Hearing of the violence in Kailali, my first reaction was to chide myself for posting about the Valley’s half-bandh. My jokey tweet now appeared wholly inappropriate, and irrelevant. I deleted it. I began scrolling through the fragments of news reaching me through the wires. The act of reacting to the carnage both tamped down my dismay and horror and stoked it until, eventually, I had to get up and walk around, rubbing fingers over aching eyes. The dog looked at me hopefully, I looked at the dusky sky over southern Lalitpur, but the mountains, as always, kept me from the rest of the country.
I made myself a cup of tea and tried to get back to work, but every couple of minutes curiosity led me back to social media. Eventually I stopped liking, retweeting, replying. A sense of helplessness permeated me. Sitting there alone in the spacious, parqueted ground floor flat we’ve been renting since the earthquake chased us out of our castle in the sky, looking forward to a packet of Korean noodles and perhaps a drink, too, I could not be further away from the heat and dust of Kailali. The frustration rising in waves from the protestors, coagulating into a mob’s blind fury, directed at those across from them. The anxiety of the security personnel, hardened by the intransigence of those pushing towards them. What moved first? A trigger or a sickle? What was heard in those last jostling moments before the dam burst? Once in motion, nothing could take it back, no matter the wreckage, it was done.
Blood, sweat and tears have been shed again, and I am still no closer to understanding what lies in the hearts of those who pretend to know what they are doing. Do we care enough for this imagined community of ours to examine what we are doing, and hold it up to the light?