The television screen is a blur. I press 'mute'. A reporter was asking: "Why didn't anyone try to get them released? Why wasn't anything done?" A lot has happened in the past hour. I was supposed to go to school for my exam. At the bus stop, they said there is no school, no test, at least not today. "Call again tomorrow morning," they said. Back home, Bua wanted to bicycle to work and the rest of the house pounced on him, calling him insane. He walked instead. My brothers change out of their uniforms and immediately, simultaneously, grab the computer game CD. Ama tells them to hold it, and makes them study. They sulk, why should they work, there is no school.
I turn on the radio. A bus has fallen into the Trisuli in Kurintar, over 40 missing. I switch it off, remembered hearing something similar less than a week ago. I turn on the tv: BBC reporting two suicide bombers in Israel killing at least 16 people. The telephone rings. It's my cousin calling from work to tell my grandmother not to let us go out of the house, they've burnt the mosques near Ghanta Ghar, the Qatar Airways office. I go to roof. Black smoke is rising in nine different places, one of them opposite the corner store.
Bua just got back, he walked home with a cousin. We'd spent 20 minutes trying to call him and tell him to hurry home, they've declared an indefinite curfew. The tv blinks off as the lights go out. I think of June, some years back. Just mournful music on tv and radio all day, street violence, demanding answers for something that defied explanation. Dread seeping in. Only dogs roaming the road. I glance at my brothers, who've finished their work for the day and are jumping in front a noisy computer screen. They are innocent, oblivious.
I'll be honest now. I'm afraid.
I'm on the roof again. The damage has been extensive: Kantipur, Spacetime, ironic and annoying that the media is being targeted. My brothers are helping my father out in the garden. The lane I live in suddenly seems full of parents mingling with their children, yelling at them, playing with them. It's an unfamiliar sight for a midweek afternoon. Above, the sky has a strange pinkness, lighter than usual, a shade you would expect to find on a little girl's party dress. There aren't any stars, there haven't been for the past few days. The setting sunlight stings the eyes in melting heat. Far away, I see a plane take off and wonder how the passengers reached the airport. Wonder where they are going.
It's quiet. The night always is, as if telepathically. The helicopters have stopped hovering. I light yellow and red candles in my room, a daily thing, and start Abida Parveen on my player. I should be re-revising, I know, but just can't. Today, 12 Nepali homes are mourning and the nation mourns with them. Some women will wear white, some children will only have a memory, brothers and sisters will have pain and anger, parents only tears. This storm like many others in the past will eventually subside. Families will remain broken.
In psychology, they teach you about bystander apathy and mob behaviour. You learn which neurotransmitters cause which emotions, the possible outcomes of severe stress, the therapies that help you cope. Science shows what you can do with chemicals, with society, with knowledge, life makes you wonder why these potentials never seemed to be fulfilled for the better.
We so easily blame our politicians and the freedom fighters. What do we have to say for ourselves on this day of shame? The novel I was supposed to have an exam on today is the first of a series called the 'Children of Violence'. There will probably be no school tomorrow, it is a day of national mourning. The curfew is still on. And the television still doesn't work.