I suddenly got tormented by a question when I saw scars in my elder son’s hands: “Do I carry something similar in my body that reminds me of my (grand)parents?”

Well, one mark on his left wrist should remind him of my  act of ignorant stupidity when he was only two. I burnt it with a hot iron thinking that it was cool enough because it did not burn my fingers when I touched the flat surface. I did this just to let him know what it is like to touch an iron. The others in some of his left and right fingers will remind him of his mother, me of her negligence and the great ‘democratic day’ of April 24, 2006, and her of the month-long worries caused by the urgency of his treatment. They constantly remind us of his electrocution, subsequent medication, final hospitalization and surgery with a thick pin through the right middle-finger, month-long waiting for its recovery, and all those efforts to let the finger normalize in the succeeding times.

Wait, it was not any piece of iron, but the thing that you smooth your clothes with. And I am not writing about it anymore. Nor will I narrate Anurag’s fateful electrocution on the historic day. I have already spotted three darling marks in me and will concentrate on them.

My scars remind me of my grandmother, grandfather and mother, respectively. I will begin with my grandma as a sincere tribute, in her loving memory. I will then write about grandpa-related scar as homage for his ability to survive up to 103 years. Mother will feature the last for not any other reason than her being the youngest of all the three, and for the scar being the oldest.

I must be around six when I got these three scantily visible scars on my right forefinger. I was grandma’s regular companion when she husked rice with the dhiki. One day, for some reason there was no adult in the house to either run the dhiki or push rice into the okhal. Grandma chose me to try the latter because I would not lift the former an inch. It was a risky thing to do. I always considered one who could work with the mortar to be the smarter.

I sat to do it not only because dear grandma asked me to, but also for that sense of smartness. But she might have pounded only three times, cautiously with her eyes fixed in my little right hand and with adequate instructions to be careful, when the fourth blow hit my forefinger with three visible scratches. I did not cry, for the triumph of doing three times at least. It was not serious wounding either. Grandma might have felt little guilty. She used to recall the moment every time I joined her in the pounding work later. But I could equally have got my fingers pounded into pieces!

I was very fond of using khukuri, in fact both brother and I.  Father and grandfather had big heavy khukuris. They were good at doing woodwork with their khukuris. They used to make it a point that a farmer’s son had to learn to use all kinds of domestic tools/weapons. But they did not allow us to touch their large khukuris. Fortunately, grandpa had this desire to let us own small ones one day. So, during one of his visits to the hills, he got two beautiful mini khukuris made and gifted brother and me. Father made two beautiful sheaths for us.

Then the real training started. They used to warn us of wounding or damaging things from around. We worked with the air of smartness and discretion. It was impossible to be without the knife in free times, and without chopping things with them. There was one or other thing to do such as cutting bushes and twigs from small trees, making steps in tree-trunks and a number of petty attempts.  So, at such moment, with the same air of dexterity, I straightened a piece of bamboo with my left hand and began to make an arrow. How did I do it? I held it and began to cut to the side of my hand while the adult practice was to cut outside.

Wasn’t that a right way to chop my hand? I did make a fine “n” mark deep at the bottom of the back of my left forefinger. And grandpa was a real Durbasha for a while, so was pa. I got infection, the left palm swelled to the elbow for a week. We did as could be done with those domestic grasses and liquids. The knife took rest with grandpa. He did not give it to me even after the wound had healed.

I have this permanent “n” in my left hand reminding all the time of the little khukuri and grandpa. I probably was 9 then.

They say I was a very curious child and would be around father and mother during their usual chores. What I liked best was the way mother made whey and separated butter. I loved the way she rolled the madaani inside the theki. As mother recalls now, I was just around or above two when this happened. One morning, I was closely watching her pouring whey from one theki to another in order to cut the layer of butter. I was shorter than the thekis when I sat, and therefore had to stand up to see the butter on their tops. I happened to bow so close and she did not notice this by chance that the theki hit near my left eye with a deep cut. This left a scar near my left eye, reminding my childhood.

I inherit the simplicity of grandma, height of grandpa and face of mother. But I do not see them in me because I have begun to search myself in my sons. Sometimes, my wife appears to resemble me or vice versa. People say being together for a long time husband and wife share qualities to such an extent that they begin to resemble in many respects. I don’t think being together and sharing are the reasons. I think it is because the children resemble them both or inherit the qualities of both.  Anyway, I can’t explicate this well. But I am sure, I will carry the mementos of my (grand)parents to the crematory. The marks in the forefingers and left eye are their monuments.

But I am yet to tell my boys the stories of these marks. Maybe I will first tell my elder son about the black mark in his left hand.

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By hkafle

I am a University teacher, with passion for literature and music.

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