Binaya Ghimire

Recall an ancient Chinese blessing — “May you live in interesting times”. However, opaque the future may be, apparently I wish my Pa, that you will live in interesting times — times that are challenging, promising, perhaps even dangerous.

At the moment it is virtually a chimera to think that happy days will be here again. Pa wrote back — my son, you asked “a” road of freedom. I’m giving you not one but many.

Pa’s words drum inside me. I try to work out what freedom means. The ancient Indian sage Chanakya said after torching the pyre of his mother, “I lost my father months ago, now mother is ready to decompose — I’m free, nothing in the world chains me”.

Do parents chain their offsprings? A great Englishman said — “Man is born free but always chained”. Is it parents or material substances? My old man is inside me. I’ll never be free of him.

Even in the days when he exasperated me and I resented him vehemently, I was unable to resist the essence of his existence in the façade of my innerself. Prince Siddhartha forfeited royalty, Rahul and Yashodhara to achieve Nirvana. Why did my Pa walk away?

Was he seeking peace too in this world of sorrows? He was the one who never gave up hope. He always said — there’s a glimmer of hope now but I’m sure one day, it will blaze.

Pa lost his father at the age of nine, a year after his mother eloped. He had two sisters of seven and five years of age. Though he owned hectares of land, he lived wretchedly. He married at the age of 15 and the very next year was a father to a son. Misfortunes began again. He lost his child, pregnant wife and youngest sister. But he survived. His widowed aunt adopted him until the time he dropped out of school. He joined a local school. His sister was wedded and normal life began in some way. He was married again a second time at the age of 29 to a girl of 14. My Ma.

Pa did his MA to become a journalist and a news agent. He did not get along with his boss. He quit. Pa bought a printing machine to start a news magazine. His partner cheated him. Pa was bankrupt. He founded an NGO, investing in different businesses. All attempts were in vain.

Now I know, it was wrong to impose expectations on a man who had suffered so since a young age. “My son, my relationship with your mother was a quest for peace and happiness but you took birth,” he said, eyes brimming with tears. “But now that you are here and you have made me feel proud.”

I read his intellect in the paper and my face glows. I am proud to have a father like him. He used to tell me, “I’d like to lead a solitary life in a peaceful environment, write some books.” I hope he is doing it now. He used to tell about wanting to write about Ashwathama the immortal but doomed character of ‘Mahabharat’, about his own family tree and the descendents of Ved Vyas.