Reflecting on a festive journey filled with memories and growth

Published On: April 18, 2024 08:35 AM NPT By: Menaka Hamal

Twenty-six years ago, amidst the serene settings of Forestry College in Hetauda, the Dashain festival vacation was a moment brimming with excitement and the sweet rush of nostalgia. As students hurriedly packed their bags and exchanged goodbyes, there was a palpable sense of eagerness. Everyone was bustling about, ready to leave the hostel and reunite with families, looking forward to the warmth and festivities that awaited at home.

In a recent reflection on that journey, I feel that the journey was a voyage of discovery, connection, and personal challenges. As someone has rightly said, every journey is unique; every path reveals its own surprises, obstacles, and triumphs, emphasizing the importance of cherishing the scenery and memories along the way.

It was my first solo trip back home from Hetauda to Mugu. The sensation of both excitement and fear stirred within. I embarked on a Dashain festival journey on a night bus. At that time, very few women traveled alone in the night bus due to safety concerns. So, I remained alert throughout the night bus journey, not once allowing my eyes to close.

I arrived at Nepalgunj at around 7 am and moved to the house of my father's friend, where I intended to stay until I could secure a flight ticket to Jumla. Getting a flight ticket was challenging because of the high volume of passengers in the festive season. I spent 6 days of my Dashin vacation at my uncle's house expecting the ticket for Jumla. On the 7th day, my uncle got a ticket for me to fly to Bajura. I was stunned because it took two and half days, which is longer than the travel time from Jumla to Mugu. Faintheartedly, I accepted it because"something is better than nothing". I took the ticket and flew for Bajura airport which was totally unknown to me.

From the airport, I carried a wheeled travel bag that was roughly around 12/13 kg. I inquired with the locals for directions to Mugu and started walking. When I was crossing the village which is around 10/15-minute walking distance from the airport, a group of 5 kids aged around 10/11 years shouted at me "Ye Amricani" …again "Ye Amricani" shouted and shouted again as if chanting a song until I reached far away. They thought that only American women carry bags on their back and walk alone.

I followed the path and kept going. About 3 hours later I had to pass through a fairly dark jungle. When I was crossing the jungle, a sense of frightful courage enveloped me, I looked down and kept going, fighting the demons within my mind "BhootBaliyo Ki Ma Baliyo". When I crossed the jungle and was in a sunny place, I took a long breath, and said "I won against the ghost".

The happiness could not last for half an hour as I had to cross the giant stony rocky cliff (Range Gauda), which was hardly two feet wide, spiral stony steps. When I looked down, I could see the Karnali river. When I looked up, the huge stony ceiling. I was stunned for a few minutes thinking how I could cross it carrying a wheeled bag.  But I kept going. While I was walking at a snail’s pace using both hands and feet, curving my body carrying a wheel bag on my back, one of the wheels on my back struck the wall. For a second, I thought I was dead. My heart started bumping and my body began shaking. Despite these ordeals, I was able to cross the cliff. At the end I thanked god and shouted "I am alive".

Walking and walking till around 5 pm, I crossed the wooden bridge, locally called 'Jhugala' that connects Bajura and Mugu. There were altogether 4 small shops near the river that served tea, lunch and dinner, during the day. But at night, after dinner, they generally go to their village to sleep. After having dinner, a hut/hotel owner locked the door, left me alone in the room and advised me to lock the door from inside as well. I spent the whole night without closing my eyes due to an overwhelming sense of insecurity. The next morning, they came, unlocked the door and served me food before leaving. 

My journey started from the border of Bajura to my house. I followed a local who carried 40 kg of rice on his back. I traveled half the way along with him. He then directed me further to reach my paternal aunt's house.  It was almost 4 pm when I reached Talibagar where my aunt, auncle and my brother waited for me. From there, the next day, we walked throughout the day to reach my house, crossing the beautiful jungle, walking through the edge of the Rara lake.

It took eight days for me to reach my beautiful house in Mugu from Hetauda.

My 8 days' journey taught me how to be courageous, how to be safe, building trust with people, and communicating with unknown people. It further bust my resilience, self-confidence, and gained the ability to cope with adversity and be well in different environments.

To conclude, challenges can create lasting memories and stories that you can look back on with pride and share with others. Every travel reveals its own surprises, obstacles, and triumphs, so relish the scenery and cherish the memories.

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