Monday, June 04, 2001

Curfew, Ablutions and Sundry Rumours

Another old friend informs from Delhi, the banner headline in the ABP ( Ananda Bazar Patrika ) on Sunday read, "Jato Kando Shei Kathmandutei", an obvious play on the title of the Feluda tale by Satyajit Ray( Shall write about Ray's Rana connections some other day ) !

Three Kings in 4 days - that's quite a record. N.. is finally convinced that, her husband moves ahead of times. The curfew he had predicted on Saturday finally happened this ( Monday ) afternoon (Mercifully this time he missed the mark by just a couple of days - it's usually by a few centuries ). The "transition management" didn't quite work - in fact, in hindsight it might appear that the interregnum gave people more time to ruminate on the "conspiracy theory". Last evening, as Star News reported a seething build-up of tension , we thought this time round they were doing a "Zee" (i .e. over-sensationalising ) - notwithstanding the isolated incidents and burning of Indian newspapers in New Road. So when, The Nepalese Ambassador to India, Dr Bhek Thapa, appealed to the Indian Media to allow them "space" to come to terms with the tragedy - we wholly empathised with the feelings. If anything - the tragedy brought home the essentially traditional character of this society, which is often masked under a veneer of modernity. Though much of the expression of grief - the shaving of heads, the tearful participation in the funeral procession could have been prompted by group instincts, I know of many who did it genuinely on their own volition.
But, this morning - as the news of the death of the young Prince ( designated as King ) spread and the coronation was announced the pent-up emotions simply spilled over onto the streets. And, almost before we realised the curfew had already been declared by the afternoon. The cremation ceremony of the young King took even lesser time than that of his parents, as there was no lengthy procession through the city. It was all over by about 8 'O clock in the evening - this time marked by the presence of even fewer people, mostly from the Army , Ministers and Palace Officials. The Regent now appointed the new King addressed the Nation over Television and the Radio at 9. The announcement of an enquiry commission - comprising the Chief Justice, the Speaker of the Parliament and Leader of the Opposition, which would submit its report within the next 3 days, was a smart tactical move - even though some, like the Nepalese Correspondent of BBC, doubted what would come out of it. Leaders of different political parties and the Prime Minister came on air appealing to the people to restore calm in these difficult times.
Today was again a day of rumours. The news black-out is probably contributing to it. By the evening even Star and Zee News were taken off the air. Only the BBC and CNN remain. The last one to do the rounds is that the city water-supply has been poisoned. I guess we shall only get to know tomorrow morning. S.. has left strict instructions that, his bed-tea should be prepared only with bottled mineral water. Otherwise, it's a terrible thought of having to be carried away with a feeling of 'incomplete evacuation' of the bowels - which might interfere with the passage of the soul from the body, he firmly believes. ( That's if you didn't know about a good Bengali's obsession with his morning ablution ).