Nirmala: Between Terror & Ecstasy by Satis Shroff SignUp


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Nirmala: Between Terror & Ecstasy
by Satis Shroff
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  People were out in the streets of Bremen,
A town in Germany,
Candles in their hands,
Some murmuring prayers,
Some silent
To remember me,
A woman from the Himalayas.

I'd left Nepal to see the world
Outside Kathmandu Valley.
I'd ignored the words
Of my father and my brother.
I'd saved money for years
And taken a credit to buy my flight-ticket
To Germany.
As the plane left for Moscow
The endless Himalayan peaks appeared in the window,
Daubed in yellow, orange and scarlet.
I began to have doubts and fears.
I also had hope,
Which kept me going on.

Hope of a better life in a foreign land.
Desire of supporting my old and sick father,
And the craving to show my brother and relatives,
That I was capable of standing on my own feet.
I came to this land as a tourist,
And stayed on as an asylum-seeker.
Some German officials were rude,
But HMG officials back home weren't any better.
Some migrants showed sympathy,
Others couldn't care less.

I was allowed to stay in a house full of foreigners,
Like me.
The nice Germans even gave me money to buy things.
I was happy though dependent
On the alms and the goodwill of the Germans.
I wrote letters full of optimism to my family in Nepal.

Time was running out.
This new, exciting, uncertain life
In a strange, modern western land.
It was like a beautiful dream.
I imagined I was already in Swarga.
The friendly Germans were the celestial beings: Apsaras.
The officials were the Gods and Goddesses,
Who were to decide, God knew when,
To allow me to live in this heaven
Or to send me to Narga, to Hell.

I was a person of happy disposition
In the hills of Nepal.
We Nepalis sing songs and are a cheerful folk,
Even when we have no wealth and not much to eat.
Our ancestors have always reminded us:
This world of ours is an illusion, a Maya.
But I was young and wanted to see the world,
Taste the delicacies and feel everything with my senses.
For Nepal was earlier a forbidden land.
Foreigners were not allowed to enter the country.
And Nepalis had no right to leave the kingdom.
Only the rich and noble families had rights.
The poor had only duties.

Here I was, a woman.
All on my own.
I talked with people from Sri Lanka,
Bangladesh, Africa, Kosovo, Croatia, Albania,
India and Pakistan.
Then I met him: a Moslem named Mohamed from Afghanistan,
And married him.

At first he was nice, as they all are.
As time went by he started yelling at me.
I wasn't allowed to sing and swing at home.
He didn't like the colorful clothes I wore.
I loved dressing up like the German and other European women,
Had to comply to my husband's wishes.
My husband, a man who seemed to have complexes
With the ways of the west,
Wanted to see me in a chador,
Closed to the outside world.

I was regressing, going back in time.
Yet I loved this egoistic, aggressive man.
He beat me, shouted and hissed at me in the day,
And made love to me like a ferocious animal at night.
I was trapped between terror and ecstasy.

Perhaps he beat me because he was jealous,
For I was good-looking, optimistic and friendly.
I'd had a happy childhood in the Himalayas.
My husband was a Moslem.
He didn't drink.
But why was he so angry at me?
Was I the scapegoat for his shortcomings?
He'd lost his country to the Talibans.
He had no job, no recognition in society.
And the beatings went on.

Friends that I'd made in the home for foreigner
Said I should flee to a Frauenhaus.
A house for destitute women,
Women who had family problems.
I ran to the Frauenhaus at an unguarded moment.
The German women soothed me,
Gave me hope and consolation.
They warned me not to leave the Frauenhaus.

One day my husband, who'd lost his face,
Called me from the gate.
I was in the same dilemma as Sita
Of our holy book Ramayana,
Who was deceived and kidnapped
By Ravana, the Demon God.
Should I cross the Frauenhaus threshold
Or not?

I looked at him, my heart flattered and flimmered.
I had fear in my eyes.
I also felt pity for him as he stared at me,
And beckoned me to come home.
I opened the iron gate and went out with him.
He grabbed my hand and dragged me to a bush.
And stabbed me with a curved knife:
In my womb and places I'm ashamed to mention.
He was a fury, a man gone mad.
My last words were, 'Hey Ram! Oh, God!'
Malai bachau. Save me.
I screamed as loud as I could,
But nobody heard me.
His seventeen bloody stabs got the better of me.

As is the tradition in this Swarga,
My husband was treated in a psychiatric ward
And later acquitted of murder.
My hope of heaven on earth,
Was put out like a candle.
How was I to know that I'd loved a maniac?
I married him in 1990.
He blew out my light in 1991.
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February 11, 2007
More By: Satis Shroff
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