Pratik Mainali

Pratik is a high school graduate from Trinity International College, Dilli Bazaar, Kathmandu.

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Published On: May 13, 2018 11:57 AM NPT By: Pratik Mainali

Jhapa memories

Jhapa memories

The village was desolate, with no signs of life. A small stream of water was running on my left, making a gurgling sound. I craned my neck and scanned around. Trees, fields, heaps of rubbles, deserted houses, remains of houses. After observing for a minute, my eyes rested on a mound of red mud which I believed is a traditional Satar house. I followed the path in my quest to see signs of civilization.

As I walked, I could feel my feet beginning to hurt, after squeezing sharp pebbles and grit underfoot for hours. It was April but the weather was boiling hot, and everything stunk. Ahead of me, the tin roofs of the houses were slanted low and yellow lights of the sun were igniting its tints.

Bracing my arm across my face I covered my eyes from the sickly light. Then there were rows upon rows of squalid muddy red houses. My feet were throbbing painfully. After walking for 10 minutes, they were replaced by wooden houses. The houses looked terribly fragile and old and I believed were splintery. Held together by rusty wood, they clattered as the wind howled at them. And the people huddled inside.
Suddenly the ground shook and a muffled roar could be heard. I turned around and saw a truck rattling along the road. As the truck passed me by, it left a cloud of dust behind it. I waited until the dust settled and moved forward.

The wooden houses were firmly shut and invariably covered by green aangan on all sides. They were a small box of wood hoisted 10 feet by long thick tree trunks, covered by hat like tins. They were designed to make snake proof. As I drew away, soon, the houses were surrounded on both sides by large trees.

Occasionally as I walked wind would rustle the leaves, and a few of them would fall down to the ground. The real problem came when the trees started to thin and I finally came across the muddy road. The dust fluffed, soared, circled and at length was accompanied by the polythene bags and leaves. Eventually, it engulfed everything around me. I could feel the grit entering through my nose and filling my lungs. My throat was dry and burning of thirst, and my legs were like stone. I sat on the stone beside the road with my head tucked under my shirt. Slowly the wind died down and I decided to get up.

As I lifted my legs I realized they were numb. My back crackled as I stretched my hands and resumed walking. Every limb in my body was stiff and I felt desolately hopeless and lonely.

The yellowish green fields coiled before the dusty road, smelling of excrement and dead crops. At a distance, a few buffalos were grazing. Their necks were circled by a rope which was, at the other end, tied to a stick that was hammered firmly into the flat fields. I descended to the fields, crunching the dry grass underfoot, and entered the outskirts.

As I walked down the fields, the yellowish mud sloped on my slippers, giving me a rotten feeling- a dispirited feeling to be precise. On my left, there were rows of bamboo trees where I heard, dangerous snakes lived. I stretched and pulled my legs, heaved and panted, filled my lungs with the heavy air and hissed. With the sweltering heat of the sun, I could feel my brow beat. I cringed as I felt the soft mud squirting between my toes. The buffaloes seemed to dislike me, for they grunted as I came near them, and one almost made an advance toward me with its horn pointed. As I moved slowly inside the belly of the vast sprawling fields, leaving the civilization behind me, I saw corns dancing on the fields. The wind was surprisingly heavy and had moisture to it. The floor of the fields was burning.

The trees of corn were dancing with the gush of the wind, bending here and there and crashing softly on one another. The sleeves slowly began to flap against my wrist so I folded up to my arms. The grass was as tall as me ground was throwing hot stinging air into my teeth. Above, the red puffs of clouds were drifting across orange sky. And far away, I could see the sun flaring up the hills red. All the while, an intense curiosity was growing inside me. What lied beyond the fields?

jhapa, memories,

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