Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Shakun's Thoughts on Children of a Revolution

A Letter to Joshua Far Away in Western Massachusetts

"For us as parents this gets incredibly difficult to have both of you live so far away as we feel very close to you guys. Leah is still young and budding. Deep down Dad and I know that we have to put you through the challenges of America, as it is your country of citizenship and heritage. You guys are lucky as you have options you can tinker with. Not necessarily convenient, but the richness of the dual should empower your vulnerability and connectedness to both cultures.

Carp diem! and make the best of both worlds.

Did I ever tell you your story, Joshua? You are a true child of the revolution. I was 3 to 4 months pregnant with you during the first Jan Andolan in 1990. I was walking the street of Durbar Marg when suddenly I saw this wave of people pushing the seams of the clock tower and demanding that the king concede to democracy. The military had cordoned the Palace right in front of the Annapurna hotel. Suddenly, there were shots, teargas and an unison of anger.

A stranger pushed me towards a small gate facing Yeti Travels. Before I could make any sense of it all, I found myself in the office of Yeti Travels , crouching on my stomach on the floor, trying to grab a phone on the desk that was a couple of feet away from the windows. There were two other people there who looked familiar but unknowing.

As I pulled the cord of the phone, the windows smashed and there was shards of glass all around me. I did manage to pull the phone closer to me and I called your Dad at Save the Children. He was supposed to come and get me any time. It must have been about 2-3 pm. I told him not to come as Durbar Marg had turned into a war zone with slippers, shoes, bricks and twisted barbed wires.

As the military stood with guns aiming at the civilians, the civilians fearlessly confronted the cordoned line -- a tsunami of human energy pushing and sweeping the protagonists. Thus, the crown fell off the head and the next moment was a scene that made me doubt the feudal history of my country. There were young bodies literally clamoring and climbing the body of the statue king and in no time he was left wearing a garland of slippers and shoes all strewn around his neck.

More tear gas in haze of smoke to dispel the crowd but this time the deed had been done. They had succeeded in bringing shame to the king, waving the red flag of victory over his twisted sculptured head.

The military was moving backwards towards the Palace trying to protect it while the crowd pushed forward like little ants with instinctive discipline. Your father's car -- of course, he didn't listen to me, as usual -- was the only vehicle that made it within the cordoned space in front of the Palace.

I remember fighting with a soldier in military fatigues, who was pointing his gun at me from a truck load of military kids telling me to shut up. I was accusing him of being a criminal, shooting at the public and being a brainless slave to the system. He was pointing his gun towards me, but I knew he would not shoot at me as there was a dozen journalists taking my side.

Your Dad was trying to remind me that I was pregnant and trying to protect me and nudged me to leave. I was boiling in rage as I had seen a young girl jump off the college wall because she was shot at while I was trying to get the phone. The room venerated with broken glass and trying to save myself became an instinctive reflex and the scene of the girl being shot seemed more of an illusion than a fact away from the shattered glass window.

I remember that night watching the King (Birendra, at that time) declare himself as a constitutional monarch in a democratic Nepal that Spring of 1990.

How strange that the struggle continues today seventeen years later with the same faces with little sense of democracy.

You may want to highlight the circumstances of your birth through the passionate passage of history as it continues to this day. You are special because you are part of the transformation of the civil rights energy in Nepal.

Your birth is the landmark and the measuring scale of human consciousness of democratic demands in a country that lived its reality in the crumbling of its mythic sense of monarchy and feudalism.

May the blessings of empowerment be yours.

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