If one were to be completely honest with his or her own self, I am sure the recent days must have come as a pleasant surprise. The papers don’t look the same for they now have another tale to tell, stories of how what seemed like a never event is soon to materialize. Its not that everything has fallen in place, absolutely not, but still it’s much changed Nepal than what it used to be in its just recent past.
The Radio Stations air programs where one can directly get in touch with the candidates. No charges, for certain radio stations have offered toll free numbers. And across television channels you see the fever spread across the length and breadth of the country. And once again if you were to be brutally honest with your own self, I am pretty sure you suddenly begin to get this feeling of hope, no matter how little it might be. To put everything in a more clichéd manner, light at the end of the tunnel has become visible – no matter what the lux count is. What happens thereafter, Chaos or Peace, is something everyone would love to know but nonetheless the whole process taking shape has certainly encouraged quite a few – or many.
The participation is on the rise. The politicians, most of whom enjoyed the free cheque from the state without having to do anything, are finding themselves in the hot seats. ‘There are no such thing called free lunches in this world‘– these words must be ringing in their ears like never before. They have to get themselves accustomed to changes that the country has under gone and make adjustments to slogans/speeches that they have been so much used to. However they are a separate breed and the manner in which they can dodge questions by answering in a multiple paragraphs where a one liner would have sufficed is something one must appreciate. But then again you often come across situations where you feel like pulling out your hair and screaming loud ‘ get to the point you idiot!’ We so happily love to hate them. Recently I had a chance to watch footage of certain public interaction program , and there the case was not with just the guest for there were quite a few people who wouldn’t just be able to put their question in a manner where by the answer could be delivered in a ‘pointed’ manner. It almost got to the point where once the questioner is done with his question you felt like asking ‘ So, what is the question’. May be that reflected the confused state of a common Nepali mind or the feeling of being more politically aware than the politician themselves, probably one of our common social problems, I am not quite sure.
Leading to the occasion, the recent surge of hurling brick bats at each other is something that has taken the center stage. I read a piece in this very daily which tried analyzing the reason behind the recent spate of violence vis-à-vis the Maoists and the UML people, cadres actually. Some high profile leader, a commander rather, put forward the argument that cadres, or fighters (?) , of his party across the nation are angered by the killing of Maoist comrade, that’s the right one, and hence those are minor incidents of what he called ‘natural revenge’. There was a high degree of restrain practiced by their comrades, so he said, and hence the minor incidents of violence but nothing like what could have come out. May be another all full throttle attack – no he did not say that – but hinted likewise. And we suddenly we get used to UML supreme, the chairman rather, facing the media warning the red brigade ‘ Don’t take our patience as a sign of weakness. We will not tolerate this any more.’ Fine, that’s very good as we do not want to arrive at a situation – so near and yet so far. But then again, when you sit next to your fourth grader cousin it gets pretty hard to explain. He goes nuts ‘kutai kha ko khai cha, ani jahile ni yestai bhancha ‘ – which when literally translated would be something like ‘you warn once, twice or may be thrice. How can something be deemed as a ‘warning’ if you are attuned to hearing it on daily basis. The maximum our school allows is three warnings’. Well, so far so good, he is just a kid. And let’s all pray that the brotherhood of communism will prevail very soon.
When you actually sit down and start thinking about the magnitude of this whole election issue, you are bound to get overwhelmed. Well if not, don’t worry – there are many like you. But then as the saying goes, or is it a song, ‘Don’t know what you have when you’re gone’ many of my friends in California and Sydney do ask me ‘ which party you going to vote for’. It may be politically incorrect to ask such a question but one thing you learn if you’ve been outside is making to-the-point questions – something we at this end of the world are slightly unused to. Here, the whole question would start off form the base ‘So what you think about the elections? I think so and so will get the majority’ and blah – blah before the moot question would finally emerge – so whom will you vote for?
My answer to the question is ‘Congress’, may be its my subconscious mind that gave the answer without me having to do much thinking because it’s the name so much gotten used to hearing and I am asked ‘but did not they raise the levels of corruption to a new high when they were in power’. I click enter a smiley in the IM. ‘Just kidding..’, I reply back and with some dots in between I write ‘..UML’. Dots incidentally speak quite a lot, or have a significant role to play, in an online conversation. ‘Fence sitter ‘along with three smiley is the reply I get. And followed by dots were the words ‘Only if they had a leader’ I thought they had one and therefore did not quite understood the reply. I let it pass by as discussing would mean putting quiet a bit of additional pressure on my fingers. I went on taking names of the parties’ almost in descending order, again subconsciously, on the basis of the last count made some half a dozen years ago.
To cut the long story short, an unprecedented event is finally about to take place which not only is your or mine once-in-a-life-time event but also of the country. If the huge amount of interest being shown from the general masses and also what I prefer to call ‘our very own national – international community’- which may not be of much significance though – is anything to go by, pride and hope may soon become words we can identify with. Till then, let’s keep our eyes open and fingers crossed.
(Published on the Sunday edition of The Kathmandu Post,30th March 2008.)