My TU Days And Kathmandu Garbage


Rameshwar Baral 

My Kathmandu days as a TU examinee during the early 60’s are still afloat with nostalgic reminiscences. I was an intermediate level TU student at Biratnagar Morang College. At the two-year end, the students took qualifying test of the college, and then packed off themselves for Kathmandu to sit for the final examination. All college students outside Kathmandu required doing so. 

Those were the days indeed when TU although working under its glory banners was at a creeping stage. As such, its study courses and programmes were in sync with Patna University, which exclusively permitted either Hindi or English medium for the examinees. 

Exam Centres

Patna University itself gave the results in the Aryavarta daily that was for TU too. It was so until 1961. TU took up the result businesses afterwards when the study courses were of Patna yet. Kathmandu continued as the exams centre for a couple of years more. 

My first visit to Kathmandu was in 1962 for IA exams centre at Trichandra College. Likewise the second visit was in 1964 for BA at Durbar High School. Kathmandu then was a twenty-four hours virtual detour along the Bihar trains en route to Jogbani-Raxaul and get back to the native soil of Birgunj. 

A bus or truck rode next along the Tribhuvan Rajpath, aka By Road, known for its end to end hilly twists and turns, which severally put us sick, and the foods we’d in, all thrown out too. The saga literally did not finish off here. The stay in Kathmandu onwards had all the more traumas. 

On the first visit, four of us colleagues decided to stay in a room at the backyards of Bir Hospital (Bhosiko Tole). Initially we thanked ourselves for being in the holy zone of Bhosiko Tole where the sea-deep litterateur Moti Ram Bhatta was born but for whom adikavi Bhanu Bhakta Acharya seldom shine. 

That very minute, we unequivocally understood: nothing else but the dumped garbage under the reckless window was the evil spirit against my sweating and fever.

The room under our landlady was on the second floor. Soon we cleaned the room and put up our books and kits. By this moment we’d had too much with travel exertions so we wanted a break. It was dusk, and we’d an urge for toilet. The landlady directed us, ‘ground floor, beneath two-ladder falls!’ ‘Ground floor, beneath two-… ,’ it chilled our spines. Evidently we won’t get down there over midnight nature calls.

 What we did then was pee in a pot and pour out it on the street below. One dark evening we did so not on the street but over a passerby. The poor victim as if used to just blurt out, “Chwa Kha?” We’re but poor at Newari, and for fear that he could be hostile and violent, turned off the room light, and covered our faces false asleep under the blanket. 

On the second visit, I chose a room flanked by the Shiva temple in Makhan. West of it is the yet standing temple. East of the room had a window beneath which had the hill of littered garbage for years. The filth was horrendous, 24-7 stinking over the remains dumped after kitchen and cooking uses. 

One night I had a terrifying dream of the Panchayat regime. Its armed forces as evil 

spirits in the dream had unnerved and turned me into sweating as I woke up. I shared it with the friend who felt the pulses and knew me feverish too. 

Now, fever and sweating during the frigid December nights was no good sign of health. So in the morning, as the friend advised, I visited Bir Hospital for chest x-ray to clear up if I did have TB indeed. By god’s grace, I didn’t have nothing as such to worry about which otherwise could pack me back to Biratnagar for complete rest and medication against my BA dreams all shattered. 

Dumped Garbage

That very minute, we unequivocally understood: nothing else but the dumped garbage under the reckless window was the evil spirit against my sweating and fever. 

We spared no time then, skipped the advance room rent, quitted the room and put ourselves beside another window, which was a little far but harmless for sure. Then we gloried over the saying: Wealth lost, nothing lost; health lost, everything lost. 

Almost 15 years later, a German Project dipped its clean hands in the Kathmandu valley garbage. The Project was truly a mentor, educator and scavenger with lessons on cleanliness and hygiene to the Kathmandu folks.

(The writer is a retired lecturer of English at Shankardev Campus. His first article appeared on TRN 55 years ago under the headline, 'Credit To Farmers')

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