In life, a person will come and go from many homes. We may leave a house, a town, a room, but that does not mean those places leave us. Once entered, we never entirely depart the homes we make for ourselves in the world. They follow us, like shadows, until we come upon them again, waiting for us in the mist.
The 21st of April, 2015 will be a day that I’ll never forget.
By complete chance, I ended up meeting my destiny on that sunny day in Kathmandu and it changed my life forever. Then, five months after that day I followed my heart, which led me back to Nepal. Now after five months of living in Kathmandu, I was getting ready to leave.
I felt a mixture of excitement to see my mum and daughter, and trepidation to be going back to my roots, which held so many traumatic memories for me.
It was going to be hard saying goodbye to my Nepalese family, Nepal was my home now, but I was once again faced with change.
Learning to embrace change hadn’t come easy. I used to fear it. I’m the type of person to hold on too tightly to the old, but the last year and a half had given me so much change that I’ve had no choice but to let go, and trust.
I was better equipped now to deal with life’s ups and downs, but I still had an underlying feeling of dread to be going back to New Zealand.
In so many ways, living in Nepal had changed me. I looked at life differently now, and I would be returning a different woman from when I left on the 5th of September last year.
I’ve lived like a Nepali, and living with a lack of resources such as clean water, hot showers, cooking gas, electricity, petrol and food, really bought home to me that inner happiness comes from within, not the external.
When I first arrived I found the living conditions too hard and I wanted to leave, the second month became a little easier, and by the third month I had adjusted but not without going through a lot of inner work.
When all external comforts and distractions have been taken away from you, and you are confronted with only yourself, certain questions begin to arise. Like, who am I? And, what am I here for?
In some ways I can understand now why Gautama Buddha left his life of comfort in a palace, to become a wanderer. He did not want to be sheltered from suffering, he wanted to experience all of life, and I wondered if he had of stayed within the walls of his palace, would he still have reached enlightenment?
Living with Rubin’s family showed me what it was like to live within a healthy supportive family. Family is a very important part of life in Nepal, and although it is a poor country and they lack having many resources that developed countries have, their family values and the sense of belonging and inner contentment that being a part of a family brings, more than makes up for it.
As my New Zealand family disintegrated into a thousand tiny pieces, my Nepalese family glued all the broken pieces inside of me back together, and where my own flesh and blood had many external resources to help me in my times of need, my Nepalese family gave me so much while having so little.
Sometimes in life, as painful as it may be, you have to let go of the old to make room for the new, and that’s exactly what I did.
The rubbish dump pups were growing bigger by the day, but there were only seven pups left from 21. Most had died through the harsh winter, and only a lucky few had been adopted. I would not end up seeing how the rest of them fared but I hoped they survived, and they ended up finding homes.
Rubin told me that I should be more concerned about the plight of the poorest village people who were dying in the cold because they didn’t have adequate shelter, but to be honest I’m glad I didn’t visit those parts of Nepal as it would have broken my heart to see it. I had cried enough over all the damn dogs!
Nepal is a special country. It had a special kind of aura about it. It lay landlocked between two giants, India and China, but it still managed to keep its sovereignty. The Nepalese are proud people who would die before handing over their independence to India, and the ongoing blockades at the Indian border made relations even worse between both countries.
I hoped for everyone’s sake that the Nepalese and Indian governments would work together to resolve the situation, but even then it would take Nepal a long time to recover and the ramifications would be buried deep within the psyche of the Nepalese.
I will leave Nepal with gratitude for what it has given me, and a new appreciation for what most people take for granted in their daily lives. Money can’t buy experiences, and I know now that deep inside my heart, I belong in this crazy world.
As I close my eyes, tears well up as I think about saying goodbye to each person that I have made a connection with.
The soft, reassuring voice of Rubin’s mother made me feel cared for, and although I could not speak to her, there was a warmth, and a mutual affection for each other. She was there to help Rubin and I through our disagreements, and she’d often side with me and tell Rubin off for his behavior!
Rubin’s father was loud and at times intimidating, he was the matriarch of the family, but he was always kind to me, and he would often give me little morsels of food treats that were kept hidden away in his cupboard. He even went as far as giving me his treasured police hat. I enjoyed his laughter and even though he was small in stature, he had a larger than life personality.
Rubin’s brother, Bikash spoke a little English with me and when I was sick he would always check to see if I was eating. I had a holiday from cooking as his wife Kabita cooked most of the food and she served me breakfast and milk tea every day.
In Rubin’s family, they showed their love by doing things for each other and Kabita certainly made me feel like a part of the family as I was like her- I had married into the Khadka family.
Bikash and Kabita’s five-year-old daughter Kevisha, affectionately known as nanu (young girl in Nepali) was a little angel. She was shy of me at first, but we became very close towards the end of my stay. She called me her foreign auntie, and she spoke better English than anyone else! I taught her yoga and she taught me how to speak Nepali, she was very bright for a five-year old! Being around her always brought me back into the present and she somehow helped me through my times of sadness. Her childhood innocence reminded me of myself at that age, except my childhood was filled with anxiety.
Rubin’s sisters, Bebina and Rejina, along with their children Soniya, Isha and Rekesh, were all very friendly and kind to me. I got to know Rekesh quite well as we spent a lot of time together. He would often come to pick Rubin and I up, and all three of us would squeeze together on his motorbike (I would always be sandwiched in the middle), and ride to a famous hot chip place in Thamel to eat a plate of the yummiest chips with special sauce, in all of Nepal!
These are the memories that I will cherish the most.
But most of all I will miss my husband, Rubin.
We all take different paths in life but no matter where we go, we always take a little of each other everywhere, and we leave something of ourselves behind.
The truth is, I’m so accustomed to leaving now that it has become exhilarating. I have been homeless and living a nomadic lifestyle for a year and half and I have forgotten what it feels like to be settled.
But then what? Do I just keep leaving places, and leaving people, and leaving them, and leaving them, tramping a perpetual journey?
I had days in Nepal where I just wanted to run away and I wondered why the hell I gave up all of my belongings and a comfortable lifestyle, and then I had moments of pure bliss. I have learnt that there is no point in resisting the ebb and flow of life, the bitter and the sweet, the highs and the lows, the joy and the sorrow, that only creates suffering. But I’ll tell you this; leaving the places and people you love breaks your heart open, but you will find a jewel inside, and this precious jewel is the opening of your heart to all that is new and all that is different and it will be the making of you-if you allow it to be.
I know absolutely nothing about where I’m going and I’m fine with that. Before, I had no life, and I wasn’t really living. I had nothing, and nothing to lose, and then I knew loss. Suddenly everything was lost. Now I have everything to gain, everything is a clean slate.
It’s all blank pages waiting to be written on.
It’s all about moving forward.
It’s all about uncertainty and possibilities…