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Women's rights and the pain of losing a friend

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I arranged my hair, and I looked at myself in front of the mirror. I lit the stove and boiled tea in a kettle. My heart began to boil like the tea in the pot. My women's rights activist friend Rupa and I had been good friends in school, when she was in 9th grade and I was in 10th grade. I used to help her in many ways.

To reach school, it was necessary to walk up a foot walk. On the way, there were raspberries and peaches. Rupa was short and could not reach the fruits, so I helped her pick them. I protected her from the raspberry thorns, as I collected the raspberries, which I gave to her on a leaf plate I brought from home. We often walked together hand in hand. Oh, how we used to enjoy watching movies and drinking milk together. We used to sing and dance on the way home.

I can't remember more than that. I've tried to remember. In December, she said to me and my brother, "If you study hard, we will go to Kathmandu. We will share our joys and sorrows in a small rented room there. We may get good jobs also. A teaching job might be easy to get." My brother had said, "Studying in Kathmandu is not as easy as you think. It is very hard to lead a life in Kathmandu. It takes a lot of money. Studying without money is impossible. It is better to search for a job first. In Kathmandu, money does not grow on trees. Money will do everything." To which she replied, "Don't you understand? I will be happy if I join the police!" She used to make such jokes to keep me happy. I poured the boiling tea in a cup and entered the room.

I stood in front of the mirror and sipped my tea, awaiting my friend Rupa eagerly. It is ten minutes to four. I adjusted the window screen and lay on my bed and put my hands on my heart. It beat rapidly.

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"Which one is Kamala's home?" I heard the voice of one of my school friends, Kumar, from the yard. I stood up, went to the mirror, adjusted my eyeliner, put the red spot (tika) on my forehead, rosy lipstick on my lips and went down to welcome Kumar. He was standing in the yard. I said, "We are meeting after a long time. Thank God for reuniting us." Kumar just stared at me. I just smiled at him, thinking this was one of Kumar's usual jokes. We entered my house together. "When did you come?" Kumar asked without hesitation, which I didn't anticipate.

"I am still searching for my future," I said. I went into the kitchen and started frying meat and preparing tea. After a time, I gave Kumar meat, fried beaten rice and a cup of tea. Placing the things on the table, I told him, "I am still waiting for my friend, Rupa. Why is she late today?" While saying so, my heart trembled and I wanted to weep, and embraced Kumar at that moment.

"Why do you weep? I know you love your friend. After two long years, not only is your heart pious, but also it loves Rupa. She also wept for you. You would be surprised to read the note in her diary. Did you know Rupa's parents tried to force her to marry, but she didn't listen to them. Her mother perhaps died from grief and father has been a heart patient for four years. It was Rupa who wanted you to come to her marriage. She did not want to get married without your approval of the man. She could not trust her parents." Saying so, Kumar also wept.

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"Please eat first. The tea is getting cold. Eat everything now; we will continue our conversation after breakfast." I tried to change the matter from the serious to the simple. Within a minute, he expressed the bad news. "Your friend Rupa struggled with life in many ways. She was raped and killed in Jhapa. Only the day before yesterday, she was engaged and then today she died in the hospital."

There is no security and no rights for Nepali women. These days, there is no security for women even in their homes, workplaces and public places. My eyes were full of tears.


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Journalist, poet and editor Kamu Budhathoki Sarup specializes in reporting news and writing stories covering Freedom, Peace, Public health, Democracy, Women/Children, development, justice and advocacy from her location inside the United States. (more...)

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