By Dwaipayan Regmi
I was born and raised in Terai. I understand the language and I know the culture/customs to a large extent. I used to cut banana trees during Chhath Puja, and excitedly eat the Prasad after the puja. My next door neighbor was a Madhesi. And, before you make judgements based on my last name, which is of a Pahade descent, I want you to know that I did not celebrate Diwali after the promulgation of constitution. I am waiting for the entire country to celebrate; I not could celebrate it while half of my Nepali friends, Madhesis, were mourning.
Yes, I agree that you are insulted with all those derogatory words, dhoti, madise, marsya, treated as if you are not a part of Nepal. But, will following the current Madhesi leaders bring justice to you? Some Madhesi leaders have held powerful posts, did they ever work for you? Did they even consider working in the south for Madhesi progress? Now that they are powerless, they are using you for their personal gain. Do you expect that once the Madhesi leaders’ self-serving demands are fulfilled, you will get justice? I request you to ponder on these questions and refrain from following party politics.
In my childhood, I had many good Madhesi and Marwari friends. I enjoyed their company and they enjoyed mine. I never felt different; I was taught that we all belong to the culture of humanity. But now I wonder how my childhood friends will view me today? As a Pahade? Or simply as a friend? I would certainly prefer the latter.
Nepal’s development has already been pushed back by twenty years. Constitution drafting was a major hindrance so at least we have a constitution now. No matter what the constitution states, at the micro-level, it will not make much difference to the Nepali people’s lives. The demand raised by any party will not bring bread to our table. Besides, it is not possible to satisfy everyone. Even among siblings, some may feel discriminated in a family. Hence, the majority rule in the Constituent Assembly at least ensures satisfaction to a large proportion of the voters. However, let us note that the constitution is not set in stone and can be amended as necessity arises. In our neighboring India, Jharkhand and Telengana are new states that emerged later and same can be true for Nepal. Hence, instead of running after the leader’s cry, we can work with patience.
The current scenario of Terai creates the fear of the rise of CK Raut. An intellect and scholar, his influence can certainly gear up if the current unrest continues. I fear that the propaganda of a separate state might divide our country. Recent report of Human Rights Watch on Madhesi deaths was disheartening. Who are our Madhesi brothers and sisters dying for? I hope not for the corrupt leaders. Ask yourselves, even if you want a separate state, can you trust the Madhesi leaders to become effective leaders?
I live in a hostel in India. We celebrate all our Nepali cultural events. We celebrate Dashain and Tihar. We also did a candle lighting program when the massive earthquake took lives of many Nepali. We even watch sports and support our team whenever they play with other nations. Constitution promulgation was an important date, too. While Kathmandu ordered us to celebrate Dipawali, I was confused. After all, I was not sure if my Madhesi friends would join the celebration. How could I celebrate without them?
I know Madhesi people are ignored, discriminated and marginalized for decades. I respect your demands, they are reasonable, and I support them. However, let us remind ourselves that things cannot change overnight. We need to change our individual selves as well for the change to come in the true sense. I vow to not ever call you, my Madhesi counterparts, dhoti, madise, or any such insulting terms. I vow to respect you as I would any other Nepali. Things are changing, and I believe that positive change will come to Nepal.
Let us not divide our nation. United we stand. After all, we all are Nepali.
Image Credits for featured image – http://bit.ly/1RV3CNo
Dwaipayan Regmi blogs at dwaipon.blogspot.com, and is an MBA student.