Things happen. People show their attitudes and change demeanors. I experience fluctuations in my view of the world. The phenomena appear static though, theoretically, they are in flux. Isn’t this a cliché? And, like manifold, I continue to mind my own business. Businesses go as usual, no doubt, as do the attitudes and demeanors.

My workplace premises present a spectacle of the havoc these days — in the physical sense. There is a huge pit where they used to paint and draw and sculpt the wonders of human creativity. Corridors have become dingy pathways with dusty and half-broken furniture items dumped at the corners. Complaints about the dearth of parking space, drying taps and stinking washrooms reverberate off and on. But motorbikes have kept jamming in and cars piling up. Students are as agile with their usual antics as ever and the School business as hectic. The eating space has shrunk and again swollen. The stomachs, perhaps, ever hungry and swelling by inches and kilograms.  

Despite all these, I have not missed the ambiance of the main campus yet. I now realize I was born to be with people and responsibilities more than with trees and winds and birds and shrubs. Hattiban and its surroundings, except the adjacent elephantine woods, are barren, almost desert-like if we believe that concretes do not have life. And I move about smugly like a camel who has already stored his life’s supply of water.

Ambition is not what drives me every day. I move about with my aching waist and ailing ass just believing that good days are afoot and I will be one of their causes and consumers. I have the right to be a change agent; I am part of the change drive, I keep believing. I am with any change agent like I am with myself.

Confusion – no confusion

The choice of being at four locations – Dhulikhel, Manahara, Hattiban, Kalidaha – appears confusing at times. What is a career after all? I would still not dwell upon the themes of life and death in relation to this simple multi-place management. The Kathmandu market, which I had shunned a number of times to live in the solace of Dhulikhel, has invited me again. And the fact is Dhulikhel began to offer less, for several reasons. Agreeing to live in the confines of the main campus was tantamount to succumbing to the notion of old age and senility. I have neither felt old nor imagined senility. The attacks of post-midlife have gradually prepared me to make sense of larger assaults. The relocation to Hattiban has boosted my confidence. Otherwise, the back pain had made me apprehensive of any form of mobility and initiative. I thought I was being crippled every day.

I am not reiterating these facts just to justify my decisions. The reiteration reflects the pattern of life and that of thinking. The circumstances say I am on a great mission of ensuring the growth of my discipline. Some say my landing was the landing of the right person in the right place. To some, it might have seemed designed for snatching the crown before it landed on someone’s head. I have nothing to say in defense. It was like being on a journey and having to open an umbrella to cover myself from an unexpected downpour. I was just beginning to stride a few kilometers when someone showed me the rain and handed me an umbrella. Rest is the thing to unfold.

Complementarity of inclinations

Very odd combination indeed. How inclinations of separate individuals could be complementary! Inclination is an inward factor. When inclinations point to the selves only, two persons can never converge or complement. But this never happens. Inclination has its own manifestations, in speech and in deeds. Two persons having similar predilections are, then, likely to speak similar ideas and act in similar ways.

A rhetorician has a keenness for listening and reading. Most of the time, speaking or writing follows listening and reading. So, all rhetoricians are likely to speak after others or write after close readings. People trained in critical thinking are wary of impulsive, nonchalant remarks. Since they are keen to perceive more than one intention in a message, they are equally aware of such multiplicity in their own expressions and ready to be misinterpreted multiple times.

Poets are like smokers. No offense here. I have seen even the strangest, I mean the unacquainted, smokers easily converge in lack of or for the sake of a cigarette butt or speck of tobacco dust. Two poets behave the same way, at least in the haste to read their works to others. Two musicians, two card players, two dancers, and two sketch artists. You may check the way these pairs behave, and compare the behavior of each pair with that of others. The potential of complementarity manifests here. Now the hypothesis is: you can make a poet work with a sketch artist, or a musician with a carpenter.

Ode to beetles and carpenter bees

With time subsiding, subsuming into oblivion, I feel that my journey into the ultimate is getting sense every day. The wrinkles and greys at places tell of the need to reassure myself of the urgency to feel younger. You don’t need to struggle to feel old. It happens with ease, utmost ease. There is excitement in trying to feel younger. I do not prevent my eyes from spotting aesthetics in the world around me. If I control the instincts, wrinkles and greys will have their say. So, what my day-long searching makes me realize is that my personal sphere gets fulfilled in the personal sphere itself. This is when I meet my family after the week-long separation. In every union, I feel as young as I was two decades ago.

But what of the things left back to take care of themselves? The house, the homestead, the edge to the stream made to crumble after every drizzle, the Magar Khola that does the havoc once a year, and the perennial possibility that termites, beetles, and carpenter bees would gnaw the wooden stuff one by one? They do pinch my heart bit by bit every day, a testimony that I have not lived there enough to exhaust my passions for the darling abode. But what can I do? Can I exchange the urgency of academic immersion with the termites and beetles and lizard wastes? What if I quit the world of intellect to attend to the world of insects and rodents? What will happen to my budding boys and the burning back? Just if or till my aching frame does not contract the terminal stuff, the world is comfortable enough to wade through. If I worry too much about the things hard to attend to, and what my education-laden family cannot bear along, I will not be able to bear anything ahead. So, focusing on the spiritual-academic is more reasonable in the present state of things. I can only wish that I could continue to walk this earth and sleep that bed with my limbs least susceptible to cramps and spasms coming from goddam where.

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By hkafle

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

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