Nepali Times
The changing of the guard

In this episode, BP writes about the visit by a new major who is taking over as chief of the prison, and about the uncertainty of an "interview" with relatives. Every fortnight Nepali Times brings you instalments from this unpublished diary written in English. The handwritten pages cover a period immediately following his return to Nepal with a call for a "national reconciliation".

14th January, 1977

A new major took over charge from the old one. In the morning the old major bought the new one to my room, where I was taking tea with GM (Ganesh Man Singh), to introduce him to us. The new one appears to be phlegmatic, and not so smart as the outgoing one. We were told by him that the interview perhaps wouldn't take place tomorrow, the day being Saturday. These people don't tell us anything clearly. They qualify all their statements with such phrases as "Perhaps", "I think" "Don't know but". This is exasperating coming as it does in conditions of our solitary confinement and uncertain future. If we insist on knowing things that affect the condition of our imprisonment they always take shelter behind the mysterious "higher authority" whose working of the mind they know as much as we do.

Now, there will be no interview tomorrow. GM's theory still stands. But there is some erosion in his firm adherence to his theory, because in the evening of the dinner time the captain informed us that our daily food allowance has been fixed at Rs 20 for both of us. Till today we got whatever food we wanted. Now we will have to restrict our requisition within the means. They have also-ie army HQ-itemised the articles of food that could be supplied to us at the prevailing prices. There will be some lowering of the standard. Twenty rupees is more than enough by way of food for both of us, but since the army people will do the purchase and cooking there will be a little waste.

During previous imprisonment we got Rs 7 each. This time it is Rs 10. This increment may be due to the rise in prices. In any case, this seems to be the permanent arrangement now. Why this permanent arrangement? The essence of GM's Theory is that the condition of our detention is contingent. Any permanent arrangement or new arrangement suggesting permanence or regular vitiates GM's Theory.

I washed clothes, bathed and felt cold throughout the whole day. I didn't do morning exercise today, did not do the one hour's constitutional. Felt tired and went to bed at 7:30 PM immediately after dinner. I think I have low BP.
Don't know when this isolation will be lifted. A regular flow of communication, supply of newspapers and books would greatly ease the tension. The description of Shah rulers as erratic and cruel treacherous conduct in Nepal's history description given by Rishikesh Shaha in his "Introduction to Nepal" fills me with horror with portents.

15th January, 1977

We had been informed by the outgoing major in a vague way that monthly interview was to be held today, the expectation for which Major himself had roused in us in the first place, wouldn't take place as today being Saturday was a holiday. Therefore we hadn't expected anybody to see us. But we had expected that somebody, either from my home or GM's would come at the gate with articles of food and other things. Nobody came. A disappointment. Perhaps our people have been told that they mustn't come to the jail gate and mustn't supply us with any articles.
In the beginning, though it may be a mistake, the jail authorities permitted our people to send food and other articles to us in prison. But the "higher authority", having come to know of this, has put a ban on this transaction. They want to keep us in strict isolation. In the evening the new major informs us that the interview which they had thought couldn't be held today but would be held tomorrow, is not likely to be held at all.

He says that they have no instruction about our interviews. But why did they tell us in the beginning that everything would be as it used to be during our detention in this self same camp previously and that, therefore we would write monthly letters and would receive relations for interview on the second day of the month. We wrote our letters and handed them on to the major. He quietly receives them, still.

Then all of a sudden we are definitely told that there was no order for interview. Then was there an order about correspondence? I think they wanted to read our letter to know our current mood and mind. Our letters have not been sent to our people. They wanted us to write letters which they had no intention to deliver. The Major talked about the interview in order to encourage us to write. It was a ruse to secure our letter.

GM brings a hot water bag for my use in bed at night. He insists that it would help me get good sleep and reduces the back ache from which I occasionally suffer. He is very considerate and serviceable.

If Shailaja were also kept here! What a dream! What an ambition! She is the best company for me in a situation like this. In a prison, or a desert, it is she alone that can provide a full companionship to me. What must she be doing just as I write this diary. I am sure she is not kept in the kind of isolation as we are. I hope she doesn't find the jail this time a little too hard.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)