I decided that I will not quit, no matter what: Sumina Shrestha

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These days I don’t like to think about the future, I am very happy reminiscing about my past and living in the present. When it comes to our past, most of us can never forget our childhood. Don’t we get really happy thinking about those childhood days? Draw something and gift it to our teachers, and every drawing had some creative ideas. I get surprised when I think of it now. How did we get such creative ideas and from where?

I spent most of my early days in the narrow alleys of Dillibazaar. Ever since I was a little girl, I was always fond of drawing. In fact, if anyone praised my drawing then, I would be so happy and I drew more. My aunt always used to tell me that I would grow up to be an artist. I didn’t know then what it meant to be an artist but that word got stuck in my head. Maybe that’s why my childhood days were filled with drawings and colors. I always liked to draw portraits. In school, I would always be ready to draw on the class board. Despite drawing at a young age, I was never introduced to water colors. One day while commuting from school to home, I saw water color in one of the shops.  I clearly remember asking my mother to buy me that water color and I was very adamant about it. She finally bought it but I had no idea how to use it. With my continuous practice, I was getting good at drawing and maybe because I was told that I will be an artist at a very young age or maybe because I started at a very young age. I studied Fine Arts after my school.

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Despite the fact that I studied Fine Arts, I  wasn’t sure which field of art I wanted to pursue. I was also sketching cartoons at that time. I discovered other forms of traditional art, like Thangka painting and I ended up going to Boudha to train myself. I found a place but apparently this course was only available for foreigners. I went to Patan to inquire and I learned that Thangka drawings are very detailed artworks and needs serious focus and attention; my attraction towards Thangka decreased.  I never really enjoyed any detailed work.  After Thangka, I was inclined to learn more about tattoos, however, I knew no tattoo artists. I got trained at two different places. The first place I went to didn’t teach me anything about tattoos. For a week or so, they only asked me to draw. So, I stopped going there. I wasn’t happy at the second training center too. I had already paid a certain amount but they didn’t teach us well. They had given me two different tattoo machines; liner and shader. I took those machines and never went back.

I was doing a lot of freelance commission artworks, and that’s when Nepal was struck with a massive earthquake. Major media platforms were continuously showing the number of people that died during the earthquake and that’s when I realized that life is very unpredictable, I should be doing something. An organization called “Get Well Soon” had started a campaign called “Healing through Artwork”. This campaign was initiated by my teacher. I joined the initiative and through this campaign we gave art therapy to many children at different places. During the same time, I met my college friend as well and came to know that he was learning tattoo art at his own place. I inquired about tattoo artwork with him. He explained everything to me.

The fact that Nepal didn’t have many female tattoo artists got me even more interested to join this field.

I tried to understand why there are less women in this field of art. I figured out that there are women who have joined this work, but because of social and family related issues, they cannot continue to work. I began to realize that if I do start tattooing, I will face similar issues. I decided that I would not quit, no matter what.

wTattoo04I knew my parents couldn’t afford to send me to a tattoo training center but they always encouraged me and supported me mentally.  My friend advised me to practice at home. Whatever I earned from my commission work, I began to save and with that saving I bought the machines I needed to learn tattoo art. I started to practice at home on a rubber pad. After few months of practicing on the rubber pad, I gained confidence that I could tattoo on skin. I asked my sister if she would allow me to tattoo her.  She agreed. I couldn’t be happier.  With a little bit of nervousness and plenty of excitement, I tattooed my sister. The tattoo looked fine. For a while, I couldn’t believe my eyes and kept staring at the tattoo. I then knew that I was capable and ready.

I also have tattoos on my body. According to our social norms, people with tattoos aren’t looked upon as decent people.  I have tattoos on both my arms. Few of my relatives and people in general look at me differently when they notice my tattoos. Some of them ask me why I dirtied my arms. I used to get upset listening to the same comment over and over again. Now, I don’t care.

I still remember how frustrated I used to get during my initial days when I didn’t understand how the machine worked. We didn’t have rotary tattoo machines then. We used coil tattoo machines which had to be set up beforehand. At times I used to get upset when I failed to illustrate my vision because of the problems encountered while setting the machine. Setting up the machine was pretty stressful and frustrating but I never thought of giving up.

It was necessary to prove myself before getting into this line of work.

More than competing with others, I wanted to compete with myself and create my own identity. Therefore, it was absolutely necessary to create my own portfolio. Within a years’ span, I was able to make a decent portfolio. After looking at my work, I was offered a job at a tattoo studio. I began to work there to gather some experience. I cannot easily open up and get close with new people. That’s why I have very few close friends. Even at the studio, I couldn’t talk easily with my clients. I would only speak if and when anyone was interested to learn more about tattoos. After working in a few different places,  I got an opportunity to work at WanderThirst Hostels. Currently, I am working there.

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By now I knew a good number of tattoo artists, so getting a job isn’t really that difficult. During my initial days at the studio, few clients were reluctant to get a tattoo from a female artist. That would really upset me. No matter how upset I was, I never let my anger spoil my work. Even though I am very shy in nature, I have excelled at building a conversation with my clients where they feel very close and comfortable. But now because of the COVID 19 situation, we don’t have any work. I don’t like staying inside the house, I would rather work. But as the lockdown kept extending, it started to get very difficult. As the mental stress started took a toll on me, I began to draw digital portraits of people. This calmed me down a bit.

It has only been 4 years since I started working as a tattoo artist. I am learning a lot and I still have a long way to go. I don’t know how successful or unsuccessful I will be. But one day, I want to open a tattoo studio where I can help other women like myself who are interested in this field of work. I believe in myself and hence, I think this dream of mine will also come true.

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Now, she is my friend and I am hers : Deepa Shrestha

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There was a time when, because of her, I would sit in a corner of a room and cry. But, lately the smallest changes in her, brings me a lot of joy. Also, sometimes I feel very proud of myself because I was able to recognize her at a proper time. It is because of her that today the story of my life has turned around.

I have always wanted to live independently. So, as soon as I was done with high school, I came to Kathmandu from Lahan to pursue my further studies. Even till today I can vividly remember my college days. I never wanted to depend on anyone and so just after I completed my BBA I started to work at “Kohinoor Housing Center”. I was able to sustain myself with my earnings and I also enrolled myself for a Masters course. I got married soon after. I started to work at Siddhartha Finance after my marriage and both my marital life and career was going smoothly. Three years after our marriage, we decided to have a baby. We were really happy when we conceived successfully. Like any other mother, who dreams of what she would do for her baby and how she would raise the child, I too began to have a lot of dreams for my child. I wanted to raise my child to be independent and instead of pressuring her to become a doctor or an engineer, I wanted her to be whatever it is that she wanted to be. I had a little dream to be known because of her. Nine months after dreaming every possible dream for my child, I gave birth to my beautiful daughter. Few months after her arrival, I slowly went back to my normal routine.  I was fulfilling my role sometimes as a wife, sometimes a mother and other times as an employee.

In 2015, my daughter was 14 months old when we had a massive earthquake in our country. I still remember that she was asleep and I had cried endlessly when I carried her during the earthquake. After that, I had left my daughter at my mother’s place. Four months later I brought her back envisioning all wonderful possibilities. However, as they say, life is never how you imagine it to be. I felt that there was a huge difference in her behavior. She preferred to stay alone, she didn’t interact with anyone, it looked as if she was really hurt. I started to get worried. I assumed that maybe her fear of earthquake was still there and that’s why she was behaving that way, or maybe because I kept her away from me for a long time and hence she was behaving like that? I started questioning myself a lot.

How can a mother possibly be okay with any of that?
I too wanted to see my daughter laughing and playing
like any other normal child.

I started to research. I realized that I have to spend good amount of time with her. I even consulted with my brother who is also a doctor. While researching, I came across a word – autism. This word was very new to me. I knew nothing about it. I was advised to meet and consult with another doctor. During my first meet itself, the doctor said that she has symptoms of autism. I got even more stressed. There wasn’t much information about autism in Nepal during those days. I consulted with many doctors looking for its cure. It got so tiring and I lost my hope. Surprisingly, Autism Care Nepal brought back my hopes. Without any further delay, I took my daughter to that organization. After careful and thorough inspection, the special educator there finally concluded that she did have autism. But, her treatment could take some time. She was only 18 months old then and so I was advised to wait for a while. It was so disappointing. He was a special educator so he spoke in the medical terms but I am mother. How can a mother possibly be okay with any of that? I too wanted to see my daughter laughing and playing like any other normal child. I didn’t want to wait any longer. My entire life was upside down. All I could see was just my daughter. I didn’t want to lose even a single day for her treatment. I thought that autism is also like any other disease, that the sooner treatment started, the sooner it would be cured. I was confident that I will take her anywhere in the world for her treatment. No one in Nepal was really able to explain to me what autism really is. I always thought that if she’s provided with proper treatment she will be perfectly fine and so, I never stopped my research.

2After a while I found out that my aunt’s child was also autistic. They were in Kochi, India for the treatment. Me and my husband discussed about the treatment in India and decided to take our daughter. I really didn’t have to think much whether or not I should resign from my work then. I just wanted my daughter to get better. The next day after my resignation, we took our daughter to India. We stayed there for four months. The heat and the weather of India didn’t suit my daughter’s health and she often fell sick. We had to admit her to a hospital instead of the therapy center. In Kochi, they only communicate either in Malayalam or in English. Our daughter was small and didn’t speak either of the languages so communications became a major issue during her therapy sessions. During our four months stay there, she was only able to get a month’s therapy. There were not much changes in her so we decided to get her back to Nepal.

We didn’t know where in Nepal we could take her for a proper treatment. To make her a little more active, I started to give her therapy at home with whatever I knew. While researching, I came across National Institute of Psycho Educational Counseling. I took her there and started the therapy sessions. I noticed few changes in her and I was hopeful again. Along with my daughter’s therapy session, the counselor there also started to counsel me. I used to think that my daughter is disabled but after careful analysis, I understood that she was differently able.  We then slowly began to accept her for who she is and when that happened we could feel that she was also happier. Earlier, she would be terrified even to cross a small path and now she can walk across big roads.  I still remember the day when she called us mother and father. I felt like we had won it all. I was so happy that I couldn’t stop crying. Even now sometimes when she is playing, she would randomly blabber these words – mummy and daddy. I realize that it will take a long time to bring changes in her.  We have to teach her in the way that’s more comfortable for her. Clearly, this is not the easy way but it’s not impossible.

I do feel very sad but at the same time I am also happy that because of her, I am learning new things.

Whenever I had to go out, parties or gatherings, I never used to bring my child along with me thinking that it would be very difficult to manage her. I used to drop her at my brother’s place. Later, when I understood what autism is and her behaviors, I now take her with me, every place I go. Once she started to spend time with these groups, she began to understand our world. It takes a little time for her but it’s not like she doesn’t understand. Hence, these days I only go out when it’s feasible for me and my daughter. My family and my friends are very understanding and that’s why they organize any gathering according to our feasibility. I have noticed that many other parents who have autistic children find it difficult to bring their child in social gatherings. But, I think these children should be brought in social gatherings and slowly they will learn to adjust.

3I have to pay special attention to my daughter. This is the major difference between us and mothers who have “normal” children. No matter what, we cannot be as free as other mothers.  Autistic children have a different world than ours. My daughter’s therapy starts at the beginning of my day. My daughter is now six and a half years old. I need to help her to go to the toilet and brush her teeth. After a lot of therapy, she can now eat on her own. Other children can learn many things by themselves but she couldn’t. I need to teach her in a symbolic way which she can understand well. After finishing my household chores, I prepare her to do her exercise according to the schedule of her school. I spend my days mentoring her to do her exercises and playing with her.

Every one suffers and it’s that suffering which will teach you a lot about life. Sometimes I used to feel sad because of my autistic daughter but it is only because of her, I have so many positive changes in me. I am very glad for that. I used to very reserved person. I never could talk to people quickly and openly and I lacked confidence. Now, because of her, I can speak with confidence. When I first started taking my daughter to the therapy center, she used to happily run towards her therapist – Sarita maam. She was happier with her mam than with me. That made me feel very bad. Therefore, I started to talk to her caretakers. I observed how they used to interact with her. Then slowly, I got closer to my daughter.

Now, she is my friend and I am hers.

In many cases, women feel bad because after having a child, they cannot continue to work on their careers. But, when I look at myself, I feel I have learned a lot and achieved a lot as well. I find myself a lot different than other mothers. I think I have gained all the skills required to look after autistic children and would like to work with them on a professional level one day when my daughter is a bit more grown.  I am really proud of my daughter and who she turned me into.

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Photo courtesy : Deepa Shrestha

लकडाउनमा साथी र सम्बन्ध

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संसारमा दुःखहरु त धेरै आउँछ तर यो पटकको दुःख अति नै ठुलो छ । कहाँबाट यो कोरोना भाइरस आयो? थाहा छैन । कोरोना भाइरसका कारण देशभर लकडाउन भयो । हामी सबै घरमा बस्नु पर्ने भयो । घरमा बस्नु त राम्रो हो तर बस्दा बस्दा केही गर्न मन नलाग्ने, दिक्क लाग्ने भयो ।

कोरोना भाइरसका कारण कक्षा ९ को अन्तिम परीक्षा अगाडि सर्यो । परीक्षा सकेर अब कक्षा १० मा जाने भयौं भनेर हामी एकदम खुशी भएका थियौं । सरले हामी सबैलाई घुम्न लैजाउँला भन्नु भएको थियो । घुम्न जाने कुराले हामीहरु झन खुशी थियौं । खास गरि परोपकारको होस्टलमा बस्ने हामी सबै साथीहरु घुम्न जान पाइने भयो भनेर रमाउँदै थियौं । त्यतिबेला अन्य देशहरुमा कोरोना भाईरसको संक्रमितको संख्या बढिरहेको थियो । तर नेपालमा भने कोरोना संक्रमित व्यक्तिको पुष्टि भएको थिएन । हामीलाई पनि कोरोना भाइरस नेपालमा आएको छैन होला जस्तो लागेको थियो । तर एक्कासी कोरोना भाइरसको कारण चैत्र १० गतेदेखि लकडाउन भयो भन्ने सरले सुनाउनु भयो । त्यसपछि हामी एकदम डराएका थियौं । मरिने पो हो की? भन्ने लागेको थियो । हामी सबै एकै ठाउँमा भएकोले केही हुन्न होला भन्ने पनि लाग्यो । यो सबै त्रासको बिचमा घुम्न जाने त के? बाहिर निस्कन समेत पाइएन । मरे पनि सबै एकै ठाउँमा छौं । मरे मरिन्छ भन्ने पनि लाग्यो । सबै परिवार (होस्टलको साथीहरु) एकै ठाउँमा, साथी, दिदीहरु सबै सँगै बस्न, रमाईलो गर्न पाइने भयो भनेर खुशी पनि थियौं । हामी कति पछि सबैसँगै बसेर खाना खाने खेल्ने गर्दा छुट्टै आनन्द आईरहेको थियो । लकडाउनको करिब २ हप्ता हामीले रमाईलोसँग बितायौं । हामी होस्टलमा रमाईलोसँग बसिरहदा भने बाहिर भएका अन्य साथीहरुको एकदम याद आइरहेको थियो । हामीहरुले आफ्नो ममी, हजुरआमालाई एकदम याद गर्यौैं । आफ्नो साथी, दाजु भाईको याद गर्यौैं । यसरी परिवारको याद आउँदा आफन्तलाई फोन गर्यौैं । त्यस पछि एक किसिमको आनन्दको अनुभूती भयो । सुरु–सुरुमा होस्टलमा बस्दा रमाइलो भयो, आफू भन्दा ठूलो कक्षाको दिदीहरुसँग बस्न पाइने भयो भनेर रमाइलो लागी रहेको थियो । सबैले आ—आफ्नो सम्बन्ध सुधार गर्न पाउने भयो, एक अर्कालाई बुझ्न पाइयो भनेर खुशी लागेकोे थियो । फेसबुक म्यासेन्जरबाट कुरा गरेर झन बढी नजिकियो र इन्टरनेटबाट नयाँ कुराहरु सिक्ने मौका पाइयो । होस्टलको सिनियर दिदीहरुले आफ्नो कुराहरु सुनाउँदा एकदमै खुशी हुन्थ्यौं । हामी होस्टल बस्ने भएर पनि होला बाहिर निस्कन नपाएर पनि हामीलाई खासै फरक परेको थिएन । किन कि हामी होस्टल बस्नेहरु पहिला पनि खासै बाहिर निस्कन पाइँदैनथ्यो । तर पढाई नहुँदा होस्टल भित्र मात्र कोच्चिएर बस्नु पर्दा भने एकदम अत्यास लाग्यो । स्कुल कहिले खुल्छ? भन्ने सोच्दा सोच्दा झन धेरै चिन्ता लागिरहेको छ ।

लकडाउनले गर्दा हामीले गर्ने दैनिक कार्यहरु छुट्यो । हाम्रो कुनै होमवर्क छैन, कुनै नियम छैन, टिचर छैन, लेक्चर छैन तर हाम्रो अलग दुनिया भएको थियो ।

लकडाउनले गर्दा हाम्रो होस्टलमा गरिने नियमित क्रियाकलापहरु पुरै छुट्यो । कुनै होमओर्क छैन, कुनै नियम छैन, टिचर छैन, लेक्चर छैन, तर यस कारणले गर्दा हाम्रो पढ्ने बानी भने छुट्यो, जसले गर्दा किताब पल्टाउने बित्तिकै निन्द्रा लाग्ने भयो । दिउँसो कहिल्यै नसुत्ने मान्छे दिउँसो सुत्ने भएका थियौं । तर केहीलाई भने रमाइलो पनि भएको थियो । हामी कक्षा १० मा पुगीसकेर पनि होला, हामीले ध्यान दिएर पढ्नु पर्छ भन्ने कुराले मात्र हामीलाई पढ्नलाई प्रेरित गरिरहेको छ । त्यसैले जबर्जस्ती हामी पढ्ने कोसिस गरिरहेका छौं ।

कोरोना भाईरसको डर कम गर्न विभिन्न क्रियाकलापहरु गरे पनि हाम्रो भित्री मनमा भने कोरोना भाईरसको डर हटेको छैन तर डर कम गर्न हामी नयाँ–नयाँ कुराहरु सिक्ने विभिन्न क्रियाकलाप गर्ने गरिरहेका हुन्छौं । जे गरे पनि डर त हामीबाट टाढा नै जाँदो रहेनछ । हामी सकेसम्म आफूलाई व्यस्त बनाउने कोसिस गर्छाैं ।

school supplies with medical face mask blue background. Protection schoolchildren students from covid-19 coronavirus, school education context pandemic.समय व्यवस्थापन गर्नको लागि बिस्तारै हामी केही साथीहरुले चित्र बनाउन थाल्यौं, केहीले आफ्नो मनमा लागेको कुरा डायरीमा लेख्न थाल्यौ, तास खेल्ने, गित बजाएर नाच्ने, टिकटक हेरेर बस्ने, यूटुव हेर्ने, सरको मोवाईल मागेर लुडो खेल्ने, नेटफ्लिक्समा फिल्म हेर्ने, टि.भि. हेर्ने जस्ता विभिन्न क्रियाकलापहरु गर्न थाल्यौं । होस्टलको गार्डेनमा फुलिरहेका फूलहरुको, हरियाली र स्वच्छ हावाले गर्दा पनि हामीलाई समय बिताउन सहज बनायो । अहिले पनि एक प्रकारको रमाईलो भइरहेको छ । रमाईलो वातावरणमा रमाउँदै गर्दा भने हामीलाई पढ्नै बिर्सिएको जस्तो भईरहेको छ । केही साथीहरुलाई पहिल्यै देखि अनलाईन क्लास अल्छी लाग्थ्यो । अनलाईन क्लास हुँदा कोही लुकेर बस्थे । यसले गर्दाे अनलाइन क्लासले त्यति धेरै प्रभाव पारेन । हामी सबै जना कसरी समय बिताउने भनेर खोजी रहेका हुन्छौं । समय बिताउन कै लागि हामी कोठा सफा गर्ने, झ्याल पुछ्ने, लुगा धुने, भलिबल खेल्ने र क्रिकेट खेल्ने ग¥यौ । हामी सबैको बिस्तारै भलिबलमा सबैको सुधार भइरहेको थियो । क्रिकेट खेल्दा अति रमाइलो लाग्थ्यो । सुरुमा क्रिकेट खेल्यौं, पछि टिम नपुगेर भलिबल खेल्न थाल्यौं । पछि फेरी स्कूलमा रंग लगाउन थालेको भएर भलिबल खेल्न पनि रोकिएको छ । अहिले खेल्ने ठाउँ नभएर हामीलाई दिन कटाउन गाह्रो भएको छ । होस्टलमा नयाँ स्मार्ट टिभी किनेको छ त्यसले गर्दा समय बिताउन अलि सहज भएको छ । १ बजेसम्म खाजा, खाना हुन्छ अनि पढ्ने गर्छौं । नेटफ्लिक्समा फिल्म र्हेछौं । अहिले त हामी रातको १२ बजेसम्म टि.भी. हेर्छांै । यो हाम्रो नराम्रो बानी जस्तो पनि लाग्छ । त्यहि भएर भान्सामा दिदीलाई सघाउन पनि जान्छौं । हाम्रो समय यसरी नै बितिरहेको छ । यस्ता विभिन्न क्रियाकलाप गरेर समय बिताउँदा पनि समय कटाउन गाह्रो भएको छ ।

3748610हाम्रो केही साथीहरुलाई यो चार महिना एकदम छटपटीमा बित्यो । तर कहिले काही यस्तो पनि लाग्छ यो चार महिना घर बसेर रमाईलो पनि भयो । साथीहरु भएर नयाँ कुरा पनि सिक्यो । यसरी सोच्दा हामीहरुलाई यस्तो पनि लाग्छ कि घरमा बसेर बोर भयो भन्ने मान्छे बुद्धु हो । यो लकडाउनले कहिले केही काम गर्न नआउने मान्छेले पनि घरको काम गर्न सिकिसकेको छ । हामी आफै यस बिचमा को को सँग नजिक रहेछौं भन्ने पनि थाहा पायौं । लकडाउन कडा भएपछि कसैलाई घरको याद आयो, कसैलाई साथीको याद आयो भने कसैलाई खाने कुराको याद आयो । लकडाउन अवधिभर कहिले रमाइलो भए जस्तो, कहिले बोरिङ भए जस्तै बितिरहेकोे छ । परीक्षा सकिएकोले परीक्षाको जुन पे्रसर हुन्छ त्यसरी त पढ्न त पर्दैन तर नयाँ कक्षामा गएकोले पढ्न त परिहाल्यो । त्यसैले नयाँ किताब छोएर पढ्न नपाएको भएर अब के हुने हो? भन्ने डर लागिरहेको छ । तर केही साथीहरुले रमाइलो गर्न पाएकोमा कोरोनाको त्रास दिमागमा नभएको सुनाइरहेका छन् ।

कोहीलाई भने लकडाउनले केही समय रमाइलो भए पनि सँधै एउटै ठाउँमा, एउटै मान्छे, अनि सँधै एउटै खानाको परिकार खानु परेकोले एकदम वाक्क लागिसकेको थियो । तर कहिले काही खान नपाएर मरिन्छ की जस्तो पनि लाग्छ । फेरी सोच्छौं हाम्रो स्कूललाई सहयोग गर्ने संस्थाहरु भएको र स्कूकोे राम्रो व्यवस्थापन भएको कारण खानाले गर्दा मर्दैन कि जस्तो पनि लाग्छ । तर पत्रिकाहरुमा खान नपाएको कारणले मान्छे मरेको समाचारले एकदम नरमाइलो लागि रहन्छ । कोरोनाले गर्दा संसारको मान्छेहरु सबै मर्छन् कि जस्तो पनि लाग्छ । मरिन्छ भन्ने डर लागे पनि हामी मात्र होइन संसारका सबै मान्छे हामी जस्तै त्रासमा छन् । त्यसैले हामी मात्र होईन मरे सबै सँगै मरिन्छ जस्तो पनि लाग्छ । फेरी विश्वमा वैज्ञानिकहरु पनि छन् औषधी बन्छ होला किन यति धेरै डराउनु जस्तो पनि लाग्छ ।

लकडाउनले हामीलाई धेरै कुरा सिकायो । कोराना विरुद्ध हामी सबै साथीहरु अनुशासनमा रहेर लडिरहेका छौं । हामीले एक अर्कालाई एकदम राम्रोसँग सहयोग गरिरहेका छौं । हामीहरु सबैजना मिलेर कोरोना विरुद्ध लड्ने लकडाउनको प्रतिबद्धता हो । सबै साथी, दिदीबहिनीहरु मिलेर बस्ने, सबैसँग राम्रो सम्बन्ध बनाउने सोच हामीमा आएको छ । साथीहरु बनाउने र साथी बनाउने यो राम्रो समय हो भन्ने हामीलाई लागेको छ ।

***

Friends and relations in lockdown

 

We face many problems during our lifetime, but this one is particularly a big one. Where did it come from, no one knows. There was a nationwide lockdown because of this virus. Staying home is a wise decision, but it started to get very boring because there wasn’t much to do.

Our exams were rescheduled and we gave our exams much before than originally planned. We were quite happy that we will be moving to grade 10 after our exams. We were all very excited, especially the ones living at the hostel because we were told by our teachers that we will be going out for a day trip. During that period, the virus was found in many other countries and the numbers kept increasing. However, there weren’t any active cases found in Nepal.  We were pretty confident that Nepal didn’t have the virus but all of sudden our teacher informed us that there will be a lockdown. Obviously, we got scared.  We feared that we might die. Because of all these frightening situations, there was absolutely no way we could go out. But because all of us (friends and sisters) were together at the hostel, we had a lot of fun; so in a way, we were happy too. After a long time, we all were eating together and playing together. This brought about a different sense of satisfaction and enhanced our closeness.

We thought of our friends who lived with their families. We thought of our grandparents, brothers, and sisters and missed them a lot. During the initial days of the lockdown, we enjoyed our stay inside the hostel. We all had the opportunity to spend time and know each other better. Our relationship and bond got stronger than before. We didn’t get to go outside our hostel premise. Nonetheless, that didn’t really make much difference to us, maybe because we are used to staying inside our hostel. However, later it started to get very suffocating. “When will our school reopen?” was our constant concern.

The lockdown has completely changed our daily routine. We don’t have any classes, no teachers, no lectures, and no home assignments; we now have a different world altogether. We slowly lost our interest in studies and began to take a lot of naps during the day. Our only motivation to study is the fact that we are now in grade 10 and that is why we push ourselves to study regularly.

Even though a lot of activities were conducted to decrease our fear of coronavirus, deep inside we were still very scared. No matter what we did the fear didn’t seem to go away and that’s why we did everything to keep ourselves busy.

Slowly, a few of us started to sketch, some started to write journals, play cards, sing and dance, watch TikTok, YouTube, play online games, watch Netflix, etc to manage our time better. Bright flowers in our hostel garden did lift our mood and brought joy to us. Somehow, it seemed as though we had forgotten our studies completely. Few of them never liked online classes, and few others would hideaway during online classes.  Because of this, we don’t think online classes were productive at all. We were constantly thinking of ways to spend our time. We started to clean our rooms, wash clothes, play volleyball, and cricket.  They brought a new smart TV at our hostel. That also helped us to spend our time.

We would eat our lunch at around 1 PM and watch a lot of Netflix. We are aware that it isn’t very healthy to watch a lot of TVs. Besides watching TV, sometimes we also help in the kitchen.  This is how we were passing our days.

Few of our friends had difficulty these past 4 months. But, sometimes, we think we had a good time staying inside. We learned new things. Due to this lockdown, people who didn’t do anything at home have started to contribute to housework. Some days it was fun, some days it was very dull. Some missed their families, some of their friends and some even missed food.

For some it was getting very monotonous; to be around the same people, eat the same food at the same place. At times we feared that we might die of hunger, but again we knew that there are various organizations that help our school and the management of our school is very good, so probably we won’t die of hunger. We read news about people dying because of hunger. That was very saddening.

It’s frightening to think that we all might die because of the corona. Not just us, but everyone all over the world. But then again we know there are many scientists and maybe they will find a cure for corona after all?

This lockdown has taught us many things. To win the fight against corona, we all have to be disciplined and thankfully, we are fully supporting each other. This is a perfect time to build and strengthen our relationships.

***

Photo Credit: shangarey & raulteran

यहाँको केटीहरुलाई बाहिरको संसार कस्तो हुन्छ थाहै छैन

Photo Courtesy : Simone Wenth / Unsplash

जीवनमा दुःखहरु धेरै आईरहन्छ तर यो पल्टको दुःख अति नै ठूलो छ । कहाँबाट यो कोरोना भाईरस आयो थाहा नै पाएन ।

कोरोना आएपछि हामी गाउँ आयौं । सबै घरमा बसीरहेका छन् तर मेरो बुबा त घुम्न मात्र जानु हुन्छ । बिहान ८ बजे तिर नल तान्न जान्छु । खै किन हो ? जहिले म उठ्दा ममी र बुबाको झगडा भएको हुन्छ । म बाबाले ममीलाई गाली गरेको सुनेर उठ्छु । अनि चिया खान्छु । पहिला पहिला त इन्डियन सिम कार्ड पनि थिएन । पुरा बेकारमा आएँ झै लाग्थ्यो । त्यसमा यहाँको मानिसहरुको सोच नै फरक छ मलाई यहाँको मान्छेसँग घुलमिल हुन एकदम गाह्रो भईरा’छ । यहाँ आएपछि त VOW MEDIA को कुरा सोच्दै त्यहाँका दिदीहरुले भनेको याद आउँछ । कहिले सम्म यसरी बस्न पर्ने हो ? अत्यास लागेर आईरा’छ । बाहिर कतै जाउँ भने पनि निस्कन दिँदैन । बोर लाग्दो छ यहाँको जिन्दगी ।

यहाँको केटीहरुलाई त बाहिरको संसार कस्तो हुन्छ थाहा नै छैन । बिहान उठ्छन्, खाना पकाउँछन खान्छन्, सुत्छन् । फेरी उठछन् खाना पकाउछन्, केही बोल्यो भने पनि यो केटी कति बोल्छ ? केटी भएर यसरी बोल्ने भन्छन् । यसरी नै बिहान सुरु हुन्छ, अनि रात पनि बित्छ । म बिहान उठ्छु, खाना खान्छु, मोवाईल चलाउँछु सुत्छु ।

यहाँ मेरो कोही साथिहरु पनि छैन । जे गरे पनि एक्लै हुन्छ कति दिन यसरी बस्ने होला ?

कक्षा ९
श्री कान्तिईश्वरी मा.वि.

***

The girls here don’t know what the outside world is like

 

We face a lot of ups and downs in our lives, but what we are facing right now is a big issue. Where did this coronavirus come from, none of us know.

We came to our village, which is in India right after a corona outburst. Everyone stays home except for my father. He keeps going out. Every morning I wake up around 8 am and I go fetch water. I don’t know why but my parents have been fighting. I wake up to the sound of my father yelling at my mother.

Initially, we didn’t even have an Indian sim card. We felt bored and regretted coming here. Additionally, I am having issues getting along with the people here. They are much more orthodox out here. Being here reminds me of VOW Media and what we spoke about there. I don’t know for how long do we have to live like this and I panic thinking about it. We aren’t allowed to go outside, and it’s really boring here.

Girls here have no idea what life is like outside of this place. All they do is get up, cook food, eat, and sleep. They have the same routine every day and if they speak, they get yelled at for speaking. No one here likes girls speaking. This is how their day begins and night falls. I get up in the morning, eat my food, and use my mobile phone and sleep.

I don’t even have any friends here. I am always alone and how long will I be like this, I wonder?

***

Photo Credit: Simone Wenth

Happiness lies in little things

By Aparna Singh

 

It all started with an announcement on March 24 at around 8pm that there was going to be a nationwide lockdown. No one knew what it was going to look like and how long it would go on for. The first few days felt good. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a long weekend?

I binge watched pretty much all the pandemic movies in the beginning like Contagion and Outbreak. I started to get too consumed with the news, both local and global. CNN showed COVID-19 numbers rapidly increasing around the world. There were recoveries but what I only saw was deaths. Then Nepal started reporting infections too. The news drained me. I was scared and anxious. It was time to shut off the news. I also found myself comparing this pandemic to the devastating Nepal Earthquake that occurred exactly 5 years ago. I remembered the life we had back then post earthquake. Living in tents, not going to work, feeling anxious of the future. This felt like another painful reminder of the horrific incident.

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While I was at a privileged position to be working from home, I knew that there were many who did not have a roof under their heads, who could not afford three meals a day, and the essential workers for whom staying home was not an option. I felt blessed. I had a clean blue sky to look at that gave me fresh air, I had a supportive family because of whom I always had food on the table, I could listen to birds all day, play with my puppies and basically do whatever I wanted to. I was inside a perfectly safe bubble.

The first few days of the lockdown, I was determined to bring structure into my life. I tried to make my life as normal as possible. At 10 o’clock, I would dress up, do my hair and sit by my front porch with my laptop ready for work. Now that a few months have gone by, I no longer have the energy to dress up and do my hair. It’s also hard when you know that tomorrow is going to be exactly the same as today. There was no light at the end of the tunnel.

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There were days when I felt anxious about the future. So I started working out. Of course there are days when I do not feel like working out at all. But I loved doing yoga, meditation and jumping rope. I baked, cooked, made dalgona coffee and what not. Someday I felt angry, sometimes I gained a new perspective on life. I pondered if this is the new normal. I realized that I was spending unnecessarily and that I was fine not shopping for two months.

Then, we started baking our own bread, made our very first seasonal fruit jam from scratch, and ate picked vegetables from my garden. I felt independent and alive. I also grew my very first watermelon plant. For the very first time, I learned that I did not need to achieve big things to be happy. I understood that happiness lies in little things, like watching my plant thrive every day, the cool evening breeze, the rain after a hot summer day, and warm sunshine after days of heavy rain. I learned to live in the moment and realized that happiness is in the now.

***

हामी घरमा बस्ने अरु मान्छेहरु कोरोना फैलाउन बाहिर हिड्ने? 

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आज बुधवार बैशाख महिनाको अन्तिम दिन कस्तो छिटो महिना बितेको जस्तो लाग्दैछ । आज मेरो बुबाको जन्म दिन पनि हो । आज हाम्रो घरमा परिवार मात्र परिवार बसेर सानो भोज जस्तो गर्ने निर्णय भएको छ । आज मैले VOW Media को दिदीहरुसंग कुरा गरे उहाँहरुले मलाई लकडाउनमा बस्दा आफ्नो लकडाउन अनुभुती कसरी लेख्ने भनेर सिकाउनु भयो ।  उहाँहरुसंग कुरा गरेर मलाई मज्जा लाग्यो सायद धेरै दिन पछि दिदीहरुसंग बोलेर होला । मलाई कहिलेकाही यति धेरै रिस उठछ किन भने एउटा साथिलाई पनि भेट्न पाउँदैन अनि उल्टै दिदीसंग झगडा पर्छ । तर घरमा बस्दा बस्दा दिदीसंग झगडा गर्ने पनि बानी परिसक्यो झगडा पनि रमाईलै लाग्छ किन कि दिदीसंग म नै पहिला झगडा गर्छु । तर मलाई यस्तो मान्छे माथि बढी रिस उठ्छ कि । हामी चाही घर बसेर अब लकडाउन सकिन्छ भनेर बस्छौ । बाँकी अरु मान्छे चाही बाहिर निस्केर कोरोना फैलाउदै हिडछन । यस्तो कुराहरु म सोचिरहन्छु । जे भए पनि मलाई आज बुबाको जन्म दिन मनाउन मज्जा आयो ।

यस्तो समयमा पनि राजनितिक पार्टीहरु देशको नसोचि आफ्नो कुर्सी बचाउन लागेको छ ।
मलाई दुःख लग्छ ।

आज जेठ महिनाको पहिलो दिन आज खासै केही पनि भएन । मलाई थाहा थिएँन कि भारत र नेपाल बिच सिमा विवाद भईरहेको रहेछ । मेरो साथिहरुबाट थाहा पाएँ भारतले नेपालको सिमा मिचेको छ रे म त कस्तो अचम्बित भए मलाई यस्तो केही थाहा थिएन अहिले सम्म मलाई त यस्तो पनि हुन्छ? भन्ने पनि थाहा थिएन । फेरी यस्तो बेलामा पनि कस्ताो सिमा मिचेको होला जस्तो लाग्यो । सबै मिलेर बाच्न पर्ने बेलामा पनि सिमा मिचेको जस्तो लाग्यो । मेरो बुबा सधै मोवाईलमा कोरोनामा कसले कहाबाट राहत सहयोग गरेको छ? कोरोना कहाँबाट बढी फैलीएको छ भनेर हेरिरहनु हुन्छ । हाम्रो परिवारलाई लाग्थ्यो यो कोरोना नेपालमा फैलाउने प्रमुख कारण भारत हो जस्तो लाग्छ । किन कि भारतको सिमानाबाट आएका मान्छेलाई बढी कोरोना संक्रमण भएको समाचार आउँछ ।  सायद नहुन पनि सक्छ तर मलाई पनि यस्तै लाग्छ । नेपालमा कोरोना संक्रमीतको संख्या १५८ पुग्यो यसरी नै बढ्दै जाने हो भने के हुन्छ थाहा छैन । यस्तो समयमा पनि राजनितिक पार्टीहरु देशको नसोचि आफ्नो कुर्सी बचाउन लागेको छ । मलाई दुःख लग्छ । 

कक्षा ९
श्री कान्तिईश्वरी मा.वि.

***

 

People walking out to spread corona?

 

It’s Wednesday, the last day of the month. I feel the entire month passed so quickly. Today is my father’s birthday too so we have decided to have a small get together, but just us. Also, today I had a talk with the sisters from VOW Media and they explained how I can write my experience of staying in the house during the lockdown. I really enjoyed talking to them, maybe cause it had been a long time.

Sometimes I get really angry because I can’t even see my friends’ infact now I have more arguments with my sister. But, slowly I am getting used to it and sometimes I am enjoying it as well. I get really annoyed that while we are staying inside due to the lockdown, others are walking freely spreading the virus. I think a lot about such things. Anyways, whatever it is, I really enjoyed celebrating my father’s birthday today.

Today is the first day of this month, nothing much has happened. I wasn’t aware that Nepal and India were having border issues. I came to know about the border encroachment through my friends. I had no idea about it and I was completely shocked. I didn’t know there would be issues like these and especially during this pandemic. I think we all should be together during this crisis instead of all these issues regarding territorial disputes.

My father is always looking for news and updates about who is providing relief to the needy ones during this crisis and how fast is the virus spreading? My family thought that it’s India who is spreading the virus in our country because the news says that people who are coming from the Indian border are mostly affected by the virus. Maybe it’s not true but I also feel the same. There are a total of 158 COVID cases currently in Nepal, and if it’s going to increase at this rate, we don’t know what will happen. Even during this crisis, political parties are more concerned about saving their power and position instead of saving the country. I feel very sad.

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म भित्रको डरलाई फेरी ब्युँतायो कोरोनाले

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जनवरी देखि कोरोना भाईरसको बारे सुन्दै आएकी छु । नयाँ वर्षको सुरुवातमा नै विश्व भरि  नै त्रास लिएर आयो कोरोना भाईरस । त्यही समयमा अमेरीकाले ईरानलाई धम्कि दिएको थियो । त्यसको अकै त्रास थियो अनि त्यो त्रास थियो विश्व युद्ध  कतै अमेरीकाको यस्तो धम्किले विश्व युद्ध त हुने होई? एक प्रकारको डर थियो तर भएन । तर हामीलाई के थाहा थियो कि यो भन्दा नि ठुलो त्रास र संकट सबैको जिवनमा आउनेवाला थियो । हजुर त्यो संकट कोरोना भाईरस महामारी हो । जुन पुरा विश्व फैलीएको छ ।

यसरी नै यो लाग्यो की करोडौ मानिसहरुको त्रासमा मेरो नि धेरै त्रास र डर छन । म सानै देखि एकदम कम्जोर र एकदम डर पोक केटी थिएँ । सानो सानो कुरामा नि डराउने रुने केटी थिएँ धेरै पटक म टुवाईलेटमा लुकेर बसेको छु । हुँरीवतास आउँदा, भुकम्पको कुरा गर्दा, बाढी पहिरोको समाचार सुन्दा एकदमै डर लाग्थ्यो । घाँटीबाट एक एक गास खाना निल्न सक्दिनथे म । पानी पर्दा लाग्थ्यो अब बाढी पहिरो आउछ, हुरी बतास आउँदा हामीलाई उडाएर लग्छ सोच्थे तर यम्ी त साना बेलाको त्रास भयो अहिले त यि कुराहरुको त्रास छैन । तर म अहिले पनि त्यही डरपोक र कम्जोर केटी चाही हो । ति कुराहरुको त्रास नभए पनि म एकदम डरपोक किसीमको हुँ । मलाई अहिले पनि याद छ  विज्ञानको विषय पढाउने म्यामले कोरोना महामारीमा नेपाल उच्च जोखिममा पर्छ भन्दा मेरो जिउ तातेर आगो भएको थियो ।

मुटु हल्लिएर धड्कन एकदम छिटो छिटो चल्न थालेको थियो
म टेवलमा टाउको अडएर रोएको मलाई नै थाहा छैन । 

सानै देखिको त्रास र त्यो घटनाको बारेमा एकदमै गहिरिएर सोच्दा म आफैले आफैलाई किन म यति धेरै डरपोक छु भनेर प्रश्न गर्दा थाहा पाए कि मेरो जिवनको सबै भन्दा ठुलो त्रास यि कुराहरु होईन यो त्रास त मृत्यु पो रहेछ । मलाई मेरो मृत्यु देखि डर लाग्छ । तर म अहिले आफुलाई सके जति निस्कने कोशीष गर्छु र मलाई थाहा छ कि म यो त्रासबाट निस्कने छु भन्ने सोच आउँछ । 

तर फेरी यो त्रास बढाउनको लागी यो कोरोना महामारी आयो यो महामारीले मेरो त्रासलाई अझै बढायो । जति सोच्छु यो कि यो त्रासबाट बाहीर निस्कन्छु । त्यती नै भित्र जान्छु । कोरोना भाईरस यसले त मेरो मेरो त्रास र दुःख लाई मेरो जिवनमा अझै गाँजीरहेको छ । दिन रात लाग्छ की मेरो मृत्यु भयो भने! डर लाग्छ की मेरो परिवारबाट म विछोड भएँ भने! यस्ता डर र त्रासले गर्दा मैले समाचर नै पढ्नै बन्द गरि दिएँ । कोरोना महामारीको डरले हामी काठमाण्डौ देखि इन्डिया आयौ तर मलाई इन्डिया आईरहदा फेरी काठमाण्डौ फर्कन्छु की फर्कन्न भन्ने डर लाग्यो । यस्ता डर र त्रास कम गर्न सके म सम्म सकारात्मक विचारका साथै प्रेरणादायी प्रवचन र युट्युबहरुमा सुन्ने गरीराछु । आफैले आफैलाई भन्छु हाम्रो डाक्टरहरु सक्षम छन् । उनिहरुले हामी सबैलाई बचाउन सक्छन् र बचाउने छन् भनेर आफैले आफैलाई भन्छु । सम्झाउँछु की यो कोरोनाबाट मृत्यु धेरै भईसकेको छ तर मृत्यु भन्दा धेरै गुणा मान्छेहरु निको पनि भईरहेका छन् । अनि दिनरात आशा गर्छु की यसको केही न त केही समाधान वा उपचार त अवश्य भेट्टाउँछ एक दिन ।  

 

कक्षा ९
१७मे २०२०
श्री कान्तिईश्वरी मा.वि.

***

 

Corona has revived the fear inside me

 

I have been hearing about coronavirus since January. Corona came along with the New Year spreading dreadful consequences all over the world. During the same time, America had threatened Iran. That was another fear and it was concerning world war. What if there will be a world war because of what America said? There was a strange fear, thankfully nothing happened. But, there was a bigger fear and bigger concern and it was of coronavirus.

Ever since I was little, I have always been a weak and sensitive girl. I cry over small little things and many times I’ve cried alone in the toilet. Be it thunderstorms, earthquakes, or news about landslides, I get really scared. When it rained, I used to think there will be thunderstorms and landslides and we will die. But these were mostly during my childhood; I don’t have these fears anymore. I still am the same sensitive girl though. I still remember during science class when my teacher had mentioned that Nepal is highly vulnerable to coronavirus, my body had heated up rapidly. My palpitation had increased and unknowingly I was crying.

After a lot of self-introspection, I had realized why I was such a sensitive girl. I figured out that my biggest fear was death. I fear that I will die. Now I try my best to overcome this fear and I believe someday I will.

However, due to this coronavirus, my fear has only increased. The more I think about it, the more intense it gets. I am constantly thinking what if I die? What if I get separated from my family? Now I have stopped reading any news because it only makes things worse for me.  Me and my family came to India during this pandemic, but I worry if we will ever get back to Kathmandu. I spend a lot of time working on positive thinking and listening to the motivational speech on Youtube to fight with my fear and anxieties. I remind myself that doctors are efficient and competent. They can do anything; they will save us. I keep telling myself that of course there are many who have died because of this virus, but there are even more people who are recovering. I hope some solution will be found eventually.

***

कहिले पो रोकथाम हुने हो यो भाईरस?

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देशभरी फैलँदै गएको महामारी कोभिड—१९ कोरोना भाईरसले गर्दा हाम्रो समाज र जीवनमा धेरै असर पारेको छ । यो कोरोना भाईरस सरुवा रोग हो । यो रोग एक व्यक्तिबाट अर्कोमा सजिलै सर्न सक्छ ।

यो रोगबाट धेरै मानिसहरुले आफ्ना आफन्त परिवारजन गुमाएका छन् । यो रोगका कारण धेरैको घरमा चुलो निभेको छ । मानिसहरु आफ्नै घर भित्र कैदी जस्तै थुनिएर बस्नु परेको छ । बाहिरको स्वच्छ वातावरणको हावा नपाएका कारणले दिमागी रोगले सताएका छन् र यसले गर्दा हामी जस्ता साना बालबालिकाहरुको पढाई छुटेको छ । धेरैजना मोबाईल, टि.भी., ईन्टरनेट जस्ता साधनमा ध्यान दिन थालेकाले पछि गएर अनेक रोग जस्तै टाउको दुख्ने, आँखामा समस्या आउने जस्ता समस्या आउन सक्छ ।

स—साना बालबालिकामा मात्र नभएर ठूला मानिसहरु पनि अहिले यसमा नै रमाउन थालेका छन् । कतिपय मानिसहरु गाउँ फर्कन वाध्य भएका छन् । यो कोरोना भाईरसको कारणले धेरै मानिसहरु मृत्युको मुखमा पुगेका छन् ।

अस्मिता भुजेल
कक्षा ९
श्री कन्या माध्यमिक विद्यालय, यट्खा

***

When will this virus be prevented?

 

Everyone’s life has been greatly affected due to this COVID -19 coronavirus. This virus is communicable. It can easily be transferred from one person to another.
Because of this virus, many people have lost their loved ones. Many are unable to feed themselves. People are forced to live inside their own houses like prisoners. Many are facing mental issues because they cannot go outside and children like us cannot study since all the schools are closed. Most of the people are over-utilizing their mobile phones, laptops, the internet, etc which can lead to various problems like headaches, eye strain, dry eyes, etc.

It’s not just the children, even adults have begun to overindulge themselves in internet. Many are forced to go back to their villages. A lot of people are at death’s door because of the coronavirus.

***

Corona days have tested us all, in many ways

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By Pooja Pant

 

Women are dying during and after childbirth. More than 800 people have committed suicide in these days of lockdown. Men died during the long walk back to their villages. People are dying from hunger slowly. The quarantine facilities built by the government are spreading covid instead of helping to control it. Daily wage workers are dying in the streets. 

Photo Credit : Rakesh Tiwari
Photo Credit : Rakesh Tiwari

Migrant workers are stuck with no help from any government. How they will feed themselves in a land away from their own – with no jobs doesn’t concern the government. Dead bodies were waiting in line to come back home for the final rites – they are now being cremated wherever they died. Does anything about the fate of the citizens concern our government? Or are they just too busy drawing new maps, making new laws that put an end to our privacy, fighting about who gets to be prime minister next, trying to figure out how to lap up the millions of dollars that was supposed to help people? We citizens; sit at home silently waiting for our deaths while we let these parasites feed on our blood.

 

We all feel a little down. A little overwhelmed. A little anxious. A little creative some days and an absolute dry spell on other days. A little hard to focus. 

3776501Corona days have tested us all in many ways. It has made us think, reflect and see things in our homes and communities that maybe had been easier to ignore before. It has made us slow our pace and listen to birds sing. It has forced us to think about how we feel, what we see, how we have been tested and how we can come out of this stronger than ever before. It has clearly shown us the class and gender differences in our society. For some, these days have been about how to beat hunger and for some, these days have been about learning how to cook better. For some, these days have become quality time with their families and for some, these days means trying to stay out of people’s ways to avoid getting hurt. 

Personally, at any given time I can feel both very vulnerable and strong. It has made me think a lot – about what is really important in life. It is a time of tests, stress and just trying to be in the present. Not thinking about the future or the past. Not thinking about what was and what will be but what is. In the beginning, all I could think about was how this will soon pass and I can return to life as I knew it and had planned and wanted it to be like. But now, all those ideas and thoughts are gone. There is no such thing as normal. There is no future. 

I wanted to see the sky and fly;
if not in reality then in my imagination.
But I couldn’t.

My 2-year-old has taught me a lot, most importantly, the value of  living in the present. For her, there is no tomorrow. She does not hold on to ideas of the past. There is only NOW. What she wants changes from moment to moment. And she lives gregarious in that present. The circumstances around her does not matter. As long as she is mentally or physically stimulated, all is good around her. 

img1I have spent many days feeling utterly claustrophobic. The house I call home currently is in the middle of Kathmandu, literally a 2-minute walk from Kathmandu Durbar Square. While it definitely has its perks of being in the middle of the city, there are also aspects that are not all that. One of the most blatantly glaring minuses of my home during the lockdown is the crowded space that we share. All the houses are adjoined to one another and when I go to the rooftop for some space and air, I realize that my sky is totally divided. I do not have access to an absolute open sky. I cannot see the horizon. There are taller buildings that block my sky. It trapped me. I choked. I wanted to see the sky and fly; if not in reality then in my imagination. But I couldn’t. I kept crashing onto one building or another. Some days it has been truly horrible. 

Unable to bear it anymore, one day, I went for a walk (of course, wearing a mask and maintaining physical distance). I saw a friend who is also a neighbor and remembered that he has a nice bicycle. I asked to borrow his bicycle and finally after inflating the tyre, I held a bicycle handle after 3 years. After living in Amsterdam for 7 years, I used to be an absolute bicycle fiend. I came back to Nepal and everyone I knew, knew me as the woman who cycled around crazy Kathmandu traffic.

 ‘Buy a scooter.’ 

‘Come On, you lived in Europe and you don’t even have a car.’ 

‘What will people say? You ride a bicycle and get to places in your dusty clothes and grimy face? All sweaty’

So many comments from family followed my bicycling habit. But one fine day, 3 years ago I went to the gynecologist and he said to me “You are pregnant. Now the first thing I want you to do is dump the bicycle.” I was shocked. “Why? In Amsterdam women with huge bellies go around on their bicycles. Why can’t I?’ I asked him. 

He looked at me. 

“Look around you. Does this look like Amsterdam? Do the roads look like Dutch roads? Does the horrendous dust and traffic look like Dutch conditions? Listen to me. Do not ride your bicycle. Do not even ride scooters or motorbikes if you want your baby to be safe”.

And this put an end to my bicycling. 

So in the midst of uncertain times of pandemic COVID-19, I renewed my friendship with an old friend – a Giant bicycle! 

This was what got me out of my feeling of being restrained. I rode. I felt the wind through my hair. I experienced empty roads of Kathmandu with Jacaranda flowers paving my path. I felt free. I finally felt alive again. 

The pandemic has forced us indoors. Face to face with ourselves. For those who have indoors – these doors, windows and walls have made us claustrophobic at times and safe at other times. For those who have no indoors – this world has once again shown them how brutal it can be. 

Photo Credit : Xinhua News
Photo Credit : Xinhua News

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लकडाउन, बिरामी छोरा अनि एक आमा

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मञ्जु जि.सी

 

कोरोना भाईरस संक्रमण विश्वभर फैलिने क्रम बिस्तारै ईरान, इटली, हुँदै सबै तिर फैलिँदै थियो । यसका लक्षणहरु रुघा, खोकी, उच्च ज्वरो भन्ने बिभिन्न टिभी, रेडियो सामाजिक सन्जालहरु सबैतिर आइरहेको थियो । सरकारले पनि स्कुलहरुलाई चैत ५ गते सम्ममा परिक्षा सक्नु भनि सकेको थियो । चैत ३ गते बाबुको जन्मदिन थियो । बच्चाको रहर अनुसार केक अर्डर गरी सामान्य तरिकाले जन्मदिन मनायौं । ४ गते बेलुका छोरालाई ज्वरो आयो । भोलिपल्ट अलि कम भयो । अब त आउँदैनकी जस्तो लाग्यो तर रातीबाट फेरी ज्वरो आउन सरु भयो । समचारमा बारम्बार महामारीको संक्रमित बढेको र त्यसकोे लक्षणहरु दोहोर्याई रहेको थियो ।

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उसको बाबा पनि यहाँ हुनुहुन्न । कोरोनाको लक्षणमा ज्वरो आउने, रुघा लाग्ने, खोकी लाग्ने भन्ने छ । बाबुलाई रुघा लागेको थिएन, ज्वरो भने १०० डिग्री भन्दा माथि थियो अनि खोकी हल्का थियो । विश्व त्रसित भएको बेला म नहुने कुरै भएन । ज्वरोको औषधी घरमै थियो । औषधी खाए पछि ज्वरोले छाड्ने अनि औषधीले छुन छोडेपछि फेरी आउन सरु गथ्र्यो । रातभर उज्यालो कति बेला हुन्छ भन्ने लागि रह्यो । यत्तिकैमा चराचुरुंगीहरु कराउन थाले, मान्छेहरु हिँड्न सुरु भयो । एक पटक अस्पताल लान पर्यो भनेर सँधै लगिराखेको हात्तिसारको क्लिनिकमा लगें । डाक्टरले हेरेर “खासै केही छैन, यो भाइरल ज्वरो हो । खुवाइ राखेको औषधी खुवाउनु” भनेपछी मन केही हल्का भयो । घर लिएर आएँ । बाबुले केहि खान मान्दैन थियो । कर गरेर केहि खुवाएर औषधी खुवाएँ तर आज सन्चो होला भोली सन्चो होला भन्यो हुँदैन । औषधीको समयसम्म ठीक हुन्छ अनि फेरी काम्दै ज्वरो आउँछ । दिनमा त ठीकै हुने तर रातभरी एउटा आमाले मात्र लिएर बस्दा यो आमाको मनले के के सोच्छ के के?

४ दिन सम्म पनि ज्वरो ठीक नभएपछि फेरि एक पटक देखाउन पर्यो भनेर त्यहीं लगें । एकपटक रगत जाँच्न भन्नु भयो डाक्टरले । रगतको रिपोर्ट पर्सि मात्र आउँछ भन्नु भयो । त्यति बेलासम्म नेपालमा लकडाउन भएको थिएन । तर भोलिपल्टबाट अकस्मात सरकारले लकडाउनको घोषणा गर्यो ।

अब रिपोट के गर्ने ? रिपोर्टमा के पो भन्ने हुन् भन्ने चिन्ता लाग्न थाल्यो । बाबुलाई सञ्चो हुने कुनै छाँट देखिएको थिएन । ६ दिन भई सक्यो ज्वरो घटेको हैन । ६ दिनको बिहानै रिपोर्टको लागि फोन गरेँ । लकडाउनको कारण सबै सेवा बन्द गरेको कारण रिपोर्ट पठाऊन असमर्थ छौं भनेपछी मन झन आत्तियो । बच्चा बिरामी हुँदा एक आमाको मन थामिने कुरा भएन । आफूले जानेसुनेका सबै उपाय खोजें । अनलाईनमा कान्ति बाल अस्पतालको नम्बर राखिएको रहेछ । नम्बर टिपेर फोन गरें । फोन उठ्ने बित्तिकै मलाई सोधियो, “तपाईंकोमा बाहिरबाट कोही आएको छ?” मैले नढाँटी छ भनें । अनि कहाँबाट आएको? कहिले? त्यसो भए तरुन्त टेकू अस्पताल लिएर जानु भन्ने उत्तर आयो । मेरो छोरोलाई भाईरल ज्वरो हो, चेक गरिसकें भन्ने मौकासम्म नदिई फोन काटियो । तर वास्तवमा भाई आउनु भन्दा पहिलो दिनमा नै बाबुलाई ज्वरो आइसकेको थियो । उहाँ सेल्फ क्वारेन्टाईनमा बस्नु भएको थियो । उहाँको सबै कुरा छुटै थियो । यस्तो परिस्थितिमा टेकू कसरी जाने? नभएको रोग पनि फेरि लाग्ने हो की? भन्ने डर भयो ।

घर छिमेकी वडा सदस्य हुनुहुन्थ्यो । उहाँले हिजो मात्रै केही भयो भने फोन गर्नु भन्नु भएको थियो । फोन गरेँ । उहाँले तुरुन्त एम्बुलेन्स बोलाएर नजिकैको टिचिङ्ग अस्पताल लिएर जान सल्लाह दिनु भयो । यो समयमा सहज तरिकाले गरेको सहयोगले मन जित्यो र मनमा प्रश्न उठ्यो के सबैका छिमेकी र जनप्रतिनिधि भनिने वडा सदस्यहरूले यसरी नै सहयोग गरेका छन् ?

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टिचिङ्ग अस्पतालको गेटमा ज्वरो नाप्न राखिएको रहेछ । सबैको ज्वरो नाप्यो । बाबुको ज्वरो थिएन । बाबुको ज्वरो त्यति बेला औषधीले गर्दा होला घटेको थियो । अस्पताल भित्र पस्यौं । कोरोनाले सबै त्रास भएको बेला ज्वरो भनेपछी सबै स्वास्थ्यकर्मीहरु पनि अलि फरक व्यवहार गरे जस्तो गर्ने भएका रहेछन् । परैबाट कहिलेबाट आएको ज्वरो? अलि उतै बस्नु है भन्दै सबै सोधपुछ गरे । औषधी खाइ राखेको भन्ने बुझेपछि औषधीको मात्रा नपुगेर जस्तो छ । खुवाई राखेको औषधी नखुवाउनु भन्दै पहिलाको मात्रा कम भयो भनेर केही डोज थपेर नयाँ औषधी लेखिदिनु भयो । औषधी किनेर त्यहि ऐम्बुलेन्समा फर्कियौं ।

घरमा आएर ६ घण्टाको फरकमा ३ पटक औषधी खुवाएपछि बाबुलाई ज्वरोले भोलीपल्टै छोड्यो । त्यसपछि अलिअलि खाने कुराहरु पनि खान थाल्यो । मेरो मनमा भएका अनेक त्रासहरू बिस्तारै कम हुन थाले । बाबुमा क्रमिक सुधार देखिन थालेको थियो । तर विश्वमा भने दिनानुदिन संक्रमितहरुको संख्या बढेको बढ्यै छ ।

यो लेख्दै गर्दा देश भित्र पनि तेस्रो चरणमा संक्रमित पुगेको छ । यो अवस्थामा सबै घरमै बसौं, स्वस्थ रहौं, आफ्नो स्वास्थ्यको ख्याल गरौं । यो परिस्थितिमा कोही आमाहरूलाई मेरो जस्तो पीडा भोग्न नपरोस् भनी प्रार्थना गर्दछु ।

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