The coming and going of a thousand relatives, the stickiness of the vermillion tika, the miraculous shoots of barley. The fresh blood of newly sacrificed goats. The nine Tantrik goddesses. The shiny new coins for children. The squeaky, shiny shoes.
Dashain was a time for dragonflies to take over the valley, the mountains to be unwrapped from the monsoon clouds, the pomegranates and figs to rot on the branches. Dashain was also the time for the goats that arrived in long lines, and we all knew that they had one inevitable end. As a child, I had stood by and watched the terrified goats get slaughtered, leaving long trails of blood coagulating on the courtyards of the temples. It was always an experience, and I could never forget, from then on, where the meat I ate came from.
At the end of Dashain, my bag would bulge with notes and coins of all denominations. All the relatives that I knew about, and many who I didn’t, would show up on this day to put a red mark on my forehead and claim their kinship that they bought with those shiny coins they put in my hand. You are part of our family now, their massive rolls of fat and twinkling jewelry seem to imply. “Which parent do you love the most?” they would ask, fat cousins from both sides of the family surrounding me, determined to extract an oath of loyalty for their own side. And I, faithful courtier at the mercy of bigger powers, would obediently tell them the answer that they wanted to hear: Yes I belong to you, I have no other loyalty. You are the only one that matter to me.
Photo courtesy :Sebastian Meyer
Sushma Joshi is a Nepali writer and filmmaker based in Kathmandu, Nepal. Her fiction and non-fiction deal with Nepal's civil conflict, as well as stories of globalization, migration and diaspora. “End of the World”, her book of short stories, was long-listed for the Frank O’Conner International Short Story Award in 2009. "The Prediction", another book of short stories that bring together stories of tradition and modernity, was published in 2013. “Art Matters”, a book of essays about contemporary art, was supported by the Alliance Française, Kathmandu.
Her non-fiction reportage has appeared in The Kathmandu Post, The Nation Weekly, Republica, Himal Southasian, The Indian Express (USA edition), Utne Reader, Ms., Z Net, The Irrawaddy, Bertelsmann Future Challenges, and other publications. She also writes for ECS Nepal.
In 2006, Sushma made several short films in the directing program at the New York Film Academy in Paris, including "The Escape" which deals with the human rights violations which occurred during the People's War in Nepal. This film was accepted to the Berlinale Film Festival's Talent Campus, which was later renamed the Berlinale Talents in 2007. She also wrote her play "I Killed My Best Friend's Father," about two girls and their friendship post-conflict, in 2007.
Joshi was born and grew up in Kathmandu. From age 8 to 12, she studied in Dowhill School, Kurseong, in the district of Darjeeling. She finished her education at Mahendra Bhawan and Siddhartha Vanasthali High School in Kathmandu.
Joshi graduated from Brown University in the US in 1996 with a BA in international relations. From 1999–2002, she was in graduate school at the New School For Social Research in New York, where she received an MA in anthropology. During the summers, she attended The Breadloaf School of English at Middlebury College, Vermont, and received another MA in English Literature in 2005.
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