Dear Reader,

In responding to your question about whether we turn to Hinduism in times of crisis, my mind lingered on Nayan, of all people, who I spotted across Patan square some hours after the 7.2 was over. We were both elevated above the crowds; I on the upper steps of the temple (the lower steps missing entirely,) and he, knelt on a plinth between the feet of Saraswati. Although he was a mere few feet away, the throngs below were crying too much for me to call out, (and what would I say?) but it was an extraordinary coincidence – that it had been here; the last time I saw him, when we were both in Kathmandu for Tihar. We met as the Thamel bars emptied; late enough that the streets were deserted and we lurched through the mist in Patan, sharing a warm bottle of Everest and a brown paper bag of dates, hawking the stones across the cobbles, and he showed me how to make a kite out of the bag and drawstring.

Tihar was the first time I had seen him since he had joined the rebel insurgency just weeks before. I’d known he was a Maoist sympathiser but always imagined that he would be here one day and gone the next, and never that I would see him so soon after he left and with the chance to ask why, so how disappointing that his response to why? was because nothing and because nobody and Koirala leaves us nothing to lose. Though I’d read about the fires and beatings in The Himalayan Times, I was too beer-sick to ask questions and too underwhelmed that his reasons for something as complex as war were as simple as wanting to go from nothing to something, not much caring what something was.

A godless Nayan is easy enough to picture, isn’t he? Drunk in the arms of a Saraswati, spilling Everest in her cleavage as he untangled the tow-line and cursed the mist that slicked his kite in a brown-paper mess, but can you imagine him in the fresh post-quake chaos that swept the city? Kneeling under the midday sun and the ticking dust, and with his ear pressed to the goddess’s feet, I wondered whether he still thought we came from nothing when I saw his scared and speechless lips only parting to drag on his cigarette or pray, or something between pleading and preparing, one ear cold against the brass and listening for tremors, the other skywards as if with the steps of the temples the Gods themselves might fall.

 

Eleanor Walsh

Eleanor Walsh

Eleanor Walsh attended Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia where she studied English, and she later completed her MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University in the UK. She is now in Nepal on a doctoral research where she studies oral literature from low-caste communities in the Terai – a place where she draws much inspiration for her own poetry. The Nepalese villagers teach her how to harvest rice and often tell her to lighten up.

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