पश्चाताप

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तिम्रो बहिर्गमन र उसको आगमन थपघट त केही होइन

मेरो जीवनको हिसाबकिताबमा नाफा/नोक्सान बराबर

 

तिम्रो बहिर्गमन अघि नै उसको आगमन भयो

जीवनमा कहिल्यै नमेटिने पछुतो पनि त्यही रह्यो

न तिमीलाई फर्काउने कुनै सामर्थ्य छ

न उसलाई धकेल्ने सुझबुझ

 

सम्बन्धको जालो समयसँगै यसरी जकडियो

जति फुकाउँछु भन्यो भावना उति पत्र बन्दै बेरियो

मनको त्यो गहिरो बिन्दुमा धेरै खाटा त बसिसक्यो

अपितु पश्चातापबाहेक अरु केहीको गुञ्जायस छैन

 

तर फेरि लाग्छ,

मेरो जीवनमा तिम्रो उपस्थितिकै खातिर

कम्तीमा मैले दिललाई दिमागले जित्नुपर्छ

दिमागलाई जति थामथुम पार्छु, दिल उति निसासिन्छ

विगत कोट्याउँदा वर्तमान बेस्सरी दुखेर आउँछ

हो,

त्यहि बेला म चन्द्रमाको छहारी खोज्न निस्कन्छु

दिललाई दिमागले जित्ने उर्जा सधैँभरी दिइराख है

 

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Health should not be for wealth

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Binita Dahal

The putative putsch by the Nepali Congress this week to get the Maoists to abandon their alliance with the UML in the governing coalition has had far-reaching consequences.

It has brought fresh uncertainty about the new government, final fate of the Constitution, inclusion of dissatisfied Madhesi and Janajati elements into mainstream politics, endorsement of budget-related bills, long-delayed appointment of Supreme Court justices, ratification of ambassadorial appointees and, most urgently, meeting the demands of Govinda KC, the physician who has now been on a hunger strike for 13 days.

While the ruling and opposition parties are at loggerheads over whether to form a new government, the parties who are willing to do so are halting the process of the parliamentary hearing of the 11 justices nominated for Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court will be a critical arena for writ petitions in the coming days since the rival parties are consulting legal experts about the constitutional crisis and the no-confidence motion in parliament. The Maoists and Nepali Congress do not want to start the hearing process of the 11 justices, since many of them are closer to the UML.

This delay also impacts on one of Govinda KC’s demands, which calls for the impeachment of Lokman Singh Karki, Chief of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA). Another contempt of court case against Karki is also sub judice in the Supreme Court, which has summoned him. If found guilty in the contempt case, Karki could even be suspended from his CIAA post.

Although assorted politicians, Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar and some members of Parliament’s Social Justice and Human Rights Committee visited the fasting doctor this week, the government has not bothered. Some of KC’s current demands persist from past hunger strikes, and include those that had been either ignored or only partially implemented.

On this eighth fast, some of KC’s demands are more serious and zero in directly on the source of interference and corruption in the medical education sector. KC has long known that Karki has a conflict of interest in medical education because of the involvement of his immediate family members in this lucrative sector. KC also knows full well that top politicians own or benefit monetarily from medical colleges, and they are beholden to Karki.

Hence, among his demands for health sector reform, KC is also asking for Karki’s impeachment. It is probably for this reason that parliament members and the government are not responding, because conceding to the impeachment process would invite Karki’s wrath. They also probably feel – rightly so – that cobbling together a two-thirds majority for impeachment is impossible in the current fractious climate.

Which is why the government finally formed a dialogue committee to mediate with KC on the eleventh day of his hunger strike. Headed by a bureaucrat, however, the committee has no power to address KC’s demands.

The popular young NC leader Gagan Thapa on Thursday filed a motion of urgent public importance to discuss KC’s demands in parliament. Nevertheless, his party has already decided to abstain from debating KC’s grievances. This is an indication of just how long a shadow Karki casts in the party.

Speaker Magar assured KC on Wednesday that she would take the initiative in parliament to address his demands. It is interesting that she had stopped by to meet Maoist Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal and President Bidya Bhandari before seeing KC.

Govinda KC commands tremendous public respect and support for his selfless and lifelong devotion to healthcare for Nepal’s poor. The CIAA has used a pliant section of the media to publicise a counter-campaign by private hospital owners against KC’s demands, but the attempt to discredit him has come to naught.

As KC’s health deteriorates, a Health Bill that does not address any of his demands is awaiting ratification by parliament after the Cabinet passed it last week. Parliament needs to take a new look at the Bill and form a committee to investigate the abuse of authority by the CIAA Chief, in order to satisfy KC.

The new Constitution has a provision that one-fourth of the House of Representatives may table a motion to impeach the head of the CIAA for a serious violation of the Constitution, incompetence, misbehaviour or failure to discharge duties.

According to provision 101(3), a committee of 11 members can be formed in the House of Representatives to recommend charges of impeachment. For now, such a committee could easily be established.

KC’s past fasts have put pressure on stakeholders, but this time the government is wholly preoccupied with the formation of a new government. Public pressure on parliament is therefore important. We cannot afford to lose someone like Govinda KC, who has devoted his life to the health of the nation with no regard for his own.

Government officials and parliamentarians blame KC for getting the timing of his hunger strike wrong.

What is the right time to make healthcare affordable and accessible to all Nepalis, or to clean up the medical education sector?

 

This article was originally published in Nepali Times (http://nepalitimes.com/regular-columns/Legalese/Health-should-not-be-for-wealth,753)

The law and the media

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Binita Dahal

For the past year, the judiciary has often been mired in controversy. There was the decision in 2013 to appoint the Chief Justice as a caretaker prime minister to conduct elections, and the controversial move to appoint tainted judges to the Supreme Court.

Most of the criticism came from the legal fraternity and the media. But despite the hullabaloo, the appointments were approved by a parliamentary hearing. Stung by the uproar, the Supreme Court decided to strike back and make an example of Kantipur, Nepal’s widest circulated daily newspaper.

The parliamentary hearing of the Supreme Court judges recommended by the Judicial Council was sharply criticised by most media, starting with by the popular digital portal, Setopati. Kantipur then took up the subject by investigating the background of all the appointed justices. Even when the paper was slapped with a contempt of court against its group chairman, director, editor-in-chief and reporter, it continued its exposes.

During the first hearing of that case, Justice Cholendra Shamser Rana, who was one of the targets of the exposes, reviewed the sub-judice contempt case filed against Kantipur Group. In its second hearing Justice Gopal Prasad Parajuli, whose past judgments and personal details were investigated by Kantipur, ordered publishers and editorial staff of Kantipur to appear in person to explain why they shouldn’t be convicted in contempt of court case.

Most rulings by the courts are not more than two pages, but Parajuli delivered a 11-page tome that tried to prove that Kantipur was on a deliberate crusade to tarnish the image of the independent judiciary.

It was apparent that the Supreme Court was flexing its muscles and warning all journalists by putting Nepal’s most powerful media on the dock. Kantipur itself used the occasion to project its own profile as a champion of press freedom. Last week, on the day of the hearing, it gathered 50 members of its staff, politicians and industrialists in the Supreme Court premises as a show of force.

It was as if the group wanted to influence the court decision by a demonstration of solidarity. It has now become a prestige issue for both the Supreme Court and Kantipur. The paper has reported the case against itself with prominence on the front pages, providing maximum national exposure of its own importance. The publication’s main argument was that the court started its final hearing with the same justices who had previously looked at the case.

Although the group’s lawyers were putting forward a valid legal point, this was a clear breach of provisions of coverage of cases that are subjudice. According to universal juridical principles, one should not try to influence the court directly or indirectly during the period that a case is being heard. The media’s role is to point out the wrongdoings of court, not to stage a demonstration in the court premises during a hearing.

Whatever the past wrongs of the court, the media should also be equally responsible not to undermine the dignity of the independent judiciary. The media cannot appear to be a law unto itself, and not required to abide by it. The aggressive and prominent reporting of the case against itself is also a misuse of media responsibility.

To be sure, the Judicial Committee bypassed candidates with integrity and proven track record for those with questionable pasts, to say the least, when appointing Supreme Court justices. The media did its job by exposing this, but to exact revenge through this contempt case the Supreme Court has gone after the largest target to threaten the rest of the media to behave itself.

It is hard to say which way the verdict will go next week. In the past, the Court has been liberal in contempt cases and journalists have just been slapped on the wrist and cautioned about the law on subjudice cases. This time, positions have hardened, and by its aggressive taunts Kantipur may have exceeded the media’s accepted behaviour in a country that is supposed to respect the rule of law.

@binitadahal

This article was originally published in Nepali Times (http://nepalitimes.com/article/nation/supreme-court-kantipur-contempt-of-court-case,1685)

Wombs for rent

Commercial surrogate motherhood is moving to Nepal because of restrictions in India

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Binita Dahal

After India tightened rules on commercial surrogacy two years ago, foreigners seeking such services have started trickling into Nepal where rules are murky and regulation weak.

Nepal’s cabinet decided recently to allow foreigners to have surrogate babies as long as the mother is also a foreigner, arguing that this would promote medical tourism in the country. Since then the Department of Immigration records show that many foreigners, including 20 Israelis, have had surrogate babies in private hospitals in Nepal.

Senior Advocate and Activist Sapana Pradhan Malla says many Nepali parents seek her legal advice on surrogacy. “I have no answer for them because there are no laws,” she told Nepali Times. “But I find it really suspicious that foreigners are allowed to have surrogate babies here when there is no provision for Nepalis.”

Activists are worried that in the absence of laws, the cabinet decision on surrogate babies can easily be circumvented. Nepali women could be exploited by unscrupulous middlemen and male relatives to carry and deliver babies for foreigners.

Compensated surrogacy is a process under which a woman rents her womb to another couple to have their baby delivered. There are two methods: one where the sperm is artificially inseminated into a surrogate mother, and in the other the sperm and egg from the parents first go through in-vitro fertilisation and the embryo is inserted into the uterus of the surrogate mother.

Doctors say both methods are done in fertility clinics in Nepal, but they don’t want to be quoted saying it. The lack of laws haven’t deterred many Nepali parents without children to secretly use surrogacy to have children in hospitals in Nepal and India, while Indian mothers routinely come to Nepal to give birth (see adjoining box).

After cases of fraud and exploitation, India’s Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill is now in parliament and will allow surrogacy only for married, infertile and Indian Origin couples.

“Many people think the act of surrogacy involves sexual intercourse so they are hesitant to talk about it,” says advocate Sadeep Kharel. “Doctors and hospitals keep quiet because surrogacy is illegal for Nepalis.”

The cabinet decision makes it easy for foreigners to be surrogate parents by processing exit permits for their babies born in Nepal: the Health Ministry writes a recommendation based on the birth certificate with DNA proof issued by hospitals to apply for a passport at the resident embassy.

 According to sources, the cabinet hurriedly decided last year on a draft on surrogacy prepared by the Health Ministry. Cabinet decisions are supposed to be in the public domain, but lawyers say the Health Ministry is reluctant to divulge details and provide a copy of the decision.

Praveen Mishra was secretary at the Ministry of Health in the previous government when the draft first came up for debate, and remembers facing intense political pressure to pass it. Mishra and Minister Bidhyadhar Mallik stood their ground, but with the new government the cabinet quickly approved it last August.

Sources say surrogacy in India and Nepal are managed by middlemen working with political protection, and there is a nexus between them and private hospitals. It is a question of supply and demand: there is a demand in rich countries for babies, and there is a supply of poor families in developing countries willing, and sometimes forcing, their women to become surrogate mothers.

Many European countries have banned surrogacy and it is strictly regulated and expensive in the United States. While it can cost up to $150,000 to have a surrogate baby in the West, in India and Nepal it can cost as little at $6,000 with the surrogate mother often not getting the money that her husband is paid as fee.

Commercialisation of motherhood through surrogacy is lucrative, but raises cultural, social, economic and political questions which are probably why Nepal’s private hospitals and the government are so hush-hush about it. “We must be careful not to allow surrogate mothers to be exploited as baby producers,” Sapana Pradhan Malla warns, “there must be laws in case mothers don’t want to give babies to parents, if babies are disabled, and about the legal status of the baby.”

There is one case of surrogacy which is sub-judice in the Supreme Court in a dispute about whether the baby born from a Nepali surrogate mother will get the parent’s property or not. This could be a landmark case in which the Court may direct the government to pass a new law for Nepali surrogate mothers.

But till then it will be women who will be more vulnerable to exploitation.

“Surrogacy is needed,” says Renu Adhikari of WOREC (Women’s Rehabilitation Centre), “but in the absence of proper laws it can lead to trafficking and women can be forced to go through with it for the money.”


Nargis’ baby

Twenty-seven year old Nargis came to Nepal six months ago from the slums of Mumbai. Her husband had left her after she gave birth to their first child after which she moved in with her parents. After her father died, she had to take care of the whole family.

“We were so poor there was no money to even feed my baby,” Nargis remembers. One day, her mother told her that she could make money renting her womb for nine months. She was introduced to a middleman who assured her there was no sexual intercourse involved, and she would earn $6,000 carrying and giving birth to someone else’s baby.

After she was convinced to go through with the procedure, she stayed in a Mumbai hospital for a month for her insemination procedure, and was discharged after she got pregnant. She was paid INR 6,000 per month for the duration of the pregnancy.

Nargis came to Nepal in her fourth month of pregnancy along with her own first born. She stayed at a hotel in Thamel with other surrogates like her who had come to give birth in Nepal because of restrictions in India.

Their agent advised them not to get emotionally attached to their babies as they had to be given away. Nargis gave birth via caesarean in a private hospital in Kathmandu, and was paid only $3,000. Still, she told us she will go through it again so she can send her own child to school.

Middlemen look for women between 25-30 in Mumbai’s slums, and convince their families to go through with surrogacy. The Indian agents get a $1,000 fee for every successful birth in Nepal.

“I don’t care if surrogacy is legal or illegal in India, but it is easier for a woman like me to deliver a baby in Nepal so no one finds out in Mumbai,” Nargis admitted. “Sometimes when I am alone, I look at the baby’s picture that the agent gave me. I never had the chance to be with him or breastfeed him. Still, I have less of an attachment to this baby than my own first child.”

Nargis is a pseudonym.

This article was originally published in Nepali Times  (http://nepalitimes.com/article/nation/wombs-tolet-surrogacy-nepal,1991)

Watching the watchdog

Despite the CIAA’s recent sting operations, the agency is charged with going after small fry or waging political witch-hunts

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In recent months, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has started taking its transparency watchdog role seriously, and gone on a detention spree.

Operatives have carried out sting operations and caught officials in flagrante as they accepted bribes. Among those caught red-handed recently have been the Joint Secretary of the Higher Secondary Education Board, officials of National Investigation Authority, the vice chancellor of Mid-Western University and 14 other officials who are now in custody while investigations are underway.

With the campaign of arrests, suspensions and filing corruption charges in the Special Court, CIAA has not been this active since the appointment of Chief Commissioner Lok Man Singh Karki last year. When he was recommended for CIAA chief, many legal eagles and civil society activists had criticised the decision of the Chief Justice-led Interim Election Government to appoint him.

They compared the appointment to getting a fox to guard the chicken coop because of Karki’s alleged involvement in graft for which he was investigated by the very agency he was nominated to head. He was also faulted for his role in the crackdown on pro-democracy protestors in April 2006 under the Gyanendra regime. Despite the opposition, Karki’s appointment was endorsed last year by President Ram Baran Yadav for a tenure of six years.

Karki hit the ground running, investigating corruption and directing government agencies to expedite pending appointments. However, the CIAA’s actions have also been criticised for being arbitrary, ad hoc, restricted to catching only the small fish, or reeking of political vendetta.

The high profile arrests have also spooked civil servants, who are now reluctant to take major decisions for fear of being scapegoated. The tendency to detain alleged culprits under the full glare of the media, and the presumption of guilt until proven innocent has negatively impacted governance and service delivery by government agencies.

The legal procedures being followed are also questionable: when the CIAA files a case against anyone in the Special Court, the accused are immediately suspended from their jobs. This results in defamation of officials, some of whom may have been arrested without evidence, who are innocent, or who are ultimately acquitted by the court. In most cases, the damage is already done, because of the trial by media.

The CIAA has repeatedly admitted that it lacks the personnel to investigate all petitions that are filed. Many who are arrested haven’t yet had a case filed against them. Such delays are inexcusable, especially if the accused may actually be innocent or framed. The CIAA must either file cases and begin prosecution in the courts, or it shouldn’t arrest people: after all, justice delayed is justice denied.

Transparency International, the global corruption watchdog, says political parties top the list of the corrupt among a dozen institutions in Nepal. The bureaucracy, police, legislature/parliament, the judiciary, the private sector, military, educational institutions, non-governmental organisations, medical and health services are all below politicians on the corruption hall of fame.

An even more serious charge against the CIAA is that it is only going after selected small fry, while the big fish in the Transparency International list seem immune to prosecution. None of the top political leaders are being investigated, and the former politicians who have been arrested and sentenced tend to be from the NC or Madhesi parties. This has made the CIAA open to charges of waging a political witch-hunt.

As long as top political leaders, senior bureaucrats, Nepal Police, judiciary and Nepal Army personnel are out of bounds, the CIAA’s attempts to clean up Nepal’s governance system will lack credibility.

@binitadahal

पानी मुनीको त्यो संसार

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सन् २०११ मा पहिलोपटक समुद्र देख्दा, त्यसको विशालताले मलाई माथ खुवाएको थियो। हुन त स्कुल देखि नै प्रिन्सिपल सरको टेबलमा रहेको ग्लोभमा देशहरु भन्दा ठूलो भूभाग पानीकै भएको देखेको हो। तर संसारका धेरै चीजहरु यथार्थमा नदेख्दासम्म कल्पनाहरु त्यति गहिराईमा बुझिनन् जति कल्पनामा सतही बुझिन्छन्। समुद्र मेरा लागि त्यो बेला यथार्थ बनेको थियो जसले त्यसअघिका सबै कल्पनालाई सजिब रुपमा विस्थापित गरेको थियो। समुद्र देखेर खुबै उत्साही भएको क्षण मेरो पहिलो तलबले किनेको क्यामेरा झरेको थियो र समुद्रको छालले खै कहाँ पुर्यायो। समुद्र देखेको पहिलो दिन म निकै दुखी भएको थिएँ। मेरो सामर्थ्यले भ्याउँथ्यो भने म टाइटानिक फिल्ममा हिरा जतिकै दुख गरेर त्यो क्यामेरा खोज्ने थिएँ सायद। समुद्रसँगको पहिलो अनुभव राम्रो नभए पनि म समुद्रलाई हेर्न चाहन्थेँ। कुनै तटमा वा किनारमा बसेर होइन। समुद्रको बीचमा उभिएर चारैतिर पानी नै पानी हेर्न चाहन्थेँ। र त्यो भन्दा पनि बढी समुद्रको पानीमा तैरिन चाहन्थेँ।

मेरो त्यो रहर यसपटक थाइल्याण्ड पुग्दा पुरा भयो। दक्षिण एशीयाली सम्मेलन पाकिस्तानमा हुने भनिए पनि अन्तिममा ब्याङ्ककमा हुने तय भएको खबर आयो। म त्यो खबरले खुशी भएँ। थाइल्याण्ड भन्दा देशका हिसाबले म पाकिस्तान नै जान चाहन्थेँ। मलाई त्यहाँको भुगोल हेर्ने रहर छ। थाइल्याण्डले लोभ्याउनुको एउटै कारण थियो, म त्यहाँ समुद्र हेर्न पाउथेँ र त्यो भन्दा बढी त्यो समुद्रभित्रको संसार हेर्न चाहन्थेँ। कार्यक्रम थाइल्याण्डमा तय हुने वितिक्कै मेरो मनमनले योजना बुनेको थियो, जसरी पनि स्कुभा डाइभ गर्ने। दुईदिने कार्यक्रमका लागि मैले चारदिनको छुट्टी मिलाए। मेरो पहिलो प्राथमिकता स्कुभा डाइभ थियो, एउटा समुद्रको बीचमा पुगेर चारैतिर समुद्रमात्रै हेर्ने, अर्को पानीभित्रको संसार नियाल्ने। अनि झन् अर्को चाहिँ पानीसँगको डर भगाउने। अघिल्लो वर्ष स्वीमिङ गर्न जाँदा नै म पौडिन डराएको थिएँ। खास मलाई पानीसँग निकै डर लाग्छ। सानोमा मनोहरा खोलामा पौडी खेल्न हामी भूराहरु जाँदा पनि म सधैँ किनारामा अरुको लूगा हेरेर नै बस्ने गर्थेँ। पौडिने आँट आउँदैन थियो।

चार नेपाली सहभागी भएको कार्यक्रम सकेपछि उनीहरु फर्किए। साथीहरु हुने यात्रा रमाइलो हुन्छ तर मलाई एक्लो यात्रा पनि कम रमाइलो हुन्न। हजार कुरा मनमा खेलाउँदै आफ्नो यात्रामा निस्कन पाइन्छ। म ब्याङ्ककको होटलबाट एउटा ट्याक्सी समातेर त्यहाँको एकामाई भन्ने बस स्टेसन पुगेँ। ११५ भाटको टिकट लिएर बसमा पटाया पुगेँ। करिब साँढे दुई घण्टा लाग्यो। नौलो ठाउँमा क्षणक्षणको यात्राको अन्यौल हुनु आफैँमा असुविधा हो। तर यसलाई मैले आफैँ अंगालेको थिए। त्यहाँ पुगेपछि अब कहाँ जाने। योजना स्कुभा डाइभको छ।

बसस्टपमा भाडाका स्कुटर थुप्रै पाइने रहेछन्। तर मेरो लगेज ठूलो छ र मैले कुनै पनि चालकको अनुहारमा त्यति धेरै विश्वास पनि देख्न सकिँन। कसोकसो मनमा धेरै प्रश्न उठिहाल्ने? अनि छेउमा एकजना पाका उमेरका विदेशी देखेँ। मरमेड भन्ने डाइभ सेन्टरसम्म पुग्ने बाटो सोधेँ। उनले एउटा जिस्तीमा चढाइदिने। चालकले भाषा बुझेनन् इशारामा पुर्याइदिने बताए। त्यो एक घण्टाको बाटो हाम्रो पोखराको लेकसाइड एरियाजस्तो थियो, पर्यटकलाई स्वागत गर्दै सजाइएका विभिन्न स्वादे रेस्टुरेन्ट र सामानहरुको पसल। एक घण्टापछि मलाई ड्राइभरले लगेज निकाल्दै डाइभ सेन्टर देखाए। त्यहाँ कफी पिइरहेका एकजना विदेशी थिए। उनी त भ्ल्याड रहेछन् जसलाई मैले दुईदिन अघि इमेल गरेको थिएँ। म एक्लै छु भनेपछि उनी इमेलमा ‘क्वाइट एक्साइटिङ’ भन्दै थिए। उनले मेरो स्काइडाइभ भिडियो पनि हेरेका रहेछन् मैले जीप्लसमा राखेको। त्यहाँ भोलिपल्टको लागि बुक गरेँ। उनले डाइभ गरेको १८ घण्टासम्म प्लेन नचढ्न सतर्क गराए। बरु डाइभ नै अर्कोपल्ट गर्न भनेँ।

मैले हातका औंला गनेँ। डाइभ गरेको १९ घन्टा पछि रहेछ फ्लाइट। म खुशी भएँ। उसले आँखा सन्काउँदै भन्यो, यू विल लभ इट फर स्योर।

म नजिकैको जोमतेन होटलमा बस्न गएँ। कटेज शैलीमा बनेको यो होटलमा मानिसहरु लामो बसाइका लागि आउने रहेछन्। एकजन जर्मनीकी लेखिका मैले त्यहाँ भेटेँ जो आफ्नै भाषामा एउटा पुस्तक सिध्याउन यो होटलमा विगत तीनसाता देखि बसिरहेकी थिइन्। कस्तो लोभलाग्दो। उनी घन्टैपिच्छे चुरोट सल्काउँथिन्, पुस्तकका पात्रहरुले फोक्सो सिध्याउने भए। म साँझ भोलि पौडिने समुद्र हेर्न जोमतेन किनारातिर पुगेँ। साँझको त्यो समयमा स्ट्रबेरी र खरबुजा कम्ता मिठो भएन। म समुद्रतिर फर्किएर आफ्नै बुढी ‍औंला हेर्दै निकैबेर घोरिएँ। यो विशाल समुद्रले कतिको खुशी खोसेको छ। एउटा देशबाट अर्को देश पुग्न कति  आप्रवाशीहरुले यही समुद्र पार गर्ने क्रममा आफ्नो जीवन गुमाएका छन्। यो वर्ष सामाजिक सञ्जालहरुमा यत्रतत्र फैलिएको एक बालकको समद्र किनारको तस्वीर सम्झेर म किनारामै रोएँ। एक्लै हुँदा मनमा कति धेरै कुरा आउँछन्। आफ्नो मान्छे गुमाउँदाको एउटै वियोगलाई मैले भुल्न सकेको छैन। मलाई अर्काको मृत्यूले पनि आफ्नो भोगाइ सम्झाएर चित्त दुखाउँछ आजकाल। समुद्र छेउमा धेरैबेर बसेपछि तीनजना युवतीहरुको समूहले मलाई तस्वीर खिचिदिन अनुरोध गर्यो। मैले उनीहरुको तस्वीर खिचिदिएँ। चिनियाँ त्यो टोली मध्यकी एकले मलाई यात्रा’bout प्रश्न गरिन्। मैले एक्लै आएको बताएँ। उसले ‘आइ रियल्ली लाइक योर गट्स’ भनि अनि सेल्फी खिच्नको लागि अनुरोध गरि। मैले मेरै मोबाइलबाट खिचेँ। उसले पठाउन रिक्वेस्ट गरि मैले पठाएँ पनि। समुद्रमा बग्रेल्ती केटीहरु स्वीमिङ कस्ट्यूममा देखिएका थिए। म झसंग भएँ, अघि भ्ल्याडले नबिर्सि कस्ट्यूम ल्याउन भनेका थिए। मसँग थिएन म पसल खोज्दै हिँडे। स्वीमिङ कस्ट्यूम लगाउन निकै धक लाग्छ। मैले अलि धेरै आङ ढाक्ने एउटा कस्ट्यूम किनेँ।

jomtein beach

साँझ ८ बजेतिर म होटल फर्किएँ। भोलिपल्ट पानीमा पौडिने र पानी मुनीको संसार हेर्ने र नयाँ अनुभव गर्ने मेरो जति उत्साह थियो उत्तिकै डर पनि। मलाई पानीसँग डर लाग्छ। तर मलाई भिडियो हेरेपछि स्कुभा डाइभ नगरि भएको छैन। म अनुभवका लागि जसरी पनि गर्न चाहन्छु। त्यसैले डरलाई जितेर मैले यो निधो गरेको थिएँ। म सँगै जाने कोही भएको भए पनि सायद म यति डराउने थिइनँ। यस्तै कुरा मनमा खेल्दै थियो कुनबेला निदाएछु।

विहान ८ बजे डाइभ सेन्टर पुगेँ। भ्ल्याडले एउटा फर्म भर्न दिए। जसमा कानसम्बन्धी स्वासप्रस्वास सम्बन्धी, मुटु र ब्लड प्रेसरसम्बन्धी प्रश्नहरु थियो जसको जवाफ एस वा नो मा दिनुपर्थ्यो। मलाई अरु केही समस्या थिएन, तर सानै देखि कानमा पानी पर्ने वितिक्कै मलाई खुब दुख्थ्यो। कान दुखेपछि घरमा औषधी नहुँदा दिदी साइँली भाउजुको घरमा गएर केराको पात ल्याउनु हुन्थ्यो अनि त्यसको डाँठ निचोरेर कानमा हालि दिनुहुन्थ्यो। त्यो औषधी हो/होइन थाहा छैन तर मलाई सन्चो भएको महसुस गर्थेँ म। मनमा डर हुँदा विगतका कुराहरु कति छिट्टै सबै मानसपटलमा आउन भ्याइसक्छन्। मैले कानको समस्या छ भन्नेमा एस गरेको भए डाइभ गर्न पाउँदैन थिएँ। केही नसोचि ‘नो’ टिक लगाएँ। गलत कुरालाई स्वीकार गर्न मनले कति धेरै धक मान्छ। फर्म भरेपछि मलाई मिल्ने आकारका सबै सामानहरु एउटा बक्समा हालेर दिए। हामी सेन्टरबाट गाडीमा निस्कियौं।

समुद्र पुग्दासम्म पनि मनमा कुरा आइरह्यो, आज केही नराम्रो नहोला। बरु स्काइ डाइभ गर्दा मेरो मनमा खासै डर थिएन। हेलिकप्टरबाट खस्दा पनि म त्यति धेरै आँत्तिएको थिइन। मसँग जोडिएको थियो, मेरो ट्यान्डम मास्टर। तर स्कुभा डाइभ गर्दा त मैले आफँ गर्नुपर्छ। इन्सट्रक्टर भए पनि सास लिने काम मैले आफैँ गर्नुपर्छ। पानीमा यता उता आफैँ गर्नुपर्छ, यसैपनि पानीले मेरो सातो लिन्छ। गाडी छोडेर पानी जहाजमा बसेपछि मेरो डर उत्साहमा परिणत हुँदै थियो। मैले कल्पना गर्ने गरेको समुद्रको लगभग त्यो भागमा म पुगेको थिएँ जहाँबाट चारैतिर समुद्रमात्रै देख्न पाइन्थ्यो। अनि कहीँ कहीँ देखिन्थे साना पहाडजस्ता टापूहरु। बस् यो सानो पानीजहाजको स्वर नभए गज्जब हुनेथियो।DSCN0096

एकैछिनमा हाम्रा डाइभ मास्टर आएर समुद्रमा जाने तरिका र पालना गर्नुपर्ने नियमहरु बताए। मैले उनलाई भनेको थिएँ, मलाई पानीसँग डर लाग्छ तर मलाई गर्नुछ। उनले हामी माछा होइनौं भन्दै पानी मुनीको संसारले लोभ्याउने बताए। नियम पुरा आइप्याडमा देखाएपछि उनले मलाई स्वीमसुट, गर्हुंगो फलामको बेल्ट, आँखा र नाक छोप्ने मास्क अनि खुट्टामा लगाउने फिन लगाइदिए। अनि उत्तिकै गर्हुंगो अक्सिजनको सिलिण्डर। डरले यसै पनि मेरो खुट्टा लगलग कामेका थिए। म अनिच्छुक तालमा उभिएँ। मेरा इन्स्ट्रकटर म भन्दा अगाडि उभिएर मलाई हामफाल्न भने। मैले मास्क टाउकोबाट तल झारेर आँखामा उनेँ। अक्सिजनको पाइप मुखमा राखेँ। उनले भनेजस्तै देब्रे हातमा पेटमा राखेर दाइने हातको बुढी औंलाले अक्सिजन लिने क्यापमा थिचेँ, चोरी र साइँली औंलाले आँखाको चस्मा थिचेँ। खुट्टा हामफाल्ने आँट नै आएन। इन्स्ट्रकटर क्रिशले भने, ‘कमन योंग लेडी यु क्यान डू इट।’ म हाम फालेँ। पानीमा नतैरिँदै मैले आत्तिएर अक्सिजनको पानी मुखबाट छोडिसकेको रहेछु। म निस्सास्सिएँ। निकै चर्को नुनिलो पानीले मेरो मुख अटेसमटेस भइसकेको थियो। म पानीमा तैरिँदा मैले पेटदेखिको बल निकालेर त्यो पानी ओकलेँ। मलाई आँट नै आएन। हामी सँगै डाइभ गर्न गएकी जर्मनीको ओलाले मलाई हेरेर भनिन्, ‘यू वन्ट डाइ। डन्ट वरी।’ मैले भिरेको एयरब्यागको खैरो बटन यथेष्ट दबाएर म पानीमा तैरिने भएको थिएँ। तर मलाई फेरी पानी मुनी जाने आँट थिएन।

scuba dive

क्रिशले मलाई फेरी पानीमा सिकाए। कसरी मुखबाट सास लिएर मुखबाटै सास फाल्ने। अनि टाउको मानी मुनी डुबाएर सास लिन सिकाए। मलाई अलि सहज भयो। उनले पानीभित्र स्वासप्रस्वासका लागि कसरी एयर ब्यालेन्स गर्ने र कानको लागि के गर्नुपर्छ भनेर सिकाए। अनि उनले आफूसँगै हुने भन्दै पानी मुनी जान आग्रह गरे। विस्तारै पानीमा जाँदा मलाई डर कम हुन थाल्यो। बोल्न नमिल्ने भएपछि उनले मलाई आँखाको इशाराले उनीतिर हेर्न भने। अनि मुखको अक्सिजनको पाइप फालेर त्यसलाई कसरी घुँडासम्म दाहिने हात पुर्याएर फेरी पाइप खोज्ने भनेर सिकाए। त्यसो गर्दा फोक्सोमा हावाको ब्यालेन्स मिल्ने रहेछ। मैले त्यसै गरेँ। उनले हातको इशाराले पर्फेक्ट भने। अनि कानमा फेरी एयर ब्यालेन्स गर्नको लागि नाकमा मुख र नाक बन्द गरेर प्रेसर दिन भने। मलाई यति जानेपछि अब निकै सजिलो हुनथाल्यो। ओलाले मलाई माछा देखाउँदै लगिन्। करिब आधा घण्टा भएको पहिलो डाइभमा हामीले पानी मुनी यताउता गर्न सिक्यौं। मैले ओलाको हात एकछिन पनि छोडिन। मलाई सहज भए पनि मैले सहारा लिन छोडिनँ। पानी तैरिएपछि हामीले लन्च गर्यौं। उनीहरुले अलि हेब्बी खानेरहेछन्। म भेज भनेपछि उनीहरुले आलू, बन्दा, गाँजर बोइल गरेको खाना मलाई लगेका रहेछन्। अनि अण्डा। मैले खाएँ। मेरो खाना कम भएजस्तो लागेपछि मलाई क्रिशले तीनवटा केरा दिए र सबै खान भने। मैले खाएँ। मलाई अलि बढी भोक लागेको थियो। हाम्रा दोस्रो डाइभका लागि भने म डराएको थिइनँ।

मलाई भ्लाडले फोटो खिच्नका लागि वाटरप्रुफ क्यामेरा दिएका थिए। मैले त्यो द्ब्रे हातमा बेरेँ।  पहिला हामफाल्न अलि डराएँ। अक्सिजनको पाइप एकपटक पनि छोडिन। पानीमा गइसकेपछि मलाई डर लागेन। यसपटक हामी थप गहिराइमा पुग्यौं। पहिलोपल्ट ६ मिटरमा गएको थियौं, यसपटक ११ मिटर गहिराइमा पुग्यौं। माछाहरु निकै धेरै देखिए। समुद्रभित्रका झारहरु पानीमा यताउता चलेको कस्तो मोहक देखिनेरहेछ। ओला यसपटक मसँग थिइनन्। एकजना थाइल्याण्डकै केटी उनको फ्रान्सेली व्वाइफ्रेन्ड अनि क्रिश। म र ती थाइल्याण्डकी केटीले हात समायौं। उनी अलि आत्तिएकी थिइन्। उनको ब्वाइफ्रेन्ड तालिमप्राप्त डाइभर रहेछन्। उनले हाम्रो फोटो खिचिदिए। मैले आफ्नो हातमा झुन्डिएको क्यामेराले सेल्फी खिचेँ। यसपटक हाम्रो डाइभ अलि लामो समय थियो। विस्तारै माथि तैरिँदै आउँदा पानीजहाजमा झुन्डिएको भर्याङ भेटियो। त्यसमै उक्लिएर हामी उत्रिँदै थियौं, ती फोटोग्राफरले मेरो तस्वीर खिचिदिए। क्रिशले भने, ‘नाउ यो इन्जोए इट राइट।’ मैले साँच्चै नै इन्जोए गरेको थिएँ, पानी मुनीको त्यो भिन्न संसार देखेर।

IMG_1167

सपनामै भुल्न देउ

IMG_0519

आजकाल खुल्ला आँखाले संसार नियाल्दा

जब अन्धकारले मन चिसो हुन्छ,

म आँखा बन्द गरेर उज्यालो खोज्न थाल्छु

दुखको विगत जब मानसपटलभरि छाउँछन्

खुसी र हाँसो त्यसैमा भेट्‍छु

हो मलाई विपनामा होइन, सपनामै भुल्न देउ पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्