Udas*, woke up in middle of the night screaming, Motherrrrrrr' in the cold and dark room of Kathmandu jail. The moment, he came to his consciousness he found that his heart was beating in such a way that he could even hear it in the silence of the night. He was there for the last fortnight. This fortnight had passed like a hell for him. He was traumatized at the mere thought of spending another six months in this hell. He was repenting for what he had done which, even if he wanted, could not be made straight.
These days, Shakespeare's lines from Macbeth, which he heard repeatedly from his English teacher used to echo repeatedly in his eardrums, 'What's done cannot be undone.' During this fortnight, he had to do all those things, which he ne'er thought of, ne'er dreamt of, like breaking and carrying boulders, washing clothes of hoodlums of the jail and what not. Those were the hands and the legs, which used to be so soft and fresh like a newly sprung rose but now it had become rough, parched, and numb. It seemed that the hardship had gulped the life out of his hands and legs.
He still vividly remembers, that ominous day, when he was brought here. It was the gloomiest day he had ever witnessed in his life. Whole sky seemed so dark and melancholic. Even the nature seemed to cry along with him. Through out the night, there was heavy downpour from the sky and from his eyes too. The most dreadful and heartrending thing for him was that his father did not turn up the day, the day when he was to be brought to the jail from police custody. The very day, he was brought to the jail he was beaten up by the hooligans of the jail. It was the custom of the jail that whosoever came there for the first time, they used to whip him, to show their authority.
He still feels like vomiting, the moment he thinks of the first meal, (two thin burned chapattis with a saucer of lentil, which was like water, few green chillies and piece of an onion) that he ate in the jail. It was that particular moment that he missed his mother the most. That night, eyes filled with tears and heart with remorse he started reminiscing about his golden days. He was in the best school of Kathmandu, which lay in the outskirts of the valley in the cozy lap of hills. It was encircled by magnificent hills all around. The splendid view of the mountains, which one could witness early in the morning from there, overwhelmed every heart. It was so enchanting to have a glimpse of marvelous optical phenomena in the distant horizon during twilight. Moreover, in the night, the distant view of dazzling lights of Kathmandu valley mesmerized everybody. Every night he would sit for hours, looking into those lights with his friends. They used to try to point out their homes, although none of them succeeded ever. The only thing that they could identify among those mirages was the runway of the airport that looked like stars running on the both sides trying to form a new constellation. The most fascinating thing for him was the way to school from Kathmandu. Every time on witnessing peasants working in paddy fields, lines from Wordsworth's poem, 'The Solitary Reaper' used to echo in his ears,
'And, as I mounted up the hill
The music in my heart I bore
Long after it was heard no more.'
Everywhere he had friends to love him. He was so happy in the school. Every thing was there for him. Although it was a boarding school, far from his family members however he never missed them. In fact, there was nothing to miss. His father being a businessperson never had time for him. During his monthly home visit too, his father never turned up, never had time to talk to and with him. Every time, he just wondered, when was the last time he dined with his father? When was the last time his father took him to movie? When was the last time when his father patted on his shoulder displaying appreciation? Whether he failed in the weekly test or secured good marks, his father never had time to pass a comment. Every home visit would turn out to be a nightmare for him. In his bedroom, everything was there, from soft cushion to all the latest and sophisticated electrical gadgets. However, during night, silence would stretch to eternity and he used to feel that those concrete and cold walls were trying their best to squeeze him to death. It was during that time; he took refuge in drugs and wrote these lines in the feat of drugs,
'Lonely was I and lonely am I now,
whatsoever I had was in dream, now I learn.'
After that day, he always used to recite it whenever he felt lonely and whenever he pushed himself into the world of illusion. During his stay at home, every night he used to dream about his mother and brother. However, in dream too he could only see vague image of his mother and brother stretching their warm arms to hug him. He used to run towards them to get a warm hug from them. However, their image was like a shadow, the more he tried to catch them, the more they go far away and the more he went away, they came closer. The more he used to run towards them, their image seemed to grow vaguer, until it was lost in the distant horizon. How could he see them properly when he had never met them for the last 12 years? In fact, he had never seen them. He had only seen his mother during his early years of childhood but no matter how hard he tried, he could not make an image of his brother, who was born after his parents got divorced. Therefore, he never got an opportunity to see him.
His father, a young handsome Shakya* boy happened to go to Japan in late sixties for his further studies. He was doing MBA in a university in Japan. During his stay in Japan, he fell in love with his classmate named Sato, who was Japanese. Her mesmerizing beauty and her captivating eyes captivated his heart. He fell headlong into the world of romance. Their romance went on well and in their final year, they became Mr and Mrs. Although at that time, his parents opposed to their relationship tooth and nail. However, when they realized that their son's happiness was with her. Finally and reluctantly, they accepted their relationship. After completing their MBA, both of them started doing job in a multi-national company in Japan regardless of repeated summoning from his parents to Nepal. He was willing to go but his wife was reluctant. Somehow, he managed to convince her and they came to Nepal.
It had just been a month or so of their arrival in Nepal, Sato started having problems in home. She was not able to adjust with the conservative life of Nepalese. Gradually she started, revolting and started going against the will of her in-laws. His life was stuck in the turmoil and hurly-burly's of his parents and wife. Then one day, everything seemed to be all right. His wife gave him the happy tiding that she was nourishing a bud in her womb, which would soon blossom into flower. When he announced this happy tiding to all the members of the family, every one was as happy as they could be. After all, he was the only son of his family. Moreover, this was the first time a child was expected to enter into their family. Because of this, everything seemed to come down to normal. One afternoon, when he was working in his office, his office phone rang. He rushed to the maternity ward of Bir Hospital without keeping the receiver down. When he reached there, he was thoroughly sweating. His armpits were drenched. He was feeling very uncomfortable. He was desperately in need of a shower.
Nevertheless, he resisted this temptation; after all, there were more tempting things, which lay before him. He was much tensed, throughout the time when the tiny zero watt red bulb, which lay still on top of the operation theatre was on. He strolled up and down the corridor. His heart used to come up to his mouth the moment the vague cry of his wife used to enter his ears. Throughout the delivery time, he strolled up and down. Finally, when the red bulb returned to its original form, his heart stopped pounding for a while. He hurried towards the doctor, and asked about the welfare of his wife. For a moment, he had forgotten about the arrival of the new member. He was just lost in the memory of his wife. When doctor convinced him that she was absolutely fine, then he enquired about the arrival of new member. With broad smile in his face, doctor announced that she has given a birth to a son. He hurriedly entered the room where his wife laid on a bed. Beside her was the most tender and the most beautiful angel. The moment, she saw him; she gave the most genteel smile which engulfed him. She looked so fresh and innocent as if she had just bathed in newly sprung rose. The maternal love, with which she was bestowed upon her by Him, was shining all around her like an aura. He had never seen her so beautiful all these years. He felt proud to have such a wife, in front of whose beauty, even a fairy's beauty would hide out of shyness. His parental home glistened with lights the day, his son was supposed to get a name. After all, their family had had their heir now. Almost everyone from his area and his relatives were summoned to celebrate the occasion. A grand feast was arranged. At the end of the religious rituals, his son was named, Udas. From the day he was born, everybody in the family was happy. A strong bond of love had developed among all of them. Every one from the family was mesmerized by the silly acts of Udas.
No one knew that Sato was not contended with the name of her first child. She wanted to give her son a Japanese name. However, in presence of all the relatives, she couldn't reveal her desire. Nevertheless, deep down her heart, this feeling was suffocating her. Somehow, she succeeded in subduing her desire. However, she burst out on the third birthday of Udas. She expressed her desire of sending Udas to Japan for studies, which was strongly declined by the family members. She wanted her child to study Japanese language where as, family members wanted their heir to study Nepali. This resulted in the development of a huge gap between Sato and her husband. After some weeks, everything turned out to be normal. However, one morning, Udas father found a note on the pillow. Only three sentences were written,
I am going to my land with my child, which is in my womb.
Do not come to look for me, as I will never come back.
Take care of Udas.
After Sato left, Siddarth was completely shattered. He tried to find haven in alcohol. Days and nights, he would be in bar and dance restaurants in Thamel. On one occasion, in police raid, he was caught and he had to spend a night in the police custody. The following morning, when he was having his breakfast, doorbell rang. A cold sweat rolled down his spine the moment he heard the ring. The sound of the doorbell, which he used to admire, seemed ominous that day. He approached near the door with an apprehension. The moment he opened the door, his eyes fell on a postal worker. He handed him an envelope with a smile and went on his way. The envelope seemed so familiar to him. He identified it the moment he saw the Japanese postage stamp. He slowly opened the envelope and found a legal notice. He read it time and again, because he was not able to believe what he had read. Every new reading gave him another shock. It was a divorce paper, which his beloved wife had dispatched. In addition, there was a small note, which read,
I gave birth to our son and I have named him as Omi. I am sending you a photograph of him, as I know that you will never be able to see him.
He was so shocked that he had a heart attack. Fortunately, the butler saw him and he was rushed to the nearby hospital. When he opened his eyes, he found himself in the hospital surrounded by his relatives. Every body was pleased to see him come back from the jaw of death. He started recovering and soon he was discharged from the hospital. After few days of his arrival, when he was about to sleep, somebody knocked his door. It was his old father. His father laid a proposal of marriage. He wanted to decline however; he couldn't as his father sternly told him that if he refuses to do so, then he would die. He told him that he wish to see him happy before he departs from the world. Reluctantly, he agreed to marry. This time, bride was chosen by his family members. With the help of relatives, they succeeded in finding a suitable bride. For it was not difficult for a divorced man to find a match. It was only for the woman.
Once again, Shakya house was glistening with lights. Everything was arranged. This time, it was a traditional marriage. He married another woman, whom he hardly knew. Throughout the religious rituals of marriage ceremony, all the moments that he spent with his former wife flashed in his eyes. He didn't even realize when the ceremony was over. He was still not sure whether he married or not. It was all like a dream. It happened all of sudden. It seemed just yesterday that, he was with Udaas's mother. However, now he was going to spend the rest of his life with a woman whom, he had just married. His heart ached when he saw his newly wed bride on the same bed where he used to sleep with Udas's mother. Sadly resigned to fate, he stepped towards his new wife. His wife's face was covered by red bridal veil. Slowly he lifted the bridal veil to have a glimpse of her. He was astonished to see her beauty. It was at that moment, he asked her name. Meekly she said, Aishwarya. It didn't take long for him to be mesmerized by her beauty. It seemed to him that he suffered from amnesia. He forgot everything about his past life, when he heard her moan when he was pushing himself inside her. The next morning he was happy to be wakened up by Aishwarya. That morning, he even drank bed tea, which he had never done before. From that day, everything was pleasant for him and for his family except Udas. Slowly he realized that his father was no longer the same. Every evening he would eagerly wait for his father to come from office with anticipation that his father would have time for him. However, the disappointment greeted him always.
A year later, Aishwarya bore him a male child. After that, Udas life changed forever. Everyone in the family was so engrossed with the new flower that had sprung in their garden that they completely forgot about the existence of Udas. It was on his fifth birthday; he was informed that he was to be sent to a boarding school. He wailed, pleaded to his father. However, his voice fell on deaf ears. This was how he started living in the school. For around a week, he felt homesick. Slowly he learnt to adapt to his fate. He was happy in the school. He always prayed to Almighty to cancel school holidays. For holidays would mean to be far from his friends and to go home, where he was just an alien being. Holidays used to hang very heavy upon him.
The giant wheel rolled by and he reached the tenth standard. He was happy with friends. He always enjoyed being with friends, particularly when they would sit in groups singing playing guitar. He had just learnt to live. Almighty couldn't see his happiness. He was again thrown into the world of woes. He would never forget that day. That day, he was in the assembly hall for the morning assembly. His name was called out in the mike. He went to the reception. It was a call from his father. At first, he could not believe that it was his father, who had called for he had never called all these years. His father gave him the saddest news. His mother had passed away in Japan because of cancer. He was shattered. He felt weak from his leg. His leg was not willing to carry him any longer. He fell unconscious. He was rushed to school infirmary. After half an hour or so, he came to his consciousness. Though nurse told him to rest, he insisted on going back to class.
He went to the class. Everyone was happy in his or her own world. He was the only one, whose happiness was nowhere to be seen. He could not concentrate on studies, so he decided to lean on the desk. He had just leaned; he came to the notice of the teacher. The teacher scolded him badly. As soon as the teacher left the room, everybody laughed at him. A boy passed a remark, 'Perhaps he was again dreaming about his mother who deserted him.' The moment he heard it, darkness spread in front of him. He lost control over his temper. In the fit of temper, he picked up the cricket bat that was near him and attacked the boy, who had passed the comment. He hit the boy hardly on his head. The boy fell on the ground. The boy's head started bleeding profusely. Chaos spread in the class. Principal was called and the boy was taken to the hospital.
Udas didn't realize what he had done. It happened so fast that he couldn't even remember what had happened exactly. That night, police jeep came in the school. He was taken in the police custody. That night, he was kept in the police headquarter at Hanuman Dokha. He was lost. Nothing was in his head. He was just wondering why he was brought there. That night, he couldn't sleep properly because of mosquitoes and the stench of urine that came from the corner of the custody. The following day, he was taken to court. It was at that time, he came to know that, parents of the boy, whom he had hit, had filed a case against him. It was in the courtroom he got the knowledge that the boy was in critical condition. Udas father hadn't arranged a lawyer for him. Therefore, he was granted a government lawyer by the judge. For around an hour, the drama of lawyers went on. After an hour, the judge passed the verdict. Udas was sentenced for six months looking into his age. He was a minor so he was sentenced only for six months. That night, in the jail, after the hoodlums beat him, they told him that he was charged for attempt to murder. Attempt to murder his classmate. Since that day, he has been wondering, did he really attempt to murder his classmate?
* Udas literally means Sadness.
* Shakya means a Kshatriya (warrior) clan
that belongs to the clan of Gautama Buddha.
The author is the head of English department of Shuvatara International School, Lalitpur, Nepal.