Rest in Peace Hajur Bua

It’s been five days since we received the unexpected news—a series of calls from Kathmandu that ended with the death of P’s grandfather.

It has taken me a few days to think about what I wanted to say. It was quite a surprise, even though he was 88 years old, as he was very strong and active.

Hajur Bua was a very important person in P’s family, but I think he was of particular importance to P, who was the first born grandchild. Hajur Bua lived with P since childhood, teaching him how to play many sports, including his favorite—heck, it’s his passion—soccer. He used to walk little P to school every day and then pick him up and walk him home.

He was the “keeper of the house,” the person who was always opening the front gate or looking out the window to see who was coming and going when he heard its clank. Upon arriving at P’s family’s house in Kathmandu he was the first face you’d see, peeking out the gate or waving from the front window or roof, cup of tea in hand. He was always there to welcome us home or bid us farewell.

I first met Hajur Bua when I visited P’s family in 2005. Even then, I had heard many stories about him, and I was happy to have the chance to meet him, as I wasn’t sure when I would be able to come back or if I would meet him again. Luckily I had two more opportunities: He was there again in 2009, telling us stories about his time as a park ranger in Chitwan, acting out sitting on an elephant’s back during a tour. He liked to bring pictures out to share, or his school leaving certificate of which he was very proud.

After our wedding in July 2011 we were able to go back for Dashain. Although very strong, he was too old to make the long journey to America, but was able to participate wholeheartedly in the wedding party that was organized during our trip. He dressed up in a daura suruwal and coat in his favorite color which he called “gabardine” (which I think refers more to a type of fabric, but that’s what he called khaki-brown). He enjoyed sitting near us at the party, talking to people and introducing us to others. While we visited in 2011 he started calling me “Buhari”—bride—the same name he calls P’s mother. “Buhari, have you eaten?” “Buhari, have you seen this program?”

We were able to take our first married Dashain tikka from him. It would be my first and last.

I remembered seeing him many times sitting on the floor, cross-legged, like a man sixty years his junior. I couldn’t imagine my father being nimble enough to do that, let alone my grandparents. It was a testament to his health and fitness.

And then there was Rai Uncle, a former neighbor, who still liked to come over and spend time with the family. Hajur Bua and Rai Uncle had a love/hate relationship. Like two grumpy old men, they sometimes had feuds—“He took my umbrella!” “You cheated at cards!”—but they were companions as well, sharing in card games and conversations.

Hajur Bua also had a love of plants, a hobby I share. Back in Kalingpong, his home area, his family had a nursery with many interesting plants, and as an older man Hajur Bua tended to dozens of potted plants surrounding the P family home, several of which came from the nursery in Kalingpong. Many of the plants were unusual, much like the ones I enjoy collecting. In 2011 I complimented a giant green stemmed succulent plant, some type of Euphorbia, growing in a sunny spot behind the house. Before I knew it he plucked out a section of the plant, wrapped the roots in mud and wrapped the entire thing in damp newspaper and insisted I bring it home. I decided to try, and was able to sneak it in. The plant now grows on my window sill, and reminds me of him every time I see it.

Our Irish friend RH was visiting Nepal at the time of Hajur Bua’s death. He was staying with P’s family for a few days, before making a quick trip to Southern Nepal. He was due back to P’s home the day that Hajur Bua died. RH took the final living picture of Hajur Bua—as he looked through the front window, saying goodbye to him before RH left for Chitwan.

In an email exchange between P and RH, P wrote:

I almost feel as if you were meant to be there that week – to see Hajur Buba one last time. Since you met him, it almost feels as if you were there on our behalf. We also got the last photos of Hajur Buba that you took, looking from the window. It is hard to think that he is not going to be there to look out of that window next time we arrive home in Kathmandu and the next time the metal gate makes a clanking noise.

The whole news has been a shock and a surprise to all of us. He was old and had minor other pains and aches but we all felt that he was this strong person who would live to be 100 or more. At the same time, he passed away the way he wanted, without being bedridden, within a matter of hours. I am also glad that you were able to hear Hajur Buba’s stories once again while you were there.

I want to dedicate this posting to Hajur Bua. He always made me feel welcome and part of the family. We are all very sad at your passing, but we feel honored to have known you.

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17 responses to “Rest in Peace Hajur Bua

  1. May you and P have the strength to pass these tough times. My deepest condolences to you and your family C.

  2. I remember when I met him in 2009. I loved him within the first five minutes of my time with him. He shared so many P stories and spoke highly of his buhari. He was an amazing person and left a mark on me even in the few hours that I spent with him at P’s house.

    I am glad that you guys were able to do the Nepali wedding in Nepal with him and you celebrated Dashain with him. And I am glad RH was there as well – that definitely gives solace to P. My love to both of you and to P’s family.

  3. He sounds like a wonderful man. I’m so sorry for your loss…

  4. lovely writeup and regards woow

  5. What a sweet way to honor a kind, hospitable man. You WILL remember Hajur Buba’s stories, and I hope you will share some of them with us.

  6. It is always sad to see your loved one leave this world even we all know that it is the cycle of life. It makes in even harder when we are in different country. I am sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you, P and your family during this difficult loss.

  7. We are sorry for your loss C and P. May he rest in peace.

  8. I am so sorry for your loss, it is never easy losing a loved one, and its even harder with international distance!

  9. Sorry for your loss as well. I was with Shiva when he got the news that his grandmother had passed. Are your mourning. We ate without salt for a while and I know Shiva did a few other things, though he was very secretive about it.

  10. My thoughts are with you both (and your family) at this difficult time. I will be praying for healing and peace!

  11. Unfortunately, my wife has suffered several losses of very close family members since moving to the U.S. and marrying me. The worst part is that she couldn’t go home to attend the funerals of any of them. :( I am so very sorry for your loss. Please accept my condolences.

    • americanepali

      I’m sorry for your wife’s losses as well. Death is always difficult, but death when you are far away seems more challenging because you aren’t there to grieve with he family. Thanks for all your kind wishes and condolences.

      • My wife lost a VERY close uncle a short while ago and she also lost her grandfather recently as well. :( I had the extreme honor of meeting them both at our Nepalese wedding ceremony and was warmly welcomed into both of their homes. Her uncle took me all over Kathmandu for the 5 weeks we were there visiting. He introduced me to all of his friends (he seemed to know everyone in Kathmandu), and even bought me some of the best food I’ve ever eaten there. I can honestly say I saw the “real” Nepal/Kathmandu. The first person we lost in Nepal though was the cousin who took the photos of our wedding and planned our entire honeymoon trip to Pokhara, Nagarkot and was supposed to take me to the Mt. Everest base camp on our next visit. He was only a couple of years older than me. I became very close with everyone of my wife’s family members, even though I was only there for 5 weeks. For the first time in my life, I felt important and loved and respected and it hit me hard when each of three family members we lost passed on. I know several times over how much it hurts to lose someone in Nepal.

        You’re welcome for the words of comfort and condolences and thank you for the warm welcome.

  12. Sorry to hear about P’s grandfather.

  13. xaspireonfirex

    It’s my belief that our friends and loved ones live on through our memories and the stories we share, giving life to those memories once more. In the vivid picture you’ve painted here of a warm-hearted and caring and vigorous man, you have spread the light of Hajur Bua’s life that bit further. My thoughts are with you, P and your family.

  14. great great grandpa story love it

  15. My sincere condolences!! may his soul rest in peace.

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