Published in The Nepali Man on 28 February 2015
No one sings our songs
I enter the restaurant in ambivalence. I sit across from them on the cushioned floor. A few cocktails are already assembled close to the door. A platter of chicken arrives; the initial verve starts to die.
“What else do you want?” they ask. “Seafood or salad? Soup anyone?”
They ask these questions and they ask a few more.
But they don’t ask about the places I visit, the people I meet, the things I do. They don’t ask about my evenings and afternoons, about my mornings and nights.
They talk about Dear Zindagi, about Alia Bhatt and Shahrukh Khan. They mention Seto Surya. They discuss their favorite channels. They bring up Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. They hum those tunes. But no one sings our songs.
No one writes poems about our courtships, our commitments, our crimes. Our longings don’t turn into lyrics. No one composes lines about our heartbeats. No guitar strums for us. There is no harmonica; no piano converts our musings into music.
The next round of drink arrives. The conversation continues to shift. They talk about themselves - how they, my uncle’s daughters, got married so young. How they became mothers before Facebook came to Kathmandu and the world suddenly became bigger. But no matter, they console themselves. They got blessed with decent in-laws, with loving husbands.
But no one counts our blessings. No one blesses us. We exist outside religion, outside society and culture. We are too Western or too wild. We don’t fit into their traditions. Their rituals don’t guide us. There are no magical mantras for us. Their divine deities don’t do anything for us. Our Dashains and Tihars are forever incomplete. The purans don’t mention us. No one tells our tales.
Our romances are unwritten, omitted from history. We don’t have our Romeos and Juliets, Lailas and Majnus. There are no Bollywood heartthrobs for us. Our heroes don’t get featured on magazine covers. The journalists don’t put together long forms about our lives. No television program documents our struggle. No one hears our stories.
Our comedies and tragedies are unethical, immoral. No one learns lessons from us. Our journeys don’t matter. No one cares about our knowledge. No one knows about our fears. No one knows how we sleep, how we wake up, how we move through the world like ghosts. No one knows about our dreams, no one knows about our nightmares. We don’t enter anyone’s imaginations. We don’t inhabit their conscience.
There is no space for us. No one lets us in. No one knocks on our doors. No one asks about our homes; no one contacts our families. They think we don’t need company, that we don’t need help. Like primordial stars, we appear once in awhile, at the beginning of dark nights. We burn brightly, we shine and we quietly disappear before twilight.
No one cares about the science. No one understands our biology. Our chapters are removed from the curriculum. No, they don’t have heated discussions regarding nature vs nurture. No one debates. No one puts a point across.
Instead, they talk about that other cousin, about his big car. They talk about his network of politicians and bureaucrats, of businessmen and bankers. They talk about the mansion he is building in Golfutar, about the furniture he is importing from the Gulf. They admire his journey from a small village to Kathmandu’s inner circle.
No one admires us. We don’t receive any congratulations. Our lives don’t contain periodic celebrations. No one consults astrologers for us. No one plans our parties. No, there are no invitation cards printed with our names. No venue gets booked for us; no one arranges chairs for us. No one walks across the Party Palace floor to hold our hands. No one contacts the DJ. No one sings our songs.
The cousins don’t dance for us. They don’t decide to drink a little bit more for us. No, they don’t lose inhibitions on our account. They don’t buy new outfits for our occassions. No one cracks jokes about our loves. No one passes witty remarks. There is no swayamvar, no janti. There is no laughter. There are no tears.
No one cries for us. Our sorrows go unregistered. Our sobs are forever muffled. Our voices remain unheard. Our opinions don’t matter. Our thoughts don’t count. No one gives us any advice. No one asks about our plans.
But we continue to exist. We continue to imagine possibilities, to dream up phrases and assemble them into sentences, to reach for an instrument and create our own music. We make our own plans, we construct our own structures. We continue to think, feel, walk and run.
Sometimes we fly. Like a solitary eagle, we sometimes float above the world. We observe. We have learnt to watch from a distance. We have learnt to be patient, to wait for our turn. We know that we will spot our nourishment soon enough. We know to circle slowly, to swoop down unnoticed. We know how to take our food to our own secluded world, to a valley that is pristine and free, untouched and unpolluted. We know how to devour, to relish, to take pleasure in every precious bite, to eat hungrily in our very own corner, away from all this, away from all this noise and chatter, from these dining rooms, these dances, this din.