Like many others with dismay I took in the news of the disastrous earthquake that hit Nepal yesterday. It was only the day before that I was asked to answer the question if I thought life was fair. The first answer that popped to mind was no of course after a quick scan through all the memories in my head thus far. The moment I’d said it out loud though, I started rethinking my answer. Until the news of Nepal’s earthquake and the destruction of Durbar Square came. What a horrendous loss of lives. The devastation is enormous. Can anybody really say that is fair?
It was only 6 years ago that I stood there in the middle of Durbar square admiring the beautiful temples. My friend and I walked around endlessly taking pictures and chatting with all the friendly people. I was shocked to see the pictures from after the earthquake. The temples are in ruin and they are still pulling bodies out from under the rubble. It’s hard to believe that what was once such a beautiful and peaceful place is all gone.
After having spent three weeks in India coming to Nepal was a relief. Don’t get me wrong I have yet to visit a country with more beautiful old buildings and palaces than India, the Taj Mahal is definitely the most beautiful of icons I have ever seen. And the food in India is simply amazing. But for someone who can’t stand filth and dirt, three weeks was more than enough. Nepal with its clean air and friendly people was just what I needed. The serenity of the environment, the smiles you get from the people and their hospitality make you feel right at home.
As I watch the devastation now I cannot help but remember this poem by Rabindranath Tagore our tour guide in Nepal gave me all those years ago:
I was walking along a path overgrown with grass,
when suddenly I heard from someone behind, “See if you know me?”
I turned around and looked at her and said, “I cannot remember your name.”
She said, “I am the first great Sorrow whom you met when you were young.”
Her eyes looked like a morning dew is still in the air.
I stood silent for some time till I said, “Have you lost all the great burden of your tears?”
She smiled and said nothing. I felt that her tears had had time to learn the language of smiles.
“Once you said,” she whispered, “that you would cherish your grief for ever.”
I blushed and said, “Yes, but years have passed and I forget.”
Then I took her hand in mine and said, “But you have changed?”
“What was sorrow has now become peace,” she said.
May the Nepali people find strength and peace! And if you ever get a chance to visit Nepal, do so. It is definitely worth it!