Oh Dyslexic History: See I Am still Me!

 

How would we feel when the ghosts of past keep on haunting us and reminding us that we belong to an inferior group of people? Does it happen because we do not know how to speak and how to behave? Or, is it because we remain silent most of the time? We resist and thus we suffer, says Marx. So are we similar to the proletariat? Poor us; people pity us, hate us, and create a theory out of us. We remain the same; nothing changes.

Life was not a gift for me, not as a child. I was the first child, a girl, inter-caste parents, outcaste family, chaotic political environment, and all of a sudden, mother’s death! I was barely five when I was abandoned, or should I say left alone with my two year old brother. We remember growing up in a single room, the three of us: my father, my brother and me. My daddy, as I call him, worked day and night to raise us. My mummy ….I do not even remember her! My memory suffers from dyslexia and so does the history that is captured in my memory.

I have heard history freezes with time. However, I keep wondering why I cannot recapitulate my own past, my own history! My past linked to my mother is like the world I see without my specs, blurred! I imagine her but I cannot figure her out. I do not know how you looked mother, how you spoke, how you laughed and how you CALLED me by my NAME! I try to think hard, but nothing. I keep on reciting; once upon a time I had a mother…

After the 1990 People’s Revolution, Nepal was no longer an absolute monarchy. The new democratic country liberalized lives of many people. By the mid-1990s, people had access to many things that they were deprived of earlier. I did not know about democracy, I had no idea what people’s right was and what their demands were. In some way, I knew the People’s revolution bestowed something upon everyone. But for our family, Panchayat system and democracy was the same. Same old dark room and same three people!

My family was different. We were not allowed to go to family Diwali puja, we were not allowed to use the kitchen of my grandparents and uncles, and we did not get new clothes in festivals like my cousins. We were definitely different! We did not even have our own toilet so we had to go to our uncle’s house to use it. One day I had just reached there when my grandfather saw me. He scolded me badly; I remember crying and running back home. When people were enjoying liberty, my family remained shackled. Democracy was not meant for us.

Despite all the bitterness there was one thing that contained me: BOLLYWOOD! My father ran a video shop with some of his friends. He had managed to buy a TV and a video deck. Every new Bollywood film was dubbed at our home. These films kept my dreams alive and helped me keep my hope. It comforted me: “my mother has gone to heaven, in a God’s house.”

With each blink a year passed by. Time changed but realities did not: I am still me. Conditions changed, facts did not: we are still outcaste. I do not remember much of my past but I cannot forget it too. As always, life has been harsh, rude and painful and yet I have my hopes. Yes, I have hopes oh my dyslexic history, and see I am still me and you are still you!

Rashmi Sheila

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