REMEMBERING HASTA BHATTARAI
Existentialism says humans are free and responsible for their own actions in a world without meaning. But it has been a great failure in case of the people living in the Bhutanese refugee camps. What a mystery it is! We never know what we will be reaping as a fruit of our toil. What we had as our dreams when we were settled in the camps 17 years ago no longer remain even as dreamiest today. It is true that we have to expect the unexpected. We never thought that we would be in a state of such miserable plight with respect to our hopes, aspiration and ambition. At the moment, we are no more than debris. But we should never give up hopes. Debris may prove to be good nourishment for the health growth of plant. We must be able to adapt with any sort of situation that entangles us. We should always survive the ray of hope. That is the only way to positivism and easy going. According to Eliot, the only way of expressing emotions is by finding objective correlative of emotion. Objective correlatives are a set of objects, a situation or chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion. We are compelled to hold the stick of our well-wishers for our rescue, in particular not to leave the right track before it is too late.
Hence, at this critical moment I take it wiser to echo with Anatole France who says that man’s prudent who neither hopes for fears anything from the uncertain events of the future. Furthermore, a material thing is simply in itself but human is for himself. So we must try to live as a human with the fulfillment of at least the basic needs.
It is natural that every one of us with evident pride says that I belong to this country, I am going to be that personality and I am going to hold that material gain. Being born and brought up in a given country it’s our moral duty to be patriotic, committed and loyal towards our nation. But there are unpredicted circumstances that we have to face knowingly or unknowingly. We may be prepared or may not be for the cause of our nation, our pride. No man ever gives up his strength to belonging to one’s nation. He may be displaced by ruthless power holders in the course of history but that never defeats him. I believe a genuine patriot even reincarnates from the ashes like phoenix. Darwinian ideology stresses struggle for existence and survival of the fittest.
Of course, every one of us tried our best to contribute for the cause of southern Bhutanese but we were destined to be evicted as destitute by the dictatorial power holders who never had the knowledge of sights and privileges of the citizens. Our voice of truth, the message of god for humanity remained unheard. Instead we are forced to undergo bitter and inhumane life in the refugee camps in Nepal. Today it seems that the god had seen our plight, sacrificial penance for the salvation of our souls. It’s certain that the people languishing in the camps having requisites below the basic requirements for human existence are in an ambivalent state. Despotic regime might have taken that evicted people disintegrate, perish and deteriorate in the miserable situation they are in but this, though is my personal opinion, is an immature logic.
Languishing in the camps for at least a couple of decades in a plightless situation has made the people take any humanitarian aid at their reach for the better further prospect. And one of such aids is the opportunity for the people to opt for third country resettlement. Not to an exception, I have also taken this opportunity in my favor. I have never prepared myself to give up my struggle for returning home with dignity and honor. I, in person, participated in many of the programs for repatriation led by political leaders in exile. Despite our active and repeated involvement in this respect, we failed in our attempts due to Indian intervention. At this desperate dispersion, I feel I made wise decision to get resettled in the foreign land.
On the day I filled up the resettlement interest form, I was saddened and shattered by the sense of dislocation and loss of identity and unity. But I was destined to master courage to show readiness for the resettlement program. I was forced to give up everything that I had at hand. I had to give up my job, my studies, friends, relatives and even family members. I am happy to abandon all my possessions for abroad resettlement. It should not be misread here that I opted resettlement just for pleasure but I had no often to be the substitute to support my existence as a human being. As like those already resettled, I am leaving for abroad for my better future prospect with a heavy heart. I strongly believe that going abroad at any cost does not dismantle our ambition and passion for return to hometown, Bhutan. I suppose we will have better living standard out there leading to better thoughts and actions. Of course, it is enigmatically shocking to leave our station for an unknown destination.
It is painful to leave all our close relatives behind but in the globalized context one can easily get connected with the other one provided that they are spiritually and ideologically bound to fight for dignified return to Bhutan. One day or the other we may stay abroad until the day we are fully equipped materially and intellectually to combat with the ruthless regime that aborted us for its pleasure. Living in the poor condition in the camps for eternity, we won’t gain any degree of momentum to strengthen ourselves in any ground.
In the host country, our survival is questionable in any sense. We have no right for secured life, liberty and pursuit of hopelessness. Where ever we go out our ‘refugee tag’ invites ill fate. We may be exploited, ill-treated or segregated on the ground of refugee tag. This harassment has psychologically weakened, paralyzed and discouraged our existence as normal human beings. No doubt we are not less competent in any sense with the natives of our host country. This simply discourages, reifies and makes us feel always as failures.
In my opinion at this wretched juncture, taking option for third country resettlement at the cost of any loss that we are bound to bear may not prove us to treacherous traitor who betray his countrymen instead it may add vigor, zeal and new but better perspective in our attempt to fight for returning home. I do not think having settled outside with enjoyment of better privileges one can forget one’s country where he/she was born and brought up. Instead, our scattered resettlement in various parts of the foreign land may give us easy access to raise our pathetic voice to the world communities inspiring them for their immediate helping hands towards the solution.
In this regard, I think it is reasonable for any opposition groups to stop their protest against the people going abroad. Going abroad may breed better minds. This may be of great help for the country and our suppressed, subdued and discarded brothers and sisters residing in southern Bhutan expecting great help from us. Our mission should not be other than emancipating our siblings from prolonged slavery, exploitation and discrimination. And it has been crystal clear that quarrel and enmity among ourselves besides our joint effort for our safe return home in the camps and always a failure. We also have excess skilled people in the camps who are ever unemployed. This will breed frustration, desperation and self-degeneration. On the other hand, if they can be given way to foreign resettlement, they not only raise their living standard but also do something not only for the country but also for the whole humanity.
Though we live in miserable camps, we may be having scientists, artists and scholars who can contribute something for world provided that they are given better opportunities. We must try our hands at any privileges that come to our reach rather than debating and opposing each other.
To conclude, every individual must have utmost freedom to choose his/her option with dignity and honor. Neither the supporting agencies should be bias to give priority to the only option that adds certain gain to them nor should those opting for it take their pace with the drunkenness of jealousy, greed and illogical conclusion. Our choice must not intervene any one’s rights and privileges but should guarantee peace, prosperity and safety to the concerned.
Editor’s note: This opinion piece is reproduced here as an obituary to late Hasta Bhattarai who passed away on April 8, 2018 in Chicago, IL. He died of sudden cardiac arrest at his sleep. The piece was first published in ‘The Bhutan Reporter‘ monthly in August 2008 before he left for resettlement. BNS likes to extend heartfelt condolences to the bereaved Bhattarai family.
“There is a GoFund page set up to honor Bhattarai’s contributions in the community — please follow that link here: Follow this link – Go fund Me
It is unedited for keeping the originality of his writing then.