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THE DEATH OF RAMMOHAN ADHIKARI

Nepalese Clay, 21st Issue (2013)
SUSHMA JOSHI
On the morning his son was to return from Doha, Rammohan said to his wife: “Lets go to Shivapuri forest, you and I. We can both take some rope and hang ourselves together tonight.” Rammohan Adhikari knew with absolute certainty, at five in the morning on that warm July day, that he was going to die that night. The air felt muggy—rainwater from a sudden downpour collected in slippery puddles on the road, the looming new construction of his neighbour’s rising building seemed to close in, heavy and oppressive, cutting off the flow of air, and a low bank of dark rainclouds had hovered over the Kathmandu Valley. His wife, who was wondering what to feed her eldest son, who was to fly in from Doha that afternoon, scolded him. “What kind of talk is this? You must stop thinking these dark thoughts, and welcome your son back home.”                                                 *** Rammohan, peering from the grimy glass windows separating the waiting crowd from thos…

MIHYAR OF DAMASCUS

“Oh broken homeland, glued together,walking beside me with your faltering steps.”

SUSHMA JOSHI Browsing the Internet for online literary journals, I got tired of coming up against prestigious “international”  literary journals based in the suburban mid-west of America. The more international they claimed to be, the more they seemed to print stories about lawns and Graham crackers and squirrels on trees. I had a feeling that a nationality check would show all the writers came not just from one country, but probably within the same 100mile county lines. Its not as if Americans don’t travel, or write about other places. They do, but for some reason these cosmopolitan writers always seem to end up getting published in publications who don’t self-style themselves “international.” Hmm, I thought. Maybe the term “international” has another meaning when it emanates from these mastheads.  A little disgruntled, a little restless, I looked again, and imagine my delight when I stumbled upon Arabesq…

Is the solar eclipse caused by Rahu, and not the Moon?

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Those of you who grew up in Nepal, India and other parts of the subcontinent have heard of Rahu-Ketu, especially in the context of astrologers who repeat these terms in a tedious refrain. If you frequent astrologers, you might also have come to associate these terms with malefic events and happenings—anything catastrophically bad, it seems, is always due to the presence of these two malefic “chaya graha,” which translate to “shadow planets” in Sanskrit.Note graha means “to seize”, and astrologers believe these planets seize us when their ruling time periods are dominant in our lives. 

Some of you may also be aware that astrologers believe Rahu eclipses the Sun, and Ketu the Moon, although this bit of astronomical information may be less remembered than the overwhelming impression of malefic energy associated with these two terms. Eclipses in birthcharts are always viewed as malefic events—even though they may heighten material powers and wealth. 

The two shadow graha tend to magnify the…

JYOTISH, THE SCIENCE OF LIGHT

ECS Magazine, July 2017

My family’s surname is “Joshi,” derived from jyotishi, or astrologers. According to family lore, they fled the Mughal invasion and came to Nepal via Nainital, where they became court astrologers to the Shah monarchy. By my grandfather’s time, nobody on our side of the family knew anything about astrology, nor did they show any interest to pursue this arcane and antediluvian subject. My father, who has a BA in science, and my mother, who has a Masters degree in Nepali literature, both profess a steadfast disbelief towards the subject.
There were, however, enough relatives around to provide glimpses of a more interesting family history. I remember in particular one elderly relative in his eighties who did read charts, and who was treated with great respect not just because of his ability to read the future but also because he was rumored to be short-tempered. He was known to walk back and forth in his wooden balcony in the middle of old Kathmandu, and hurl insults…