Photo by Jed Owen on Unsplash

When I arrived in Iowa on a late summer night in the mid-nineties, with two suitcases and two hundred dollars in my pocket, I was the first person in my extended family of artisans to set foot on this continent. I had left behind friends and family, along with the leaking roof of my ancestral home and the invisible baggage of caste I had lugged around all my life.

It was a fresh start in a new land with a generous scholarship and work study opportunity at a liberal arts college. I was ecstatic. …

Photo by Jyotirmoy Gupta on Unsplash

A year ago, countries around the world went into various levels of lockdown in their effort to keep the virus away. In Nepal, the borders, including airports, were closed with just a day’s notice. Public transportation was suspended. Chaos ensued as the government and the people tried to make sense of what next. I was in Kathmandu at that time, with a ticket to leave in two weeks’ time. With no option to travel, I stayed indoors adjusting my life to the “new normal” along with the rest of the country and the world.

While the comfortable classes cribbed about…

Looking towards south-west of Kathmandu valley

Looking down from the perch in Swayambhu
where tourists jostle with the locals for the view,
you see a multi-headed hydra
sprinting towards layers of
emerald hills guarding Kathmandu valley and the jagged
diamond peaks beyond, gobbling up
gold green fields along the way, guzzling
aquamarine ponds and lakes, spitting out
silver slivers of asphalt that crisscross
rivers’ and rivulets’ natural paths across the valley floor, belching
thick plumes of fumes that hang over the houses
that look like pieces of legos placed haphazardly
by an impatient child.

Musings about hierarchies and power in language

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

In English language, it is easy to address someone — there is only one “you.” Whether it is a boss or a bestie, a grandfather or a niece, someone known for years or a new acquaintance, the term you is used to address the person in front. I like the egalitarianism the term connotes — there is no hierarchy set by age, gender, relationships, caste, class or myriad other categories. You and I have the potential to interact as equals. We do not have to try to determine each others’ position on the totem pole at the first meeting.


Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

“Modernize!” They told us when we were young
Don’t wallow in old wives’ tales, antiquated norms
Don’t use what you have in gardens, in your own homes
“Buy. Buy. Buy.” They said and we all went along

After we lost our elders’ knowledge, our grandparents’ way
They are teaching us the value of sage smudge spray
In branded boxes, they’re selling back to us our own histories
Charcoal powder, turmeric lattes, even squatty potties

Photo by Rohan on Unsplash

I can tell my immigration story two different ways. One, I came here with $200 and two suitcases holding almost all of my worldly possessions. Two, I came here with a full scholarship to a rich liberal arts college. Both are true, and have shaped who I am and the way I view the world. Give or take a few details, my story is not that different from that of other immigrants who came to the U.S. for higher education or white collar jobs since the post-Civil Rights era. …

In the cool morning of November 8, 2016, I stood in line at the Joseph Pulitzer Intermediate School 145 in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York to cast the very first ballot of my life. I carefully filled out the bubbles on the ballot, thinking about my father. It had been exactly twenty-two months since he had passed.

I never got to vote while my father was alive because I was not old enough while living in Nepal, my country of birth, and I did not have U.S. citizenship for the first two decades of living and working here. When I…

Dear Grinnell College,

I write this letter with a heart full of gratitude, sadness, and hope.

Every day, I feel grateful to you for making it possible for a girl who grew up without running water to get a world class education and pursue a life of her dreams. It started with a full scholarship and work study opportunities on campus all four years, along with summer internship grants. Our relationship did not end with my graduation. It actually got stronger. Right after graduation, I received a small post-graduation service award that allowed me to move to Washington, DC. …

Photo by Ahmad Odeh on Unsplash

I am just four and half, playing with rag
dolls. You are kaki’s younger brother.

I am seven, maybe eight, climbing neem
trees. You are friend next door.

I am almost a teenager, walking back from
school. You are a stranger on motorbike.

I am weeks shy of fifteen, solving algebra
equations. You are our math teacher.

I am twenty-one, flying home for summer
internship. You are on the aisle seat.

I am twenty-eight, rushing to meet work
deadlines. You are my colleague.

I am thirty-nine, walking in a crowded
street. You are a stranger in a suit.

I am fifty-five wearing nine yards of sari, cooking a
feast. You are my husband’s brother.

I am pushing eighty, reminiscing with my best
friend. You are her husband.

I am everywoman. You are everywhere.
Nowhere am I safe from you.

कान्तिपुर टेलिभिजनमा हाल १२ एपिसोडको छोटो शृंखला “जातको प्रश्न” प्रसारण भैरहेको छ। शायद महानायकको रुपमा चिनिने राजेश हमाल प्रस्तोता रहेको कारणले पनि होला यो कार्यक्रम धेरै दर्शकहरु माझ पुग्न सफल भएको छ। लाखौँ मान्छेले हरेक हप्ता नबिराई हेरेर जातको बिषयमा छलफल नेपालभरी र नेपाली आप्रवासी भएका सबै ठाउँमा पुगेको छ।

केहि आलोचना पनि भएको छ — कार्यक्रमको प्रस्तुति, अतिथीहरुका साथसाथै राजेश हमालको छनौटको बारे पनि। केहि हदसम्म यी प्रश्नहरु वैध नै छन्। मेरा पनि केहि आलोचनाहरु छन्। भन्नै पर्दा जातको प्रश्न एउटा औसत कार्यक्रमको रुपमा प्रस्तुत भएको छ। केहि त्रुटी, कमजोरीहरु छन्। कतै कतै अलि गृहकार्य गर्न नपुगेको हो कि…

Luna Ranjit

organizer at heart. strategy consultant by trade. mostly prose with occasional forays into poetry.

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