The six year old me had once held your hand, observing every wrinkled line and like any other curious child asked, “Is this plastic?” and you’d laughed and said yes. But then I had no idea that those shiny plastic hands were actually signs of experiencing hundred of sunrises and rising every morning to carve a new story in the wrinkles. Those wrinkles were experiences of happiness, hardships, strength and learning. In your life, you did many things captured in the depth of your sunken eye, wrinkled skin and snow white hair; decades and decades of waking up every morning to work hard and becoming strong to make the family stronger.
Probably that was why, all the anecdotes that my mother has recited is about how strict you were or how you punished my mum and her siblings. But after every anecdote my mother recites, she goes into a deep thought staring at a distance diving deep into the sea of thoughts and adds, “ Maybe if she wasn’t the way she was, I wouldn’t have been the person I was.” She admits all the punishment she got was too much but she is aware of the fact that you had to take care of the family yourself in the absence of grand dad because he was always transferred to different places from his work. As a mother, you had to provide for the family and my mother and her siblings were not quitting with their shenanigans. But they probably take after you.
I still remember the anecdotal story of your mischief’s and the punishments your mother gave you. You have probably told the stories of Illam to everyone who has spoken to you. You went into the deep sea of thoughts just like your daughter does about you and you said your mother was strict but if it wasn’t for her you wouldn’t have studied.
I miss you dearly and your absence will always be felt with a void in my heart that is hard is fill. But I don’t want to lament and write a sad post but I want to express how proud I feel to share part of your heritage’s blood. Your mother, and my great grandmother was the third woman writer in Nepal and our family has been breaking stereo-types from a long time. At that time when women were treated not less than domestic animals, she got educated and apart from becoming a writer, she was a social activist too opening the first school in Illam. When I saw and read about her in a book about women writers in Nepal, I was so proud because I shared some about of her blood and am also trying to walk in her footsteps. Then you followed the footsteps of breaking stereotypes. You got educated, worked hard, married the man you loved even though our grandfather was from a different caste and then when grand dad was away with work, you raised three kids single handedly in a completely new city, i.e. Kathmandu. You were extremely strict mother but you raised your kids’ right. All three of them are amazing human beings and they have your heart as big as yours.
Almost no one would disagree that you had a very big heart. If you saw someone in distress, you would even take off the materials you are wearing and give it to them. Probably no one followed the saying, “Atithi Devo Bhawa” better than you. For you, guests were actually gods and you did not let anyone leave your house without at least having a glass of water. People said you had a heart of a king because you were so giving. Anger in the tip of your nose and the habit to stay tidy and organized, you used to ask even us to arrange the shoes of the guests, make bed with bed sheet stretched tight enough so that no cringes can be seen and sweeping/ moping the floor many times in a day.
As I travel myself in the memory lane, I remember all my winter vacations and holidays spent with you and how strict you were. I used to get so scared of you that when I was about 3 or 4 years of age, I’d said, “ Tyo birali akha le malai maryo’ which means those cat eyes killed me because you used to look at me angrily with those cat eyes of yours and now I share those similar cat eyes. I remember you teaching me various religious hymns and mantras as I closed my eyes every night in your arms during my childhood. The echoes of the songs you sang and poems you recited till the very end of your days will still ring in our ears if we listen carefully. When we were young, you made glasses and many other things from chewing gum wrappers. Chewing gum and Hajmola were the most eaten candy items during our visit because you loved them so much that you had packets stored. That’s probably why you had strong teeth. Also you made food art from salads which was praise worthy. I loved eating your rose shaped carrots.
You loved making people happy and that gave you happiness. You were a very strong person and no one would doubt your strength. Because of you, I have some amount of Mongoloid blood running in my veins too and I feel proud to share a part of Rudra Kumari Dewan Shrestha’s ancestry. Wherever you are now, I hope you are happy and conquering the world you are in. You will always remain in our memories. Rest in Peace Muwa.