in deepening grey

. Seemed I was there, thoroughly involved, but did emerge unscathed. Had tried to find Kaz. Oh, Kaz! Where are you?! Had woken up. She had been here, all the while, in Kyoto beside me…
. I had seen the Earthquake in my dream a number of hours before it had happened, but didn’t know where it was. Now that I do, my heart bleeds for Kathmandu and, further to the west, for Besisahar and the lower Marsyangdi, for the small towns and villages around Gorkha – beautiful places, all, and all of which I know. What might have befallen the Shangri-La that was Manang? So much more to learn in the coming weeks. I do not look forward to them.

.. Obliging rain –
.. It comes at the crest of a ridge
.. In front of a tea-house
.. With a river view…

………… (haiqua, written between Phalesangu and Besisahar, 14.6.90)

. Am feeling the same shock now as when King Birendra and his Queen were assassinated in 2001 and the Nepalese Royal House was toppled. Why does Fate have it in for humble, good-natured, fine-featured Nepal? I worry for my friends, Hikmat, Hariprasad, Indhu, Vinod, and all of their wives and families. How long will it be before I know what happened to them? Punyaratna Sakya, from the same clan as the Buddha, Sakya-muni, rang me this morning to assure me that he, anyway, was alright.
.  Those marvellous pagodas on which I had sat as a fledgling poet and youth philosopher with long hair, where for the first time in my life (1971) I had watched ‘time go by’ – have any survived? We are told that the Khasthamandap, the city’s oldest building, the very one that gave the fabled city its name, actually collapsed in an aftershock onto people donating blood. How unutterably cruel is the earth goddess! Nepalis must be wondering what they have done wrong. ‘The wildest dreams of Kew are the facts of Kathmandu’ (Rudyard Kipling). Savage even.
. Peace, peace be unto you, my dear Nepal …

.. The valley smokes in silver twilight…
.. After a storm.
.. The fuming heavens will be our veil
.. For night-time’s tight lament.

.. The crickets and the bullfrogs
.. Pick up the shredded fragments of this day
.. And weave them into night.

.. A lonely temple bell
.. Attempts to break the listless air,
.. But fails
.. (As also does the light).

.. The hour of the dog
.. Is heralded:
.. Today – in deepening grey…

………… (poem, written by the Vishnumati River, Kathmandu, 23.5.72)

2 responses to “in deepening grey

  1. Belatedly, to report:
    I returned to Nepal in March 2016 and quickly ascertained that Hikmat, Hariprasad and Vinod were all alive and well, but that Indhu had passed away some time before the earthquake. Hariprasad’s house had been toppled, but he had survived and was now living elsewhere. Nothing at all was left of the medieval Khasthamandap building. I was able to visit and give aid to a school and two families in Sindhupalchowk district to the NE of Kathmandu, but did not go to Gorkha. Instead I left a donation for another school being rebuilt there. I also prayed at the spot just outside the Palace where the King had years earlier been assassinated. Finally, just before returning to Japan in April, I participated in a public poetry reading event organized by Bamdev Sharma of Tribhuvan University and was pleased to meet several Nepalese poets writing haiku, both in Nepali and in Newari language. I was able to share with them some of my own oeuvre of poems (haiku and others) composed in Nepal – from my first trip in 1971 … through to the present one (my sixth). Om Shanti. Jai Nepal!