Lapton is 23 years old, running Community Lodge and a commuter to Kathmandu. His younger brother, 18, married with children of 5 and 4, is settled in the village and serves hands to his father. Child marriage is well beyond acceptance, and in fact, encouraged by the elders. You probably were ignited by the feeling that your adolescence ‘puppy love’ was all you would die for. Well, that may just come true here.
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Without a second thought, adolescents marry their chosen crush as early as 13, ofcourse with a ceremonial approval by the villagers. It’s feast time! Lapton confronts the convention. He questions the choice of decision. With a grin on his face, he avows, “… there are beautiful girls outside Gatlang, you know, in Kathmandu.” He chuckles. I am stoned. I nod. Hail to the city! Or lament? I do not know.
Gatlang – Part III
The differences arise when there is a frame of reference. Without that, all is same, and the same is all. I take my excuse, and thank them for their warm hospitality. Next stop – the secondary school. The school introduced 10th grade this year, with only one teacher for all subjects. The teacher himself had studied till 6th grade and had been teaching for 15 years. What say? Lack of expertise or admiration of experience? Either way, I hear no complaints. I guess that doesn’t matter after all. Route back to the village, and it unfolds seamlessly as morning rises above the heads of the people.
There’s only one thing that triggers the synchrony of the people here – survival! The hardship is valued beyond measures, and why not? It is the feeding stream in this remote land. Livestock, farmlands, forests, and the perseverance of the people all blend together to nurse the veins of the lives of the people. Tamang children have special aura to draw cameras.
I am strolling around the houses so well crafted that it feels like a majestic kingdom. The wooden windows and doors are beautifully crafted which reflect the ancient traditions of artistry. Suddenly, my eyes spotted her. As I passed her, the girl’s eyes followed me and I grabbed two frame of her immediately. One, two, and she disappeared. I knew I had something arresting in her look. I continued. Sanitation is the least of their concerns. Children, usually, have stronger immunity, and that fact is well justified in Gatlang. Spots of dirt and mud paint their faces as though a make up. I remember my childhood. Nostalgia! They exclaim with surprise to see their photos instantly in the LCD screen. More photos, please.
Photo/text: Amit Shrestha, Nature Trail.
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