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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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The Oldies' Home in the Village 




Only we oldies are in the village
Our sons and daughters aren’t here
Our grandchildren, who’d chirrup like birds
Early in the morning, are also gone. 

There are flowers on the yard’s edge 
But there aren’t any young eyes to pluck them.
It’s been years 
Since that guava plant—whereon
The kids had grown, competing with birds—
ripened and fell useless. 

The evening 
sleeps the way the morning wakes—empty. 

Leaving the sun-above-the-hills*
Right where it is, the children are
Orphans living on their own
In the city. Come they do
,
and show their 
Scarcity-scratched faces, then leave 
Again. They propose 
A life like a prisoner, 
And think of adorning a flower in a vase
—so sweet smelling in the backwoods.
With a cage, they try to entice a bird
that never tires of waking up the village. 

How should I accommodate 
These hills and slopes,
These terraced
And open fields,
Forests and meeting spots
And the heart that never grows tired 
Of giving
In this saadhe-dui-aane* city ?

There is no sorrow for this life—
It’s going quite well
Just by looking at the nest 
On the sapling nearby—
Birds hatch their babies
Feed them morsels from their own mouth
Follow their flights to boughs and branches
And hang their final breath swinging by the same boughs,
And yet, they expect 
Nothing from their babies.

My wife wishes to
die in red*
And at times I feel 
That I might fly away 
Snatching the color of her life.
Suppressing similar fear, I keep on psychobabbling— 
"You had first entered ahead of me;
Now it’s my turn to go."*

The smell of sweat that never dries 
Is exactly the same 
No matter how old we’ve gotten,
The flood of tears is exactly the same
No matter how many winters we’ve come through. 
We tease each other’s little sorrows, 
And suddenly feel fear;
But we won’t go anywhere 
Leaving this temple 
Till we breathe this last breath of life. 

I, 
A Pashupati* of hers, 
Am here;
She, 
A Guhyeshwari* of mine, 
Is also here. 

           -Prollas Sindhuliya
             Translator Haris Adhikari


* The sun-above-the-hills— refers to sunset or final days of (human) life 

* Saadhe-dui-aane— the smallest unit of a plot of land legally purchasable which is barely sufficient for a house— refers to a very congested kind of living in the cities. 

* Dying in red— refers to the desire of dying in red clothes. Red clothes are taken as one of the emblems of Hindu women's happy married life. Once their husbands pass away, they are expected to wear only white. 

* 'You had first entered ahead of me; now it’s my turn to go.’ — Right after marriage, the bride in Hindu communities is asked to enter the bridegroom's house first, ahead of the bridegroom, first placing her right foot inside the threshold. Here, the persona is also speaking of his deep fear that he might be the first between them to go away now, from this world. 

* Pashupati— One of the names of lord Shiva; also refers to the holy temple of Pashupati Naath in Kathmandu, Nepal 

* Guhyeshwari— another name for Sati, lord Shiva's first wife; also, this refers to the place in Sleshmantak ban (forest) nearby the Pashupati Naath Temple where Sati's secret body parts had fallen down, according to the myth, when Shiva was carrying her self-immolated body in extreme agony and bereavement. 

Here, the references to Pashupati and Guhyeshwari (Guhya, meaning 'secret' and Ishwari, meaning 'goddess') speak of the unparalleled and amazing love story between Shiva and Sati. These references also work as one of the luring aspects of the capital city where the oldies would be close to these holy shrines, apart from being together in their old age, according to their children. In fact, this a growing phenomenon in Nepali society.