My ancestors are supposed to have migrated to the eastern part of Nepal from some village of Dolakha district. I have a a problem of tracing the genealogy because of the lack of information. I have been somehow cut off from the Kafles of older generation. My grandfather, despite belonging to the oldest generation alive now, does not know much of his grandparents. He knows scarcely even about his parents as they had died too early for him to be able to recall how they looked. This has made my knowledge of the family history incomplete forever. Anyway, as he says, his great grandfather, Basanta Kafle, had migrated to the east and settled down somewhere in Terhathum district. The existence of a place named Kaflepani in the same district must prove that the Kafles had lived in that part. It is not clear when they had relocated at Budhabare, Dhankuta. It must be a generation before my grandfather’s parents.
My father belongs to the modern generation of the Kafles, at least in the lines of my grandfathers. The fact that he went to school and was privileged to study English makes me put him in this light. He belonged to the age when family planning was of curiosity to new-fangled people. He knew the merits of a small family though he could never make one. If he had acted according to the counsels of his friends after the birth of our first brother and sister, I would not be there! He was surely skeptic about the future with two children. He did not want to “run the gauntlet” with two kids, and the circumstances proved his reluctance right as his first child died early. Thus, once averted, family planning came to him only after four other sons were born and mother was too fragile to give any other births. So, I and my two brothers are the consequence of the failure of modernity and the success of that skepticism.
My family left the hills after our first brother passed away. They had bought a land in a place called Bukuwa, which now lies in southern belt of Ilam, even before leaving the hills. Our elder brother (parents’ first child) had died in Bukuwa itself. Grief must have forced parents to leave that place to completely settle down at Tandi (Morang). At one time we had land and house at three places: Budhabare (Dhankuta), Charghare (Morang) and Bukuwa (Ilam). We came to Tandi leaving all those places in, 2026 B.S.
I was born in 2029 (December 1972). Ours was a joint family then, with grandparents, two uncles, one aunt, parents, my two siblings and myself. Both my uncles were unmarried and aunt was a widow after her husband had committed suicide. I don’t know much about her; I don’t even remember seeing her. I feel that she was an important member of the family because mother says that she was very lovely. Grandmother still weeps at the mention of her name. Her life must have been very tragic. After a few years of her widowhood, she was married off to a man residing in Assam, India. She never returned Nepal. There was a message of her death after a long absence.
I spent the early years in a joint family. My grandparents partly looked after me along with my brother and sister. I can’t exactly say when the family split and I was fully in hands of parents and my sister. Sister was all there to bring us up. I don’t suppose she was old enough to look after me, but she must have been a reliable companion for us. The family must have split around 2032 after the birth of the one next to me. This was when the youngest uncle was married and his son was born. Our aunt was not a woman who could keep relatives. Her divisive mentality and uncle’s henpecked arrogance compelled my parents to choose partition. The arrogance displayed to such an extent, as mother often reports, that uncle once attacked our father with a Jaanto (a mortar). Father could dodge somehow. The mortar hit a stone and broke about a quarter. Interestingly, it came to our share in partition, and is there at home even today, a token of that historic bickering between brothers.
Mother says she began a new, though hard, life of full independence then. Like other daughters-in-law and housewives, she had undergone grumbles and tribulations in the joint family. This might all have been the result of the usual cat-vs-dog tension between females of joint families. But father rarely listened to others and never became partial towards her; he was never hard and aggressive. And the grumbles of the joint family ended after the separation. It so happened that our unmarried second uncle joined us within a few months because he could not adjust with aunt, his pernickety sister-in-law. Later, grandparents packed up and joined us. Again the family grew and became big, and is so till today. Nobody could actually put up with our aunt at that time.
They say I was a silent and sensitive child, unlike my brother who was bold and talkative. I was born a big healthy baby. Mother says I was as big as my son was at his birth. It was not a surprise that I should grow tall and lanky, in sharp contrast with the initial prediction that I would become fat and big. There was a bitter cause behind this. I had drunk a bowl (small though) of kerosene when I was about three years old. It was the day of my maternal uncle’s wedding. Father had gone out leading the procession to Nangrung, Ilam, the bride’s place. Mother was busy somewhere while I was in our main house with grandmother. Meanwhile, I had asked grandma for water. She had told me to go in and drink from a pot with a bowl, as usual. Then I had happened to serve myself with a bowlful of kerosene. Mother says she had had a hard time saving me. In fact, the mood of Rateuli had been completely ruined by my life-and-death struggle with the kerosene. This incident pushed me through weakness for an extended period of time. They say I was burnt inside and it took a lot of years to repair the damage. Some even say that the kerosene had sharpened my mind at the cost of my body. That I was intelligent throughout my schooling and always stood first must have made them believe so.