KATHMANDU, July 21: It was a brand new day. Mornings are usually hectic for me, and this morning wasn’t an exception. After my husband left for work, I finally found the time to look in the mirror.
I was touched by someone’s post on Facebook that read, “It’s you to decide how you want yourself to be seen in the mirror. You have two options: Start your day counting wrinkles on your face or gather the guts to see yourself beautiful and feel high.”
I chose the second option.
Suddenly, the bell rang. I was expecting a mail from a friend of mine from the USA but to my surprise, when I opened the door, I saw a Japanese guy holding a familiar looking piece of plastic pack in his hands.
I figured out soon that those packets were of Wai Wai. But what was the Japanese guy doing with Wai Wai? Before I could assume anything, he asked if I was from Nepal, to which I replied proudly and said, “Yes.”
He then asked me if I had, by mistake, mixed that pack with the burnable organic garbage. I was shocked, not because I messed up, but the way he used the pack to trace me down. But when I thought of it, the “Made in Nepal” tag must have made him knock on my door because we are the only Nepalis in the neighborhood. I apologized and assured him that I would be more careful the next time.
By the time he was gone, I realized that I was getting late for my Japanese class. I quickly dressed up, packed my bag and was ready to move. I rushed to the community center for the class.
Though it’s only about a 5-minute walk, I needed to cross the traffic signal which unfortunately at the time was red. I needed to wait while I had only a minute left for the class to start, and in Japan, reaching late is not really welcome.
So I had two options. I could either wait for the signal to go green and enter my class a bit late, or cross the signal in red. I live in a small city where traffic is usually sparse. The road was clear and I could not see any vehicles. I decided to cross.
After crossing the street, on the other side of the street, I could see a schoolboy of hardly six years waiting for the signal to go green. In a hurry, I missed noticing this little boy who was waiting patiently to follow the traffic rules. He smiled at me. I was embarrassed for what I had done and his innocent smile made me realize my fault.
The two incidents of the day urged me to think over. First, I wasn’t careful while separating waste, and second, I intentionally broke the traffic rule. I couldn’t make a silly excuse by justifying that I come from a developing country where breaking rules aren’t serious offenses.
Comparing myself with the 6-year-old boy, I thought to myself. I was taught the same at almost his age; however, he was practicing it and I wasn’t. If we don’t segregate waste and disregard traffic signals, breaking a rule becomes a rule. What if most follow rules? Then the minority breaking the rules will start obeying them in embarrassment.
We often don’t take these things seriously in Nepal because everybody is doing it. But just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean that’s the right thing to do.
We’ve been taught exactly the same rules that developed countries’ students learn. But we’ve always played blame games and figured out the weaknesses that exist in our system.
We tend to forget that we’re the ones making this system. We underestimate our guts to change the system simply by transforming our personal attitude. We’ve always counted the wrinkles on our face but have we ever thought of the ways to look more beautiful?
The writer is a researcher currently living in Japan.