A great Holiday to Nepal – Mrs Lila Seling Mabo

I flew from Heathrow airport London to Qatar at 18.25 pm on 21/11/2022. The airport was very crowded and full of noise because so many people went to Qatar to watch the 2022 World Cup. I was myself very excited to visit at this time. After 7 hours of flying I landed in Hamad International Airport Doha Qatar. My friends and I looked around the airport including the indoor tropical garden. It has more than 300 different trees and 25,000 plants from around the world as well as a large water feature.

The expansion of the tropical garden adds 39 airport gates to the existing 140 at the airport, which is a major hub for transit passengers. This was completed just 10 days before the start of the 2022 World Cup. The airport was full of people all anxious to take a picture with a world cup ball. I had to wait a long time to take this picture below. I met many people who came to watch the world cup and I also watched part of it on the TV screen while I was in transit.

On the next day, Wednesday 22/11/2022, I landed at KTM airport at 16.45 pm, took quite a while at immigration for paper work and baggage claim and then left the airport. My cousin was there to welcome me. It took 10 minutes to get home to Koteshowar KTM by car. I was so excited to meet all my family members and relatives. I felt so happy to see the house and my family- sisters, niece and cousin. They prepared such delicious and special food for me. My family and I shared all our recent experiences of UK and Nepal went bed so late!

The next day, I woke up early and went to see my parents and some of my family. They were very excited to see me. I also felt so glad to see them because I haven’t met them in person for three years due to lockdown. My parents reminded me about my childhood life and studies and updated me about my relatives, the neighbours and my extended family. I spent a few hours with my parents , had a delicious meal with all my family then went to attend a meeting with literary and artist friends from KTM Nepal in Mandala Theatre. The meeting took about 2 hours and then it was back to the house Koteshor, at 8pm. Then I prepared a back pack to travel to another area of Nepal, Jhapa,in the eastern part of Nepal .It took a few hours to prepare the baggage, I had dinner and went to bed late that night again but I hadn’t felt tired yet due to all the excitement!

On 24/11/2022 I had to attend a meeting again before flying to another place. But at this time we heard the sad news about my father’s friend who also was from the same place as my birth place Oyam ( yangwarak ) Panchthar. I tried to attend his funeral in Pashupati KTM but the date was postponed for another day so I had to leave on the later flight that I had already booked for Jhapa. The flight was delayed for an hour therefore my cousin and I arrived at 10pm at Jhapa Kakarvita border to India at my eldest sister in law’s house. My sister in-law’s family were waiting for us. Once we got there, we had a nice chat about busy life in the UK, whilst having a special dinner. We stayed up late until 12.30 pm and then slept for just a few hours.

The next morning on Friday 25/11/2022, a taxi driver came at 7.30 am and drove to Birtamode to pick up some of our relatives to go to Pachthar district in the Eastern part of Nepal. On the way to Pachthar , we drove past a very nice tourist attraction, Kanyam Ilam District, which is full of natural green tea gardens and a fresh and clean environment. My cousin Kabihang Seling and I , writer and social worker Sujan Seling and media editor Krishna chandra Seling ( Seling KC) all took a lot of fotos and videos and recorded for tiktok as well.

while recording tiktok I suddenly fell down on the hill. Everyone laughed at me and I was also laughing all the time. I love Ilam so much because I did my higher education at this Multiple Campus Ilam .My father was the first one to study at this campus and then he encouraged me and my sisters to study at the same college. On the trip my cousin, and all our group visited tea garden place (tea garden and horse riding). There were so many people from different parts of Nepal on holiday. Everyone looked very busy and was having fun on holiday and some were actually shooting films at this place. I felt spellbound by this beautiful natural scene. We spent a few hours there and had a delicious organic lunch in a local hotel. Then we left and drove on to Panchthar my home district, stopping every a few hours when we needed to stretch our legs and get some fresh air .

We arrived in Panchthar Phidim and stayed atTamor Valley Guest House in the evening and met a few friends and relatives. We discussed my book conference for the next morning with programme organiser Naulo Sahityik Bihan Samaj Panchthar Nepal.

On Saturday, 26/11/2023, in Phidim Panchthar Nepal. I woke up at 7 am and got ready for the programme which was starting at 8 am. I felt so pleased and proud at this moment because of meeting people from the District of Panchthar. Many people are friends of my father Bhim kumar Seling ( Writer and former Head teacher of Gupteshowar High Secondary school) where I studied from my childhood up to SLC (GCSE level). Some were his class mates from college and they talked about how they were friends during their time in higher education, which made me feel so proud to meet them and relink our connection to each other .

Most of the younger generation I met were lecturers or researchers, political leaders, writers, singers and film directors . Most of them were my youngest brother Tanka seling’s friends. Tank is studying for PHD in Science Chemistry in North Carolina Central University USA at the moment. That environment made me feel so close bonding with my home town family friends and relatives. Two people were selected to read my book and analyse my book at a conference.

One of them was the English teacher, writer and scholar from Nepal, Mr Harishchandra Lawati, a distinguished academic, who used to be my english teacher at my college in Nepal. He analysed the book very thoroughly and found some mistakes and weaknesses on some pages. He highlighted some referencing mistakes and abbreviations, and the spelling of Gurkha that in Nepali we write Gorkha but google doesn’t recognise the word so it has been writing Gurkha in all the papers and documents. As a teacher Mr Harichandra Lawati was former head teacher of my school Gupteshowar High Secondary School Oyam-6 (currently yangwark -3). My father, Bhim Kumar Seling, used to work as head teacher many times before and after him in the same school. My family and his family have known each other for a long time. Moreover, we used to run the exam centre SLC /GCSe in our District Pachthar together with many other teachers . In those days the final SLC exam used to be centralised in one place in the main district. Students from 10 to 15 schools used to sit their exams together, but now every school runs this exam with their own students which is less stressful.

The second critic, the English teacher and reader, Raj Tilanjali, who has worked as a critic for more than four dozen books, pointed out that I had written this book from different angles, with post trauma, and during the traumatic time of Lockdown. He noted that I had also become a victim of gang bullying at the start of my life in the UK. I was unable to report my suffering due to lack of confidence in the English language. He also highlighted the Freudian writing in this book,where I used to dream a lot of my house where I was born . The stone of the house is worn now but I was dreaming that it was always in the same pristine condition as before the damage. This dream still makes me feel happy all day! He was saying it showed how much I was attached to my birth place and childhood.

Afterwards, many poets presented their poems very nicely and a number of singers also presented a live song during the programme.

Unfortunately, I was not able to bring too many books with me because of the weight problem with the plane. I took just a few books and only two books for the critics. Many attendees were asking where the book was and I explained to them politely that I’m not allowed to print the book myself, only Author House can worldwide distribution. In Nepal a writer can print as many copies as he needs for the the launch or publishing ceremony day and many readers can have the book to hand very easily. I apologised to all the people who were unable to get the book and explained about how the critics had got their copies. It was because I had sent 2 books via plane from KTM to Bhadrapur Jhapa airport in the eastern part of Nepal. The social activist and writer Mr Sujan Seling took the responsibility for collecting the book and sending it from Jhapa to Pachthar Phidim for the organiser before I got to Pachathar. This programme was held in a very short notice but in spite of that it was a great programme.

I felt so honoured to be a member (Pachthar District). There were many people from different fields: the scholar Rajendra Jabegu,artists, poets, political leaders and social activists , such as social activist Narendra Kumar Kerung,writer /director Sagar Kerung, Assistant Professor Madhu Kerung, sharswati Duni Rai, Bhuwani Tawa, Mina Rai- Yongya , Bimal Rai, Manoj Rai Sandip rai, Surya Seling, Santosh Seling and Kabihang Seling, Udaya Sauden, Bhwani Tawa and many more Naulo Sahitya Bihan Samaj Nepal Pachthar. The president Khadka Bohora thanked everyone for coming. The artist and poet, Prem Ojha, had made a very good job of presenting the programme. We all left Phidim for oyam after the programme was finished.

My cousins and I arrived at the house where I grew up in Oyam at 6 pm and all the bags and the clothes were stored in my bedroom which reminded me of my childhood days . I felt quite emotional for a while inside my bedroom and came out to talk a bit later with friends and relatives who came to see me. After that I went to our orange field and picked a basket of fresh oranges and shared it with the other people in the house. I had been missing the fresh orange for 23 years . And actually, my father and I had planted the orange trees 26 years ago for commercial reasons and they were organic.

In the city, fruits only come from the supermarket and some people don’t even know where the fruits come from . The fruits from supermarkets are full of chemicals and colourful, but these freshly picked oranges are very natural and organic, therefore it was so important to me. Most of my childhood friends had got married and moved to other places- some of them had died at a young age as well. Later on my brother Bom Bahadur and sister in-law Gouri cooked a special dinner for us which was so delicious! After this delicious food we had a short chat and then I slept in my childhood bed where I used to play a lot with my siblings and friends. I totally forget the UK and felt that I was in another world.

On Sunday 27/11/2022 Oyam ( Yangwarak-3) in my birth place Oyam, woke up full of joy!
My team and I decided to go to the historic place of Oyam Sammangkhu to view a big tree (simbal bot) which is a symbol of union Seling generation history. I met some school friends and my childhood classmates as well and took a lot of pictures to make memories in the future. Later on, we drove to Oyam School Gupte showar high Secondary School where I studied from my childhood up to SLC ( School leaving Certificate).

Head teacher of the School Mr Manoj Rai, all the staff, the School government Body, the parents and all the students organised a special welcoming programme for me which made me feel like I was a celebrity. The head teacher gave a speech about me and my book Memoirs of a Gurkha wife during lockdown and I was the first girl to pass the SLC ( GCSE) in the history of this school. I felt so lucky to have been a student of this school and grown up in this place which gave me sense of identity and belonging. The head teacher of this school gave me an opportunity to give a speech about my childhood in the school and my life which made me feel proud to be part of this school because if I hadn’t studied at this school I wouldn’t be here now. Author and social activist my cousin, Mr. Susan Seling distributed more than 500 copies of his book to teachers and students. This book gives the whole history of Oyam including a great deal of knowledge about the local places and their history. After the end of the programme, I walked home and went to visit relatives and people in the neighbourhood. In every house people asked me to have a special meal with them.

I visited my actual birthplace where I spent my childhood up to age of 16 and had a flood of memories of those days in that place. I still dream a lot about the place although the house is no more. Now only land and fossils are left for the memory. I visited my father’s uncle, cousins and their families, who so pleased to see me after such a long time. I also met the younger generation who don’t even recognise me, so I had to introduce myself to them! All this gave me a wonderful feeling of belonging because my heart is so attached to this place. I had lots of good memories about many elderly relatives and neighbours and friends of my parents who had died before I had the chance to meet them this time. They had been so happy when I met and greeted them in the past. I felt I really missed them this time.

I went to visit uncle grandpa ( my grandfather’s cousin) who is the only one alive . He gave me lots of blessing for my family and myself. He also talked about my childhood how I was playing with my friends and obedient with my parents and so on.

On Monday 28/11/2022 Tharpu Darimba ( Yangwarak-4) in my in law place.

I felt so tired due to being so busy and woke up quite late. People from Darimba have a nice community which is part of Yakthung Limbu and they are bonding with a unique Limbu cultural drum chyaabrung / k lang. The chyaabrung drum is used for good wishes , such as those for a wedding, a guest welcoming or a house warming party .

The community kirat Yakthung Chumlung Darimba team arrived with playing the chyabrung to welcome guests – one of the members, and myself. The programme leader gave us such a positive introduction. It was such a wonderful welcome from the family and the whole community. They made this special time for me and performed a very nice k – lang by lovely artists. This reminded me of my own wedding time 30 years ago, when I first came here for my wedding and my husband had to leave me 6 weeks afterwards and go to his job in the British army. My late mother-in-law, brother in-law and sister in-law and their families were looking after the house, land and farm during that time.

I didn’t spend that long a time in this house due to my teaching job, and later on I had to move with my husband to Brunei and the UK. People kept migrating one place to another due to study jobs and facilities which made it so difficult to get together as a family and this is still the case . My brother-in-law and sister-in-law organised this programme for me and it became an unforgettable memory for me.

The above picture is with my brothers in- law, Bhiumlal Mabo , Ojahang Mabo’s and sisters in-law, cousins and the artists at Darimba.

On Tuesday 28/11/2022 -30/11/2022 Tharpu Medibung (Yangwarak-5)

I moved to a hotel in Tharpu Medibung Town for a couple of nights. It was a project of a film shoot called ( Sugup). It is a related to the yakthung Limbu ritual and cultural story. Many people arrived here on reserved busses and cars from Kathmandu for the shooting . We met and communicated about our shooting project . The director, actor, actress, artists, catering team, management team and investors team gathered to make decisions about the shooting. We had a really busy time shooting because everyone had come to complete their role and some had to leave early . I had to leave early too, because I only had a short holiday.
Monday, 5/12/2022, B.S (2079)

Another conference for my book was organised by Yakthung Lekhak sangh ( community ) , Kathmandu . The General Secretary of this organisation, Manju Limbu, and the writer/ poet Chandrabir Tumbapo worked very hard to make this progrmme a success.

Professor Balkrishna Mabohang and a scholar Amber Tumyahang highlighted some points from this book.
They described the author’s experience at the beginning of her life in the UK and the MOD’s unfairness at that time.

The Gurkha soldiers were not allowed to come back to the UK after retiring from the Army. They were discriminated against very badly before 2004. They had to have achieved staff sergeant rank in order to have their wife living with them. Therefore, Lila had to stay outside the barracks and only her husband was allowed to stay in accommodation.

She was a real victim of discrimination by the UK MOD at that time. In addition, she had to leave the UK with little children after her visa expired. Only her younger daughter of 12 months old could have stayed in the UK at that time according to GOV.UK Law. She was still on leave from her job in Nepal as a teacher and head teacher. She used to feel sad when watching the BBC news and seeing the death toll from Coronavirus every 24 hours.

She kept worrying that if she caught corona how much she would be missed her family and friends. The pandemic did not only create a great deal of stress. It also created starvation, hunger, fighting and gangs, and specially working class and marginalised people suffered so much with this situation. They commented about not getting enough books into readers’ hands on the programme day.

A short holiday in my homeland was so great and there was such a busy schedule. I was not able to meet many friends and relatives apart from carrying out the programme.

I’m glad because I was able to travel from Kathmandu to Panchathar , Oyam, Tharpu , Phidim, Ilam, Jhapa and back home KTM. During the holiday, travelling by plane, bus and taxi was quite tough although I enjoyed it. It gave me real feeling of identity to be able to touch and feel my birth place again.

The president of Yakthung Lekha Sangh Kathmandu Sany Limbu thanked everyone for coming to this programme and I also thanked the organisation and everyone involved.

My three weeks time had gone so quickly and I had a great holiday in Nepal 2023.


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