The Infinite Wait



It was somewhere around 9 at night on March 11, 2018, I was engrossed in FIFA career mode. The Viber tone on my phone went on that made me steal a glance at my phone, with joystick still squashed between my hands. The name Aaru made me pause the game and grab my phone as quick as lightning. It has been so many years that we have been chatting now, but every time I get a text from her, I still get butterflies in my stomach.


"Sorry for not replying you today...finally, I am done packing my luggage. Cannot wait for tomorrow." Read her message.


Location: Pullen Pak, Raleigh, North Carolina  Photographer: Rojal Adhikari

Her real name is Aarushka. I call her Aaru. When I first did that, it used to get on her nerve. Nevertheless, I did not stop. But you see, girls are different creatures. It was just another evening when we were on our usual evening stroll, with our hands tangled, I addressed her by her actual name.

She seized my hand hard and said, "Don't you dare call me by my name again! Say Aaru as usual. It feels special coming from you."

Saying that she encircled my left hand with her right and rested her head on my shoulder.  With the dusk looming and the sun hidden behind the mountain already, I could not resist to peck her and to whisper, "I love you, Aaru."

Currently, she's in Bangladesh. Done with her MBBS. We have been in a long-distance relationship for the past 5 years; the last time I saw her was 11 months ago. The prospect of long-distance relationship startled me at first. When she first told me she would go to Dhaka, I remember the distraught-I going to meet my friend, Sahas.


With a cigarette in one hand and a teacup in another, Sahas had asked me, "Your favorite novel is The Broken Wings, isn't it?"


"Do not beat around the bushes. Tell me what you are trying to imply?" I had stressed.


He then added, "I just want to remind you a line from that book - Will a thirsty man quench his thirst from a spring of dream?"


I would be lying if I say his words did not bug me initially. I had witnessed relationships that I thought to be ideal fall like a house of cards by a gust of wind. Nevertheless, we made through, and it is coming to end tomorrow as she will be here, in Kathmandu, in less than 20 hours. If the void I felt in her absence in these years have taught me anything then it is to treasure people I have in my life everyday. Having a person with whom you can be as true as you are to yourself is a blessing. The feeling that you have someone to share your highs and lows every day without the fear of being judged is really special. However, our relationship has not always been all rainbow and sunshine. We have had several fights. But our feelings have been so honest and strong that ego and trust issues had no room in our equation. An awkward OYE was cure to all our fights.


The next morning, her call woke me up from my slumber.


"Hey," I answered somnolently.


"Unbelievable! You are still in bed. But I love your drowsy voice," she giggled.


"Haha...what you doing right now?" I asked.


"Umm...I have just reached the airport with my friends. The boarding is about an hour or so," she said.


"I will head to the airport now. You have a good flight, okay?" I replied ecstatically, throwing my blanket and getting off my bed.


"Oye, ani ni, my parents are coming to the airport. Since they do not know we have been dating, can we meet later in the evening?" she asked solemnly.


"Okay," was all I could say.


"Listen, I am going to tell my mom about us today. I cannot wait to be in your arms; please, wait a little more. Got to go, okay, byeee," she said and ended the call.


Her words "cannot wait to be in your arms" made my heart pound for longing.


I took a shower, had breakfast, but the time hardly seemed to move. The evening looked light years away, and I was dying to behold my Aaru. But the fact that her parents would be in the airport got me between the devil and the deep blue sea. I tried watching videos on YouTube and scrolling on Facebook to digress my mind, however, my eyes and my heart wanted the clock to sprint.  Contrary to what she said, I decided to go to the airport. I had no patience to wait until the end of the day to meet her. I wore my hoodie and rode towards the airport on my motorbike. When I reached there, I saw Aarushka's parents and her sister.


"Darshan uncle, darshan aunty," I greeted namaste.


"K chha babu? What brought you here?" aunty asked.


"My friends, Sailesh and Resham are actually coming back from Dhaka, aunty. I am here to welcome them back," I answered, feeling proud of my made-up-answer.


"Even our Aarushka is returning today. You can meet your three friends now," the uncle said and smiled.


"Oh wow! I did not know that," I said, and I could see Akesha, Aaru's sister, who knew very well about our relationship, was enjoying every bit of my awkwardness there. 

To make the matter worse, she said, "You did not bring any bouquet of flowers for your FRIENDS?"


"Flower? Umm, you know...the boys do not care about flowers," I replied and frowned at her.


 I peeked at my watch; it was 15 past 2, still 5 minutes for her scheduled arrival time. All our eyes were glued on the arrival gate. I was usually able to identify her just her silhouette, but still, my eyes were yearning as far as I could see, scrutinzing every person, hoping it was her.

All of a sudden, there was a loud noise in a distant. Within a couple of minutes, there was a huge commotion at the airport. I heard the alarming sound of firetrucks and ambulances. Apparently, an accident had occurred. I could already see Akesha and aunty wrapped in uncle's arm nervously.  Everyone was petrified. As I looked above, I saw the dark smokes of despondency slowly devouring the sunlight. A cold chill went down my spine. At that moment, I remembered god more than I had done my whole life, praying to avoid the catastrophe that I was not daring to think of. The ruckus and clamor, I went oblivious to all those, but my ears were lanced by the words "US Bangla aircraft has crashed on the railway."  It was then I realized Aaru and I were like dewdrops; we were excited about the dawn, but little did we know we were not meant to survive the light. My caterpillar had turned into a butterfly, and she flew high up the sky, promising to never come back again. 




Disclaimer: 

Notwithstanding the inclusion of the precise timing and date of the US Bangla plane crash, the plot and the characters are pure work of fiction. Any resemblance to a person living or dead will be a sheer coincidence.


Why should everyone read novels?

Picture by: Biebek Chamlagain and Location: Bayou Park, University of Louisiana at Monroe


 The culture of reading novels is in great decline. In the modern digital world, majority of what we read is in the form of pdfs and audio books. Be it a student who already has many course books to read or an employee who is occupied by an extremely hectic schedule, I think everyone should read novels. And they should read them before going to bed.

To begin with, reading a novel is fun. You dwell in the mental picture of the protagonist, characters, and events for a while. This not only is a meditation which refreshes your mind, but you will also be enhancing your vocabulary, grammar, and writing simultaneously. Unlike reading course books, where we obviously procure information and facts directly, reading novels cultivates a long-lasting knowledge, providing refreshments at the same time.

Reading is a great cure for wanderlust too. Even if we have all the riches and time in the world, we cannot reach every place. But books can take you to your dream destination. They can walk you through the alleys of Tokyo; they can show you the wildlife of Africa; they can even make you fight a battle that was fought some centuries ago. Books will introduce you to the most powerful and intelligent humans that were born on Earth at different times and help you see things from a perspective that you never thought of. Novels can change your life completely. They can be fatherly advice or a mentor for you at times.

Research has also proven how beneficial novels can be to us. Researchers at Emory University focused on neural effects of reading novels on 21 students. They were given sections of novels to read every evening, and their functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was done the following morning. The results showed heightened connectivity in an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language and the primary sensory motor region of the brain.

Psychologists David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano, at the New School of Social Research, New York, have concluded from their research that fictional literature enhances social empathy and compassion in people, making them understand other people’s emotions and develop good social relationships.

Someone might argue that movies can make us feel the same way. Have you ever watched a movie that was based on a novel that you read beforehand? Well, I have, and I quit watching the movie before the interval. Movies restrict your imagination and make you see the world through the director’s eyes instead of your own. This is not the case in novels. Though you are reading words scribbled by a second person, you will have full control over your mental picture.

So, what is the best time to read a novel? I think it should the last activity of the day, right before bed. It probably will not be wrong to claim that people these days have problems falling asleep at the desired time. This is because we glue ourselves to either a laptop or a mobile screen. The reason is, these electronic devices emit a blue light which causes insomnia. The light suppresses the melatonin in our bodies, which is a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness. Hence, reading a novel is an ideal last activity before bed to help you get a pleasant night’s sleep.

For me, novels are a mental gym, and reading them is a psychological workout. In addition to the numerous advantages mentioned above, it provides you with a mirror to reflect on all the different angles in a life. Reading literary works is like a drug, and it is better to get addicted to books rather than chemicals, isn’t it? So, how about reading a book for at least 20 minutes before you go to bed tonight? 

Learning a Second Language can Change Your Life


When I first enunciated English alphabets, I never imagined that I would be a student in one of the universities in the United States of America and will write an article for its university newspaper. Having the Nepali language as a mother tongue, I would not have been able to achieve this fate had I not known the English language.



If you are excited about new culture and practices, just like me, then you should definitely learn the second language. I have been to my neighboring country, India, twice: First, when I was 12 and didn’t know Hindi (most commonly spoken language in India); second when I was 16 and was fluent in Hindi. In my first visit, I went to the places where my parents took me and procured the information that a guide told us. I, however, in my second visit, could communicate with local people and street vendors in their own language. Knowing their language, I could initiate a chat, which turned into a talk, and ultimately into a deep conversation. In my latter visit, I was able to immerse myself in their culture and observe things from their perspective as the subtleties were not lost in the waves of language translation. From these two visits to India, I learned that to deeply know and embrace a new culture, there is no substitution to learning their language.

The best part is learning the second language is its fun. You make new friends. Syllable and letters that look scary and sound funny at first will ultimately change your way of looking at things.
In today’s world where the competition is extremely fierce, knowing multiple languages is sure to keep you ahead of the crowd. Irrespective of any field, world renown companies have already franchised their business in different parts of the world. So, knowing second languages is beneficial for a successful career.

It has been almost six months that I have been in Monroe, and I have met international students from other countries whose first language is not English. Meeting such people fills me with the desire to learn all the languages in the world. I am planning to learn Spanish by the time I complete my undergraduate degree at ULM, and this is something that I would like to recommend all: Decide to learn any second language today, and it is going to be the best decisions in your life.




Chat

"Hi"

"Hi. Finally, the super-busy-American-guy has some time for me."

"American? LOL! We talked like the day before yesterday. You are acting as though I am texting you after a month :D"

"I sent you a text yesterday...and you did not responded even after seeing it."

"did not respond* LOL :p :D"

":@ :@ GO TO HELL!!!!!"

"See, I have like an hour right now...so do not go offline like you did a few days ago. I was just pulling your leg."

"Okay...you know I have never been as good as you in English.  Had I been brilliant in English, I would have been studying in the USA just like you...not here in Nepal ;)"

"I see what you just tried to do there with the use of conditionals :D :D"

"Leave it...tell me why did not you text me yesterday."

"I was taking a class. I have texted you back now as I am free. I never avoid people, you know me, right? On the top of that, it's you, I would never do that!"

"I know...it has just been two days, but we used to talk every day...sometimes even twice or thrice a day. I was missing you a lot, and since you did not reply even after seeing the message, I kinda felt bad."

"I have 4 classes on Tuesday and had multiple assignments to complete. The schedule is really busy here; I have kept everything on google calendar just to remind me of my things."

"I know. New place, new people, new academic practice, I understand...I am just letting you know what I felt."

"I am free right now, and I am hitting you before I have looked into mamu's and baba's messages."

"Ohhh! Choo swetttt!!"

"Stop that, please. You know I hate when somebody texts me like that."

"Haha okay...I love to get on your nerves."

"Very funny...BTW, there was this blonde, who was checking me out in the library this morning."

"Stop bluffing hero. Tell me how are you? Do you even miss me?"

"Obviously!"

"Oh hello! This is not one-word answer question. Answer like you really mean it man."

"You want me to be honest?"

"Wait what! So, you do not even miss me?"

"Not a day goes by when I do not think about you...once, twice, thrice a day, or even more...I do not know. Distance is what makes you feel the importance of family and all those special people you have in your life. I obviously think of you, but I do not miss you. Let me put it this way: I would like to say I am focused at this moment; I was prepared for it. This is what I wanted so badly: to study in America, you know that right, don't you? Also, I am coming back to Nepal after my education, and we two will be the same like we were before."

"The way you put things into words, how can anyone disagree with you?"

"haha...if you are in right place, we can have a video chat."

"Not right now. I am in a car."

"Okay. But where you going?"

"To watch a movie."

"You used to tell me everything that you were about to do before-hand..but now?...See, I am not complaining, okay? But still....let me take your words: I am just letting you know how I felt ;)"

"So, now you realize how I felt when you ignored my message yesterday. BTW, I am not busy like you :p...I was about to let you know about it yesterday. Since, I did not hear(LOL was about to type heard here :D But, thanks to you grammar police) back from you, I thought you were busy, so did not tell you the details."

"Okay...who are you going with?"

"Aayush ;)"

"I am going to call baba and let him know about your boyfriend. I am in America, and you have nothing to bribe me now!"

"LOL. Do you want me to tell our parents about your apparent "school friend" that you spent the entire day with, in Garden of Dreams, a day before your flight to America? Huh?"

"Okay. I take my words back. As always, what we talk about, stays between us, right? ;)"

"That sounds like my good younger brother."

"Haha"

"Okay, we have reached the hall. GTG...lets have a video chat tomorrow, what say?"

"Okay. Bye...enjoy the movie, and say my "hello" to Aayush."

"He says "hi" too. Bye...take care."


A Superwoman in Rickshaw



It was yet another lethargic day for me. To kill time, I was going through all the images on my mobile, and I came to halt on this particular image. People from my camaraderie are often bewildered by the picture of this lady on my phone. My lips, however, cannot help but curve to smile every time I tell the story about this picture. Well, I can vividly recall the day I had taken this picture: 18th March 2017. In addition to the encounter with this woman on that very day, 18th  March is the following day of my birthday, so, I believe I am never going to forget this day. I had posted the story of this woman on my Facebook account on that particular day, which was even featured on the website of Our Biratnagar, an online magazine of Biratnagar. On witnessing this picture again on my phone today, I could not stop myself from logging into my blog to unfold the story in words.

It was Saturday, around 4 in the noon. I was on my way back home in this lady's electric-rickshaw from Mahendra Chowk, Biratnagar, after attending the regular Saturday session of Speakers' Corner. Well, let me shed some light into wonderful Speaker's Corner: It is a two-hour session conducted every Saturday in a systematic way to enhance English speaking kills. If you are reading this, and you happen to be the resident of Biratnagar currently then attend this program. You will thank me later.

No further digressions now, I promise. So, I was on my way to home in this city safari, bumping as the rickshaw made its way along the highway of Biratnagar that was under reconstruction. I was alone, and I kept it to myself, self-reflecting on the session of Speaker's Corner. I wanted to get home home as quickly as  possible to enjoy Saturday's action of Premier League football. We were in Kanchanbari Chowk, few meters short of my destination, that this lady abruptly stopped the rickshaw. My intuitive reaction was that she must have spotted some passengers waving at her to stop. I, however, was astonished to she her get off the rickshaw, and help an old man get across the road of busy Kanchanbari, Chowk. Well, I was there in the backseat witnessing this sight, and to be honest, I was, to some extend drenched in shame. I was quick to compose myself and click a photo as she made her way back to me after helping the man cross the road.


In the contemporary world where people are either busying keeping their eyes locked on their mobile screen or minding their own business, what she did was extremely rare these days and an amazing action to earn respect from any individual, I told her. No later had she told me that she had driven old and poor people free of cost than we reached my destination. As I paid her the fare I asked her if I could take her picture, which she happily agreed. I was so mesmerized by her action that it was few minutes after that I realized I had forgotten to ask her name. Nevertheless, even today when I hear the word "inspiration," I reminisce about her. It has been 4 months, and 10 days since that incident, but I have not seen her again. I am sure that she must be influencing her passengers and people around her on daily basis, in one way or the other, for you cannot conceal the light coming from the sun, can you?