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Voice of a Hero - Muted



Arjun Gurung


A friend of mine, who works for Voice of Man (VOM), was searching for some ideas to write on. VOM is a paper started by some aristocrats who felt left in the dark after the April uprising and badly wanted to bask in the glory of the limelight again. So as a friend I tried my best to help him, also this was a chance to let the nation know about Shyam Lal, a farmer who on his own planted a hundred trees on the barren slopes behind our house. It isn’t his land and he doesn’t hope on earning anything from the trees, he was just doing what he knows how do to best; think for the next generation. As I was telling my friend about Shyam Lal in all excitement, I saw him picking up plastic that was blocking the drainage. Stooped with age and expressions hidden under his wrinkled face, the old man had a wobbly gait.

 

"That is Shyam Lal" I told my friend "he's 60 but looks 80. He was orphaned as a child; he grew up with his relatives, got married at 25. His sons have left him and his wife passed away last year, even at this age he earns his own money by selling mud pots, but what is remarkable about him is his optimism and his thought for tomorrow’s Nepal; talk to him and you’ll see what I mean."


My friend seemed uninterested, "I did one on something like that" he admitted. “The editor wasn't too pleased." I was amazed; he continued deep in thought, "I had a bhusiya kukur once, a very nice dog. Maybe if I turned it into an Alsatian changed his name and wrote an article on it...” It was depressing, he was desperate for a story his boss would approve of.


Seeing his job at stake, I sighed as I said, "Hey, why not change that into a bulldog, I hear a bulldog costs as much as a motorbike in Nepal. There is also supposed to be a charity match at the golf club this weekend," I added. "You could get a pretty good spread of photo's there."


He brightened up at the idea. "Yeah, wow thanks for the information,” he said and he rushed off.

As I headed back home, I wondered why the story of someone like Shyam Lal wouldn’t be more inspiring than of a dog that never was. In the rush to development and modernization, we have come to forget who our real heroes are. Real heroes are those like Shyam Lal who makes up the bulk of Nepal, or Nepali women who work from dawn till dusk to feed a drunkard husband and a litter of children. Could it be that many of us are embarrassed to be related to them? Why don’t these real Nepalese get the attention they deserve? Poor, uneducated and underdeveloped as they may be, they have braved more hardships than we can only imagine. Isn't that what makes a common person a hero?


Like it or not Kathmandu is not Nepal and not all Nepalis were not born to sip tea at garden tea parties. Spreading pictures on glossy papers don't sketch reality and a Voice is reality. The real Nepal lies outside Kathmandu, high in the hills, deep down in the valleys and across the plains. Everywhere, everyday people like Shyam Lal are working their blood and sweat for a better Nepal. Those who became martyrs in the April uprising weren't clad in suits. The elites but only make a small portion of the population. How can they represent the majority? Men like Shyam Lal in his own rights are no failure, he is a winner, an inspiration and his voice, and his story should be made heard too.


It is for us to realize that our voices, be it single or put together, holds the strongest power. A voice is capable of bringing down an empire. It can cause a revolution. But most importantly it can cause change. If we want Nepal to change for the better we should voice out the reality, the struggle, the necessities that the whole of Nepal requires; everything else is only entertainment.

 
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