“I mean I can understand why someone would want to stay in the country,” Garima said. “Actually, I don’t. What’s here to even remotely look forward to?” she continued.
She grabbed her cup of tea and sipped on it. She looked at me as she put it down on the small wooden table, “What do you think? I mean, you went abroad, right? Is Amrika not better than Nepal?”
My gaze shifted from looking at her eyes to staring on the floor. How does one approach answering such a profound question? I had not managed to find an answer despite being asked questions of similar hues time and again by literally everyone. Where does one start? From the discourse on what’s good and what’s bad? On the subjective reality of our social worlds? From how objectively death in wars is bad? On how cats are bad liars? I don’t know. But I had to answer.
I started on a diplomatic tone. “It depends on how you look at it. There are layers to both the American and Nepali social world,” I said. I looked at her in an attempt to decipher whether she was satisfied enough with my answer but her gaze was constant and persistent.
I sighed and continued, “I mean if you look at the American military budget, America is a bad country, but people who live there do not have to think about it. The same with Nepal, I guess. The whole country can be flooded with monsoon rain but people living in Kathmandu can always escape such problems if they turn off their phones for a few days. Or if you curate your social media to not let any news appear on your profile.”
She had her hands on her chin. Her eyes were still fixated on me. She wanted a better answer.
“America is good for one’s intellectual growth,” I responded.
“Thank you. That’s what I wanted to hear,” she said.
We both simultaneously raised our cups and sipped on our drinks. Hers was Tokla chiya and mine was Nescafe coffee.