In mid-May, it was quite obvious to have an extremely hot weather in Birgunj. I recalled how the popular online media had reported about the quality of life especially in the Terai region (the low lying flatland) due to the pre-monsoon heat weaves and half-day long load shedding. The frequent and prolonged power cuts had made life awfully miserable. However, It appeared that people were more affected by the political waves than the heat weaves. It was a period when Nepal witnessed yet another political turnaround as Prachand led Maoist government stepped down and his party decided to continue fight for the restoration of peoples' supremacy. And newly elected Prime-minister Madhav Kumar Nepal was making all efforts to form an 'inclusive government'.
I reached home at around 5PM. I was obviously very happy to meet my family. But, my initial excitements got a blow after knowing that a power cut was scheduled in the area from 6PM onwards. With mercury shooting up beyond 40 degree centigrade, I found it extremely difficult to spend time without electricity. It was already dark outside when I looked at the wall clock wondering if it was working correctly. The great saying "time and tide waits for none" appeared so irrelevant! The electricity came exactly after 3 hours but lasted only few minutes. The frequent power tripping was repeated for quite a number of times. I called to the concerned authorities and came to know that it was due to overloading problem. In fact, people don't believe that there will be power available as per the load shedding schedule. So they try to rearrange the usage of electricity like pumping water, charging inverters and other equipments etc. Besides this, consumers and appliances are rising sharply whereas, most of the transformers are old and lack the adequate capacity. And, the unannounced hours-long load shedding continued to persist – making people upset – as they did not have a moment of respite because of suffocated weather at home and scorching heat under the open skies. It looked like a never ending wait. We decided to take a 'candle-light dinner'.
We gathered around the dinning table. Dinner was already served. I had waited so long for this moment but the weather and prolonged power-cut threatened to spoil it. Adding insult to the injury were the mosquitoes flying all over and making their presence felt once in a while with typical bites. We finished our meal, talked for sometime and then said 'good night' to each- other (though, there was hardly anything 'good' about that 'night'!).
I couldn't sleep until late night, thoughts about random things and the non-moving fan kept me up until past midnight. Many of us have an image of a home that’s so idealistic and glamorized. But at times, it meshes with reality to remind us that we can't always close our eyes and forget the truth. It was around 1AM when the electricity came and I probably fell asleep. I was obviously feeling relieved but then the next load shedding schedule was from 4AM onwards! I 'woke-up' in the morning quite early.
I had to visit Dharan (a city located in the eastern region of Nepal) in order to meet some of my family members presently living there. However, someone told me that an indefinite strike was called after 3-days by an ethnic group as a part of their protest programs. In fact, the group had postponed their protests until formation of the new government. So, I had two options available: either finalize the trip within 3-days or wait for the strike to end. I chose the first option and decided to catch a bus that day itself so that I could return back to Birgunj in a couple of days.
I was in the bus bound for Dharan. "It's too hot, isn't it?", asked nonchalantly the person sitting next to me. I responded, "yes, it's only 9 o'clock yet we can feel the heat". After some casual conversations, he opened up, "what do you think of the prevailing political situation in Nepal"? He sounded like a politician or at least someone very enthusiastic about politics. "Do you think, Prachanda did the right thing by resigning or the President's decision was appropriate?", he added. I was not prepared for these questions as response to these required a thorough analysis of the sequence of events. To me, these questions were not just objective ones. I replied gently, "see, no one can deny the sensitive political status of the country. There is a growing sense of lawlessness and people are losing hope. I think our political parties and leaders don't really believe in co-existence and politics of agreement despite of their repeated commitments. Whoever becomes the PM doesn't matter in the present context. Does it"? I could see his face changing. He appeared more focused and serious now. "I agree with most of your views regarding the leader's attitude and people's perception but what I don't agree with is the question that who should be the PM. Because, the character of a leader defines fate of the nation and hence, I thought Prachanda was a better if not the best candidate for the post", his voice was firm as he sounded like a supporter of the Maoists.
A person who was sitting parallel to us and listening to our conversation joined, "see, what we need at this point of time is the national government and so the current PM Madhav Nepal has already requested all including the Maoists to join the cabinet. Now, the action of the political parties should reflect a conscientious approach". Entry of a third person into the conversation had intensified the debate. The bus was in full swing. Frankly speaking, I was not in a mood to argue on these seemingly subjective issues in which almost every Nepalese holds his own view. Now, it was the turn of the first person, who started all this, to respond. He told a simple little story to elaborate his opinion.
A Little girl and her father were crossing a bridge. The father was a bit concerned about the safety of her daughter so he asked, "sweetheart, please hold my hand so that you don't fall into the river." The little girl replied, "No, Dad. You hold my hand." The puzzled father asked, "What's the difference"? "There's a big difference," answered the little girl. "If I hold your hand and something goes wrong, chances are that I may let your hand go but if you hold my hand, I know for sure that no matter what happens, you will never let my hand go." Gist of the story is that in any relationship, the essence of trust is not in its bind, but in its bond.
After telling the story he turned once again, "I agree that need of the hour is a national government in Nepal but who leads that government is indeed a vital question. The country needs to get rid of the culture of extremism. The political parties should stop seeing each-other as enemies no matter how much rivalry exists". The conversation went on and on - arguments and counter arguments! But, I thought we all have got some problems i.e. we like to win arguments. The leaders, the political activists and even the common people; we all think that 'the other' is doing wrong. Our leaders keep on winning the debates and, the country always stands at a losing point!
The bus was approaching Lahan (a city on the East-West highway). The bus conductor yelled with a smile, "lets go for the lunch, we don't have that much time here". well, time scarcity has been our national problem. We don't do anything till the last moment but suddenly become 'very active' to finish things off. The bus came to a standstill just like the political deadlock in the country. Our conversation ended without giving any fruitful conclusion. We got off from the bus and entered in a restaurant close to the bus stand.