Frustrated by the issue of citizenship, a woman reflects on her relationship with Nepal.
You must know that loving you is not an instinct. It does not come into being through stirrings of the heart. It is the type of love that can only be taught. And I was always a good teacher. I taught our children to love you the way I taught them multiplication tables. They memorized you over and over until they knew you by heart.
You must know that it is difficult to invoke love in the heart of those who do not know you. So I told them of your beauty, your face as fine as a half crescent moon and your chest as wide as a mountain range. I told them of your voice, thunderous like roaring rapids, and I told them of your embrace, as warm and welcoming as the winter’s sun. And once they learned to love you, you secured your immortality through the ownership deeds you bestowed on them by giving them your name. (But I know they were nothing more than paper-light menaces produced by your lackeys with sub-standard penmanship.) And you claimed them as yours to do with what you pleased. But I bet it never occurred to you that a love that is learned can be easily forgotten.
As you made your empty promises to our children, I became more entangled in the intricate lies I had learned to tell myself. You promised to be their protector and I let them be defenseless. You disciplined them as their father and I taught them to be filial. You punished them like a teacher and I watched them be tutored. I let our children accept the devastation of both your presence and your absence. I ignored the misdemeanors of your actions and your inactions. I turned a blind eye when you sent our children away to foreign lands as you lived off their sweat and blood and when on their return you welcomed them with black fumes that pierced my heart and poisoned their lungs. I grew accustomed to the arrogance with which you took us for granted and every month I let you collect your dues, for which we received nothing in return. I upheld your Salic law and as your partner in procreation we continued to produce your heirs.
Over the centuries you claimed to achieve great deeds in my name. I allowed you to put me on a pedestal from where I watched the bloodthirsty ways you used to create this place I must call home. I kept quiet when, in my name, you commandeered an army of my sons and sent them to their deaths. I kept quiet when my daughters were crushed under the boots of the enemy you created within. And still you have asked me to make our children love you.
It was in my name that you inspired love, hate, rebellion, loyalty in the hearts of our children. Yet I never had a say. You reduced me to a necessity that you tried hard not to need. I have been essential to your existence, but I have never carried equal weight.
Of course, our relationship has been anything but ordinary because you are no ordinary man. You are a man made of fact and fiction. You and your reincarnations have imposed yourselves on my understanding of time and place, and you have defined the past that I remember. You will probably continue to live on through eternity but as things stand, you will no longer find me by your immortal side.
It is now clear to me that this unfair impasse has to be broken. And thus, our separation is inevitable and certain. I can no longer indulge your sporadic graces and always be the one to yield. I can no longer stand by your side because you refuse to acknowledge how you are nothing without me. I can no longer let you use my name to carry your hollow legacy forward, because I am capable of creating my own lineage. You don’t know any of this yet, because I have not told you. Maybe I am still hoping you will change your ways.
But as things stand, this is our separation foretold.
Cover photo: A woman walks through rice fields in Janakpur. Philippe Leroyer/Flickr. Republished under CC license BY-NC-ND 2.0.