I always believed that people who ended up doing remarkable things have had a life changing moment or episode. But meeting some extraordinary people and talking to them made me realize that I could do a Nobel Prize worthy deed right here, right now. No motivation required. Motivation, for most, was a fleeting feeling. It was their discipline or sometimes just having no other option that kept them going. Also, a lot of people I met were extraordinary (at least to me) just because they were kind, and really, really nice. Here are three women I’ve profiled who have stayed on mind ever since.
Biku Maya Bajracharya
I have a thing for food. And I especially have a thing for elderly ladies who call me ‘maiyaa’ and fill me up with more food than I can possibly stomach. This is precisely how I remember Biku Maya Bajracharya, the ‘aama’ near Nyatapola Temple in Bhaktapur who has been selling ‘wohs’ (wrongly called baras) for four decades now. Before I introduced myself she asked me what I’d like in the nicest way. You know there are these times when someone speaks so kindly, so gently to you, you just want to thank them for speaking to you? I felt it then. And she kept asking what else I’d like to eat more of, ‘maas woh’ or ‘moong woh’, whether I wanted some lentil soup on my ‘woh’, or if I wanted some more of her wonderful potatoes. She somehow guessed that potatoes were my favorite. And all that before I even told her that I came to do a story on her. She was this welcoming not just to me but to everyone else who came to her for her ‘wohs’. Just as nice, just as warm.
The first thing I noticed about Sneha was the word ‘vegan’ tattooed on the side of her forearm. I remember thinking how aptly that tattoo described her. Firstly, it was unmistakable, inscribed boldly and secondly, it spoke of her devotion to her cause. Sneha is the founder of a dog rescue center (Sneha’s Care) and I honestly expected her to begin telling me her story about how she loved and doted on animals from the time she was a child. But what she told me was just the opposite. She said that she always hated pets and wasn’t too fond of the dog she was raising at home either. It was only when the said dog was poisoned that she was enraged by the cruelty people were capable of and decided that she would do everything she could to protect vulnerable animals. Sneha is a person like you and I. She felt the same rage that we all feel upon encountering certain injustices. But what was remarkable to me was how she acted on the rage and has been at it for years now.
Angel chose her name because she wanted to be a guardian angel to someone else. To her, being someone’s angel is neither a glorified nor an ambitious role. It’s just what she wants to be to, a help to someone in need. Born Sabin Lama, Angel is a transgender and the winner of Miss Pink Nepal (a national level beauty pageant for transwomen). At this particular moment, she is in Thailand representing Nepal in Miss International 2019, a worldwide pageant for transwomen and she has put forth a laudable performance so far. Angel and I are of the same age and, meeting her, I realized that for certain things in life, its never too early nor too late. For the longest time, Angel struggled with her own identity and she had no one to lean on for support. Scorned upon by her own family and schoolmates, she grew up feeling lonely. Even then she reached out to people who she felt were worse off than her. Also, she would spend her days with street children. Her ability to empathize was astounding and it made me believe in the power of kindness.