Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Twilight of the Royals in Nepal

And, then, they were gone, completely, finished... the institution, the individuals and the royal state of our once charmed Nepal.

No longer will 'All be fair throughout the Kingdom' on the front page of the 'Rising Nepal'.

No more 'Jai Desh Jai Naresh', no 'Jo hukam, Sarkar' echoing around the palace. The fabled Sri Panch has fallen along the road with the Sri Teens, the Chaubisi Raja and many minor mountain plenipotentiaries before them.

The march of history, the powerful groundswell of democracy and republicanism finally crept up the torpor and isolation of the Himalaya to subsume an historical, albeit lethargic and intimately selfish, monarchy.

Poor Birendra, we knew him well... Seven long years ago, his gentle and unassuming countenance lay murdered in the Narayanhitti palace that is now vacated. Shockingly replaced by his arrogant, aggressive younger brother-in-arms who neither had the common touch nor simplicity of his elder brother. While Birendra appeared content to quietly engage the painful tragedies of his nation, Gyanendra retained the royal authoritarian longing to step heroically above the masses to repress the sweep of deeper, more complex socio-economic movements.

Alas, poor Gyanendra... and his nation... the curtain closes on a long, tedious twilight of the monarchs. He keeps his calm, much too belatedly, as he and former queen Komal step into their black Mercedes limousine and head, under the cloak of darkness, to their suburban retreat in the quiet and isolation of the nearby Nagarjun forest.

History, of course, never quite ends. There are chapters and verses in this lengthy passion play ahead. But, for now, the curtain has closed on the debris of the Shah dynasty.

For those of us fortunate enough to have had orchestra seats on this decade-long denouement, the twilight of the royals, it has been a remarkable, fascinating, painful and, hopefully, finally liberating journey.

Like all good theater, our emotions, hopes and fears have been enthralled as this medieval passion play has evolved, devolved and disintegrated in front of our eyes. The power and the glory, once again humbled.

Ozymandias, Nebuchadnezzer, Augustus, Byzantium, Glorious Louis quatorze and all, royalty and revolutionaries, the great, uber-great and pretenders all...

As our modern Hebraic prophet-poet-minstrel-bard sings:

'how does it feel to be without a home, on your own,
like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone,
with no direction home...'

Finis Operis