The other day whilst sitting in my hotel room in Venice, I received a Skype message. Luckily, as I was connected to the internet, I was able to access it immediately and engage in a conversation rather than looking at a sole message hours later when I would have regretted missing it.
The message came from Roman ji, a Nepali colleague from my time in Bhairahawa in 2013/14. I haven’t seen him since early 2014 if not late 2013 when I left my placement, however we maintained in contact through Skype up until about 2017 as I remember checking on his safety after the earthquake struck in 2015 and also being in sporadic contact afterwards.
Although we haven’t been in regular contact over the past couple of years, he has remained in my thoughts as I have such wonderful memories of him and our time working together. During my time in Bhairhawa, I also got to meet his family outside of Patan when he invited me along with 2 other volunteers from the area to visit his family home. He had told us it would be a 2 hour walk from Patan, however over 4 or 5 hours later, we finally arrived and realised how much quicker he would have been without us as he made this journey all the time. We were all affected by the heat whereas he wasn’t.
During my year in Nepal, we worked on many projects together and I asked for his help many times. He would visit my rooftop flat of a house where we would sit outside drinking chai and discuss many aspects of his life and mine whilst observing the neighbours going about their lives.
When he skyped me the other day, he thanked me for not forgetting him and I replied that that would never happen. We have spent time together, I met his family, we supported each other and learnt from each other and the time I spent with him, I remember very fondly. Our lives are joined now, not only in the past but also in the present and the future. That’s how it is when you let someone into your life and heart which we did through our interactions.
At the end of the conversation, he said ‘remember you are my Didi, my elder sister’ and I replied ‘Yes, and you are my baai, my younger brother’.
There are more differences between us than similarities. He is Nepali, I am British, he is Hindu, I am Buddhist, when we met he was in his 20s and I was approaching the end of my 30s and his English was far better than my Nepali. Our lives up until the point of meeting were completely different as they will no doubt remain in our future lives. We did however share a desire to do good, to help people in the world and to treat people well and with the respect they deserved.
It is not our differences that separate us but our similarities that bind us.