By Razen Manandhar
KIRTIPUR, Kathmandu, April 6 - When 30-year-old Dhanshobha Maharjan, who is in her eighth month of first pregnancy, saw over 50 relatives visit her mud-and-brick home Thursday, it was a consolation for her aching heart that she was indeed a brave man’s widow.
She was married to thirty-three years old Sub-Inspector Purna Bahadur just 13 months ago. And, Purna was one among the 30 policemen massacred by the Maoists Sunday night at Rukumkot.
Her dry and mute eyes could be seen searching something on the ceiling. When the final floodgates opened, a middle-aged woman by her side caressing her said, "You must not let a single drop of tear come out. You know you were married to a martyr. Remember, the whole of the town crowded in on during the funeral."
The dead body was brought to Kirtipur and cremated at the local Dikhu river Tuesday evening.
After a long silence, Dhanshobha opened her mouth: "I know everybody must die one day but..."
Her eyes glanced over the wedding gifts still lying packed in the small showcases. She was ruminating with herself, while her relatives were narrating tales of other local women whose husbands too had died in their early youth.
Purna was the only bread-earner of the six-member family. The Maharjans were hereditary farmers but their association to the land was "snatched away" after their fertile 20-ropani land was taken over by Tribhuban University. After this, Purna’s father became a mason and retired from work few years ago due to old age.
Apart from this, Purna’s second brother Kiran is working with a medicine firm to earn his pocket money and the youngest one Sharan is studying. All his three sisters are married.
Kiran said that his brother was scheduled to return home next month. "When he came here last time, he told us that he was safe there and would come back soon ."
His father Hiralal Maharjan, who is in his 70s, putting a brave face says, "Indeed, my son was a brave man. Every son should have courage like him."
It was just by co-incidence that a young man from an indigenous farmer’s family chose to join the police force 11 years ago, just before the popular movement broke out. His friendship with Dinesh Paudyal, lured him to don the policeman's uniform.
The locals of Kirtipur have always been against the government. They had to suffer tyranny right from the time this small town was defeated by King Prithvinarayan Shah. They actively participated in the popular movement of 1990 and the area is also believed to be a major sheltering ground for the Maoists. And, ironically, a resident of the so-called ‘Rebels’ hill’ became a victim of the Maoist rebels.
Grieving father Maharjan could never understand when Purna all of a sudden told him that he wanted to join police. Nobody from our family had ever been in police, so he could not decide what to say.
Now he understands the joy of being a policeman. He said that Newars love their children so much that they can’t tolerate even a short departure from traditional professions. But being a policeman is something, each son should try, he adds.
However, his youngest son Sharan, who passed physical test and is waiting to appear in the written exams, is not sure whether his father would again really agree to see another son wear policeman’s uniform.
He said, "I can’t say anything about it. Let’s see what ba (father) will say in future."
And, father Maharjan is proud that his son had done something, which nobody in this town had ever done. "If a real son has to die, he should die like my son," he said, trying to wiping off his teary eyes.
[Kathmandu Saturday April 07, 2001 Chaitra 25, 2057.]