Displaced in Kathmandu

Written by: Debbie Guzzi

Our dinner, boiled to death root vegetables, we swallow in silence as night closes-in on the school. The co-opted Buddhist monastery housing us empties its porcelain thrones into the walled garden’s weedy rear yard. Village women wash: the floors, the pots, the laundry from first light to deep dark. The water runs downhill. War does not stop the drudgery. Where the women sleep is unknown to us. The owners’ are small men; they rule the house with a heavy hand. They teach the techniques of shamanic healing and Thai Massage.

the Green Tara
hangs upon the room's wall:
geraniums on the ledge

The drowse of Friday evening evaporates in a burst of gunfire. Behind the high walls surrounding the school, the sounds of violence escalate. Through open, screen-less, windows sirens sound, the sky lights up and red, yellow, blue, and white prayer flags hang lifelessly from the eaves to the locked gate. Sleep hides, as I do, beneath the covers. 

coiled 
insecticide smolders:
temple bells sound

The monks, long gone, leave remnants of themselves on the incense coated plaster. Peace sought here was not found. Poverty necessitated the building’s sale. Here on a side street in walking distance from the American embassy, a school for westerner’s storm cellars. The desire to learn Eastern Healing techniques and a common language, English, binds us together: American, French, Spanish, and South African captures of the internet, pilgrims. We come, healers all, undaunted by the Civil War, to Kathmandu, Nepal.
 
Monday, the riots end on cue. Tourists, again, meander the dust clouded streets, skirting the alley’s begging children. Tea is served in the burgeoning shops. Butchers swat flies from hanging haunches of meat, rare bird vendors walk the street with baskets of exotic birds. And, brazen Westerners stride bare armed, sari-less exposed, and rude, at least until next Friday night—they own the world.


First Published by Mulberry Fork 2016