Nunifa Maharjan, 12, was one of the participants of the rally organised to mark 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day in Bhadrakali, Kathmandu.
Out of the few hundred women and some men, she caught my attention. She was enjoying the sight of waving flags around her. Nunifa held a red flag in one hand and a placard, with a photograph of a man, in the other. She was with her mother.
In the middle of the rally that was chanting slogans, I could hardly manage to ask her name and age and why she was there. Her mother said that the placard Nunifa was holding was of her missing father. He is missing since 2005.
The rally was organised by sister organisations of the Maoists. The previous day I had an assignment at the PM’s residence. Some women associations were meeting with the PM. I thought that they would talk about women’s rights issues or the 100th International Women’s Day. Their memorandum was to change the title of the Women’s day into International Labour Women’s Day. Why are Nepalis so obsessed with titles?
Coming back to the rally, there were different groups of women: a group whose family members were missing; a group with red flags; and a group dressed in different ethnic outfits.
Amid all, Nunifa was enjoying looking at the flags waving with the wind. Sometimes she would try to find shade in the crowd. Sometimes she looked exhausted from the heat of the sun. She was there, probably because of her mother. And I believe she didn’t know what was going on and why. She didn’t know what women’s day was.
For Nunifa, her father was missing and she hoped he would come back.