Remembering Shailaja Acharya

Citation of Commentary by Pramod Dhakal

She is there no more!

She had been fighting for her life for last two years. The diseases finally won over her. Her life was a long struggle with the old regime and even after the change she may have lost a great deal- her place in history by choosing less popular stands and political incorrectness. She was known for her stubbornness, and sticking to her grounds, her principles and fighting corruption all her life. She probably would not have changed any thing. She would be herself. She dealt events and life on her own terms.

“A man must do what he must in spite of consequences.” She symbolized this expression without question. v And, finally they ALL paid her the due respect she deserved.

This is what folks shared about her.

“Shailaja ji got a high tribute (finally). So many people came to pay tribute that it MaSailaja Acharyaoists let the Assembly function to pass a resolution on hear death, all the state rituals. I think for many it was a time to reflect on what they had done to harm her politically and personally!!” (Subas Pokhrel)

”Although her tacit support to KG during 2004-5 was controversial, I personally feel that she gave her life for democratic struggle and that small blimp hardly counts.” (Ambika Adhikari)

I remember her during her student days at Banaras in mid to late 60’s along with other student leaders such as Pradeep Giri, Chakra Bastola and Prakash Koirala, I was an engineering student at Sindri and occasionally came to Banaras and listened to talks of democracy, armed struggles and even mention of Che Guevara or even philosophical talks of “existentialism.” Will we succeed? Is it for real? I struggled then within myself.

She was bold and fearless no doubt and also a bit eccentric at times, I thought.

On Christmas Day of 2008 I spent an evening with Mrs. Bijaya Shrestha of Ohio whom I had met after a few years (she had lost her husband Mohan Shrestha by then) and we reminisced on many things including black flag shown on the day Queen Elizabeth paid visit to Nepal in Tundi Khel in 1961. We talked about the bold fours who dared to finger point the regime; they were Shailaja, Kundan, Bijaya Baral and Nona Koirala, the first three were still very young in their teens. Every one else but her became part of the establishment but it was Shailaja who never left her ground till the end. She never gave up. We must respect that zeal and tenacity, courage and determination. Also Bijaya Malls Shrestha said, “We were the first rebels, the feminists and fighters for democracy in our feudal country. Shailaja never looked back.”

“I also saw her determination to fight for fair decision making process and against corruption. I remember the day when she, as a minister, was the chief guest in our Central Department of Botany, TU, where she expressed her commitment to fight against corruption even if she had to quit the post. In few weeks, that became reality. In her days, she certainly had inspired the youths fighting for democracy.” ( JP Sah)

“Perhaps Sailaja Acharya represents the benevolent aspiration of the politically conscious youth and their failure as the political executioners when in power. As per the writing of her close friends, she was incorruptible. That means the root of our problems is more in our systems and less in who we are as persons.”

“Death of Sailaja Acharya should be an indicator of our mortality and a message for us to stop wasting our time in leader worshiping and denunciation, or system worshiping and denunciation but to think anew to develop a framework of a future system that represents the aspiration of not only ours but also that of the future generations.” (Pramod Dhakal)

‘….but to me she always embodies the spirit of bravery which dared to challenge the brutal force in its midst.”

” A fearless, charismatic, idealist and brave all in one.”

”Among the many things I admired about her was her Gandhian life style and her idealistic commitment to the greater good of the Nepali people. She gave her whole life towards achieving democratic ideals in Nepal. In the ocean of corruption among so many Nepali politicians she was one of the islands of purity.”

”In the past several years she was involved in NGO and charity work, particularly promoting the welfare of Nepali women.”

”In 1998 when she was the DPM and water resource ministry, some of us spent time at her office while she spoke about utilizing the Nepal’s gigantic water power for the economic upliftment of the nation. Although not much happened during her tenure (or on other ministers’ tenure), her sincerity in making Nepal more developed was crystal clear.”

” She will be surely missed as one of the most prominent female leaders of recent times in Nepal” (Ambika Adhikari)

The voices that could not be silenced with bullets and dungeons deserve some respect, no doubt. Least she did was fight the corruption and never left her grounds. She stood tall and firm. Finally she does get the honor she deserved for all the fights she won or lost.

(Arun Sharma Sharma a semiconductor engineer lives at Phoenix, Arizona and is involved in many Diaspora activities.)

2009-06-25 05:45:39

Leave a Reply