Earlier this week,Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen found herself in the middle of controversy after tweeting,
“@taslimanasreen: My Nepali friends,I missed my flight to go to Kathmandu today.I forgot to bring my passport as I didn’t consider Nepal a foreign country!”
She was supposed to attend International Literature Festival in Kathmandu but could not make it last minute because of a missed flight. The tweet was meant to explain her absence, instead it exposed some pretty vile people and their ugly definition of national pride.
Seconds later, Nasreen- a controversial but respected feminist and religious outsider, was bombarded with messages from Nepali tweepals. She was accused of attacking Nepal’s pride, believing that the country is part of India and being a pin head.
The over blown reaction reminded some, who cared to think before going into manic rage, of the Hrithik Roshan episode. After rumors floated around that the Bollywood actor allegedly made disparaging remarks about Nepal, the country- especially Kathmandu, turned into a play ground for xenophobia and violent protests. Couple of people died after the police tried to calm the situation by using tear gas.
Nepal felt so threatened by a mere statement, that may have never been made, that the people were out on the streets, ready to defend the country’s honor and sacrifice innocent lives.
This is level of paranoia and idiocy that some in Nepal embrace when it comes to “national pride”. There is no room for rational debate, no room for truth. Just blind hate and suspicion.
So, with Dr. Nasreen’s tweet, that manic pride was out again, this time on cyberspace. The streets were quite but the hate directed against her and the supposed ” people like her” were no less violent or ugly.
Why are we, Nepalis, so irrational and overly sensitive to what people say or think about us? Is our nationalism so weak and frail that we need constant validation from foreigners? Ok, let’s assume that Taslima Nasreen indeed doesn’t know about Nepal(which I doubt) is that so bad that we forget our culture of honoring our guests and insult them with crass language?
I mean are we so petty that we are ready to kick our culture- source of pride and identity, to defend our “honor”? What is there left to defend then?
Perhaps we are a petty bunch. As the Nasreen scandal was unfolding online, author Jhamak Kumari Ghimire( no relations to yours truly) was awarded Nepal’s most prestigious literary prize-Madan Puraskar.
Ghimire is severely disabled and writes with her feet. She is a picture of human courage, quite dignity and positive energy. A harsh childhood filled with discrimination and negativity from society and her own family did not diminish her humanity and her passion. Today, she is one of THE brightest stars of contemporary Nepali literature and thought. Jhamak is a Nepal’s honor and pride.
And yet, on her brightest day, her compatriots online chose to attack an invited guest, instead of taking time to honor her contribution to the country.
This is our national pride, this is our honor. We choose to get absolutely vile and attack people for their remarks but have no time to honor our real heroes. Our idiocy and our hollow nationalism!
It is then no surprise that for decades we are living off selling Buddha, our mountains and our heritage. Because we have made no contribution to elevate the country’s pride and name. It is nature or our forefathers who are still keeping the Nepali pride alive.
Shame on us!
I recommend following posts for more specifics on the controversy and a different perspective,
Aakar Post (Nepali) :हाम्रो खोक्रो राष्ट्रियता http://t.co/joF1gTv
Ushaft : What Taslima Nasreen thinks does not matter http://t.co/atn3EAw
Gaurab Poudel: Blame it on the Rain http://rantbin.wordpress.com/
Updated 11:28 AM EST
Updated 4:39 PM EST