A Letter To Aarav – Abhilekh Bhurtel, Winner, Wordism S3, Chaitra

You were the poet among us. How is the poetry of your life? I know what you would think reading that, a turd of a writer. But I hope it did put a smile on your face, my friend.

It has been a long time, hasn’t it? Almost forty years. It seems a lifetime has passed since those debates on socialism and law, discourse on life and tragedies under the yellow light of a smoke-filled hostel room where we always seemed to be short of cigarettes. Not that bad of a writer, eh?

I don’t know whether you have found out but I write sometimes for The Kathmandu Post. I think you do. I hope you have read some of my articles.
So much has happened in twenty years Aarav. So much. Yet, so little has changed. You, the pessimist among us, were right; This country is beyond repair. But you would know all about that. You knew so much about the world when you were here. The memories come spilling into my brain, like someone has opened a bag of gems and dropped it all over the floor. I will recount one of them for you:
Remember? Stats class?

Subramanyam sir walked inside the class without ushering us in from the balcony. We found out a minute after he had entered that the class had started and as you, Sahil, Sohail and me quickly rushed to the door and asked to come in, he let us in muttering insults behind us. Pathetic scoundrels, lazy dogs…We took our seats at the last bench. None of us could say anything but a minute later as he was explaining something, you shouted,” Sir, सुपारी थुकेर बोल्नुस् न। बुझिएन।”

The class; a hush of a funeral procession, then, “Stand up! Stand up! You scoundrel, you don’t Understand! You don’t understand because you sit in the last bench” Furiously he yelled and you stood up with the sheer force of his fury “Stand up and come here, Sit here! Here! in the first bench” You obliged, fumbling with your things you got out of your place and went to the first bench.

He started spitting pure curses just as you’d sat down “साला कुकुर, पढ्ने तमिज छैन।””
Looking at him you said firmly, “I did what you asked, तपाईं लाई चै बोल्ने तमिज छैन सर, sir.”

He stared at you and exploded,” बढ्ता नबोल है,, त जस्ता स्टुडेन्ट धेरै देख्याछु, त यो क्लास मा नभएर केही हुँदैन् नी मलाई, साला ।”
Bang! You slapped your hand against the desk shooting straight up “मै बस्दिन तपाईंको क्लास मा।” Hurling it at Subramanyam sir you tried to get out of the bench. Tried because the gesture was cut short by a sudden change of tone that came from the raised platform, sharp but shaken, “बस! त्या बस!!”, He said pointing at you.

I remember you looked at him, teacher and student locking eyes at each other “जान्छु म।” and you stormed out. There was no mention of the incident that day or for the days to come. Subramanyam sir wouldn’t even come at the last bench or even acknowledge our existence. But I remember his face when you walked out, his mouth halfway open looking at your back. Disorientated. You told us later at lunch that you went to the library and read The Great Gatsby there.

It was so long-ago Aarav. Remember how you would write poems during Account class? Sohail was flabbergasted the first time you did it, he couldn’t believe it. I? I wondered at you. I wondered what you were.

I know that you must be thinking, if finally, has he forgiven me? Or Maybe It is not my forgiveness that you seek anymore. I know it wasn’t your fault for what happened, we all know who did it. I know that you two got together after it ended between us. Yet, I wish you had the courage to tell me yourself, when you were still here. I know that you never meant to but the things that happened –
Splattered throughout the internet and I had only talked you the night before. You weren’t here or I would have killed you. You weren’t here when the burning pyre stung my eyes, when I had to see her lying yellow and unbreathing. I touched her face and she was cold, Aarav. She was never cold.

My Ananya was cold. I called her mine for so long that it has never been the same without her. I lost so much that day. Do you know? When everything is finished and in the blackened floor covered with coal, red embers look like stars in a dark night? I stayed there in that steel bench for so long. I stayed because there was nowhere else to go to.

है राम नारायण। है राम नारायण।

Forty years I’ve thought about it. I’ve never been able to forget. But forty years is a long time, a long long time. As young men we used to joke of how we would never make it this long. Here we are though, alive with wounds.

On 26th Chaitra, Ananya’s Birthday, I’m opening a Library. I want you to come and be here. It wasn’t your fault Abhilekh. It wasn’t. Come, it is time.

In A Journey you’ve written a part where the four kids decide to go to a town on their bikes. They pedal their way to a village called Dhura where they are halted by rain and they take shelter inside a tea shop. They sit there a long time talking until the rain stops and they head out again. It is already evening and they reach the town, by a river bank where a mela is being held. The kids are so happy to be there. A New Year’s mela. Just like the one we had gone to in Dolalghat in 75.

We never actually did go to the mela. We stayed in our hotel room drinking chyang we had brought with us from Bhauju’s. I want to go to Dolalghat again, the four of us. Let us go and be young men again.

Your Friend,

Question answer with Abhilekh

1. Tell us more about you.

Well, my name is Abhilekh Bhurtel and I am currently enrolled in BBS. Writing is one of the passions that I hold very dear to me. I am a photographer as well. And wish to take on these very crafts to make a living someday.

2. What was your thought when you apply to Wordism competition?

I was astonished to find a writing competition that was organized by an organization in Nepal itself. Because it is seldom that organizations and clubs organize such literary related competitions. What happily surprised me and pushed me to write and submit for this particular competition was that it did not have the nonsensical structure of most writing competitions organized by schools and colleges in Nepal where the writer is supposed to produce a sensible piece in a matter of hours only.

3. What are your dreams and aspiration?

My aim is to become a writer.

4. Anything you want to say about who is reading this!

I don’t know. This is awkward.

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