Nepali Times
The peace rally is about to begin


Translation of a satire by Bimal Nibha:
I got nervous seeing policemen all over, but no sooner did I try to leave the place, a staff-wielding policeman said, almost in reprimand, "Did you come to take part in the peace rally?"

Not understanding him, I stayed where I was.

"Go there. There." He pointed with his staff.

I went to the side. A few people were gathered there. I added myself to them. I looked around. They numbered seven. Eight including me. A middle-aged man with a slick head was letting off billows of cigarette smoke. With him was a woman of the same age. In thick makeup. A young man too. In a yellow round-necked t-shirt. Another skinny young man was also standing next to him, chattering away. When I went closer it turned out to be a young woman. I had been betrayed by the boy's cut hairstyle. It would have happened to others as well. There was a red faced old man too. He had a chain in his hands. And a big sized dog with the chain. Shaking its tail rhythmically. I looked at the dog with interest. In response it looked at me too, snarling. I turned away. In the meanwhile one or two others had joined us.

After a while a leader type of person manifested, carrying a head mike. And began to shout loudly, "The peace rally is about to begin. Please abide a while. The peace rally is about to begin."

He disappeared after saying this.

We were indeed abiding. What else was there to do?

With a far-reaching yawn I looked at my watch. Exactly five minutes past eight. The same staff-wielding policeman from before came, twirling his staff, and said, "Respected peace lovers, form a line. Alright, alright, form a line. Don't just stand anywhere." He pushed a pedestrian who was walking along the path into the line.

After that he went to a nearby restaurant to have tea. I too felt a craving for tea. So I also headed towards the restaurant.

"Hey respected peace lover, don't come here, stay over there in line," another policeman drinking tea cried in a shrill voice.

A crowd of schoolchildren was coming in my direction, carrying banners of various kinds.

A police van was following them. Seeing the police van, the policemen drinking tea sped out of the restaurant. The restaurant's manager stood bewildered, not having received his payment.

Two people who looked like teachers, who had come with the crowd, placed the children in line and came to drink tea at the restaurant. This time I too joined in. I asked one of them, "Where did you come from?"

"From a nearby government school. They don't let us sit in peace even on holidays." An indelicate reproach emerged from his mouth. "We got a letter from the government saying that we have to make this peace rally a success. The Principal Saheb's orders are to the same effect. So, what to do?"

The other one asked me, "And you?"

I said, "I came out on a morning walk, and am staying around to see what a peace rally looks like."

Actually a sense of anticipation about this peace rally had grown in me.

At this time another crowd of children added. Now the rally was gaining shape. The policemen started to be active again. And the leader type of person also reappeared. He lifted the head mike and shouted, "The peace rally is about to begin. Dignitaries, please stand in line. The peace rally is about to begin."

Then he disappeared again. I quickly finished my tea and stood in line. A child standing in line behind me wanted to pee. He said to his teacher, who had finished drinking tea and was coming this way, "Sir, I need to pee."

The Sir asked a policeman. The policeman said, "I don't know," and spat out some chewing tobacco.

I too suddenly wanted some chewing tobacco. I rounded my lips and asked, "Police Dai, do you have any chewing tobacco?"

In response he glared at me.

I had no option but to shut up.

The peace rally hadn't yet begun. It was as though it was about to begin. Then again, who knows what happened? I too suddenly needed to pee. So I slowly got out of line. And without taking part in the peace rally, I walked rapidly ahead.

Originally published in Kantipur

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)