Nepal - A Story About Love...
Account written by Brigitte Garvey, Madam Kali
It was the song of mother earth herself which beckoned me to the heightened perspectives of her mountain tops and into the depths of her mysterious forests in search of healing. This is a true story about how different lives from vastly different parts of the world intersected in a mystical unfolding of truth, purpose and love. Written by Brigitte Garvey.
Over the years with each new visit to Nepal I felt a growing sense of unease that I needed to do more for these wonderful people who were in a constant struggle against the trials of poverty. I wasn’t quite sure how but I remember in one moment making a quiet commitment in my heart that one day I would contribute in some way that would truly make a difference.
During the descent of my inaugural Himalayan mountain climb on my first trip to Nepal in 2009 I met a kind and gentle Nepalese man named Jhabraj. I learned that Jhabraj was a teacher at a remote school in the Himalayan mountains and after chatting for a while he invited me to come and visit his village one day and stay with his family. I was moved by his hospitality and kept his invitation in my heart and mind as a future possibility.
Despite a few visits to Nepal in the interim it wasn’t until six years later six since our initial meeting in 2009 that I decided it was time to visit Jhanbraj’s family in the remote Himalayan village. Yet only a few weeks preceding my arrival in Nepal my life began to spiral into a distressing spin.
Back in 2012 during my intensive personal healing journey in the Peruvian amazon I had met and fallen in love with a Chilean man. It was hard to deny the enigmatic attraction between us and I decided to journey from Peru to Chile to be with him in his home country. After long periods of physical separation in the relationship and living part in Australia and part in Chile, the stress of a life straddled between two far away continents had taken its toll and only a few months before my trip to Nepal I decided to make the permanent move to Chile.
My former partner was renowned in Chile for his healing ceremonies and work with the Amazonian plant medicine. His healing centre was set among the beautiful Andean peaks outside of Santiago city. Arriving in Chile was one of the most magical and amazing times of my life. I was made to feel like a real princess, the community were so welcoming and living a life immersed in sacred ceremony with the medical plants and community was a dream come true for me.
Through my own shamanic healing journey throughout South America I had grown much in my confidence and connection with the medicinal plants and felt a deep life calling towards this work. Yet the shamanic work had become a major point of contention for my former partner and I throughout the relationship. In many ways I felt I was fighting for my position as a woman to be given the space and respect to share my own healing gifts within the sacred ceremonial context.
Yet love is indeed blind. I was totally enamoured by my very charismatic former partner and despite the increasing power struggles in the relationship I convinced myself that this love story must have a fairytale ending. In my heart I had longed to find my soul mate and at 35 years old I thought my time must have finally come. The thought of it all falling apart was simply too much to bare. Yet after I made the permanent move to Chile the disharmony escalated to a new level and it became clear there was no real place for me in the the future he was creating for himself.
I felt vey frightened, alone and ultimately unsafe. It was as if I was slowly losing a grip on my connection to the earth itself, floating out to sea with know idea of where I was heading and how was I going to survive. It was in this moment I heard the mountain spirits of Nepal beckoning me to their higher perspective, a gateway between the two worlds of Chile and Australia but at a deeper level a gateway through the painful split within my polarised self. The wounds I was carrying from my own childhood trauma remained to be reconciled with completely. Despite the mammoth healing journey I had already been on this final betrayal was provoking a deep chasm of painful acceptance I was yet to cross within the realms of my broken heart. Among all this chaos I had a strong sense now was the time to take Jhabraj up on his invitation to journey into the depths of village life in the Himalayan mountains.
As I finally arrived in Nepal I felt elevated by the spiritual energies of the Buddha and mustered every bit of strength, determination and courage within me to surrender completely to the life that had been. I knew that I couldn’t go on like this, I knew that the pursuit of power, materialism and personal advancement at the cost of harming others was a very harmful way to live and I simply could no longer be a part of it. Whatever sacrifices that meant for my own life and future I was prepared to go through it. I was prepared to give up all my ego attachments including material possessions in the pursuit of a truly authentic life, a life infused with humility and real love.
On the way to the village as the rattling over crowded public bus navigated the dangerous mountain turns the skies began to rumble. Jhabraj had met me at the airport but we had left Kathmandu too late to make it to the village before dark. Six hours later by the time we disembarked the bus the heavens opened wide, light turned to dark and we stumbled through the forest in the pouring rain to eventually arrive at the humble village home of the Neupane family. Just before the house came into view I had a strange and powerful sensation, a message from spirit communicating to me that Jhabraj and his family had suffered greatly throughout their lives from poverty.
Finally the illuminated home came into view where Ama (grandmother), Anjila (oldest daughter) and Junuka (mother) were eagerly awaiting our arrival. It was a truly special moment arriving at the home, soaked to the bone with thunder cracking through the sky I felt elated to have made it here. That night as I lay in my humble village bed I felt a deep sense of shame for the lack of gratitude I had throughout my life for all that I had been given. I had been truly spoilt and I had selfishly taken this for granted.
Being in the village and having the love of Jhabraj’s family, the Neupane family around me in this time was a salve to my broken heart. All day long the girls Anjila and Alina made chai teas and took me for walks in the forest to help ease my depression. Of an evening as we gathered inside the small mud brick kitchen to bake the food harvested from the earth the family revelled in excitement as I recited some Nepalese words they had been teaching me.
The deep stress of the relationship break up had provoked a flare up of pain in my pelvic region. I had been struggling with pain in this area for sometime and while I was in the village it become so severe the family took me back to the city to have some tests at the hospital. The tests revealed that I was suffering from chronic inflammation in this region and we all decided the best course of action would be for me to take some healing medicines from the Himalayan forest.
Being from the village the Neupane family have much knowledge about the variety of wild medicinal plants and together they prepared a sacred plant medicine with a shared desire to help alleviate my pain. The medicine was prepared with the guidance of a local shaman directly from the high altitude forest and distilled for one month at the Neupane home in the village..
As I began to take the medicine in Nepal it took me on a deep healing journey not only of the pain in my body but into the wounds of my childhood. In the shamanic healing tradition the spirit of the plant works on all levels of our being revealing to us the core disturbances in our spirit which create disease in the first place. Here surrounded by the love of this Nepalese family I was able to remember with clarity the painful betrayal of trust that I had experienced as a young child.
In one moment as I sobbed with grief in the bedroom alone, Anjila, the eldest daughter who I had formed a very close bond with came to my door. The children always referred to me as didi which means “sister” in Nepalese. As she opened the door she said “didi I cannot rest as I feel so much pain in my heart and I think it is your pain, please don’t cry”. In this moment as I cried again she held me to her breast like a nurturing mother and said “don’t worry didi you are a good person and good things will come to you in the life, only God knows the truth, he knows everything and one day the people who have hurt you will come to realise what they have done.” I felt an immediate sense of relief and calm, her words were like a balm of love to my wounded heart and I genuinely felt like everything was going to be ok.
Yet I came to understand that the Neupane family were dealing with there own painful dilemma. The youngest daughter Alina had been one of 150 applicants selected from 20 000 applicants to study specialised dentistry at a renowned college in Kathmandu. The fact that she was successful in the selection process in itself was an incredible feat considering that she had been educated in the remote village school of the Himalayas and she was competing against students who had been educated in the more the progressive city schools. The fee for the whole degree program was required to be paid upfront with a cost of $18 000 AUD. At the moment I had arrived in the village the applications were to be closing within two weeks and their were only 4 positions remaining at the college.
Remembering our conversation six years ago I detected that Jhabraj appeared far more defeated by life, the boyish enthusiasm and lightheartedness I remembered so vividly had been replaced by a tangible heaviness, there appeared to be something weighing upon his good natured soul. I came to learn that he had gone to great lengths to source the funds for Alina’s education by meeting with government officials and even trying to sell the family land but all to no avail. As a teacher in the local village Jhabraj earns a monthly government wage of $180 with which he supports 6 people. It would take him approximately 15 years to save the fee required for Alina to study, he was facing a near impossible feat and his inability to resolve the dilemma was deeply affecting his health and peace of mind. Along with her father Alina was becoming increasingly depressed, crying everyday with the realisation that she could not fulfil her dream of becoming a dentist. She had been praying to the gods and fasting regularly in the hope for a miracle.
The situation truly broke my heart. The relentless struggle of poverty these people had already faced throughout their lives and now this beautiful young woman had overcome the odds to secure a place in the degree program to become a dental surgeon yet her dream was to be aborted in large part due to the deep inequalities which exist in the world. I realised I had the power to resolve this situation, as a citizen of a developed nation I had access to resources far beyond the reach of the Neupane family. In that moment I made a life changing decision for both myself and Alina and decided to pay the fee. Alina began her schooling 2 weeks later.
Only a few months after I left the village the family suffered a devastating loss as there home was completely destroyed by the worst earthquake disaster to strike Nepal in over 100 years. After many distressing days I finally heard news that the family had survived the earthquake. Among the chaos Jhabraj wrote to me and asked if something happened to him and his wife Januka would I please take care of his children. I promised him I would do so and together with Januka they cried because they knew I was telling the truth. Despite the danger of a second earthquake only weeks after the initial quake and several terrifying aftershocks the family remained safe. Alina has now completed her initial year of studies and is well on the way to becoming the first dental surgeon out of 50 000 people in the Himalayan mountainous district of Rasuwa.