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गुन्द्रुक /Gundruk/
Mansi Dahal

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After Hajurama plucks the fresh radish leaves from the garden, she spreads them evenly on the white boras. She waits for them to wilt in the sun. Then she shreds and packs them tightly in a yellow plastic container. Hajurama stomps into the container. As the wilted leaves tighten, the giant mole of her left calf makes eye contact with me. It feels like she is teaching the radish leaves how life is going to knock the wind out of them. When her demo finishes, she steps and closes the lid of the container. The radish leaves are now learning to be with themselves. In a week, Hajurama senses the arrival of a mild acidic taste. That’s when she opens the container and the radish leaves turn into gundruk. Now they are ready to face the world. With her warm fingers she pulls the gundruk out and again spreads them thinly on the same white sacks. Some days, the clouds turn grey and Hajurama runs to bring the bora inside before the rain pours. Some days, the sun rises, splitting the clouds in halves, and hajurama unfolds the boras and spreads the gundruk. She repeats the same process into tenderness. Each day becomes a project of saving gundruk from the rain, as if she is protecting it from catching cold. Isn’t that how Hajuramas raise their granddaughters?

Mansi Dahal is a writer from Nepal currently getting an MFA at Columbia University.

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