On sorting through the wreckage of a boat that had lost 300 refugees to the sea, the carpenter thought the wood smelled of despair. He resolved to make crosses from the wood and present them to survivors.
Interviewed by the BBC, someone from the British Museum heard him and contacted him to order a cross.
It stands today in a glass case at the British museum: the cross of Lampadusa – many who see it weep at the awful inhumanity.
This is our time, and the worst criminals are our own!’
In Nepal, dreadful happenings commenced on the 25th of April 2015 with an earthquake registering 7.9. In May, another earthquake occurred, not as huge, but huge enough to complete the destruction that commenced on the 25th of April.
Relief started to pour in and, surprisingly for the ‘experts’, our impoverished, badly equipped, and shabby airport ‘stepped up to the plate’. It did not close down, fold over and die. True it didn’t organize the relief coming in an optimum manner and reports of harassment and deliberate delaying tactics flooded the airwaves, television channels and newspapers.
While despair still envelopped us, we waited for the daily afterquakes and shakes and preoccupied ourselves with the glum reality that Nepal had lost at least 8,000 souls and 4 out of 7 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Those fascinating durbar–offices that survived 1934 crumbled. The quaint old fire station in Pulchowk, Lalitpur, fell down before our eyes.
We’d had plenty of warnings that this would happen: attended lectures on retrofitting of old buildings; strengthening village schools and domiciles and, as our politicians so often promised, all this would be achieved ‘chhito bhanda chhito’ as if Husain Bolt was going to push the government along! But then it might not happen in our time: a century from 1934 is 2034, so what was the rush? But this was our time and what might not have happened did!
The younger generation responded commendably. They were the lights at the end of so many tunnels. They gave assistance and service to their compatriots in the hills and mountains, while the generation whose time it was were still meeting and seating and eating to decide what do !
There are so many groups of young people that should be commended and one cannot recall all their names. Briefly, there were alumni groups, medical aid volunteers , college groups, reading groups, drama groups , and Lions and Rotaract groups who spread themselves as far and wide as possible. Let’s not forget the Boy bands and artists’ groups because they all joined in! Young men came home from lucrative jobs they had sought to rebuild their villages.
Meanwhile ‘back at Ranch Kathmandu’ our great statesmen still nit picked about how relief should be handled; who should be allowed this or that; and, of course, who should be next to sit in the prime minister’s seat! One would suspect the amount, of fuss our great and glorious make about that ‘Chair’ that it might be made of the same solid gold that some of our middle-eastern brethren have in their bathrooms!
Of course, that’s not to deny, as Jane Austen once wrote, that ‘these are heavy affairs’. How heavy indeed! Should we add up the actual costs of our ‘one of the best in the world’ constitutions, it might not be the front runner in terms of logic and justice but one of the most expensive — do the maths!
Ten years of Maoist insurgency that destroyed lives and infrastructure; and deprived children of childhood and much more besides. Ten years of rampant violence by both our ‘liberators’ and our so-called ‘defenders’. Nepal now has so many ‘martyrs’ that a new word has to be sought before the original wears out!
The ten years bringing us to 2015 placed on this land the burden of two constituent assembly elections, then years of 600 plus monthly salaries and allowances for the people’s representatives whom people claimed hardlyvisited their districts or, if they did, they were hardly heard of again as they were sucked into the heady excitement of meeting and eating in Kathmandu.
Well, 2015 got us a constitution, it came just afterModi, the media machine, had made generous promises, and then forgotten them!
How many of us followed the happenings along the borders with India? Were we too busy not being consulted? After 20 years of pillage, murder, fear, and mayhem, two elections still failed to consult ‘we the people’. Nepal became what it is today while most of us stood and watched. The newspapers filled up with old-timers’ wisdom, of the ‘been there, seen it, done it’ variety and we wondered why we weren’t among the movers and shakers of the world. But that’s only politics!
In other fields, let’s not forget, we do have movers and shakers. Magsaysay awardees; CNN heroines. A Nepali play written by Ashesh Malla and performed by Sarvanam was featured off Broadway in New York; we had artists with exhibitions in Europe; music groups like Nepalaya that perform before the world; and a Buddhist Nun who sings like an angel;a young cricket team, a gold-medal football team and so forth: they are all there, flying the flag of Nepal.
It’s time now for the drama to end. It’s time to scrutinize what is so offensive to some of our citizens in the ‘one of the best in the world constitutions’ and make amendments where/and if necessary.
It wasn’t a dark year for us alone. The inspired Schengen dream of Europe received a battering. Over one million refugees fled Syria and Iraq. The German Chancellor welcomed them. But others were suspicious of the ISIS death cult, the attacks on Paris – and on it goes, even into 2016.
Across the world ancient heritage sites have been destroyed by ‘crusaders’ of one type or another. Villages have been razed and people ‘executed’ when they chose to resist terrorists or to protect what they hold dear.
It sounds familiar because 1995-96 brought our humble land and peace-loving villages into the net of black kenoma, the dark, cold spot in the soul which leads us to murder without conscience – man’s inhumanity to man.
Will it ever end: this man’s inhumanity to man: to dead babies washed upon beaches and desperate people deprived by pirates of all they have in return for a risky ride in a badly maintained craft across the sea to what they believe is a brave new world?Will children in our own hills and mountains be able to go to school freely to learn the skills which will help them achieve their highest excellence instead of being pawns to be indoctrinated by misguided adults who aim to crush any independent thoughts out of them?
Maybe the earthquakes were our big bang! A shake-up, perhaps to remind us, the so-called intelligentsia, that this was our time. What did we do with it; and how much more will we throw away?