Dashain was here. Finally. I was excitedly packing my bags. I hated school by now. It happened every year. Return from a two months winter vacation to school. Stay there seven months. By the time seven months were up, I was itching to go home and eat with my bare hands, no utenils to deal with. Sleep late, no early morning drills. Yoohoo. The cycle went thus. Go home for a month for Dashain. Come back for a month and a half. Go home for winter vacations. Repeat. People returned home. We ended up returning to school.
Towing my hastily packed overweight bag, I piled into the bus that would take us to Martyr’s Memorial, the heart of the city. Our parents and guardians would be lined up there to take us home. The richer kids had their parents pick them up right at school. They got away from all this faster than we did, lucky bastards. We had our moments on the bus though. Singing memorized songs all the way along the 14km ride. They’d miss that later in life. We’d be singing memorized songs all through life and they’d be wondering how we remembered all those songs. It’s rote, I’d tell them later. You never rode the bus.
This Dashain, I’d be going to my mama-ghar. My mom grew up in a village several dozen kilometers north of Janakpur. There was no semblance of city life there. No electricity, no tap water, forget natural gas. No roads, just dusty tracks worn bare by oxcarts. I can’t believe there’s still no electricity there, to this day. There, I’d be treated like a prince by my mamas and maijus. I’d take gifts to my friends there, some of whom were amazed by the fact, in the cities, light came from glass covered things that you didn’t have to light up. You just flick a switch, I’d say. I would end up spending half an hour trying to describe what a switch was. I was eleven. I must’ve ended up describing it as some magical thing that only gods and magicians could figure out.
I would be meeting baburam. He was my age. We had become good friends over my successive visits to the village. He came from a family that owned a couple of acres of land and so could afford to send him to school in the next village for three four days a week. He still had to work, helping out his dad doing farming things that I still don’t understand or doing other house chores. Due to his having gone to school, and him being bright, he was thought of as a young man with a lot of promise. Other people, older people, came to him to have their letters read and written. He would happily oblige, patient that he was. Imagine that. Eleven years old and playing leader already. He indeed was a lad with a ton of promise. That was my friend baburam. My best friend.
I had already written a letter to him saying I would be there that year. I had been so enthusiastic while writing that letter that I had just ended up writing,
I am going to be there
in during Dashain this year. We can go
keshar-hunting at night in the next village.
I will see you soon.
Your loving friend,
Two sentences, properly formatted and spaced in an eight by eleven lined piece of paper with date, salutation, ending statement and everything. We were supposed to do it that way. We were supposed to scratch our mistakes, not erase them. In English too. We were only allowed to write letters in English, under the pretention that it would make us better writers and communicators some day. Baburam understood English though. He’d been to school.
… to be continued