Our Story Panika Gujanharu is now available as a graphic novel drawn by five artists from the Jeewan Jal team. Please click on the image below to be taken to the web version of the comic.
For those of you who do not read Nepali, the story charts Maya. Maya is Nepali and a trained research nurse, she lives in a traditional Newar family and is living under the shadow of her younger brother, Makendra who is recently back from his education in Darjeeling, India. In this fictional story, Patan, in the Kathmandu valley is seeing an epidemic of a new enteric fever, which, Maya is called upon to investigate by Dr Karkey, a research scientist based at Patan hospital.
Dr Karkey has linked the outbreak to one area of Patan (the area in where Maya and her family lives). Maya’s journey sees her meeting the mythical Makar (a crocodile like creature which one can see engraved on the ancient stone spouts of Patan), A nag (one of the snake spirits attached to all water bodies in the valley), and the Goddess Bagmati (the river which runs to the North of Patan).
She travels back to the year 2042 (30 years ago in the Nepali calendar), meets with spiritual healers, doctors, medical researchers, ‘migrant’ communities and ‘locals’. In trying to solve the problem and keep people and the Gods happy Maya realises that water quantity and condition is a complex problem driven in part my her own father’s business (drilling boreholes and wells). Water in Patan is scarce, often unclean and held as having spiritual importance.An ancient stone spout system runs alongside a ‘modern’ pipe system both of which have been increasingly under pressure from population growth, which spiked at the time of the Maoist insurgency in 2002 when people fled to Kathmandu from the hills.
The creatures, Gods and Goddesses she encounters along her journey are very much alive in the minds of the people of Kathmandu and considered fact or fiction to varying degrees depending on the person. Doctors and priests are held with equal regard and Maya’s story respects this whilst championing the processes of exploration, critical enquiry and conversation.