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Nepal Semester Student's Catherine Von Holt's photograph of the Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu.

a journal entry from the village

A journal entry from the village (3/20-3/21)

Evening –

the fire blazes and crackles in the corner. My aama hacks flesh off a large bone. She skewers chunks of meat on a long metal pole to cook over the flames. The pressure cooker hisses, letting off steam. I am hungry and tired, my back aching as I lean against the earthen wall. I cut potatoes into small chunks, crouching on the ground as my aama watches to be make sure I cut all the black bits off. My hajur baa lies in bed in the next room, moaning to himself. He is like a vaguely animate bag of bones, only rising for meals or to pull his body to the outhouse, which unfortunately, takes about 20 minutes roundtrip. Often I’ve stood shivering in the morning, holding my full bladder as I wait for him to return. I realized today that he is mostly deaf and blind, and I’m still not sure if he’s aware that I’m even here …


The next morning –

Up early, there is just enough light for me to write by. It is chilly, I’m wearing all my layers, even my long underwear and hat. Roosters caw across the way. My aama gives me tea so sweet it stings my tongue, and a packet of biscuits. She throws the empty wrapped in the fire to burn.


There’s been singing and music coming from the house down the hill all night, and they’re still at it now. . .  Last night it also rained, a short, voracious storm, the rain pelting the tin roof, so loud it woke me. Now the earth is soaked and the greens are especially green. The little goats stumble through the woodpile, falling over themselves. I get up to go to the squat toilet behind the garden, and when I get back the little goats have pulled my computer off the window ledge where I left it and have dragged it out into the dirt. I am gripped by momentary panic, before I realize that it’s fine, the laptop is fine. I retrieve it and stow it away in my backpack, embarrassed that I have to care so much for my things.


My amma takes me down to the village center to watch the ceremony for the old woman who passed away last week. Men play music, clang plates together, blow into flutes. A few old women dance, fluttering their hands to the rhythm. To calm the soul of the dead, to lead it peacefully to its next life. I stand with her, off to the side, watching. When we return, I am stupefied with tiredness, and I sit in a patch of sunlight, waiting to be warm again.