~Sharmila Khadka Dahal~
Translated by :Ramchandra KC/Shankar Babu Acharya
Dear storywriter Diwakar Nepali! I was that unlucky woman, who had to be separated before saturated with your words of thanks. You might have forgotten the moment and the day, but how can I forget them? If possible, I wish that moment be a ray of sunlight, which I could get every morning. I wish that moment be a warm quilt, which I could wrap around me during the cold nights. I wish that moment be a cool fragrance, which I could breathe in the summer. I wish the moment be a canvas, where our stories could be written, but this is also not possible.
A bus heading for Jogbani from Biratnagar―that day I was going to Jogbani as usual. It was not possible to get a seat as I got into the bus in the middle of its journey. It might rather be possible to win a lottery in noodles, but to get a seat riding the bus in the middle of the journey is like winning the lottery of hundreds of millions. A man suddenly rose from his seat, beside which I was standing, and got off. I really won the lottery. Another man was still there. I had not noticed him properly. The man was wearing French-styled hat and was in his fifties. I was about to sit beside him when he said, “Please, be seated here.” I found closeness in his words. Then I looked at him head to heels. I must have seen him somewhere, heard or read him somewhere.
“Where are you going?”
I reply him analytically.
“Thank God! I am also going to Jogbani, came from Kathmandu and I do not know well about the road. It would be good if you helped me.”
This unknown stranger was urging me for a help. What do I say to him in the present situation? What kind of person he could be? The word “Yes” slipped through my mouth while I was pondering.
“Would you tell me where do you live here?”
“Tintolia.” How could a man of Kathmnandu know Tintolia?
“Where do you work then?”
“I am a librarian in a campus.”
“I am Diwakar Nepali and came from Kathmandu. I need to buy some goods. Would you mind helping me, sister?”
I am delighted as soon as I heard the name ‘Diwakar Nepali’. Oh! I am speaking with my favorite author from so close. I had never imagined it in my life. The time was morning. The sunlight was struggling with fog in its attempt to come out. The bus was running with its intermittent stops on the way. However, I was unmindful about when the bus used to stop unnecessarily in some places. Instead, my heart was flying high wearing the feathers of happiness. I am having this chance to hear my favorite author today. My heart pounds faster and in such moments, I usually remember God. I feel myself a bit inconvenient. He might have noticed a little impatience in me.
“Okay thanks, don’t worry if you have inconvenience. I myself will buy the things for me and return.”
I say with restlessness, “No….No….It’s not like that. I will surely help you. You are from Kathmandu, a new person is cheated here.” I cannot tell him the truth that I wanted to spend maximum time with him. I was being unable to tell him that he was my beloved storywriter. He might not have behaved with me in a normal way if only I told him that. Exposing him open, I wanted to read him, wanted to see him scattered into each word. I had been getting the image of his strange behavior by reading his stories, but now I was trying to study him at physical level. That is why I was giving him my identity as a stranger, not as an avid reader of his stories.
I start making an interim plan. After the completing to purchase things in Jogbani, I will take him in a rickshaw. He will be with me about half an hour on the way back. At that time, I will tell him everything about myself. Then I will take his mobile number and e-mail address too.
How my interest in literature increased―it does have a story. Near my house, there used to live a wholesaler of Hindi magazines. Before marriage, I would have enough time and used to read Grihashova, Manorama, Kadambini, Sarita, among others. Those days, only a few Nepali magazines were in the market. The stories published in those magazines aroused a deep interest for stories in me. I used to be an avid reader of the stories of Prem Chand, Rabindranath Tagore, Satya Jit Ray. The wholesaler also would give me books to read as much as I wanted. I was settled in Biratnagar after my marriage. After marriage, I got a job as a librarian in a campus. There used to be frequent leisure times in the library, and discussions and interactions about the books helped to grow my interest in stories or fictions. I started to read the books of stories or fiction written by national and international writers. In the course of reading, author Diwakar’s story impressed me a lot. Thereafter, I started to read his each story. His stories analyze the man-woman relationship in such a way that the readers would forget themselves whether they are males or females. In his artistically written stories, the reader would forget whether they are living in past or future. These characteristic features of stories had fascinated me. His new stories would often come on the websites. I would read them. Then the stories would be published in the magazines. But, the same stories published on magazines would be stale to me.
There would have been interactions about his stories in the library. We generally talked about books. We felt proud if we could tell the names of Nepali or foreign writers after reading something. To be frank, I would feel proud to take the names of foreign writers such as Maupassant, Kafka, Leo Tolstoy, Knut Hamsun, Ernest Hemingway, Tasalima Nasarin, Samarset Mom etc. as if I was an expert of English literature. Thus, I would spend time reading books while many other women spent their time watching serials. Sometimes, I wished I could write stories. Once, a strong interest of writing stories came upon my mind. For a number of days’ brainstorming, I had given birth to a plot of a story. It was a holiday, when I sat to write the story. No sooner had I started writing, my daughter came to me saying she was hungry. As I was heating milk to feed her, son came to ask for money to buy a bunch of robber band chungi to play with. I had no change in my purse. So, I sent him with a hundred-rupee note, telling him to return the money after buying. Daughter also insisted to go with him and went. After a few minute, both returned with handful of things of that one hundred rupees note. Looking at the things, I started to scold them. The milk had already boiled over. When I sat to write after a while, a neighboring sister came to ask for cement. How should I say that I had no cement, while actually I had? I just came to know that she needed only five kilos and she further said that she did not get a the little amount of cement from a broken sack. Then, I went to the shop to weigh the five kilos of cement. Finally, after ducking and diving in these spasmodic chores, I sat to write the story. Alas, I was again disturbed by a friend’s phone call – “Give me the digital camera you have for one day, okay?” I could not say “No.” “Also charge the camera if you have the charger.” Oh! How shamelessly she could ask the camera and again asked me to do her work. It is also an art. I searched the camera, and also charged its battery for her.
I hardly completed the story while giving an eye towards the children. My story was published in the campus memorial. I myself started to talk about my story thinking that at least someone would praise, however no one said it was good. Then, my interest with the story writing had faded away, but how nicely Diwakar writes stories, which touch every reader’s heart. It seems as though his stories are capable of giving a complete picture of a society. His stories are imbued with patriotism and a pain of being ‘I.’ Female sufferings related to sexuality are exposed in such a way that it seems whole society has been reflected in the stories. The sexual pains of females, which the society has been neglecting so far, or let’s say the society has added fuel to flame by baseless accusations and allegations on the females, while the society has been turning its deaf eyes over them. But, Diwakar has exposed them nicely in his stories like a doctor does in his operation.
“Jogbani, Jogbani!” a boy spoke at the top of his voice. My dearest author was beside me. He was lost in thought. We had not interacted up to now.
“Brother…let’s go on rickshaw; we can reach sooner.”
“Ok,” he agreed.
We rode on a rickshaw. Oh! My beloved storywriter is sitting being stuck with me. How great he is! I came to know that he has his last name ‘Nepali.’ Otherwise, his family name was Upadhdhyaya. I had read this in his interview. We all are Nepalese. All Nepalese have one caste, which is Nepali. In fact, in this time when our society is rampant with the mist of communalism, this kind of feeling and notion can give a moral to the society. Besides, he had set an example by marrying a girl from the cast, which was supposed to be lower than his cast. He might not have realized that how closely I know him. Between us was no space. We were packed so tightly that even a small gust of wind could not pass through the space between us. The sunrays had a partial victory over the hazy weather. I wished that that time would stop, because after a moment we would no more be anonymous to each other. I was hurrying to say that I was really an avid reader of his stories. He might be happy to get his readers even in such a distance. I was eager see the change in his facial expression at that moment.
“I just came to know that cold is as same as in Kathmandu, isn’t it, sister…?”
How lovely are his words, how sweet they are!
“Yes, brother…the atmosphere is cold when here is cold wave.”
I felt like kissing his hands. How enchanting the words of his stories were, sweeter than rasbari, how romantic the dialogues were, strong enough to arouse a feeling of shyness. The meanings were so amorous, far greater than the sexual satisfaction.
My hairs would touch his cheek. I wish I had been a hair. He might not have been interested to read my mental state, otherwise, he might have already understood the state mind of any ordinary woman like me. It was not difficult for a writer who could make millions of his readers follow his ideas with the magic of his pen. Probably he wanted to fix himself like an ordinary person, otherwise, he could have stripped me off or sifted through me or could see me unveiling, by now. But he was not interested to do all the things. The first major reason behind this could be that new place, where he had come all the way from Kathmandu, and the next could be the moody nature commonly found in writers.
I asked the rickshaw puller to stop a little farther because there in the corner was a wholesale shop of kurta salwar for women. He might have loved his wife dearly, but he might not have been getting the same love from his wife. I have read that the litterateurs cannot satisfy their consorts. Therefore, he is going to take the kurta salwar for his wife.
“Which color does the sister-in-law like, brother?”
“She likes pink, but I love blue color, sister? See…all the deep things are blue. How blue is the color of the sky….how blue is the color of the ocean…” He spilled himself a little and I drank it lifting on my hands. That was a storywriter dwelling inside him – Yes, how long can a man stop or obstruct the huge store within him? But, he managed to control within himself. Thus, he was able to be a great and popular storywriter. I was waiting for a time when we would be returning to Jogbani in a rickshaw after purchasing the goods. He purchased two sets of kurta salwar.
“What other good things are found here in cheap price, sister…?”
“Biscuits, clothes and utensils are found in cheap price, brother.”
“Let it be…it will be difficult to carry a heavy load; let’s buy only some biscuits…and that would be enough.”
I decided not to buy anything because I can come to Jogbani the next time also. But, I might not again meet author Diwakar.
However, I had to buy pantie and bra – how should I buy in front of him? If I take him with me to buy them, what will he think? But those clothe items were quite essential for me.
“Brother, would you mind staying here for some time? I will come back soon buying something for me and then we go together.”
“Well, all right. Go and buy the things for you as well. Sorry if I have been disturbing you?”
How fast he had understood the feeling of my heart. Why could not he understand the feelings of an ordinary woman like me while he understands the psychology of many characters?
“No. No. Your presence is not disturbing me. It’s my good luck to meet the person like you…” My God! The reality had nearly slipped away from my mouth. Yes, it’s true that man is nothing in himself. How hard one tries to keep oneself in self-restraint, there is something else to guide. I was lost in the thought about how I would express my feelings to him in the rickshaw. So, I entered into the other shop to buy pantie and bra, but that took a long time when I could not find the bra with the number to match my size. I rushed back to my dear author, but to my surprise, he was not there. I was nervous. I felt like deserted. Where might have he gone? New person! New place! Might he have gone missing? Or, might the merchants are hard selling their goods to my best author? Did I say something to pinch to his heart? It is said that authors are highly emotional.
Now I regretted for not asking his mobile number. My dreams of returning to Biratnagar in a rickshaw and having a lunch together with him shattered. I was perplexed and puzzled for a long time when I could not decide what to do and how to find the writer Diwakar amidst the sea of people. Then, I bought a few more things for me and waited for a long time at Jogbani bus-stand, but could not see him again. The bus I rode was pack with passengers, but I felt vacuous and felt like losing something. I felt like leaving my own shadow somewhere behind me. The thing I had been sitting beside him in the rickshaw and purchasing goods with him constantly came into my mind. How unlucky I was. I lost the opportunity of understanding my favorite storywriter from very close. If I had not gone to buy the pantie and bra, I could have talked and talked about the moment in a speed of 90 kilometers per hour to my friends. But everything came to a standstill. I was empty and alone.
Dear Diwakar, I was that unfortunate woman whom you had abandoned in Jogbani, knowingly or unknowingly. I even had got no opportunity to introduce myself to you. I think it is now meaningless to introduce myself to you. Did sister-in-law like the kurta salwar? I guess she might not be angry knowing that I had liked you so much. I am only an example; he has thousands of fans and admirers across the country. If the mountain hid its beauty, no one might have been enchanted with it. If the flowers did not spread its beauty and fragrance, no one might have given importance to the flowers. If humans had not worshipped the God, its existence would already have been faded. No shepherd girls in the thousands of number would run after lord Krishna. Thousands of fans would not have shoved each other to take autographs from their favorite singers. Rainbow appears when rain stops, but there was no certainty that it appears in each rainfall. Life is like the seven colors a rainbow. Who knows when or where the happiness is drawn in the canvas of life?