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Letters to the Forest Spirits

Sanod Maharjan

Dear Tistung,

This poor heart of mine felt heavy as I passed by Saatghumti to reach Daamichaur. The day it happened, I overheard people saying that the hills have become expensive now. I hear there is a long line of people encircling around, ready to wound every piece of your body. Through all this grief, I wish you happiness. 

Let me share with you that Sallaghari was whistling with smiles as she saw me crossing Naukhande. I couldn’t stop myself from singing too. In between this, a bunch of rhododendrons were whispering in each other’s ears, jokes of time. They were saying that I was now worthy of a look, teasing how the long hair in me suits me like a woman. I know it was you, who sent me a bouquet of crisp wind before I even reached Deurali. You still see me like a child, don’t you ? I know you are worried about me losing my way.


My beloved Tistung, my Ajima, forever greetings to you.


As I was moving down through Kunchhaal, I saw friends of grandpa sitting on the Falcha, warming up in the sun, talking about their glorious golden days of youth when they used to go hunting. I could see the young patch of skin in each of them as each hurried to say their own story before another. I stopped by and talked with them. When I was just moving towards the ground of Barahi, Soli confronted her deep long longings of me with all her complaints for my absence. She said she lived alone with all my reminiscences. She curved down the hill in a rush to tell Tekho that I had returned. 

From afar, the hill of Kwakhaal called out my name with a smile. 

The wound of the house was patched.

No youth remained to sit on Falchaa.


Dear Tistung, I have returned.

To breathe every remaining life with you.


I just wanted to say this.


Yours same Chirhim Khyaag,

Sanod !


Beloved Devban,
The second of oldest grandmother says that I lived because ‘Ajima” caught my hand. She even
dares to say that anybody living in Testu is immune to unfortunate accidents. Forest spirit
Chunn lives here; two of the rivers surround it and keep it here. It has been six months since I
nearly lost my life. Mother says that you saved me for the third time. I think of you, and ask all
the questions; the why’s. I recall if it was because my grandparents outcried for help with you
when I was lying unconscious, red blood spilled over in the stream. Was it ?


Are you angry over there?

Please forgive me, I lived in a distance from you like a fool.
It was circumstances that first made me a fool. Troubles of inter-caste marriage, troubles of
religious conversion and family disputes. Whenever I got nauseous on the bus to Kathmandu, I
used to look at you and comfort myself. Sometimes my mother weeps loudly in your memories. I
have heard stories of you, time and again and I feel you have always lived in me. I have always
lived with you.

This particular story where my mother overstayed in the forest to cut fodders for home and
encountered a huge tiger that had just filled its thirst with water from the river and was laying
down Raani Salla tree for sun. I hear the story still echoing loud around in the forest. Even in
their third encounter, the striped tiger did no harm to her and this reminds me also of the time
when a bus fell off with my father and grandfather in it and still survived. I see how Chunn spirit
cared for them all. This image comes to me like an ode of a guardian; you. I have just crossed

I forgot to ask.
How are you Devban?
Are you really fine?

That chestnut tree on your chest, over which my parents witnessed their marriage, I see has
become a mere support to a building in the bazaar. But, I still ask you not to be horrified. I will
try to draw the lines of your existence just the way my ancestors sang your greatness.

Yours same old Chiri Khyaag,


Today my longing has finally come to rest.
Stopping by each nook and cranny
hills and rivers,
I have finally arrived.
Arrived to witness this dusk.

despite it being a sunset it is warm-
a hug, a handshake

that I had been longing for long.

The last little bits of the ray of sunshine-
falls upon my forehead,

It discerns all the stories and memories within me,
and I try to learn its memoirs
I am rather exhausted,
from my willingness to carry all these memories.
Opaque memories,
contrasted memories
Carried all the way...
Let me rest, let us rest
Amongst these bags and sacks of
memories and memories
I hear my mother’s voice
Tiger! Tiger!
She exclaims!

My mother, engulfed by the ardor-
to collect the finest twigs and branches

The tiger in a state of tranquil.
This grand encounter,
echoes throughout the jungle.
Lies beneath the colorful- wilting leaves and trees
Under the chestnut tree, where I rest
I notice the last rays of sunshine for the day.
My body shudders as it feels the breeze,
the whistling of the trees and leaves
The breeze passes Devban,
carrying with it stories buried deep
and unheard memorandums.
The songs and hymns my forefathers sang
Must also be buried,
rather they must reside within
these trees,

the wind,
In the abode of this very jungle,
Where I find solace, I feel at peace- home
I try to retrace, rewrite, relearn, relive
In remembrance of these
unheard experiences,
buried stories and sufferings,
characters, rhythms and hymns
I try, I try, I try

To negate that these stories and hymns-
are not long-gone

For it is not
These memories and stories reside within me,
Just like these trees and soil.
My birthplace,
My peace and home.

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