Chaithuri

First published in Mountain Bound.

Image by Steam Community

The sun touched the crowns of the pine trees when Chandra returned to his village. It was Spring, the skies were clear. In the distance the snow-capped Himalaya shone like queens. It was half past eight, time for the Brahmin priest to wind up the daily rituals in the temple, a simple whitewashed structure containing a few holy stones representing Shiva. Most of the women were busy collecting water and preparing food. A few children were already on their way to school, some dressed in a neat uniform, others in tattered blue clothes, saved by numerous rounds of stitching. The headmaster opened the school gates and was about to enter the teachers’ office when he paused. From below, from the steep valley embracing the mighty Kali Gandaki River, three gunshots roared.

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Chandra’s story

First published by Nepali Times. Full story published in Mountain Bound

It was a picture-perfect day. The snow mountains to the north were shining, and the Kali Gandaki flowed placidly at the bottom of the steep valley. Children, some in neat uniforms and others in tattered blue tunics were on their way to school. The women were busy collecting water, Saraswati had a doko on her back and was on her way to her field. Then, three gunshots.

Two weeks after Chandra’s death, villagers look away when his name is mentioned. His sister Laxmi and sister-in-law Nila bury their heads and cannot speak. Nila hasn’t been able to inform her husband, who works overseas, about his brother’s death. “He’s got many problems of his own, the news would only make him worry.” The security forces come by often, interrogating and sometimes beating family members of Maoists, and going through their things. “We can’t even show you Chandra’s pictures,” says Nila. “We burnt them the day he died.”

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