Dear Nepali Family,
It is on days like these, when the clouds of uncertainty and despair hover over the fragile human hearts; when humanity sheds tears of deaths and distress; when survivors question their very own survival over the loss of their loved ones, that it is important to put the crisis in perspective, look back at history, take solace in what has remained, and come together as one Nepali family to craft a new course of action for the beautiful country and its diligent people.
On April 25, 2015, god may have died, but that is irrelevant since he has died so many times before, and every single time he has died, you have picked yourself up, one another alongside, and moved on. This is your story: the story of bravery in defeats, humility in triumphs. When the clouds of Sati practice engulfed the relatively new nation, you refused to ignore the tears of your women and children, stood on the side of their unheard voices, effectively abolishing the radically wicked tradition. When the tyranny of the Rana Rule tormented your country with persecution and fear you did not sweat to die for the restoration of justice and peace. When the unchecked, absolute monarchy threatened to steal the democracy and human rights you had fought for, you did not give-in to idealism and rhetoric, came to streets in numbers never seen before, collectively and effectively charging your country to a new direction. When the Maoist insurgency threatened to derail the country toward an unwanted civil war, you chose to side with the solution that is unprecedented in modern history, ending the war that the government could not, and on the way demonstrating to the world the true power of the consensus of a people.
History of the Nepali people tells you that you’ve never relied on others to do the work for you. Hence, at this difficult time, do not look for a leader or a visionary, nor hollow prayers and momentary sympathies. Instead, what you need is a common voice resonating every word of the national anthem; unyielding devotion, some love and ample generosity; willingness to work for the love of the people and the country; passion to give the country a new beginning; drive and determination to instill change; boldness to promise the future generation that the next time your country is in trouble again they will have a responsible, transparent government on the rescue, reliable infrastructure and competent manpower, and most importantly, an informed, dynamic civil society. You need yourself and a willingness to work for a better tomorrow. After all, foreign aid will pour in, but unless you inspire one another to get up and shake off their dusts, refuse to be defined by one unavoidable natural phenomenon, and join hands in hands to restore the future of this nation, you will risk losing what is even left. Therefore, this is your moment: once and for all it is your time to start from the scratch, to build a nation of common purpose, and to plant many more Daraharas on it.
Lives may have been lost, dreams shattered, national and cultural heritages demolished, and for many nothing will be normal anymore without the presence of the loved ones, and the assurance of friends and neighbors, but you have to appreciate the remains and build it from there. This is your chance to get it right the next time the earth is shaken again. It is your time to get it right what you couldn’t more than eighty years ago. Every cloud has a silver lining, and for you it is a chance to start fresh, start new. Although you have earned the right to grieve, there is only so much you can gain from dwelling in the past, if any. It is your chance to mobilize the fellow countrymen, lift one another from the rebel, and send a message to the world that although you may not be so strong financially, you can still rebuild your nation on your on ideas, on your own terms.
From the Anglo-Nepalese War to the Royal Massacre, you’ve survived the darkest of hours in the history of this nation. You can do it this time too. Cry out loud, grieve a little, and regret some, but do not let any of that diminish your inner spirit, for if you do, you will be defeated without a chance for a fight.
A nation is weeping, a mountain mourning. Women have been widowed, children orphaned. There are schools to be repaired, hospitals and bridges to be rebuilt, national and cultural heritages to be salvaged. Change will not come easy, but it will come, slow and gradual, if you desire. So the next time you are on a voting booth, think hard before you cast. Vote for the ones that do not make promises but deliver some; the ones that may not be popular but have a vision for the country; the ones that put people ahead of their political interests. The next time you get to decide your next move on life, try considering being a social worker, a volunteer or a public school teacher. If you get to decide your next academic path, try considering criminal justice or law, political science or economics, human rights, women studies or journalism. Your country can use all of these and plenty more.
Lastly, do not hesitate to overhaul the political structure – to get rid of the old, impasse, placeholder politicians and the institutions that serve their insatiable desires. You may not have gotten it right in 1934, but you’ve been offered another shot at piloting a brighter future, so, be wise, be firm. It will never be easy, but eighty years from now when another such inevitable tragedy rips through the Nepal soil again, the next generation will look back at you and quietly thank you for your bravery and courage, and that’s when you will smile, knowing you’ve done your country some good. Everything else is irrelevant.
[Rizal, who lives in Seattle, is a senior at the University of Washington. The opinions expressed here are his personal, and don’t necessarily convey official stance of Bhutan News Service. He can be reached for comments at email@example.com]