Madhes is our collective dream
Madhes is our collective dream
By Shiva Rijal
When our family migrated to tarai (Madhes), I was nine years old. My father believed that he could offer his children good education in Madhes. he one bigha land that he managed to buy, he thought, would be enough to feed a family member of nine. He also believed that he could live his post-fifty life comfortably in tarai.However, things did not turn the way he thought they would. Our house got burnt down. In no time, we became landless. My father faced the hardest times in his life, especially after my mother died. But he always held a belief that tarai remains a suitable and proper place to pass his post-fifty-life comfortably and provide proper education to his children.
My elder brother is going to be fifty next year. I find my brother silently pondering over our father’s dreams every day, especially in recent months. We have now managed to buy a small piece of land. My brother, like our father, is a democrat but he does not take part in politics.
Moreover, my brother has got five children. My nephews have completed their school level education successfully. I am a PhD now, and am based in Kathmandu and married with a Pahadi girl. I and my nephews, both girls and boy, do also ponder over my father’s dream these days. When all the children and the grandchildren of our parents gather on familial and cultural occasions, we strongly feel and believe that we do not belong to any place other than tarai.
Our parents died and the children were born and brought up in tarai. Tarai for us is the most important place and part of our life. We think we have some genuine causes to live permanently in tarai or visit it regularly.
I grew up among my Pahadi and Madhesi friends. Most of us belonged to the lower and lower-middle class group. Several of my Madhesi friends stopped going to school. They picked up manual jobs in local factories and fields. Their parents did not have the Nepali citizenship because of which they would feel excluded or discriminated by the state. Their parents too did not or have not yet been able to live their post-fifty lives comfortably. They did not find or have not yet found the lives of theirs as well as those of their children go the way they thought it would.
Similarly, several of my Pahadi friends are working in the Gulf countries as laborers. Some work in the Indian cities. Some have managed to get jobs in the local factories. Although my friends come from different communities and classes in tarai, they too ponder over the same dreams — the lives of their aging parents and their school going kids. They want their parents and children to live safe and comfortable lives.
Youth in terai have always been divided politically, psychologically, socially and culturally. They have become victim of the state policy, inter-communal violence, caste hierarchy and local social ills for a long time. But the fact that they live in a multilingual and multicultural society should be taken as an important mode of cultural practice now. This will help them move ahead. They know that they cannot remain without speaking multiple languages and experiencing multi-cultural modes of living.
Moreover, youth in tarai are politically conscious. They know what to fight for. They have proved it especially in recent months. Youth belonging to both Pahadi and Madhesi communities in tarai are very much mobile these days. Moreover, they cannot afford not to be mobile within the length and breadth of the nation. And, most importantly, no one can stop them from taking part in the opportunities brought by the global, national and local forces. They are able to perform great many things as part of carving out their identities.
The elections for the constituent assembly are going to take place very soon. People in tarai like elsewhere will elect and send their representatives. Tarai is going to be the most important place in terms of its representatives as they will surely come from diverse communities, especially this time. We are sure that such representatives will be working hard to improve the condition of life in tarai through various means. They will naturally hold different political ideas. But one thing is certain that every present or/and aspiring leader from different communities in tarai believes that tarai must remain a proper and friendly place for the children and the past-fifty people of all communities to live.
Regarding the youth of tarai, we know that they can put their voices as well as listen to others; either they can go to new places or remain where they are. Moreover, youth in tarai hold the same collective dreams — sending their children to school, thus providing them proper education, and making their aging parents lead a comfortable and happy life. Tarai, therefore, has got a great future because it offers the most common but essential dreams to its people of all groups and types.
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