Today, like most days, I got on the bus to go to work and, like always, the bus came to a halt at Thapathali Chowk. The only times I’ve ever not be been in traffic at this point is at night and during Dashain when the city is blissfully empty for about a week. So anyways, I’ve grown accustom to the 5 – 20 minute wait and my attention is normally drawn to the beggars outside, the children playing recklessly on the street, the stench of the Bagmati River and the dark clouds that escape from the exhaust pipes of the cars/buses/trucks/motorbikes/vans/micros that crowd the junction.
Today, I happen to catch sight of something that initially made me laugh, but that I’ve been thinking about all day: An elderly man with stringy gray hair and orange robes chased a monkey that had snagged a cob of corn. I watched from my window on the bus as the monkey happily scampered up a pole and scooted along the wires until it was balanced above the slow flowing traffic. Butt placed on tangles of black cords, it began gnawing at the kernels, and the orange-clad man stopped on the edge of the sidewalk.
Then I noticed the rock in his hand. As the monkey made itself comfortable, the man stood by the road, hand slightly raised and I could see from the slight upward raise of his arm that he had had full intentions of pelting the monkey but couldn’t make up his mind about whether to launch his makeshift weapon or not.
I assumed that was that and smiled to myself. But then in a fit of I don’t know what, the sage changed his mind and lunged the rock at the monkey. I watched the rock in momentum, rising slowly towards the monkey but falling short… and then I realized… the rock has to come down at some point.
Still stuck in traffic the rock lazily began its curved descent, missing the monkey (that didn’t even flinch as the boulder came its way) and began to fall right where cars and people were. As far as I know, the rock didn’t make its mark on the hood of a car, a windshield or someone’s head, but there was a brief second where I was like “OMG… it’s going to hit someone/something!”
Revisiting the image, I find myself drawing a parallel between the man’s action and the mentality of Nepali people – the lack of foresight and the inability to gauge consequences. In fits of anger, I understand the desire to cause harm to the monkey that has stolen, but the odds of hitting an agile primate as it dances on wires is slim… the man clearly didn’t consider the “what if” of the rock missing its mark and landing on a less deserving target. The odds of the rock settling where it could do harm far outweighed the probability of giving the monkey a bump.
And so we, the Nepali people, often find fault and in believing we are justified we attack those we deem guilty…but we don’t plan, we don’t think and we don’t even consider the trickle of traffic that the rock is going to land in. Perhaps if we were to step back, we could use our heads to come up with long term solutions. Instead we wanted a revolution and in getting what we wanted, we’re left neck deep in corruption, with a government twice as useless as before and with the light at the end of the tunnel continuing to dim.
The next step isn’t walking around with a slingshot firing at any monkey we see, Nepal needs strategy.
We are here now, there’s no point dwelling on the shudda’ cudda’ wudda’, but Nepal is so painfully impatient. How are we so stupid to miss the fact that change takes time? That better days don’t come overnight? That a shift in political power will takes years before it reaches stability? And in not knowing that, (or choosing to ignore it), we change politicians like Hugh Heffner changes women… we haven’t allowed ourselves to find footing on unstable grounds.
I’m not suggesting that we go easy on the politicians, if anything, the people need to act like a blade hanging over the necks of “leaders” so they know who they’re “leading”, but perhaps we’re too quick in making a judgment and severing heads. A river doesn’t spontaneously change its course; thousands of years of history can’t take a sharp turn. Nepal needs more than just a functional government, we deserve more than the drafting of the constitution, we need more than just opportunities… Nepal needs needs needs… But for a country that is constantly running late, what Nepalis need to give ourselves and the nation is perhaps time.
As far as I know, the rock hit concrete, the defeated man walked away, soon vehicles inched along their way and I guess…the monkey “won”.