Nepali Times Asian Paints
Back at Sundarijal >2

This is the second instalment of the unpublished diary of BP Koirala, which Nepali Times is serialising in this space every fortnight. The diary covers the period immediately following BP's return to Nepal from exile in India with a call for "national reconciliation" between the monarchy and pro-democracy forces. At that time, India was under Indira Gandhi's emergency rule. We left BP two weeks ago with his entry for 31 December 1976, "sad and homesick" during his first full day in Sundarijal jail. "I look forward to 1977 with hope for both Nepal and our family," he wrote. The diary, written in English, is available on microfilm at the Madan Puraskar Library in Patan and at the Jawaharlal Nehru Museum and Library in New Delhi. It was donated by senior advocate Ganesh Raj Sharma.

1 January 1977

Yesterday I was conscious of the importance of today-first day of the year; but when I got up at five in the morning today I had clear forgotten about it. But after bed tea, which was late in coming as GM [Ganesh Man Singh], who prepared it, overslept, the realisation slowly dawned on me that today was New Year's Day. Why is everything so vague? The awareness of my prison state also very slowly emerges in my mind. The thought that Shailaja [BP's niece] is alone in the janana jail almost prompted me to visit her there-that I am myself in prison is realised moments later.

On the first day of the year I am partially successful in organising my daily programme. This year I didn't make more resolutions for the year. Didn't promise that I would organise my time so that my minutes of the day are profitably utilised etc. I start organising my daily duties without more fervour, or a resolve. I did half an hour's brisk walking and did skipping of 80 skips, some deep breathing and some stretching of limbs-all before breakfast. Breakfast consisting of two eggs, cheese, toast and butter and milk was brought at 8AM. I cut out one egg. Tried reading after breakfast with no success. At about nine when the sun had been a little warm, I scrubbed my boots with a wet towel. Tidied the room. All the time being homesick and sad. Before lunch I did twenty minutes walking. Lunch at 1pm. The camp commander told us that today being Ekadashi meat was not available, hence was not served at lunch. Then tried to sleep which I could not do. GM prepared afternoon tea and some fruits. Evening shadows suddenly descend, and it equally suddenly becomes cold. Again walking for half an hour. Dinner at 7PM. To bed at 8:15PM. Before going to bed GM comes to my room-that is the practice. There is not much to talk about.

I remember Nanu who is a misunderstood woman. Her ways are abrupt; and what we think is egoistic in her character is only her attempt at the assertion of her personality in a family whose ethos being alien to her has given rise to a complex of inferiority in her. I am full of remorse today because I was not understanding and fair to her. Prakash and his children Shreeharsha and Ruchira were obviously bewildered by the sudden turn of events immediately after their marriage. I remember all of them and suffer pangs of homesickness. I don't know how Girija will manage. I hope he won't break under his present terrific responsibility.

2 January 1977

Yesterday was Saturday, hence that nothing happened was accepted as normal. But nothing happened even today. This is disappointing. No newspapers, no news from anywhere, we are kept in strict isolation. How long will this last? Till the King returns from Pokhara or he makes up his mind about us. I know the world hasn't forgotten us-even the King must be aware of us as a problem, but to be buried here in the isolation of a military camp and to know their one fate is in the absolute hand of the King is an experience which is both desperately lonesome and frightening. Here in my solitary exile I become poignantly aware of the enormity of our decision to return to Nepal.

Shailaja had asked me to search my heart in the crisis of my life which my return to Nepal would entail who was nearest to me to etc. I remember Sushila and am filled with sadness, but dear Shailaja, I miss you. Sadness has history and partakes of homesickness. But when you miss a person, it is the future that you miss-it is a loss of the perpetual present.

Psychologically I am steadier today. If I could be certain that people at home would sit, suffer for sheer want of money, that Sudule would be properly looked after, that Shailaja is taking the hardship of the prison life in her stride-then I will have no worry in the world.

Our daily routine is fixed. We get our food from outside at fixed hours-like breakfast at 8am, lunch at 12 noon and dinner at 7pm. We take bed tea at 5:30am and afternoon at about 4pm. Since this evening they have started giving us milk. Perhaps the instruction is that we should be well fed. What we're starved of pertains to our mind and heart. No company, no books or writing materials. What I need most is company. GM can't provide that kind of company which I hunger for. Shailaja-I think of Shailaja because in prison she would be my best company. She is political, intellectual, emotional-what more do I need in prison if she were here. But what a fantastic wish! Would Sundarijal be a prison then?

I think it is cold wave-there is no respite from cold. In the morning it is frost, all one. The whole day, cold wind blows. Is it age that has affected me and hence I feel so uncomfortably cold. I can't think of taking a cold bath. When I was here last, i.e. 8 years ago, I would take cold water bath at 5 am, when the world lay frozen. I haven't bathed for so many days. I scrubbed my body with a wet towel.

Desperately homesick, desperately hungry for some emotional company. Why this darkness?

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)