They would always try to slow me down: Santoshi Shrestha

Whenever I remember my childhood some memories come to my mind which makes me very happy. And those memories make complete sense of who I am today. I don’t remember playing with toy dolls like other girl child, may be because I had more male friends than females. I used to play football and dandibiyo, a complete male dominated game back in the days. That may be the reason why I walk faster than others. But my mother and grandfather and most of all, my neighbors, hated it. They’d always try to slow me down whenever they saw me walking fast. They believed that a girl shouldn’t walk so fast. It was one of those proverbs that were implied solely on women for stupidest reasons one could find in the planet. But my grandmother, contrary to those existing conservative ideas, always told me to walk how I wanted to. She inspired me and motivated me to walk ahead and run faster.

They’d always try to slow me down whenever they see me walking fast. They believed that a girl shouldn’t walk so fast.

I was 8 years when I moved to Kathmandu with my brothers in pursuit of better education. Kathmandu was completely new to us. Even though my elder brother was young, he was responsible for us. After him, it was me who had to take all household responsibilities including taking care of my younger brother. I was shy in nature and a pretty quiet girl. I was scared to talk to people so I chose to remain quiet than speak. Life in Kathmandu was way too hard, more than we expected, in the village.

I studied at Gitamata School in Kathmandu. Our school organized a program ‘Gitamata Star’ which had various other competitions including Athletics. I participated in all competitions except dance. As I naturally walked fast and ran even faster, I decided to take part in the running competition. I registered my name for it. Later I realized I needed proper shoes to run and most importantly formal techniques and skill. I became hesitant to compete and thought of excluding my name as all my other friends were retreating from it. Meanwhile, our teacher announced a monetary penalty for those students who wanted to remove their names from the competition. Even though I wanted to remove my name, I wouldn’t dare to ask my brother for money. So I was forced to run.  I became first in that running competition.

received_1597777560312771After a year, Red Cross Society sent an invitation to my school for another competition. Six students had to partake and I became fifth during the selection round. Everyone appreciated it as I competed and secured winning positions without any formal training. Many competitions kept coming. I also became second in the valley level championship. After that, my teachers would nominate me for any other competitions without even thinking.

In the school running club a senior student, who was also passionate and wanted to be a professional runner, guided me. I became more interested in running but I never thought to be an athlete. During school days, I had far too many responsibilities. Managing time for my studies, training and household chores was pretty tough. As soon as the bell rang at 10 o’ clock, I had to rush for school. I used to come back home during lunch break to wash dishes because I had to queue to get some water after my school. As night fell, I would run on the roads of Kathmandu to train myself, without fear or embarrassment.

I was a bit confused. It was more like a fear of obstructing my education while focusing on the game.

During high school, I couldn’t give much time to athletics due to my studies and responsibilities. I participated in junior and school level competitions only. After a year gap, I took part in an open competition with the support of my seniors and my brother. I secured third position without training. Then, everyone suggested me to continue but I was worried about my studies. I was a bit confused. It was more like a fear of obstructing my education while focusing on the game. In the midst of these confusions and uncertainty, I kept participating in the competitions. I’d run whenever and wherever I could. I couldn’t give my full time to running until I finished my bachelor’s degree. I was also offered a contract by a sports club but I had to refuse it because I couldn’t manage my time.

I would constantly worry about my career. I would think about how to possibly balance my studies and my running but somehow I’d completely mismanage. There are instances when I couldn’t participate in district level games because of my exams. I cried, totally disheartened. And there were other times when I would fail to participate because of lack of money and connections. And then again, some other times, I couldn’t participate because I was a girl. A girl leaving her home to participate in games outside the district was problematic.

Time passed between these days of dilemma.

IMG-0d8536d3d2a9fcc5925761cbd1b1f82f-VI would train myself. Although my brother was not from this field, he taught me whatever he knew. I wanted someone to coach me in the evenings but no one was ready for that. When I was in the final year of my Bachelor’s degree, a coach contacted me. But I ignored him because I wanted to focus on my studies. I thought I would not be punctual and would just be wasting his time. He seemed to be a very philosophical, positive and over all a good person. He convinced me well. He agreed to train me whenever I had free time. He trained me on the roads of Kathmandu in the evenings. He didn’t put a lot of pressure on me. Once I was done with my Bachelor’s degree, he finally started to train me on a regular basis.

My training and job would go hand-in-hand. I realized that working full time and running at the same time was more difficult than studying and running. Luckily, my workplace supported me a lot. After training, an athlete must rest for two hours. Instead of resting, I had to go work on an empty stomach.  Most of my competitors were from athletic clubs. I had a nagging fear about whether all that hard work would be worth it or  not.

I joined Tribhuvan University for my Master’s Degree. I had to go to college in the morning and office during the day. My coach would often ask me, ‘When will you do your training?’ So I started doing regular training at 4 in the morning and jogging at 7 in the evening. It was a hectic life for me and also for my coach.

IMG-6187I talked with my family and coach and decided to stop studies. I felt unhappy for a while after but now I’m grateful for that decision. Slowly, I also quit my job to focus on national games. I had to prove myself better in the national game to take part in the South Asian level. I performed well in the national game and also grabbed a gold medal in 13th South Asian Game in the race of 10,000 meter. I cannot define how I felt to know that I became a first Nepali woman to win gold in athletics.

Now, I am doing my Master’s Degree in Public Administration and also preparing for Master’s Degree in Public Health. I am also working as a sports program officer where I train and empower girls of Nalang, Dhading through sports.

I want to set an example for upcoming generation that we can balance both study and sports together. And we must not bind ourselves in anything small. We should experience this world and life. From a young age I heard many people saying that one should not step in two boats. But now I realize if  I had stopped doing what I loved the most, I’d not reach the point where I am now.

I wouldn’t have reached here without a supportive coach, family members and my friends.




All photos received from Santoshi Shrestha.

यहाँको केटीहरुलाई बाहिरको संसार कस्तो हुन्छ थाहै छैन

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.


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.


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? 

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.


म भित्रको डरलाई फेरी ब्युँतायो कोरोनाले

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?

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

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


लकडाउन, बिरामी छोरा अनि एक आमा

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 ।


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 ?


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 ।


Musings of a tired soul

By Deepa Rai


My nephew was born on 22 March 2020, just two days before the lockdown. The news of newly set up ‘fever clinic’ in Patan hospital was enough to give its patients and their families- chills. Rumor of a recently admitted COVID-19 patient was also doing rounds in the maternity ward. Contrary to our expectations, we were happy that the newest member of our family didn’t get the usual welcome visits by family and friends. Amidst the fear of pandemic, indifferent hospital staff and a pediatrician who didn’t know how to unzip onesie (commented that the baby should be wearing ‘easy’ outfit so that he could check the baby more quickly and disappear just as fast as he had come in), my brother and sister-in-law waited patiently to return home.

25 March arrived but the ambulance they had booked in advance, didn’t. Their wait was little over three hours on the day they were discharged from hospital. They finally made it home in a taxi that was dropping off an emergency patient. Sheer luck that they found one.

1While I was posting this incident on twitter (image on the right), I was thinking of those in similar situations in far-flung districts. How would new mothers fare in such situations? Lack of vehicle coordination in one hospital had already seen several patients stranded in its premises. This was only the beginning of lockdown effects that the country was to face. It was a grim realization of what was yet to come.

For the next two months, grocery shopping, buying essentials for newborn, cooking,  all of these chores got shared among the big family of 11. Attending virtual meetings with toddlers constantly knocking on the door became a new normal. I became an accidental chef to my own surprise (and that of my family). ‘Extremely busy’ became the new normal too. Juggling house chores with professional work had a different meaning. ‘How can I be fully productive when I have to shift from one role to the next without a break?’ This question kept hitting me but then I surprised myself, yet again. It could be done. It needed to be done.

The news of people on their long march home having lost their jobs due to lockdown made me realize the state of vulnerability that our state was in. No, I couldn’t be moaning about having a busy worklife. I trudged on, though frustrated, insecure, agitated and at times, angry – much to the dismay of my family who had to bear the brunt of my behavior. That makes me come to yet another revelation of the lockdown, of how lucky I was to be with my family –  children’s constant shouting, and crying for attention included.

‘What are we doing’ as a nation to help them?
The desperation is real but limitations, even more so.
I shut down the news for a week.

A close friend reminisced about the humble lives she had met in the past in a short memoir, wondering how they are surviving during lockdown. The heart-felt piece left me feeling guilty of the privilege that I was in. It brought up the same question of ‘what are we doing’ as a nation to help them? The desperation is real but limitations, even more so. I shut down the news for a week.

Other friends are busy posting photos on social media of their new found passion for baking, mithai-making and tiktok-ing, a cool respite from the burning issues of hunger, hysteria and the helplessness that pandemic has brought in. This goes on to show that despite of frustration and agitation, we are surviving and slowly conquering the pandemic, by staying home, by staying sane and by spreading love albeit in distance.

A quote shared by another close friend hits home for all of us.



Respect, indeed!


From a big kitchen to bigger ones: Manila Tamrakar

I can only imagine how happy my family members must have been when I was born. I was the first grandchild to be born in my house. A Laxmi is born, someone must have said. In an extended family, led by grandparents, I must say that I definitely grew up pampered. But I wasn’t spoilt. At a very early age, I had started to take care of all my younger siblings.

We grew up playing in the little courtyard of our house in Dhokatole, Kathmandu. I had to be my sibling’s parent and friend at the same time. We’d play, study and eat together. I remember, each lunch and dinner was like a feast. Fifteen family members eating at the same time turned any ordinary meal into a Newar jho-bhwe style feast. My mother and aunties would prepare food and I’d help them by going to the market, buying vegetables and essentials.

Looking back, I’d say that my family was not that conservative when it came to educating the girl child. I was sent to the neighborhood girls-only school where I completed my school leaving certificate. I also completed my intermediate from Shankar Dev Campus. My brothers and cousins went to co-ed schools. Back in those days, parents would worry about their girls ‘reputation’. They believed that educating girls too much would make them ‘spoilt’ – their way to describe independent women those days. I was a decent student and doing well with my studies. I had plans to enroll into a bachelor’s study.

But I raised my concern over my study –
they said I could continue it after my marriage.

Meanwhile, a wedding proposal arrived from a well-to-do family. One evening, I was taken to the market in the pretext of buying clothes for Dashain. But the motive was that the man would get to see his probable wife-to-be. I had no choice of agreeing or disagreeing to it. But in my head, I was clear that I should focus on my studies. ManilaTamrakar_sheisthestory_1My birth astrological chart was taken to match with his. It matched perfectly they said. We weren’t raised to question our elders. In those days, you could not even raise your eyebrows to your parents. The wedding got fixed. But I raised my concern over my study – they said I could continue it after my marriage.

I was just 19 years old when I got married and moved from one giant family to another. I felt everything emotionally that a 19 years old ambitious girl would think to be sent to another family all of a sudden. I can’t even express the level of anxiety, pressure, embarrassment, nervousness that I had on those days.

I became another hand to help in the chores of this new unfamiliar house. I became another assistant in the kitchen where they’d cook food for another big family. I got scared to see the rice-cooker my in-laws would be cooking rice in. I remember the first day in the kitchen quivering until I finished making cauliflower curry for them. Although I grew up in a big family, I never had to cook at home. I would often make mistakes. Miscalculating portions, adding less or more salt, under or over-cooking kept happening. Gradually I got accustomed to it and life in the big kitchen got normal.

ManilaTamrakar_sheisthestory_3True to their word, my in-laws let me join college for my bachelor’s. I’d wake up in the morning at 4am to not miss any classes. I’d try to focus on my studies in-between my family responsibilities. Regardless of having too much chores to do, I completed my bachelor’s. I promptly enrolled myself into a Master’s program as well but I got pregnant and gave birth. A girl. Laxmi is born in the house, someone had said. After the child, it became impossible to continue my education. I had completed a semester of the Master’s program too but that went in vain. 6 years passed being a mother and then we had another baby. This time a girl child again, but not a definite Laxmi this time. Some of my in-laws were not that happy with a second girl child. I heard them saying “Oh no, not a girl again!”

But it didn’t matter to me. What mattered most, was my husband being happy about it. I knew I would be forced to have another child and try for a boy next time. Various nonchalant ways of putting pressure on me didn’t stop. Right then, my husband got transferred to Pokhara to work in the industrial estate, in a bakery factory. In one hand, it was a blessing to stop being pressured to have another child, on the other hand – I’d have to leave my families behind. We moved with two girls, one was only six-months new, to this new city to start our livelihood from scratch, with heavy hearts far away from all familiar faces. It took me a couple of months to get used to life in the new city but I adapted. Slowly my kids adapted too.

ManilaTamrakar_sheisthestory_2Years passed, we upgraded from our bakery factory into the restaurant business. I had both my children going to one of the best school in the city. I wanted them to get better education than me under any circumstances. Amidst all those days of business going up and down, we made sure their education wasn’t hindered. Today, both my girls have completed their bachelors and are successfully working in their respective fields. And I’m sure they’ll pursue an even higher level of education soon, unlike their mother.

Big utensils, same big rice-cookers, lots of food and vegetables.
It is a nostalgia I’m living in here even after so many years
of leaving my born place.

My husband and I own a chain of restaurants now. I am a supervisor in the cafeteria of Manipal Teaching Hospital. I make sure the food provided in there is healthy. I overlook and take care of 70 staff members who help us run the business. I feed doctors and nurses nutritious food so they can take care of others. But even today, after all these years, whenever I go into the kitchen, I feel like a small kid peeking into the kitchen of my house. Big utensils, same big rice-cookers, lots of food and vegetables. It is a nostalgia I’m living in here even after so many years of leaving my born place. It’s sentimental how I see my regular customers as my family members sharing their food experiences. I listen to their compliments and grievances about our food. I answer them, “not everyone has the same taste, we’ll make sure to match up to yours next time,” like I’d answer to my in-laws back in my Kathmandu home.

I never thought I would be in a position of leadership, entrepreneurship, and independence as I am now. After I was married off so young, I thought my life would be spent inside the 4 walls of my house. But here I am, successfully leading an army of staff.  I’m 52 now.  If I have to define life, I’d say – Life is like a hot-and-sour soup. It’s filled with sweet and spicy memories together. You keep stirring and sipping it, once spoon at a time. At times I step back and appreciate the life I have today, blessed with a supportive husband and two aspiring girls. Aspired to become ‘spoilt’ women – their way to describe independent women these days.




Laxmi – a hindu goddess of wealth.
Jho-bhwe – a traditional feast where people sit on the floor and eat.
Dashain – a hindu festival.
Pokhara – a lake city in the western Nepal.


Photo Credit : Manila Tamrakar, Bikkil Sthapit