Saturday, April 07, 2007

Story of Unsung Hero

You can't wait for inspiration; you have to go for it–Jack London

"You remind me of what I would have been, had I been a reporter," Sushil Kumar Lamsal, a young Section Officer at Ministry of Foreign Affairs told me towards the end of our conservation. I had that reporter's satisfaction after wrapping up the meeting with him, finally catching up with a character who would embellish my story with his story.

So, what is Mr. Lamsal's story? His story, as American novelist London has rightly remarked, is that of going for inspiration rather than waiting for it.

Twenty five years ago in Rajbiraj, Saptari district, Lamsal, on an ill-fated day, was chasing a dream every child hankers after: to fly. He wanted to get a glimpse of an aero plane. Fired by the zeal to come close to this amazing human invention, he ran with his peers. But, only to be falling behind, sliding into muddy water, unable to move ahead. This must have been a nightmarish experience.

As dusk fell, his father Keshav Lamsal embarked on a search for his two and a half year old son. To his family members' utter dismay, he was infected by polio. Lack of instant treatment caused him physical loss. Every attempt to cure him failed, both of his legs were paralyzed.

So, a dream was deferred, but not destroyed. He was taken to his hometown Chandragadhi, Jhapa, admitted to Bidur Boarding School. In school, he was a small wonder; amazing everyone with his talent, a child prodigy overcoming from his handicap and excelling in studies.

He stood district top in Sent Up exam. But, SLC turned out to be a bitter pill to swallow. Despite his teachers' expectation that he will be among the Board Toppers in SLC, he obtained only 35 marks in mathematics. That shattered his dreams to study science. But as they say, there are many kinds of failures, some of which succeed. He succeeded in another attractive field of foreign affairs.

An IA in Mechi Campus was followed by a Bachelors Degree in Arts from the same campus. After a brief stint as a sub editor in The Kathmandu Post, he became first differently-able Section Officer in Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To add feather in his cap, he is going to join Nepali Consulate General's Office in Hong Kong as a consul after five months. "I always wanted to be a diplomat," he said.

But, in contrast with Sushil's speedy progress in his career, his office (The Ministry) is still 'dysfunctional' in many ways. Though, Sushil works in a well furnished and swanky office with latest desktop computer, most of the Ministry works in an archaic way. I made at least a dozen calls to fix an appointment with Sushil. But, a chirpy telephone operator never bothered to forward the call to him. I didn't have his email, he didn't carry cell phone. On March 23, I entered his office, unannounced.

Sushil turned out to be an amicable fellow. We spoke as if we were friends meeting after a long hiatus. After watching me take notes in my notebook, probe him with all and sundry queries, he told me I reminded him of what he would have been, had he been a reporter.

But, to me he appeared to be a kind of inspiring figure, an unsung hero who refused to bow to the preconceived notion of society that believes disability is a sin, a crime. As a rejoinder, Sushil sent me long answers to my query through email. Below is the answer that is a kind of testament to his studious nature and depth of understanding:

My own 'vision' of me:

I tend to be existentialist at times: what is the purpose in life? And, I answer back that I have been chosen for an uphill task by Existence because I possess the necessary wherewithal: I have been trusted to play a challenging role. Just as the most difficult role in a film is given to a dependable, reliable artiste, I have been chosen, I think, because I have the necessary guts. It's only a role, because after say 50 years, I will be nowhere. Forgotten and tasting dust! But for the moment that I live, I got to play my part with pleasure and confidence. And there is nothing liking or disliking one's part: it’s a role. By playing the role well, I can perhaps help my society and my generation. Probably, I can help them live better.

Because everybody has a unique and dignified role, and because everything fits in too well in God's design, probably I also got to play that role with calm and equanimity. And my happiness lies in the question whether I play that part with distinction and fortitude, not in the question in what that role is. I must be grateful that I have been trusted and that so much confidence has been reposed in me.

Regarding my view on the unfolding events in Nepal and elsewhere:

The events that we see in Nepal or elsewhere share one unifying refrain: disenchantment, dispersion, dissolution and de-centring. Everything is moving away from the centre, and dispersing into the periphery. The central themes or standard discourses or events or developments or 'unifying' rhythms seem fast evaporating.

And I see this development in a positive light. This development is also rather acutely humanistic: the dignity of the human person and individual freedom have gained unprecedented recognition. The current events in Nepal are only an indication of that central, unfolding trend: more democracy, more autonomy, more choices, more recognition (the guarantee of which is sought with reservations for the minorities), more freedom. The only hitch is that resources are needed to address these demands, and resources are obviously minimal. Hence the conflict is likely to be more pronounced in the future- hence the need for a forward-looking, aggressive and comprehensive economic agenda to accommodate the rest agendas. So, the underlying current is sharply contradictory, even Hegelian: on the one hand, there is hope and on the other there is apprehension. But whichever happens is neither good nor bad, they are mereconcepts. The unfolding events remind me of WB Yeats' poem "The Second Coming"

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world

Surely some revelation is at hand


There are three million Nepalis with physical, sensory or mental 'disability.' (I know this is not politically correct term, hence the inverted commas). What they desperately need is a dignified position in our society. Theirs is a journey from nobody to somebody, from solitude to success, from isolation to integration, from ignorance to independence.

For a story on 'successful disable' for Nepal Weekly, I met a dozen of those who have broken the shackles and have risen in their chosen field. Sushil is one of them.Check out the complete version of the story in Nepali language in Nepal Magazine. Happy reading!


Mikhail said...

Eventually man comes to the point where he asks: "What is the purpose and meaning of life?", "What do I live for?" In other words, one does not find any pleasure in this life anymore, or he only sees very little. One starts asking about pleasure, as well as about the meaning of life. It is because the meaning of life is to feel that one's egoistic desire is filled. However, if there is nothing to fill it with, then what does one live for?

1whocandie4u said...

Deepak ji, Very good post.

I know Mr. Lamshal by name from around 2002. I never met him nor knew personally, had not even seen his photo but heard a lot of his abilities right from that time.

Somehow, he was and his brother were my brother's friends. And my brother also being wanna be section officer around 2003, there used to be a lot of discourse on "Lok Sewa AAyog" and probables candidates who succeed. Mr. Lamshal's name always figured in the top list.

I did not know when he became section officer as, in 2003, I started my new journey and left kathmandu, but before that every updates from so many "going to be section officer" used to surface in my room in room was kind of mahal (palace) for guys to study who dreamed about getting seat from revenue, public Admin to even "HULAK KO ADHIKRIT" because of my brother. He had passed just Nasu but not in MFA, but could hear his determination from others.........n finally i knew more updates from u today that he is SCtion officer.
That man was a person with inherent talents and wish him success, obviously, plus let's hope other ppl also follow his suit.
n it's a good blog to read.

Anonymous said...

Deepak ji

It was a thrilling story of Mr. Sushil Kumar Lamsal, Section Officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Nepal that captured my tiny thought. In fact, the personality and vision Mr. Lamsal bears reflects a real capable man of new generation. As a close friend and supporter, I always request the almighty to make his dream come true. I wish him a great success during his four year's stint in Hongkong

Sarad said...

What I wonderful story. I recently met him in Hong Kong and what you have written appears to be hundred percent right. I am amazed to know about his reading habit and knowledge of the books that I always wanted to read. I am sure Sushil jee's destination is much higher than Consul, the post that he presently held. I wish him all the best.