Begin again. Here I am, returned to Kathmandu 15 months, many earthquakes, and lifetimes later. Change is constant, change is predictable. Trauma, however, is change of a very different kind. Begin again. I can think of no place where this is more true, in this moment, than here in Nepal.
Its late and there are no streetlights as we drive through the city from the airport to the Sheshen Guest House, on the grounds of the monastery near Boudha Stupa. The street to our guest house is barely passable by jeep, deep water-filled ruts make us wonder if one of them will swallow us up. On our last visit, this road was one of the nicer paved ones. It is humid (close as we used to say back in Ohio), and...you can feel it in the air.
We see the familiar faces of the staff the next morning. And those faces are different. The smiles are guarded, cautious, tentative. The eyes hint at stories wanting to be told. We hear several - the manager of the guest house was in the car with his young son, fearful the road would open and they would disappear. The young man who repairs and makes sandals, whose "workshop" is 3 square feet at the side of the stone path and whose blind wife and children live in India - Rankan was living in a small leanto which ended up covered in rubble, burying the few small but necessary things he had, thankfully not him.
And there are moments, short but unmistakable, where the joy in "right here right now" - that heartfelt, sincere, eye-crinkling spark of a smile, the one I came to love last year - returns. And I know there is hope here, with this one person, in this one point in time.
The buildings are less forgiving. My two favorites, the monastery temple, and the Boudha Stupa, are damaged, the temple, a huge pile of rubble inside of what looks like a fully intact outer building. The main four pillars are intact, but the rest of the temple building, which is about 3 floors high, will have to be dismantled brick by brick. These ancient sacred buildings, that grace the landscape everywhere here in Kathmandu, have only seen human hands in their construction/reconstruction.
On Book Reviews
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