystal clear water. Even in that river, they squeezed in one side keeping me alone aside. I could feel the difference between us in every way, not only in my exclusion, but– from their dress they wear to words they used while they speak. The next day, I did not feel like making me myself awkward by self-invitation, but while she was passing my seat, she said, “let’s go”, and the boundaries of joy crossed the limit– I was blushing.

Days were passing by, they’d already started being my swimming friends more than classmates. I was enjoying every moment in the river with them. But, once the monsoon season started, we completely stopped going swimming. As usual, she would intentionally maintain distance in school, and sometimes I would feel down and strange. I stopped putting effort to be her friend. At one point, we even stopped smiling at each other.  It was one stormy evening; the rain fell in torrents. I was waiting for the rain to stop. I saw her waiting with her friends on the other side. I was snooping at her– the way she was managing her worn out clothes was inconsolable. I am sorry if I felt pity on her, but I really wanted to share my new piece of cloth and one pair of shoes with her. I had no idea how to approach her. I went next to her. I was trying to be friendly as much as I could sharing my swimming experiences and all. I just asked, “Would you like to go my home?” I did not expect that positive gesture from her face. She replied, “But, my parents would be worried.” One of her friend promised conveying this message to her parents and she came home with me. On the way, I pointed my home in the far distance and she became anxious. She said, “Oh, your home is nearby that Brahmin village.”  I replied, “yes, and I have lots of best friends from that village“. She said, “Yes, I know. I see you hanging out with them every time.” As I was going to say something, she started speaking in her broken voice, “But, I can’t enter into your home. Maybe your parents won’t like me knowing my identity. Maybe they would offer me bed outside, but I am afraid to sleep outside alone. Should I go back home?” I felt like something was stuck in my throat. She made me speechless. I never had any friends before who were not allowed to enter my home. Now, I knew, she was from so called “untouchable” or “low caste” family and I realized why she did not like me or not comfortable with me. I did not react much, but just patted on her back, “Don’t you feel bad staying at my place tonight. I won’t open up your identity with my parents and grandparents. I am so good at making up things. No worries. It is already night, no friends from that Brahmin village come home tonight. They won’t see you. The only thing, you should act normal. Do not hesitate to go inside.  Sit comfortably”. As she said once; married or unmarried, they had just tradition of wearing bangles, and as I was not comfortable to introduce her with parents–hands full of bangles, I asked her to take them all out. She did it without asking a single question. We reached home. I just made up her last name while introducing her and she was giggling at me from the other side. When mommy was busy cooking, I secretly took my clothes and a pair of shoes out from the cupboard and hid them under my bed before she could see them. After having dinner, we went back to our room. She was not accepting my clothes and shoes at first, but later she packed them into her bag. We both smiled. We started chatting. She shared stories about her step mother, her alcoholic father, and many other painful stories she had to go through. We slept early that night as she had to wake up in the early dawn before facing any of my Brahmin friends.

In that year, she came to stay at my home several times with her fake identity and as usual she would wake up and leave in the early dawn. Even though we were very good friends inside, outside the world, we would not be much sociable. Once, my parents were away from home for few days, I asked her if she wanted to go my home. When she knew my parents were not home, she said, she would love to take her other friends too—friends we went swimming with. My aunt was very decent and she was very nice to them. That was the last night she stayed at my home together with her friends. She did not come home after that night. The year was almost over. I was already transferred to another school. How I wished her to visit my home, but she never show up. Our paths did not cross as I had hoped they would. I have no idea whether she ended up having a good life or a hard life. But, if I ever got an opportunity to meet her again, I would go shopping with her because while she was refusing to take my dress. I had told her, “I will buy you more beautiful dresses once I get a job.” Also, I would disclose her true identity and lastly, more than anything else, I would love to go swimming with her.