Thu, 25 Feb, 2021

Life as Punishment

By Dipesh Poudel

Today as well he could not sleep. It is his memory of the past that besets him every night. He wants to forget all the horrible things that he had seen, experienced and done. For the last ten years, he has not slept properly because of those memories, which take the form of a nightmare and haunt him every single night. It all started ten years ago when he was only twelve years old. It was a hot summer day. He, along with his friends, was going to the forest to collect Kafal (Myrica esculenta). Forest, where they could find some good Kafal, was about 50minutes walk from their village. The village was not secure then since civil war was going on in the country. Like every parent would, his father also reminded him to return home early. He promised his father that he would return home early and would bring home a lot of Kafal, and went along with his friends. When they were in the forest collecting Kafal, they heard some explosions, some gunshots and they could see thick black smoke coming up from their village. They ran towards their village. He was the first person to reach. He was shocked by what he saw there. There were people laying everywhere. Most of them were shot. Clothes of many women were torn and there were wounds on their bodies. One could easily tell what had happened to them. His dad was also shot. His mother had died while giving birth to him. Now, he was an orphan. He slapped himself several times with the hope of waking up from what he considered a dreadful nightmare, but unfortunately it was all real. His friends and all the other people, who were elsewhere during that frightful incident, arrived. They started to check if anyone was still alive. They could find only one woman, who was bleeding from her head, still breathing. She told them that some people, who were dressed as military men, came and started shooting people, raping girls, and throwing people and things around. That night young villagers, who were not present during the incident, gathered around and attacked the place where those military men were staying with whatever weaponry they could find. They killed all fifty of them. One of the many rebels who were actively involved was him. Next day, liberal army came to their village. Most of the villagers joined the liberal group with the hopes of preventing other villages from facing similar tragedy and with the desire of maintaining peace. He also attempted to join the group. Since they needed people to fight against government, the liberal group took him as one of their comrades. After two long years, the civil war came to an end when The Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) was signed between the Government of Nepal and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) in 2006. According to CPA, the qualified members (selected by UNMIN) of liberal army were given two options. First one was if they qualify the criteria of Nepal Army they will be taken in the army. Second one was they could take money and return back to the society. Since he was not qualified he was not given either. He then came to Kathmandu with a meager amount of money that a guy from UNMIN had provided him. He joined a night school. He used to work at construction sites or hotels during the day, and study during the night. Today, he is an Engineering student at IOE, Pulchowk. He received full scholarship in the college. Whenever he sees an orphan kid, he helps him/her as much as he can because he feels their pain and feels responsible for taking care of countless lives. He wants to die since for him, death would be a beautiful reward because he would be free from all the suffering and pain that he is going through. However, he believes that he will be redeemed if he can do something good for mankind. Therefore, until then he wants to live, live his life which he considers a punishment.